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STORIES ON THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
1. Nicephorus writes that S. John the Evangelist made upon himself the Sign of the Cross, before dying ----Hildian says S. Paul used the same Sign to restore sight to a blind man ----Many even affirm that Our Lord Himself taught this Sign to the Apostles, and that He used it to bless them on the day of His Ascension ----The Sign of the Cross, says S. Ignatius, disciple of S. John, is the trophy raised against the power of the prince of this world: When he sees it, he is afraid: when he even hears of it, he is filled with terror. ----Hautrieve.

2. S. Benedict was asked to govern a monatery where discipline was but badly observed: for a long time he resisted the entreaties of the monks, but being at length persuaded to undertake the charge, he did his best to introduce into the monastery the stict observance of the rule, but only succeeded in exciting against himself the hatred of certain wicked monks, who formed a plot to take away his life. They accordingly mixed poison with his drink, and brought it to him as he sat at the table with the rest of the community. S. Benedict, according to his custom, extended his hand to make over the glass the Sign of the Cross, and at the very moment when he formed the holy Sign, the glass, which was held at a little distance, was shattered to pieces, as if it had received a sudden blow from a stone, and a serpent came forth from it. ----His Life: March 21.

3. Though retired into the remote parts of a desert, S. Anthony often experienced the fiercest attacks of the devils: they would appear to him under a thousand frightful forms. The Saint laughed at their impotence, and to put them to flight, simply contented himself with making the Sign of the Cross, saying to his disciples: "Believe me, Satan fears prayer and humility and the love of Jesus Christ: the mere Sign of the Cross suffices to banish him." ----His Life: Jan. 17.

4. The Martyr S. Tiburtius, condemned under the Emperor Diocletian to walk through a blazing fire, made the Sign of the Cross over it, and walked over the burning coals without experiencing any injury. ---- His Life: Aug. 11.

5. After the death of the Emperor Julian the Apostate, there was a tremendous earthquake all over the East. The seas overflowed their bounds, as though they would have submerged the earth in another deluge. At the sight of these prodigies, the inhabitants of Epidaurus ----a small city of Greece ----ran to the cell of S. Hilarion, and with tears besought him to have pity on them, and come to their aid. They brought him to the seashore. There S. Hilarion knelt on the sand, prayed with fervour, and made the Sign of the Cross three times over the troubled waters. Immediately there was a dead calm. All the people of Epidaurus witnessed this miracle, and for long years after, they ceased not to remember it with gratitude. ----His Life: Oct. 21.

6. S. Martin one day having overthrown, in Burgundy, a famous and very ancient temple, wished likewise to cut down a large pine tree that stood near it. But to this he found the pagans entirely opposed; but they told him that since he had so much confidence in his God, they would cut down the tree themselves, provided he would stand under it when it fell. Martin accepted the condition, and allowed himself to be tied on the side to which the tree was already inclining. A great crowd of people assembled to see the sight. The tree, half cut, began to fall upon him, when he simply made the Sign of the Cross; the pine, as if blown by a gust ofwind, fell to the other side, on those of the spectators who thought themselves the safest. There arose a great cry, and a large number of idolaters embraced the faith of Christ. ---- His Life: Nov. 11

7. General Smith, of the army of the South, was coming in with his men too late to know the password. Knowing that if he went forward he would receive the fire of his own side, he presented himself before his men, and asked if anyone would sacrifice his life to save the rest. A soldier stood out of the ranks: after explaining the certain danger he would have to face, the General gave him a piece of paper, on which were written these words: "Send me the password. Genl. Smith." He knew the soldier would be shot, and then searched, and thus the paper would be found, and read, and the sign made known. The soldier sets out, and reaches the outposts: "Who goes there?" "A friend." "The word or sign?" But the soldier advances without reply, and at once the rifles all raised and pointed at him. He thereupon makes on himself the Sign of the Cross, and to his surprise the rifles are lowered. The act of the Catholic soldier, in commending himself to God, was the very sign the Catholic Commander had that very morning given to the army. ----Toulemont.

