God makes it so easy to get into Heaven, if only we would try!
I made the Sign of the Cross during Mass today. I made it carelessly and haphazardly – the way that I have been doing it for almost forty years.
This sacred sign – the Sign of the Cross – has become for me, a representation of all that is wrong with my faith! It is rushed, and messy and performed without thought.
How weak I am!
When I make the Sign of the Cross these days, my arm slides mechanically from my collar bone (instead of my head) to my sternum (instead of my heart) and finishes with a whimpered whiz from one lung to the other (instead of my shoulders).
It is small and hidden when I do it. Woe to me, who hides the sacrifice of my Beloved rather than proclaiming it through my actions!
I make this SACRED Sign every single time I pray, and I am sloppy about it every time too – despite having MUCH to pray for…
When I was a little girl at school, I was taught that making the Sign of the Cross properly would grant for me a Partial Indulgence. That means that when we make the Sign of the Cross properly, God – in His infinite graciousness and through no merit of our own – will accept that action as an offering of atonement for the sins we have confessed.
You see, in the act of Reconciliation, the Confession of our sins to a priest is not the end of the story.
It is not enough for my daughter to TELL me that she is sorry – “Sorry Mum for breaking my brother’s toy” – I require her to SHOW me too. In my house, this might look like my daughter doing something nice for her brother to make up for the mistake or apologising to him as well as me, or giving him one of her toys to make up for his broken one. These simple actions are a way of making amends to me and her brother, who she has harmed through her mistake and of really proving that she is actually sorry and willing to think again in future before making a similar mistake.
I accept her apology and encourage her brother to do the same – because though I know she will likely do the same thing again one day soon – I love her with all my heart and do not wish to keep her away from me through anger!
For God – who is our ETERNAL FATHER – an indulgence does the same thing. It shows God that we are willing to put our money where our mouth is – so to speak – and actually DO something to SHOW Him that we are sorry for the sins that we TOLD Him about in the confessional.
We need both parts – the confession and the atonement – to complete the Sacrament of Reconciliation with God and to make amends for the sins we have committed against Him.
And How God Loves us! I know this with certainty by simply examining the facts! God loves us so much that even though even one TINY sin would be sufficient for us to be cut off from God and damned to Hell forever, God makes it easy for us to make amends to Him!
Indulgences. There are many, but perhaps the easiest of all is a simple Sign of the Cross performed properly…
My hand to my HEAD to signify that I BELIEVE in God. My hand to my HEART to signify that I LOVE God. My hand to my SHOULDERS to signify that I will CARRY MY CROSS for God...
And then I am done!
So, you see the next time that I make the Sign of the Cross, perhaps I will be able to better reflect on the words of Saint Padre Pio who said, “Souls are not given as a gift; they are bought. Don’t you know what they cost Jesus? They must be paid for in the same coin.”
For there, in a few short seconds out of the zillions that God has provided to me during my life, right there, I can pay the price for Paradise – not with coins placed over my eyes after I am dead to pay the ferryman as the ancient Greeks and Romans were wont to do – but with love in my heart.
And that is a far less expensive price and far easier to pay than any other if you really stop to think about it!
For with prayer everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.