I did something this morning at 3:30 a.m. after I went for my bathroom break. I sat down on my bed, getting ready to do one of my Lectio Divina’s for the day, when I thought about the monks at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist) in Conyers, Georgia. They begin their Liturgy of the Hours at 4:00 a.m. each day and I try to make my morning offering each day at that time. As I do each day, I traced the sign of the cross on my forehead to remind me that my day will be spent seeking God as I find Him. This morning, when I began my Lectio (always Philippians 2:5), the Holy Spirit brought me the idea that the seemingly insignificant sign of the cross that I just made on my forehead was more profound than I could have possibly imagined. Here are some of the ideas that I remember having this morning.
The sign of the cross I make on my forehead encapsulates the whole Divine Equation of God in that one action. It is the birth of Christ in my heart this very day, the road to Jerusalem that I travel wherever it may take me, it is the miracles I see and do in the name of Christ this day to transform myself from my sinful self to my true self as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. It is all those times I consciously die to my secular self to prefer nothing to the love of Christ (Chapter 4, St. Benedict’s Rule). Every time I do trace this sign on my forehead, I give praise and glory to the Father, through, with, and in Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit. It is the sign of contradiction, the possibility of the manifestibility of meeting Jesus, Son of God, Savior in the depths of my soul, in silence and solitude, just Jesus and me. In this one moment, all creation is in resonance with its purpose, the physical universe, the mental universe, and the spiritual universe on earth as it is in heaven. It is the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist that I sign on my forehead and in my heart. The sign that is a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to everyone who does not believe that Jesus Christ is Messiah, the Son of God, Savior. It confirms the resurrection is real in not only the Church but also in me.
All in that one moment, the cross on my forehead echoes the cross tattooed on my soul at Baptism, allowing me to call God Father and trying to be worthy of being an adopted son of the Father, brother to Jesus the Christ, and friend of the Holy Spirit, all of whom are one and all allowing this fallible human to stumble down the road of life trying to have in him the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).
Making the cross on my forehead is a sign of my Faith that Jesus is Lord and Messiah. It is something I don’t have to do but I do it because it reminds me of the love Christ had for each of us and how I must love others as Christ has loved me. I make this sign to show my love for the Father, this sign of his Son made once for us and in which we participate each day in transforming ourself from the World to the Spirit. I always make the sign of the cross on my forehead as the first act of a new day asking God for mercy as I give mercy to other, praising the Father for allowing me to share in The Divine Equation. I use the Lay Cistercian practices and charisms from the Benedictine and Cistercian traditions of men and women who prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
Each day this sign reminds me that, throughout the world, the Church Universal is using this same sign to seek reparation for the sins of the World, to give praise and glory through Christ, to activate their Faith through listening to what the Holy Spirit tells them. There is only One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism, and only one sign by which we are saved, the sign of the cross.
Each day, this cross reminds me that I am but a pilgrim in a foreign land and that the words of the world have the opposite meaning in the spiritual universe. Familiar words we use daily in the physical and mental universes (the World), such as Love, Peace, Meaning, Fulfillment, and Relationship, have the opposite meaning in the spiritual universe, due to the assumptions involved. These are not my assumptions but come from God. This is another way of saying I choose God’s purpose for my life and not the World’s.
Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come, at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology