When I’m at the gym, I often opt out of watching TV and decide instead to pray the rosary. This works well because I am focused, I can’t wander off to do something else, and I can unite my intense suffering to that of Christ. (Just kidding!) One thing that I don’t do, however, is make the Sign of the Cross, or at least a Sign of the Cross that anyone in the gym would recognize as such. It’s more like a quick swiping movement across my forehead and torso, which someone could easily mistake for me wiping the sweat off of my brow. I think that I started this because I didn’t want to offend anyone in the gym, or maybe because I was embarrassed for people to know that I was praying while on the treadmill. In any case, it has become a habit and I haven’t thought much about the way that I begin and end my Rosary…
…Until now. Today, as I was driving out of our neighborhood, I saw a woman biking who clearly made the Sign of the Cross – forehead, belly button, shoulder, shoulder. I was SO ENCOURAGED to see someone else make such a simple display of our Catholic faith. This woman is praying, I thought to myself. She is a woman of faith, just like me, and she isn’t ashamed to show it. Maybe she even faces some of the same daily struggles as I do. Something so simple meant so much with me. I felt an instant solidarity with her, and I don’t even know her name.
Immediately, I thought of my sloppy Sign of the Cross at the gym, and gave myself a little internal lecture for my silliness all of these years. Why do I think that someone would be offended to know that I am praying? Where did that idea even come from? I live in Texas, for goodness sake! Most people, no matter what their religious background, would probably be encouraged to know that others take their faith seriously enough to make time for prayer! It got me to thinking about the other outward signs of faith that I choose to make or not to make throughout my day, and how those choices impact those in my community. When our family is out for a meal, for example, we do always make the Sign of the Cross and say grace before we eat, not in a showy way but certainly not quietly either. There are other examples that I cannot think of right now, but I am going to continue to reflect on this question during the Easter season. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section!
A blessed Monday morning to all of you. Mary, Mother of Good Counsel, pray for us!