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It is a curious fact that the cross does not appear in Christian art until the fourth century, but the tracing of the cross on the forehead with thumb or index finger is found in popular Christian usage as early as the second century. They kiss that. Priests make the sign not only during the sacraments but use it to impart blessings on people or objects. The Sign of the Cross is a simple gesture yet a profound expression of faith for both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. It has and always will be the relationship itself. These are the core of why Catholics do the sign of the cross. A person is “who” someone is. With the sign of the cross, we Catholics, for the most part use the same hand gesture which has the same exact meaning of the Orthodox Churches; that is the index finger pointing strait up forming the Greek I, the middle finger crossing the thumb forming the Greek Χ; while the middle finger curving forming the Greek Ϲ (Capital Lunate Sigma). Before making the sign of the cross it is better for the communicant to wait a second for some distance to open up between himself and the minister. The priest opens Mass by leading the congregation in the Sign of the Cross. If you were to ask each Person in the Trinity, “Who are you?” each person would answer something differently: “I am the Father;” “I am the Son;” “I am the Holy Spirit.” If you were to ask each Person, “What are you?” you would get the same answer from each Person: “I am God.”. It is frequently used in movies to show that a character is a devout Catholic. Many do it out of habit with no meaning whatsoever. A catholic priest makes the sign when blessing someone and a follower of the religion makes the sign when receiving a blessing in church or passing by a church or even when feeling thankful or frightened. “The Sign of the Cross is indeed a distinctly Catholic (and Orthodox) practice, but it is also one that is deeply rooted in both the Old and New Testaments. By this time there was also a widespread custom of blessing in the form of a cross using the eucharist, the gospel book, or a reliquary. Others raise the index and middle fingers together, symbolizing Christ's divine and human natures. The sign of the cross is a powerful way of making us mindful of the Trinity and inviting God into our prayer and into our daily lives. … But we are so accustomed to making the sign of the cross that we may have never stopped to ask what the gesture means. They are not kissing their hand. … It is the Sign of the faithful, and the dread of devils… for when they see the Cross they are reminded of the Crucified; they are afraid of Him, who bruised the heads of the dragon. But more importantly, the sign is also an offensive weapon, helping us reclaim with Christ all that Satan lost at the cross. Tertullian (see above) recommended that the faithful mark themselves with the sign of the cross at all times because of its power in bringing Jesus’ sacrifice into their daily lives. Tommy999 August 1, 2014, 1:26am #3. Second, powerful symbolic gestures, when examined up close, say more than one thing. Along this thought, this gesture has been used since the earliest times of the Church to … Required fields are marked *, The Theological Meaning of the Sign of the Cross. The sign of the cross that Catholics make before prayer or any other activity is not meant to be a superstitious act, but an outward profession of faith. (Catechetical Lecture 13). We only know that God is a Trinity because God revealed this to us. Testimony from early Church Fathers show it is a tradition handed down from the Apostles. The sign of the cross that Catholics make before prayer or any other activity is not meant to be a superstitious act, but an outward profession of faith. Make a large cross, taking time, thinking what you do. [touching one shoulder, then the other]Amen.”. Over time, Christians began making large crosses over their bodies as Catholics do today. St. Cyril of Jerusalem expresses the power of the Cross very well: Be the Cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow, and on everything; over the bread we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in, and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we rise up; when we are in the way, and when we are still. Moving priests make solemn signs over newly dead persons or penitents in the confessional, boxers make clumsy signs with their gloved fists, tonsured monks in medieval garb make the same gesture as a shorthand way of indicating that they are either superstitious or in the presence of some eerie portent, and there is nothing like a vivid sign of the cross (made preferably with a raised crucifix) to get Bela Lugosi as Dracula to turn away dramatically from a previously inviting neck. Why Do Catholics Make the Sign of the Cross? Let’s examine these both in more detail. Offbeat — 01 July 2013. Sometimes Catholics make the sign of the cross, with or without words, at other times as well. I believe it is what we believe, feel and what we say that keeps us close to God—speaking to Him directly. It would be great if this custom could be revived. Jesus’ death on the cross was the action by which he destroyed death, so the sign of the cross is a constant reminder of our salvation. I do tend to make the Sign of the Cross when I hear an ambulance or pass an accident – basically to ask God to help the victims and responders. For Roman Catholics, there is a quick gesture that can often go unnoticed before the recitation of the Gospel reading at Mass. That helps fill in the gaps for me some. PLEASE ANSWER 2 See answers madwoman26 madwoman26 Answer: 1. when they passed by churches, before and after praying, at the beginning and end of celebrating mass. In other words, doing the sign of the cross does not make you closer to God or a better Christian in any way. Roman Catholics make the sign of the cross in the following order: The right hand moves from top (forehead) to bottom (chest) and then from left (left shoulder) to right (right shoulder). But when we learn to take this act seriously, signing ourselves frequently with faith and reverence, remarkable results can take place. Making the Sign of the Cross may be the most common of all actions that Catholics do. 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