Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Catechism Explained Pt. I Faith - IX. THE SIGN OF THE CROSS.
Archive .Org ^ | 1899 | Rev. Francis Spirago Professor of Theology

Posted on 01/21/2014 7:43:34 AM PST by GonzoII

PART I - FAITH.

IX. THE SIGN OF THE CROSS.

The Catholic makes confession of his faith most especially by the sign of the holy cross.

By it he lets men know that he makes profession of belonging to the religion of the crucified Saviour. To Jews and Turks the cross is an object of hatred and contempt; Protestants, too, pay no honor to the holy cross, though there are indeed some of them who, in the present day, have learned the practice from the children of the Church. The sign of the cross is thus the peculiar property of Catholics all the world over. It is a custom so ancient that it is gen- erally believed to have been introduced by the apostles. The sign of the cross is made by touching with the outstretched fingers of the right hand first the forehead, then the centre of the breast, then the left, and finally the right shoulder, saying meanwhile the words, " In the name of the Father [touch forehead], and of the Son [touch breast], and of the Holy Ghost [touch left and right shoulders], Amen." There is also another way of making the sign of the cross, by making three crosses with the thumb of the right hand on the forehead, lips, and breast successively, repeating the above words, so that each of the three crosses is made simultaneously with the name of one of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity. In making the sign of the cross the left hand should be laid across the breast, and the sign should be made deliberately --not hurriedly, as is too often done.

1. In making the sign of the cross we make profession of the most important of all the mysteries of our holy religion, viz., the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity and of the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

By uniting all the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, under one name, we make profession of our belief in the unity of God.

The " name " of God indicates His authority and power, and that we act under His commission (Mark xvi. 17; Acts iii. 16, 17; iv. 10).

In making the sign of the cross, we make profession of our belief in the Blessed Trinity by the words " In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

In making the sign of the cross, by the very form of the cross which we make upon ourselves, we make profession that the Son of God died for us upon the cross.

Thus we see that in the sign of the cross we have a short sum- mary of the whole Catholic faith. The Catholic Church holds the sign of the cross in great honor. It is repeated over and over again in holy Mass, in all the sacraments, in all blessings and consecra- tions ; the cross is placed on our churches, over our altars, on banners, on sacred vestments, and over the graves of the departed. Churches are built in the form of a cross.

2. By means of the sign of the cross we obtain a blessing from God ; and especially by it are we protected from the assaults of the devil and from all dangers both to body and to soul.

The sign of the cross is no empty ceremony, but it is of itself a blessing, and a prayer for a blessing from God. The sign of the cross chases away the devil and his temptations ; as the dog fears the whip with which he has been beaten, so the evil one dreads the sign of the cross, for it reminds him of the holy cross by which he was van- quished on Calvary. There was once a stag which bore between its antlers a tablet on which were written in golden letters the words, " I belong to the emperor, hurt me not." No huntsman ventured to shoot this stag. So whenever we make the sign of the cross, we bear the inscription, " I belong to Jesus Christ," and this protects us from our enemy, the devil. In war no one ventures to injure those who wear on their arm a band of white to indicate that they are physi- cians, or nurses, or ministers of religion; so the devil does not dare attack those who are signed with the holy sign of the cross. " The sign of the cross," says St. John Damascene, " is a seal, at the sight of which the destroying angel passes on, and does us no harm." The brazen serpent fastened on a pole in the desert was an image of the cross of Christ (Numb. xxi. ; John iii. 14), and protected all who looked upon it from being bitten by the fiery serpents ; so the sign of the cross recalls to our minds the cross of Christ, and protects us from the snares of that old serpent, the devil. In the year 312, Con- stantine the Great, with his whole army, saw a cross of light in the sky, and upon it the words : " In this sign thou shalt conquer." These words are also true of the sign of the cross. " Even to remember the cross of Christ," says St. Augustine, "puts our hellish foe to flight, and give us strength to resist his temptations." Many of the saints used to make the sign of the cross whenever any evil thoughts assailed them. In the times of persecution the heathen gods often fell prostrate to the ground at the sign of the cross. On the occasion of the finding of the holy cross by St. Helena, a woman who was blind was restored to sight by merely touching it. The sign of the cross often frees men from bodily evils also. Many of the holy mar- tyrs, on making the sign of the cross, felt no more pain in their tor- ments. St. John the Divine once had a cup with a poisoned draught put into his hand to drink. He made the sign of the cross over it, and then drank it without receiving any harm from it. Something similar happened also to St. Benedict. In the Old Testament we find an allu- sion to the sign of the cross in the letter Thau, mentioned by the prophet Ezechiel. God sent destruction upon the inhabitants of Jeru- salem on account of the abominations committed there ; but an angel was previously commanded to mark the sign Thau upon the foreheads of all those who mourned and lamented on account of the sins of the city (Ezech. ix. 4-6).

