The Catholic custom of making the sign of the cross dates to the very earliest Christian times. Tertullian, writing in 211, said, “We furrow our forehead with the sign [of the cross].”
Jesus Christ meets the man of every age, including our own, with the same words: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world. (Redemptor Hominis No. 12)
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