Unless you step outside of your culture you never really understand how odd your culture can seem to others. We think that those who blow their nose openly are odd. They think that we are odd for taking out snot, putting it in a cloth and carrying it around all day. Or, for another example, there was the fictional book on North Korea I was reading the other day and it mentioned the oddities of the West where people follow their dogs, pick up their droppings, and carry them around.
Catholics seem odd to outsiders. We do and say a lot of interesting things. When we walk into church it looks like we all walk into invisible spider webs waving a hand in front of our faces. It makes sense to us. We are making the Sign of the Cross. But if you don’t know that, we look a bit different.
Paragraph 50 says that when the entrance song is finished we immediately make this peculiar sign. There are a number of reasons why.
- The Cross is the symbol of the mystery of our salvation. By it we have been redeemed.
- We are told to put on Christ and to pick up our own Cross.
- It reminds us of the central dogma of our faith. We have but one God (In the name - not nameS) Who is also Trinity.
- We state that what we are about to do is in the Name of this awesome God.
It’s easy to trip over this little ritual as if it were something to get out of the way like saying, “Hello” before you begin talking about something really important. But like the opening hymn, it unites the community in some basic beliefs and intentions. It is like the special handshake of a fraternity; silly or foreign to outsiders, almost too common to insiders, packed with meaning, a tell tale sign of a Catholic (like genuflecting in a movie theater) packed with emotion when threatened.