The flag, symbol of patriotism,  rays red and white emanating from the Heart of Jesus, symbol of God’s merciful love,  blue sky, morning star are both symbols of Mary’s mantle of protection and her ability to guide us safely to the port of salvation.   Symbols are physical and material signs that have a profound spiritual reality hidden behind them.

One of the clearest symbols of Catholicism is the sign of the cross:  “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Amen.   How frequently this gesture is done, but how easy to fall into a mere mechanical and perfunctory gesture, almost losing real meaning!

When was the last time you stopped to reflect on the profound meaning of the sign of the cross???  Maybe never!  Maybe nobody ever explained the sign of the cross to you!!!! Religiosity without catechetical explanation degenerates into superstition!   Hippies wearing Rosaries, Psychic Readers with smoke and incense, Bus drivers displaying both images of Mary and indecent pictures, side by side--- all of this points to religiosity without education, or superstition!
The sign of the cross is done with the right hand, palm fully open; then the hand to the forehead, down to the chest and crossing over to the left shoulder—a wide sweep, and finally the crossing to the right shoulder, and then the folding of the hands.   The words accompanying the gesture are: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen

There are two basic spiritual truths embodied in the   Sign of the Cross.  The First, is the profession of the most profound mystery of the Christian-Catholic faith--- the MOST BLESSED TRINTIY!   The sign mentions the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity--- the Father, who is the Creator, the Son, who is the Redeemer and Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, who is the Sanctifier.
Every time the sign of the cross is made, implicitly we should be reminded of our Baptism, when through the pouring of water and the expression of the words of the Trinity, we became Sons of God, Brothers to Jesus Christ, and intimate Friends of the Holy Spirit, all combined—temples of the Blessed Trinity! As Pope St. Leo the Great remarked with profound reverence--- “Christians recognize your dignity!”

Furthermore, the Sign of the cross calls to mind the love that Jesus has for all of humanity, but in particular for you and me.   The cross!    The body is signed by the cross!  Jesus willingly underwent his agony, to the point of shedding every drop of His Precious Blood for your salvation and mine! Every time we make the sign of the cross we should be thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice of total self-giving and once again recognize our dignity.  We were not saved/ redeemed by silver nor gold, nor the blood of animals but by the Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
Therefore, upon making the sign of the cross we should call to mind the Mystery of the most Blessed Trinity and Good Friday—Jesus’ death on the cross(the outpouring of His Precious Blood).  As St. Ignatius of Loyola insists on reminding us that this was done for me individually.

When, then, should we make the Sign of the Cross? ANYTIME! ANYWHERE!   However, there are specific “prime-times” that we should sign ourselves!

1.    UPON AWAKENING!  Our first gesture that we should make upon awaking is the sign of the cross and then Our Morning Offering.

2.    MEAL-TIME!  Meals should be blessed, thanked, consumed with grateful hearts; however, the meal-blessing is always preceded by the Sign of the Cross!

3.    PARENTS BLESS YOUR CHILDREN!  Parents should get into the habit of blessing their children—if possible even with Holy Water. When?  Sending them off to school, putting them to bed.  Parents, as primary educators of their children, can and should bless their children!
4.     HOLY ROSARY!  With the Rosary beads, preceded by the cross, this powerful Marian prayer starts with the sign of the cross, and should end with the sign of the cross!

5.    TEMPTATIONS!   Life is a battle field from birth till death!  Once an elderly nun told St. Faustina that old age does not excuse anybody from the battle! Until our dying breath we are soldiers in the army of Christ. Assaults from the devil can be conquered by quick recourse to fervent prayer, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and by the sign of the cross!  Once an enemy of St. Benedict tried to poison him, offering him a cup!  The saint blessed the cup and it shattered into bits and pieces, saving the saint from poisoning!
6.    TRIPS!   Taking off on trips should always involve inviting Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as well as the Archangel St. Raphael. However, travelers’ prayers should start with the Sign of the cross!

7.    EXORCISMS.  Of course any former exorcism includes prayers to St. Joseph, St Michael the Archangel, St. Benedict, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Name of Jesus and many times the SIGN OF THE CROSS!  Mortal fear and panic seizes the devil upon the invocation of the Blessed Trinity in the Sign of the Cross!  

8.     ANY PRAYER/PRAYERS AT ANY TIME!  Needless to say, all prayers should start with the Sign of the Cross.  This means any time, any place, and any circumstance!  Remember this catholic symbol!
9.    HOLY MASS!  In the context of Holy Mass the sign of the cross is frequently used! Just to mention a few: the greeting is Trinitarian with the sign of the cross.    Before listening to the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, the priest as well as the people, with their thumb, cross their forehead, lips and heart, with a small sign of the cross Why?  So that the Word of God would be in our minds, lips, but especially in our hearts and lived out to the full by fruits of holiness! Before the Consecration, the priest blesses the Bread and wine with the sign of the cross.  Finally at the end of the Mass, the dismissal is concluded with the blessing of the Blessed Trinity!

10. FUNERALS!  Finally, leaving this world and travelling to the next, the body is blest with Holy Water with the sign of the cross!
In conclusion, easily we can fall into a mechanical religiosity, in which we simply do the motions and forget the profound meaning behind the sacred actions.   Next time you make the sign of the cross, remember that  by Baptism you were transformed into a living Icon of the Blessed Trinity and that you were saved by the Blood that Jesus shed for you and for me on the Sacred Cross.  “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen!