Athletes crossing themselves before a race

I saw a tweet about the Olympics last week which read, “As soon as anyone crosses themselves before a race I'm sucked in and want them to win.” It made me smile, because I also feel an affinity to someone I see crossing themselves. I think the affinity comes from knowing they are part of my Christian family, they are strong enough in their faith to offer themselves and their race (if racing is their sport) to God. I don't think for a second that God will favour them in the race against any other competitor and I don't think that is the reason why athletes cross themselves.

To give of yourself, to be a witness for Christ, to put God at the forefront of our thoughts is what all Christian's are challenged to do. The public display of the cross achieves all these, and I am instantly drawn to that person as a sister or brother in Christ.

But taking that thought on, when do I cross myself? Do I offer each post on this blog to Christ before I type it? Do I offer each day to Christ as I leave the house? Would I cross myself at work before going into an important meeting? And if I don't why don't I? Is the faith of the athlete stronger than mine, or different to mine?

I think it's good to ask these questions of ourselves. To react to the example of other Christians around us. To challenge ourselves and ultimately to come to a stronger relationship with Christ.

As a Deacon I am called to offer the daily prayer of the Church, the Divine Office, each morning and evening. This prayer starts and finishes with the sign of the cross. Part of the office is a hymn or poem and one of my favourites which I use often is the Prayer of Saint Patrick's Breastplate. The words of the poem bring to my mind the same emotion as the physical action of crossing myself, the poem puts into words the strengthening that prayer brings, a strengthening that is essential to living life with Christ, a strength that can only come from God, from the Trinity.

I'll leave you with the words of the poem, and a thank you for the lady who's tweet made me think about the cross. Thank you Jo-Anne, may God bless you the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Prayer of Saint Patrick's Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

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