The young medical assistant saw my olive wood carved, hand-size crucifix lying by my hospital bed. He picked it up with enthusiasm and asked if I would teach him to pray with the Cross.
After a recent accidental fall, I was hospitalized to surgically mend a fractured ankle. The crucifix, from Jerusalem, became a visible sign of hope for me. Jesus died on the Cross for us; it was a reminder of his love and mercy.
He Did Not Know
As the young man picked up the crucifix, he shared with me his observations of Christians who would venerate the Crucifix and wondered why it meant so much to them.
The other medical assistant with him commented, “He is Moslem!”
Nevertheless, he was so interested to learn “the prayer of the Cross,” as he expressed it. I thought, how am I to explain the Sign of the Cross, a prayer passed on from the 4th century to one who isn’t Christian? At the same time, I was so impressed this young man felt comfortable asking me about the Crucifix. After seeing the expression on his face—eager to learn something sacred, I was encouraged to show him.
Sharing My Faith
As I held the Crucifix in my hand, I held it in front of me. Looking upward, I began:
“God, the Father in Heaven—Allah, who is Great, sent his son Jesus to show us his love. Jesus died on the Cross for us; and sent his Holy Spirit, to be with us always.”
As I continued, I placed the crucifix on my forehead, moved it to my heart, and then left to right; finishing with an Amen as I kissed the Cross. I added, “It is a sign of hope! A sign of God’s love!” Again, I repeated the prayer of the Cross: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen!”
The young man asked for the Crucifix, and repeated the prayer as he repeated the movements himself.
Shortly after, another medical assistant entered the hospital room and the young man told the other assistant, “I just learned to pray with the Cross!” and made the Sign of the Cross over the assistant with the prayers he had just learned!
I did see this young man again during my hospital stay, he remembered the prayer!
A Sign of Hope
I was delighted for this young man.
The olive wood crucifix is one I hold each day when I pray. It is a sign of consolation and hope, reminding me that whatever cross I am experiencing, I can gaze upon the One who laid down his life for me, and remember that I can be united with Him in all things!
Do we have signs of our faith in Christ displayed in our lives? Whether it be at home, workplace, or wearing a crucifix? Would we be ready to give an explanation for our sign of faith?
Think about having one you can hold and pray; a reminder of his mercy, his presence.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) in his Catechetical Lectures stated,
Let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in our goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are traveling, and when we are at rest (Catecheses, 13).
Mary Jane Fox, D.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with her husband, Deacon Tom Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Mary Jane is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.