We should often make the sign of the cross, especially when we rise in the morning and when we retire to rest, before and after our prayers, before and after our meals, whenever we are tempted to sin, and when we have any important duty to per- form.

We should make the sign of the cross in the morning in order to obtain the blessing of God on the day; in the evening to ask for His protection during the night; before all important undertakings, that they may turn out well ; before our prayers, in order that we may not be distracted in saying them, etc. The early Christians made con- tinual use of the sign of the cross. Tertullian (A.D. 240) says, " At the beginning and during the performance of all that we do, when we go in and out of the house, when we dress ourselves, when we lie down to rest, in fact in everything, we mark ourselves on the forehead with the sign of the cross." The sign of the cross should also be made dur- ing holy Mass; at the beginning, at the absolution which the priest gives at the foot of the altar, at the Gospel, at the Consecration, and at the priest's blessing at the end of Mass. St. Edith, the daughter of the King of England, often made the sign of the cross with her thumb upon her forehead ; thirteen years after her death her thumb remained quite incorrupt. Each time we make the sign of the cross with contrite hearts, we gain an indulgence of fifty days (Pius IX., July 28, 1863).

When we make the sign of the cross, we should, if possible, make it with holy water.

Holy water has a special power to defend us against all attacks of the devil. When we make the sign of the cross with holy water, we gain each time an indulgence of one hundred days (Pius IX., March 23, 1876). Holy water is placed at the doors of our churches, and should be placed at the door of our rooms. We must never be ashamed of the sign of the cross, lest Christ be ashamed of us. The devil rejoices when he sees any one neglect to make the sign of the cross, for he knows that the cross is his destruction and a sign of vic- tory over his temptations.



TOPICS: Catholic; Theology
KEYWORDS: catechismexplained; catholic

1 posted on 01/21/2014 7:43:34 AM PST by GonzoII
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: All

PART I - FAITH.

THE CATECHISM EXPLAINED

INTRODUCTION

I. FOR WHAT END ARE WE ON THIS EARTH?
II. HOW ARE WE TO ATTAIN TO ETERNAL HAPPINESS?
III. CAN WE ATTAIN PERFECT HAPPINESS ON EARTH?

PART I - FAITH.

I. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
II. DIVINE REVELATION.
III. THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL.
IV. HOLY SCRIPTURE AND TRADITION
V. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.

VI. THE MOTIVES OF FAITH.
VII. ON THE ABSENCE AND LOSS OF FAITH.
VIII. ON THE DUTY OF CONFESSING OUR FAITH.
IX. THE SIGN OF THE CROSS.

2 posted on 01/21/2014 7:47:33 AM PST by GonzoII ("If the new crime be, to believe in God, let us all be criminals" -Sheen)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GonzoII
To Jews and Turks Muslims the cross is an object of hatred and contempt...
3 posted on 01/21/2014 7:54:20 AM PST by Last Dakotan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GonzoII
When we make the sign of the cross with holy water, we gain each time an indulgence of one hundred days (Pius IX., March 23, 1876).

If it comes from Pope Pius IX ... it must be so.

Matt. 15:9

4 posted on 01/21/2014 7:55:21 AM PST by dartuser
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: GonzoII
Excellent. Thank you. For anyone interested in further reading regarding the Sign of the Cross, I also suggest St. Francis de Sales' writings on the subject:

"The Sign the Cross"

http://www.amazon.com/The-Sign-Cross-Francis-Sales/dp/1933184973

5 posted on 01/21/2014 8:10:47 AM PST by BlatherNaut
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BlatherNaut
"Thank you."

My pleasure.

