Skip to comments.Cross, Sign Of
Posted on 04/25/2009 7:06:33 AM PDT by GonzoII
|TALKS ON THE SACRAMENTALS|
|Father Arthur Tonne
|Copyright 1950 Didde Printing Company Emporia, Kansas
(For the whole book, download tlksac.txt/.zip)
Cross, Sign Of
"God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Galatians, 6:14
In April of 1945 American artillery in the town of Siegburg, Germany, was shelling a nearby village, in which there were about 20 German soldiers. The natives were in constant danger of being hit by bullets from either side. Toward evening of April 12 the people persuaded the German soldiers to cease fire.
Next morning the village priest carried a white flag to the American outpost to inform the commander that the German soldiers had gone and the civilian population had no desire to resist further. Instructions were given to fly white flags from all the houses.
The question uppermost in the minds of the towns-people was: How will the Americans treat us? They had heard terrible tales of cruelty on the part of the Russians. How would these conquerors act?
The Americans began a thorough search for weapons and German soldiers. Two soldiers armed with pistols came to a certain three-room home. They stopped short in the living room before a hand-carved family altar. Into the bedroom they went, to find there a beautiful crucifix.
The soldiers noticed the cross. They stopped, took off their steel helmets, changed their automatics from right hand to left, and respectfully made the sign of the cross. As a member of the family related, the members of that household feared no longer.
Yes, the sign of the cross is the salute of the true follower of Christ whether he is conqueror or conquered, whether he is German, Chinese, American or Australian. It is the countersign of the Christian. In particular, it is the special salute of the Catholic.
The sign of the cross is one of the most important and one of the most frequently used of the sacramentals. It is the sacred sign first taught to the feeble fingers of the child at its mother's knee; it is the sacred sign traced by the faltering fingers of the dying Catholic. From birth to death it is the holy sign, the holy ceremony that continually reminds the Catholic of the source from which all spiritual blessings comethe cross.
The two most common forms of this sacramental are the large sign of the cross made by touching the forehead, the breast, and the left and right shoulders. The cross thus covers the bodyat least the most important membersthe head and heart. The smaller sign of the cross is traced upon the forehead, lips, and breast.
1 Why do we make the sign of the cross?
2. The uses of this sacred sign in the Catholic Church are practically without limit:
Let me quote the instructive words of St. Gaudentius:
"Let the sign of the cross be continually made on the heart, on the mouth, on the forehead, at table, at the bath, in bed, coming in and going out, in joy and sadness, sitting, standing, speaking, walkingin short, in all our actions. Let us make it on our breasts and all our members, that we may be entirely covered with this invincible armor of Christians."
An indulgence of 100 days is granted for making the sign of the cross and saying the words. An indulgence of 300 days for making the sign of the cross, with holy water.
A love and devotion toward this sacred sign is the mark of a true follower of Christ. Just as it identified those two American soldiers as genuine Catholics, so the sign of the cross will identify you. Use it frequently, use it thoughtfully, use it lovingly. It will bring you countless blessings. Amen.
Sacred Music Volume 117, Number 4, Winter 1990
SIGNS AND SYMBOLS: A REFLECTION
(This is reprinted from "Faith," a bi-monthly published in London, England. It was originally given as an address to a youth group at John Fisher School, Purley, Surrey, England.)
(For the entire article download sigsym.txt/.zip) The Sign Of The Cross
The Sign Of The Cross
A logical place to start, since it is a very ancient Christian habit, is to begin and end prayers with the sign of the cross. Yet the only recognizable biblical reference is in Matthew 28:19 when Our Lord tells His apostles, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
The practice of making the sign of the cross dates back to at least the second century. It was said to recall the blood of the lambs marked on Jewish doorposts in Egypt on the night of the Passover (Ex. 12:7) and to foreshadow the seal set on the foreheads of the saints in heaven. One of the earliest references to the sign of the cross is found at the end of the second century in these words of Tertullian: "at every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes...in all the ordinary actions of everyday life, we trace the sign" (of the cross). Whether such diligent self-crossing was generally observed is impossible to tell, but it does illustrate the importance that the early Church attached to the cross. Another important thread is drawn out by Saint Thomas Aquinas who said: "by making use of bodily signs of humility, our desire to submit ourselves to God is aroused."
