You’re in luck. While my post partum brain struggles to form coherent sentences and present you with anything worth reading, my brilliant husband comes up with insightful beautiful reflections despite being sleep deprived from having a sweet newborn in the house. He is the best. Enjoy!
“Never leave your house without making the sign of the cross. It will be to you a staff, a weapon, an impregnable fortress. Neither man nor demon will dare to attack you, seeing you covered in such powerful armor. Let this sign teach you that you are a soldier, ready to combat against the demons, and ready to fight for the crown of justice. Are you ignorant of what the cross has done? It has vanquished death, destroyed sin, emptied hell, dethroned Satan, and restored the universe. Would you then doubt its power?” – St. John Chrysostom, Fourth century
Before Gwen was born, Haley and I were pretty worried about attending mass with three kids. I had visions of three screaming children, two screaming children and one missing child, or one screaming child and two children working together to dismantle the altar. It hasn’t been as bad as all that. The joyful noise our family makes is a bit noisier. And it’s a little more difficult to pay attention all the time. But it really isn’t that big of a deal.
Last week, as I stood for prayers with a child in each arm, I was still able to awkwardly make the sign of the cross by weaving my hand through flailing limbs to touch my head, my chest, and my shoulders. As I managed to do this without dropping anybody, I realized what I had just done. I hadn’t just made the sign of the cross for myself, I’d made the sign over and around my children as well. I intentionally cross them when I leave for work or put them to bed but, at that moment, I realized I also do it when I hold them during mass.
This would have meant nothing to me when I was a materialist. But, now that I’m Catholic, I recognize that symbols are not “just” symbols. The sign of the cross has real power to protect and strengthen. And, just by going to mass and struggling through the motions, I claim those gifts for myself and for my children. I may not be able to pay attention to the homily or all the words of the prayers, but an abundance of grace is still poured out on our family every time we go to mass. Praise God!