Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Shema and the Sign of the Cross

Gearing up for another radio show with my partner Kevin Vost this Saturday (1-2 p.m. Eastern Time, click to hear EWTN's Live Feed).  Our subject is raising children in the Faith.  Here's a snippet I plan on sharing:

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He responded with the opening words of the Shema, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD;  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Deut.6:4-5).  The Shema was and is Judaism's Creed.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and all Jews recited it both their morning and evening prayers.  Because of Jesus' response to the scribe all Christians are familiar with its beginning, but the Shema is composed of three separate portions of Scripture - Deut.6:4-9; Deut.11:13-21; and Num.15:37-41.

We Christians of course have a Creed, two actually - the Nicene and the Apostle's Creed.  Each time we pray however we Catholics profess the Creed in miniature when we make the sign of the Cross.  Reread the words of the Shema quoted above and look at what we profess when we make the Sign of the Cross:

                1                         2                            3


We touch our:

Signifying that through the Cross of Jesus we enter into the inner Life of the:
And we have been empowered to do so with:
all our mind
all our heart
and Both Shoulders
and Holy Spirit
and all our strength

That's the Gospel in miniature, our Christian Shema!  So lets make it the first thing we do after opening our eyes in the morning, and the last thing before closing them at night.


  1. Wow, those are wonderful connections between the sign of the cross and the Shema! Thank you for that perspective!

  2. Thank YOU so much. I am just absolutely fascinated by Jesus' earthly prayer and how it is manifested in the members of His Church - like the recitation of the Shema blossoming into the Sign of the Cross. If you scroll down on the right and click the tag "Jesus' prayer" I have some other blogs that touch on this ... and I feel awkward saying this, but I have a new book coming out around Christmas through Angelico Press, "Through, With, and In Him: The Prayer Life of Jesus and How to Make It Our Own," that might be right up your alley. Hope you drop by again!