So, how does the above apply to us in the present day and age? When we make the sign of the cross, it is a reminder of our baptism. It also brings to mind the general vocation that we as Catholics are called to, as illustrated in the rite for adult baptism when the priest signs the recipient with the cross saying:
"Receive the cross of Christ on your forehead. Christ Himself will guard you by this sign of love. Learn to know and follow that cross...Receive the cross on your breast, that by your faith Christ may find a dwelling place in your heart. Receive the sign of the cross on your shoulders so that you take on the sweet yoke of Christ. I sign you in your whole being 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' that you may have life in eternity."
Let us not underestimate this "sign of love," for when we reverently make the sign of the cross, it is not only a confession of faith. It is also a reminder of the price that Christ paid for our healing and redemption so that we can call God "Abba! Father!" and eventually come into His presence in the glory of the kingdom of heaven.
A HANDBOOK OF CATHOLIC SACRAMENTALS
Published by Our Sunday Visitor Press
The making of the sign of the cross, professing faith both in the redemption of Christ and in the Trinity, was practiced from the earliest centuries. St. Augustine (d. 430) mentioned and described it many times in his sermons and letters. In those days, Christians made the sign of the cross (Redemption) with three fingers (Trinity) on their foreheads. The words "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost" were added later. In the third century, Tertullian had already reported this touching and beautiful early Christian practice: "In all our undertakingswhen we enter a place or leave it; before we dress; before we bathe; when we take our meals; when we light the lamps in the evening; before we retire at night; when we sit down to read; before each new taskwe trace the sign of the cross on our foreheads" (Weiser, p. 256).
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Yet even the Orthodox have processions outdoors too.
They are not prayers.
They don’t pray during processions?
In other words, you need to go to church in order to pray (or at least a dark back room).
Do you need to go to a funeral home to die?
That verse doesn’t make your argument, does it?
I forgot that word Real as in real Christians.
No, they sing and chant.
Christ says no public prayer. Take it up with the higher authority.
Do you need to go to a funeral home to die?
Why don't you think before you hit the send button.
Well, one would guess that the singing and chanting consist of prayer written by saints or taken from Scripture. (Sorry if I’m being persistent.) ;-)
What Bible you reading? Neither of those are in there.
What are you talking about? Rust or babies?
I know both are mentioned but I have no idea what you are talking about.
It is a chant on the church gorunds, and it is not a prayer.
In Orthodox countries on certain feasts (such as the patron saint of a city), there are processions . The procesison consists of caryring icons and crosses and flags in silence through the city. Likewise, there is no prayer. No different than marathon or walkathon.
Ok, I have the answers I was looking for now. Thanks! :-)
But now I am confused as to what is involved in a Catholic procession. From your replies, it is implied that Catholics walk and pray...
Well, there are Catholic processions that do not involve praying, such as the procession that ends the Italian Festival in my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, where they parade the statues of the saints through the streets of the neighborhood. But the other are others where, most often, the Rosary is prayed. As an aside, an example of public Catholic prayer is that in front of abortion clinics.
“Christ says no public prayer. Take it up with the higher authority”
Have you ever said grace at a public lunch meeting such as a Rotary Club or some such. A Prayer Breakfast?
“There are three types of prayer:
The most important and the most earnest kind of prayer is that which is done privately. You mention the emphasis Christ made on secret prayer. In Matthew 6:6, Christ states, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” This certainly shows us the importance of private prayer.
However, Christ is also dealing with a particular practice of the Pharisees. They made a big show of praying so that everyone would know just how spiritual they were. They were proud and ostentatious in their prayers so that others would see them. That is, they took what should have been their private prayer life and made a public show of it so that others would be amazed at their spirituality. This is akin today to those who continually brag on how much time they spend in prayer. Christ was teaching us that our personal prayer life is not to be displayed in public. He was not teaching that there was never an occasion for public prayer.
Public prayer is common in the Old Testament. Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple (1Kings 8:22-23). Elijah prayed publicly on Mt. Carmel (1Kings 17:36-37). Ezra prayed before “a very great congregation of men and women and children” (Ezra 10:1). If public prayer is not allowed in the New Testament, it is definitely a change in what God allows.
