Sign of the Cross - Prayers - Catholic Online
This is not only a personal gesture, as a form of prayer but also a public witness and a sign of participation in the life of Christ and the Church. It is used as an integral part of many actions e. The Church has given us wonderful customs and traditions to mark ourselves and to acknowledge our participation in the whole continuity of the Church and the work of Christ. Miracles have been performed with this simple gesture and parliaments and councils have opened under its sign.
Though Protestantism jettisoned this practice, along with the crucifix during the Reformation, the Catholic and Orthodox traditions faithfully continue this age old practice handed down from the age of the Apostles. The Catholic Church has always seen outward gestures as means of expressing and actuating internal spiritual realities.
Sacramentals, such as the Sign of the Cross, are not superstitious practices but are sacred signs by which various things in life are rendered holy through the effectual and sacramental grace of God. By the Sign of the Cross we pledge allegiance to Christ and invite the Holy Spirit to apply the cross to our lives—to take up our cross and follow Christ.
Ezekiel provides precedence for a sign upon the forehead of believers Ezek 9: There is reason to believe that the Jewish Christians used the Sign of the Cross prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in ad In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we learn: The writings of the Fathers, as authentic witnesses to the apostolic teaching in the early Church, are replete with references to the Sign of the Cross.
The practice is already well established in the 2 nd century as attested to by Tertullian ad c. If, for these and other such rules, you insist upon having positive Scripture injunction, you will find none.
The Sign of the Cross
Augustine — AD wrote: There has never been a time in the flow of historic Christianity that the Sign of the Cross has not been devoutly practiced. Only recently, since the Reformation, has the Sign of the Cross along with the Crucifix, holy water and other visible signs been rejected as idolatrous by many Protestant traditions.
Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in our goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are traveling, and when we are at rest" Catecheses, Gradually, the sign of the cross was incorporated in different acts of the Mass, such as the three-fold signing of the forehead, lips, and heart at the reading of the gospel or the blessing and signing of the bread and wine to be offered occurs about the ninth century. The earliest formalized way of making the sign of the cross appeared about the s, during the Monophysite heresy which denied the two natures in the divine person of Christ and thereby the unity of the Holy Trinity.
The sign of the cross was made from forehead to chest, and then from right shoulder to left shoulder with the right hand. The thumb, forefinger, and middle fingers were held together to symbolize the Holy Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
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The ring finger and "pinky" finger were bent downward against the palm, and symbolize the unity of the human nature and divine nature, and the human will and divine will in the person of Christ. This practice was universal for the whole Church until about the twelfth century, but continues to be the practice for the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches. This is how it is done: You can easily verify this — picture the priest facing the people for the blessing — when we make the sign of the cross over the people, it is from left to right Eventually, this practice became the custom for the Western Church.
O'Connell, the sign of the cross is made as follows: Hold the right hand extended also. At the word Patris [Father] raise it and touch the forehead; at Filii [Son] touch the breast at a sufficient distance down, but above the left hand; at Spiritus Sancti [Holy Spirit] touch the left and right shoulders; at Amen join the hands if they are to be joined.