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Making the sign of the cross…
…with the words “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” is like opening a window to the reality of God’s presence in our life, and like inviting Him to stay with us, guiding us and blessing our endeavours, our intentions and our environment.
At the same time it is an act of prayer and an offering, a gift and an invitation, a statement of availability and obedience.
This simple gesture of the sign of the cross, inwardly, prepares us to be open to experience whatever comes our way with our attention turned towards our Heavenly Father, His Word and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
This sign and the words accompanying it, by which we begin and end our prayer, can be repeated oftentimes during the day (and night), every time we start something new or when we are facing a difficulty or when an important decision has to be made; for example, before driving or traveling or leaving for a meeting or starting a new project.
With the lazy summer months gone and the schools reopened life has returned to its fast rhythm of work and study. Let us, therefore, begin this new period “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and, in this way, let it become a period filled with God’s grace, creativity and enthusiasm for our Christian calling.
Whatever we do, think or desire let it always be in the awareness of God’s presence so that all will be done well.
The Red Cross
Up to the middle of the 19th century there was no organised army system for the hospitalization of the wounded at the war front, neither were any institutions which would secure and support such a system.
In 1859 the Swiss business man Jean Henri Dunant as he was in Solferino (Italy) for his business affairs he happened to be an eye-witness of the battle of Solferino between the Austrian and Sardegna.
Renouncing altogether his original projects he devoted himself to the looking after and care of the wounded. He successfully mobilized the local peasants into helping too without any discrimination as to nationality or other.
In 1862 he publishes a book, “Memoir from Solferino”. He sends copies to many political and military leaders in the whole of Europe.
Finally, in 1863, with the efficient support of his solicitor Gustave Moynier, he founds in Geneva The International Commission for the Relief of the Wounded. Its symbol is the Red Cross. In 1867 the Commission is renamed International Red Cross.
Jean Henri Dunant
Jean Henri Dunant, 1828-1910, was born in Geneva (Switzerland) from Calvinist parents who were particularly devoted to Christian charity toward their fellow men and women through their wholehearted social service.
His father, a business man, regularly helped the orphan and the prisoners and his mother was by the side of the sick and the poor.
Jean Henri Dunant himself, at a young age, founded the “Thursday Association”, a youth group who met weekly to study the Bible, to pray and to help the poor.
When, in 1859, went to Solferino his aim was to meet there the French Emperor Napoleon III in order to discuss with him the situation in Algeria (Algeria was under French rule until 1962). The events though led him to a different road, as we have seen above.
So, in 1867, he declares bankruptcy; his friends do not stand by him. Moreover, Moynier speaks openly against him and manages to oust him from his position at the Red Cross. He flees to Paris where he will spend the rest of his days, remaining faithful to his calling, namely to the caring and assistance of the sick and poor.
In 1901 he receives the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Did you know…
The word cross is derived from the Latin word crux, -cis which initially meant a standing pole / stake.
In Greek the cross is staurus (σταυρός) which also meant a standing pole or stake. It came from the Greek verb “to stand”, i-ste-mi / i-sta-mai (ί-στη-μι / ί-στα-μαι).
This is connected to the Scandinavian word staurr (=pole), s well as to the Latin in-staurare, in English re-store i.e. to put something in its former position.
Following the advent of Christianity the cross primarily signifies the wood upon which Christ was crucified, thus it became the most widely recognizable symbol of the new religion. So, the cross became a symbol of charity, of aid and help e.g. as in the hospitals, the First Aid etc and, also, the characteristic sign of all Christians.
There is the baptismal cross ( a cross given to the newly baptized especially in the Orient), the discreet cross a priest wears on his lapel, the cross hung over the house main door, on the walls etc.
After all, the Christian begins and ends his prayer by blessing himself with the sign of cross.
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