However, we continue to see public prayer practiced in the New Testament even after the teaching of Matthew 6:6. Christ prayed publicly before He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-42) as well as on other occasions. Paul kneeled and prayed with the Ephesian elders before he left them (Acts 20:36). And although we receive few clear statements about the order of worship in the early churches, an important piece of information is found in 1Corinthians 14:15-16, which states:
1Corinthians 14:15-16 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
If you carefully read this passage, you will see that Paul stresses the importance of praying with understanding so that those who occupy the room of the unlearned can say Amen at the giving of thanks. This passage makes sense only in the context of public prayer. If no one is listening, then how could anyone say Amen? Other statements hint at the presence of public prayer in the early churches, but this one clearly shows that it was practiced.
One thing that might help you is to understand that the purposes of public prayer are a bit different from those of private prayer. In private prayer, we pour our heart out to God and tell Him all. We do not need to be concerned about sentence structure or form in any way. Just talk to God. However, in public prayer, we are leading (as we speak of someone “leading in prayer”); we are leading others to look on God. We are directing the attention of others to the Lord and helping them rely on Him at this time. Again, the sin of Matthew 6:6 was to make a public display of private prayer. It is not dealing with the proper use of public prayer (though public prayer can be misused as a display too).
This could also be called mutual prayer. It refers to times when more than one person participate in prayer together. In one sense, it is public. But instead of one person praying and others saying Amen to their prayers, it involves a group of people joining together in prayer. Yet, there seem to be varying degrees of this. On one end of the spectrum, Jesus took three of His disciples with Him to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. After the disciples fell asleep, Christ scolded Peter, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40). Jesus was going to pray a little distance from them, but they were to watch with Him in prayer. In a sense, they were to participate in His private prayer. On the other end, on one occasion the apostles lift up their voice to God with one accord (Acts 4:24-30). It is almost as if they prayed the same thing in unison.
However, there must have been many variations of this. In Acts 12:5, Peter was thrown into prison, “but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” When he is released, he goes to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark, “where many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:12). This is not private prayer, but neither is it many people listening to one person praying and saying Amen. I believe it was one of the keys of the power of the early churches.
There are other evidences of this participatory prayer in the New Testament. The early disciples met in the upper room and “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14). Paul pleaded with the Romans, “that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me” (Romans 15:30). The Corinthians are expected to be “helping together by prayer for us” (2Corinthians 1:11). Taken together, it is certain that the early churches gathered together for mutual prayer in which all participated. We should be doing the same today.
In conclusion, prayer takes many forms. Our truest prayer is to be found in our private times with God. This prayer should be done in the closet and in secret. It is not for display. However, there are proper times for one person leading in public prayer and there are also proper times for God’s people to prayer together. Each kind of prayer can find its God-given place in our service to Him.”
Antioch Baptist Church
***The ignorance here is astounding***
We’ll do our best to educate you.
***There is no sacred sign of a true follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ...***
Documentation going back to the second century, along with certain allusions to having the sign of God on one’s forehead in the OT esp in Deuteronomy.
***Love and devotion to a ‘sacred sign’ is idolotry...***
Whereas Bibliolatry is A-OK in the Church of Iscool (population one)?
***The sign of the cross may stand for something for a Catholic or it may be a way to attract attention to show yourself off as being religious...
In the Church of Iscool (population one), aren’t you in the front row?
***Christians in the church age don’t need a physical sign...Jesus knows us and we know Him...***
What is the church age? And is that the Church or is it the Church of Iscool (population one)?
***The issue is your religion claiming that ‘true Christians’ are known as those you make the sign of the Cross...And that’s bunk...***
Documentation goes all the way back to the second century. And that’s the truth.
***Satan hates the cross in all its forms. The Church has known this for a long, long time: ***
Excellent point. satan and all his minions whether witting or unwitting are at war with the Cross.
The satanists even have tried to usurp the upside down Cross of St. Peter. Discouraging people from the sign of the Cross is just another inroad into leading Christianity away from the Via of Christ.
***I read this article and thought it would be enjoyed by all Christians. Was I wrong! ***
No, you are right, very very right.