6 posted on 01/21/2014 8:19:42 AM PST by GonzoII ("If the new crime be, to believe in God, let us all be criminals" -Sheen)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: GonzoII

http://www.bible.ca/cath-sign-of-cross-history.htm

Sign of the cross in its present form, did not exist before 9th century. In about 200AD, the most anyone ever did was sign the cross with their finger on their forehead.

There is absolutely no use of the “sign of the cross” in Apostolic times or the Bible.


7 posted on 01/21/2014 8:31:53 AM PST by faucetman ( Just the facts, ma'am, Just the facts)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: faucetman

So what is your point?


8 posted on 01/21/2014 8:41:17 AM PST by raygunfan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: faucetman

Do you know why it didn’t appear until later?

Crucifixions were still going on. Christians didn’t need a reminder of the Cross and the sacrifice it bore!


9 posted on 01/21/2014 9:02:46 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: faucetman
Tertullian at the turn of the third century A.D. wrote

"In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross,"

In the fourth century St. John Chrysostom wrote,

"Never leave home without making the sign of the cross."

The form of the sign of the cross varies across time and space. In fact: in the Catholic liturgy two different forms of the sign are used : one to greet the Gospel and the more common form used throughout the Mass.

But it is always the Sign of the Cross - whether it be a small one on the forehead, lips and heart, or the common Western sign, or the contrasting Orthodox sign, or a sign ending with a thumb-kiss as you see in some Spanish countries.

As varied as language and local usage the world over: nevertheless it's always the Sign of the Cross: not - for instance - the sign of a fish or a porcupine.

Hope this was helpful

10 posted on 01/21/2014 9:14:18 AM PST by agere_contra (I once saw a movie where only the police and military had guns. It was called 'Schindler's List'.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: GonzoII

The magic virtues attributed to the so-called sign of the cross, the worship bestowed on it, never came from such a source. The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by Paganism to the same magic purposes, was honoured with the same honours. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians—the true original form of the letter T—the initial of the name of Tammuz—which, in Hebrew, radically the same as ancient Chaldee, as found on coins, was formed as in No. 1 of the accompanying woodcut (Fig. 43); and in Etrurian and Coptic, as in Nos. 2 and 3.

That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, * and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol.

* TERTULLIAN, De Proescript. Hoeret. The language of Tertullian implies that those who were initiated by baptism in the Mysteries were marked on the forehead in the same way, as his Christian countrymen in Africa, who had begun by this time to be marked in baptism with the sign of the cross.


11 posted on 01/21/2014 9:28:58 AM PST by faucetman ( Just the facts, ma'am, Just the facts)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: faucetman

The Sign of the Cross depicts the Cross on which Christ died.

It really is as simple as that.

If the use of the Christian symbol crushes and overwrites some pre-Christian use of a similar sign, so much the better.

A good parallel would be the murderous Saturnalia of the pagan Romans that was culturally overwritten and obliterated by the Christmas of Christ.

This doesn’t mean that Saturnalia and Christmas were the same thing. It means - rather - that Christians destroyed a pagan thing and replaced it with a Christian thing.

Hope this is helpful.


12 posted on 01/21/2014 10:03:54 AM PST by agere_contra (I once saw a movie where only the police and military had guns. It was called 'Schindler's List'.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: GonzoII; dartuser; faucetman; metmom; boatbums; caww; presently no screen name; redleghunter; ...
Protestants, too, pay no honor to the holy cross, though there are indeed some of them who, in the present day, have learned the practice from the children of the Church.

Once again a Catholic is exalting their elitist institution and impugning Protestants, and thus once again her presumptions will be exposed.

The idea that Protestants pay no honor to the holy cross by refusing to make the Sign of the Cross is absurd, for the same charge could be laid upon the apostles and NT church, for the Holy Spirit - who cannot be charged with neglect of anything needful - says absolutely ZERO about this being a done by anyone. And instead, they manifested God's " word thru preaching, " (Titus 1:3) which historically Protestants have preached majored on, and not with 10 minute sermonettes.

This does not mean there is anything wrong with making the sign of the cross, which originally was just in the forehead, and rather than Prots later adapting it, Luther's Small Catechism stated that it was expected before the morning and evening prayers.

