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I belong to Christ; he is my protection." It's both an offensive and defensive tool.I've found that the sign of the cross is a way to put to death self-indulgence -- those big problems we have, the stubborn things we can't get rid of.Ghezzi: I think that it's not something to be taken casually.

I can imagine that Christians would make a little sign of the cross with their thumb and forefinger on their foreheads, to remind themselves that they were living a life for Christ. In the book, I describe six meanings, with and without words.

The sign of the cross says, "I am willing to embrace suffering to share in Christ's suffering." When you're suffering, when you're feeling like God is not there, the sign of the cross brings him there and declares his presence whether you feel it.

It is a way of acknowledging him at that time of trial.

The sign links you to the body of Christ, and when you make it you remember your joining to the body with Christ as the head. Jesus says in Luke , "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." The word that the Fathers of the Church used for the sign of the cross is a Greek word that is the same as what a slave owner put on a slave, a shepherd put on a sheep and a general put on a soldier -- it's a declaration that I belong to Christ.

Self-denial is not just giving up little things; to be a disciple you are under Christ's leadership and you don't belong to yourself.

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