8. One of the conscripts, in Dauphiny, before drawing his lot, made the Sign of the Cross. This was greeted with laughter by his companions, but the sub-prefect at once interposed, and said: "There is nothing to laugh at: on the contrary, it is right to have recourse to religious acts in important circumstances of one's life." On verifying the conscript's ticket, he saw that Providence also had blessed the faith of the young man, for he drew a lucky number, and was exempted from service. ----Maillot

9. After the cruel persecution of the Christians by the Roman Emperors had lasted for nearly 300 years, Almighty God sent peace to His Church by the miraculous victory of Constantine over the pagan Emperor Maxentius. On the day before the battle there appeared in the sky, in sight of Constantine and the whole army, a brilliant cross of light, with this inscription:"In this thou shalt conquer." The following night Our Blessed Lord appeared to Constantine in his sleep, with the same Sign, and ordered him to make a copy of it, and use it as his standard in the coming battle. Constantine rose early, ordered the standard to be constructed, and caused the sacred Sign of the Cross to be engraved on his own helmet and the shields of his soldiers. He then set out to battle, and gained a complete victory. On the same day he entered Rome in triumph, but instead of going to offer sacrifice to the false gods of his ancestors, he published everywhere the vision which he had beheld, and declared that his splendid victory was due only to the God of the Christians. In gratitude for this favour, he not only put a stop to the bloody persecution, which had been raging for many years, but ordered the worship of idols to be abolished, and the Catholic religion to be followed throughout his dominions. His own conversion, which took place at the same time, was soon followed by that of the greater portion of his subjects. ----Butler

10. The Emperor Maximian wishing to know the future, caused victims to be immolated, and searched in the entrails for some token of events to come. Some Christian soldiers happened to be present, and made on themselves the Sign of the Cross. Immediately the devils took to flight, and the sacrifice was deprived of its results. Fresh victims were offered, but without better success. ----Lactantius.

11. Julian the Apostate one day entered a pagan temple, in company with a noted idolater. The latter having invoked the demons, they at once made their appearance: Julian became alarmed; and forgeting, for a moment, that he had abjured the Catholic religion, he made the Sign of the Cross, as he had been formerly accustomed to do when any danger was near. Immediately the infernal spirits disappeared ----so powerful and efficacious was this Sign, when made even by a Christian renegade! This miracle was the last effort of Divine mercy to recall that wretched being to repentance; but the unhappy man's heart was hardened and insensible to every call of God. ----S. Gregory of Nazianzen.

12. S. Augustine, whom no one will suspect of credulity or weakmindedness, tells of a woman of Carthage, afflicted with a cancer, which the physicians had declared incurable. Despairing of the efforts of men, she had recourse to God, Who made known to her that she was to present herself on Easter Eve before the newly Baptized catecpumens in the women's baptistery, and request one of them to make the Sign of the Cross over her cancer: this she did and was immediately cured, to the surprise and astonishment of her physician.

13. A lady of religious education and pious life one day found herself seated at a table next to a young officer. Her first care was to say grace, with the Sign of the Cross. "Ah, madam, what is that?" said the officer, in a tone of irony. "Captain," she replied, "are you ashamed of your cross of honour?" "Certainly not." "Then know that the Sign of the Cross is to me a sign of honour and glory." The company could not but approve of her words and acts, and the officer could only stumble out some lame apology and excuse. ----Fliche.

14. Fr. Ravignan always made the Sign of the Cross with scrupulous care and devotion. A Protestant minister went one day to hear him in Notre Dame, in Paris. Seeing the venerable Father make the Sign of the Cross with such holy and majestic gravity, he said to his companion: "He has already preached to us; the sermon is over, we can go. ----His Life.

15. The Emperor Heraclius having brought to Jerusalem the precious relic of the Cross (which had been discovered by S. Helen some years before), in order to thank God for his victories over the Persians, was desirous to carry it upon his own shoulders into the city with the greatest pomp. When entering the city he stopped suddenly, and found he was not able to go forward. The Patriarch Zachary, who walked by his side, suggested to him that his pomp seemed not agreeable to the humble appearance which Christ made, when He bore His Cross through the streets of that city: "You," said he, "walk in your gaudy imperial robes; He was meanly clad. You have on your head a rich diadem; He was crowned with a wreath of thorns. You go with your shoes on; He walked barefoot." Hereupon the Emperor laid aside his purple and his crown, put on mean clothes, went along barefoot with the procession, and devoutly placed the Cross where it stood before. It still continued in the silver case in which it had been carried away by Chrosroes fifteen years before; and the Patriarch and clergy, finding the seals whole, opened the case with the key, venerated it, and showed it to the people. ----Power.

16. The Greek schismatics do not make the Sign of the Cross in the same manner as it is formed by the members of the Catholic Church. The Jacobites ----Eutychian heretics ----form the Sign with one finger, from the left to the right, thus signifying, as they say, their belief in the unity of Our Lord's nature, and in the translation of grace, passing from the left side, which is sin, to the right, signifying pardon. The Nestorians, on the other hand, form the Sign of the Cross with two fingers, from the right to the left, significant of both natures, which they admit in Jesus Christ, and of the manifestation of the faith proceeding from the right, or the good principle, victorious over the left, signifying the bad principle. ---- Power





Sign of the Cross

 
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