The Cross on our Foreheads

The Cross on our Foreheads February 15, 2024

At the baptism of a child, the priest or deacon traces the sign of the cross on the forehead of the baby at the beginning of the rite, and invites the parents and godparents to do the same.

The priest says to the child, “the Christian community welcomes you with great joy, and in its name I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of the cross.”

The cross on our foreheads indicates to whom we belong.

We belong to God the Father.  He has claimed us as His beloved children, and He will never turn his back on us.  We don’t belong to the powers of darkness, but to the power of light

Today, we participate in an ancient rite as we have ashes placed on our foreheads.  The ashes on the shape of a cross remind us to whom we belong – and at the very same time – the ashes are a call to personal conversion so that we can persevere in our journey which began at baptism.

Because we are children of God, God gives us opportunity after opportunity to repent.  Pope Francis said several times at the start of his pontificate: God never tires of forgiving us, it is us who get tired of asking for forgiveness.

So, why are we here today?

To recognize a reality that is no secret – our need for repentance.  We gather to recognize that sometimes we gravitate toward the darkness, toward sin, and that we need to slam on the brakes and make better choices in life.  One does not need to be a mass murderer to recognize a need for repentance.

Saint John wrote, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Today we confess openly what we know – that we have a need for God’s mercy.  And we come to the cross, the same cross that was traced on our foreheads by our parents and godparents, because we know that in the cross of Jesus we find forgiveness and redemption.  At the foot of the cross, the power of darkness is defeated, and we can live in the freedom of the children of God.

As you approach today, bring to the Lord all your sins, all your baggage, and place it here at the foot of the cross, at the foot of the altar.  May the words you hear, “Remember you are dust, and that to dust you will return” be a call to repentance and change, so that all of us can walk closer to Jesus not only during Lent, but for the rest of our lives. 

"You used to be Christian. Stop acting like you don't know the Christian answer."

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