But making this outward display either to be required or into signifying a superior spirituality is wrong.

To Jews and Turks the cross is an object of hatred and contempt;

For which he insolently fails to mention any culpability for why, as if the actions of Rome played no part.

Holy water has a special power to defend us against all attacks of the devil. When we make the sign of the cross with holy water, we gain each time an indulgence of one hundred days (Pius IX., March 23, 1876)

Holy water has a special power to defend us against all attacks of the devil. When we make the sign of the cross with holy water, we gain each time an indulgence of one hundred days (Pius IX., March 23, 1876)

That also is not found in Scripture, as it does not teach of a distinct class of believers called "saints, " and only clearly refers to the postmortem place of the believers as being with the Lord. (Luke 23:43; Acts 7:59; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil. 1:21-23) Thus if the Lord returned in their lifetime they would henceforth be with the Lord from that moment. (1 Th 4:17; 1Cor. 15:52; 1Jn. 3:2)

Rome's purgatory is a tradition of men which even the EOs reject as contrary to Tradition, and which RCS try to erroneously extrapolate support for from texts which either refer to eternal damnation or in this life, or the loss of believers rewards.

And at a 100 days off a time, then in the course of a lifetime a RC could get more years off than might pass before the Lord's return and all go to be with the Lord.

13 posted on 01/21/2014 1:19:16 PM PST by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: daniel1212

Them Catholics sure got a lot of ritualistic stuff don’t they. I always liked that holy smoke coming out of those holy balls they swing around.


14 posted on 01/21/2014 1:27:50 PM PST by CynicalBear (For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: GonzoII

Do we read anywhere in the new testament of the apostles or anybody else doing the sign of the cross? No. This, among a hundred other things, were added by the papists centuries later.

Similar to the Judaizers Paul addressed in the book of Galatians, who added elements of the law to the gospel, the RCC outdoes them, adding a great many things to the gospel, the sign of the cross but one of them (used like something magical, like an amulet).

Roman Catholicism has a sacramental treadmill for salvation. I look at their sacrament of the Mass and wonder, what ever happened to the sufficiency of grace, the finished work of Christ? Their Mass amounts to a continual sacrifice of Christ. They make the Judaizers look like pikers in comparison.


15 posted on 01/21/2014 1:32:24 PM PST by sasportas
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sasportas

As usual, lots of *church fathers* quoted but precious little Scripture and that which is is taken out of context and does not support the doctrine.


16 posted on 01/21/2014 1:47:51 PM PST by metmom (...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: CynicalBear; daniel1212

You mean the incense burners. I have to say the smoke from those cleared up the sinuses quite nicely.


17 posted on 01/21/2014 1:53:09 PM PST by redleghunter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: daniel1212

When you were Roman Catholic did you ever see such assertions and arrogance as displayed here? I must have been in a humble parish.


18 posted on 01/21/2014 1:55:31 PM PST by redleghunter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: redleghunter

There is much that applies here: “How much she hath glorified herself...for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no [eternal] sorrow.” (Revelation 18:7)


19 posted on 01/21/2014 3:46:11 PM PST by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: daniel1212

“That also is not found in Scripture”

“Scripture only” is also not found in the Scripture.


20 posted on 01/22/2014 5:06:57 AM PST by rbmillerjr (Lectio Divina...Adoration...Mass)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: rbmillerjr
>>“Scripture only” is also not found in the Scripture.<<

Where does it say to teach something the apostles didn’t teach?

21 posted on 01/22/2014 1:20:32 PM PST by CynicalBear (For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: CynicalBear

Are you deflecting away from the statement because you agree and cannot defend sola Scriptura?


22 posted on 01/23/2014 2:17:47 AM PST by rbmillerjr (Lectio Divina...Adoration...Mass)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: rbmillerjr
>>Are you deflecting away from the statement because you agree and cannot defend sola Scriptura?<<

I don’t need to defend Sola Scriptura. Surely you believe what Paul said don’t you?

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8-9 If you teach something the apostles didn’t teach…….well you can see the end of what the Holy Spirit through Paul said. You see. It’s not I who has to prove what to teach. I simply have to read what they taught and scripture is the only place we find that.

23 posted on 01/23/2014 6:11:31 AM PST by CynicalBear (For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson