TRYING TO STUDY
During the last few months I should have been preparing for my exams but I was having great difficulty concentrating on studying and instead I would get side tracked into watching films and TV programs, which were completely unrelated to my exams. I knew that I was wasting too much time and I started to worry and became stressed. Then I watched an episode of Abhishekagni by Fr Xavier Khan Vattayil (a TV program in Malayalam available via the Internet) about the power of the Cross. I decided to seek the protection of the sign of the Cross, by starting my study time with a prayer and making the sign of the cross so that I would stop being side tracked. It worked and Jesus strengthened me through the sign of the Cross, so that I was able to resist the temptation to do other things and I was able to study and was well prepared for my exams.
FROM SHAME TO HONOUR
In Roman times the cross was a symbol of dishonour and shame as it was a form of death reserved for the worst criminals. However, since Christ died on the cross to redeem us from our sins, it has become an object of reverence and now it adorns the crowns of kings and sits majestically on the top of churches. However the death and resurrection of Christ was only the start of the Church. It says in the Gospel, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20) and the early Christians underwent great persecution.
So how did a persecuted religion become the official religion of the Roman Empire? In Acts 5:39 one of the Pharisees, who were trying Peter and the apostles for spreading the new religion, said “If it’s from God, we will not be able to overthrow them.” This is what happened. God did not let his children be overthrown. He protected the early Church just as he protected the Israelites in the Old Testament. For nearly 300 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection the Christians in the Roman Empire were persecuted for their faith but their numbers still grew. The turning point came when the Roman Emperor Constantine became embroiled in a war with Maxentius in the battle of Milvian Bridge. Before the battle Constantine saw a vision from God. He saw a cross of light above the Sun with the words, “In this sign you will conquer.” Constantine asked his troops to mark their shields and armour with the Chi-Rho symbol an early form of the cross (used by early Christians to symbolise the crucifixion of Christ) and Constantine was victorious. This prompted Constantine’s and the Roman Empire’s conversion to Christianity. In AD313 in the Edict of Milan, it was decreed that all Christians in the Roman Empire should be well treated. The first council of Nicaea was chaired by Emperor Constantine in AD325, which led to the formation of the Nicene Creed which is still said during the Mass today.
PROTECTING US TODAY
The cross on which Jesus died, which helped Constantine win the battle of Milvian Bridge, still holds the same power today. In the Youth Catechism (YouCat 360) it states “Through the Sign of the Cross we place ourselves under the protection of the Triune God. At the beginning of the day, at the beginning of a prayer, but also at the beginning of important undertakings, a Christian makes the Sign of the Cross over himself and thus starts his business “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. We are surrounded on all sides by the Triune God; calling upon him by name sanctifies the things we set out to do; it obtains blessings for us and strengthens us in difficulties and temptations.” is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it The following message has been written in code. Can you work out what it says? THE CODE!
The word of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
Written by Jose Dennis