In 1215, Pope Innocent III opened the Fourth Lateran Council with a rousing sermon on Ezekiel 9. Making the sign of the cross (Latin: signum crucis), or blessing oneself or crossing oneself, is a ritual blessing made by members of some branches of Christianity. This seems to be a special situation in a unique period of trial and tribulation at the end of time where certain of God's people are for that unique period marked so at to preserve them. The sign of the cross reflects biblical reality. Those so marked would be saved from the destructed that was to be visited upon the sinners. For unless that sign be applied, whether it be to the foreheads of believers, or to the very water out of which they are regenerated, or to the oil with which they receive the anointing chrism, or to the sacrifice that nourishes them, none of them is properly administered” (Tractates on John 118). All three verses are clearly describing the sacrament of baptism, according to the Haydock Bible Commentary. The practice has developed over time and is now a regular practice for over a billion people around the world. That God sent Christ to bear our sins means that God does not just shrug off our sin. In Revelation 14:1, John sees the same assembly of believers with the “name” of the Father and Son on their foreheads. The Sign Of The Cross 5 Days Praying the Sign of the Cross traces its origins back to the very early Christians marking a cross on their foreheads. We live in a day of loose justice at best. In 2 Corinthians 1:22, Paul writes that, “the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.” Similar language is used in Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30, in which Paul talks about how Christians have been “sealed” with the Holy Spirit. The practice has developed over time and is now a regular practice for over a billion people around the world. However, even Martin Luther in his Taufbuechlein retained the Sign of the Cross in the baptismal service and used the Sign of the Cross as one of his last gestures before death (H. Grizar, Luther, 3:435). The sign of the cross was made simply with the fingers (the index or the thumb) on the forehead or lips or breast (as Latin-rite Catholics do at the beginning of the Gospel lesson) or with the whole hand over the torso. He also writes, “At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign. For that, we have to go deeper into the Scriptures. Although often translated as sealed, the Greek word in these three texts is the same as the one used in Revelation 7:3, sphragizō, which one biblical concordance defines as to set a seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal for a number of purposes, including security from Satan and to prove one’s testimony to a person that he is what he professes to be. That’s also the Hebrew word for the last letter of its alphabet (according to these language sites here and here). (It might help, before proceeding further, to recall that languages have words for the letters in their alphabets. https://www.christianity.com/.../why-do-catholics-use-the-sign-of-the-cross.html Answer: Simply put, the meaning of the cross is death. ), Catholic commentators have traditionally associated the seal on the foreheads of the servants of God with the Sign of the Cross. Specifically, around 2,000 BC the letter was shaped like St. George’s Cross. Cross, the principal symbol of the Christian religion, recalling the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the redeeming benefits of his Passion and death. The demons fear the sign of the Cross and cannot stand to even see it traced in the air because they know that the Cross is the sign of friendship between mankind and God. The Sign of the Cross is made by touching the forehead with the fingers of the right hand, then the breast and then the left and right shoulders. The theme of God’s redemptive plan runs through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In Israeli schools, writing the “plus” sign is frowned upon, because it looks too much like a cross. Grizar citation: Luther, Hartmann Grizar, B. Herder Book Co., 1919, vol. STEVE RAY HERE: The biggest difference is that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus 2000 years ago and the other “denominations” are break-offs, protest groups that are of recent origin. The sign was originally placed upon the forehead with the thumb and later extended to the whole upper body. Now, in Ezekiel 9, the mark was to be put on the foreheads of those who grieved and lamented the idolatry and abominations of their fellow Israelites. 3, p. 435. All this is to say that 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. Likewise, our word for the letter B is bee, which happens to also be the name for a certain type of insect. Tertullian: Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Philip Schaff, ed., Eerdmans, 1980, vol. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we learn: “The Christian begins his day, his prayers and his activities with the Sign of the Cross: ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. A number of commentators, most notably St. Jerome, have concluded that the mark was cross-shaped. Though the NT does not specifically mention the “Sign of the Cross”, there is scriptural warrant for such a gesture. (See below illustration.). Rather, the Bible is seen as a witness to revelation that takes place in events. Centuries later, in the early 1800s, the noted Catholic commentator George Haydock cites it. Sinal da Cruz – Apologistas da Fé Católica, Exploring Prayer: The Rosary | En Via Christum, What Does the Word Catholic Mean? The addition symbol we use here in Israel looks like this: ﬩ , like an upside down ‘T’. All rights reserved. To divide event revelation from propositional revelation is to leave us with a story without an interpretation. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/StephenBeale1, The Advent Mysteries of Annunciation & Incarnation. Yet most Protestants reject the idea of placing the sign of the cross upon themselves. The addition symbol we use here in Israel looks like this: ﬩ , like an upside down ‘T’. At first, you might think it was a fluke of fate — a random misfortune. Origen: The Faith of Catholics, Rev. and even the most wicked ungodly blasphemous person can spare himself of the judgments in those passages so long as he makes this sign on his forehead? He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com. The Catholic Church has always seen outward gestures as means of expressing and actuating internal spiritual realities. Demons are apostates, the enemies of God. There is nothing in the Greek of the [New Testament] even to imply two pieces of timber.” The cross has a long central staff and then three horizontal bars cross it near the top, in diminishing order of length. It is the secret and power of a Christian's life. While the Bible does not instruct us to cross ourselves, the sign of the cross is not without biblical symbolism. STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks Edward, good point. cross, The combination of the words and the action are a creed—a statement of belief. (For example, see the Haydock Bible Commentary here and Scott Hahn’s book Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots.). It’s the same idea with Hebrew. 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. It sounds like the kind of thing that theology professors may enjoy discussing, but not the sort of thing that will help you work out problems in your marriage or raise your kids or pay your bills or overcome personal problems. The pre-Christian cross was used as a religious symbol and as an ornament among the Egyptians, Syrians, Greeks, Persians, Europeans, and in some parts of Afric… Thus the solutions to our problems center in the cross of Christ. The Easton Bible Dictionary provides the following definition, meaning and emblem for the Cross Christian Symbol in the Bible. Over time, Christians have imbued this small, simple gesture with volumes of theological meaning. | R. Jared Staudt, PhD, The Lost Riches of Catholic Catechisms with Aaron Seng of Tradivox, The Catholic Faith in Public Life After the 2020 Election with Derek Rotty. John 2:11 - This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. It could be a similar sign to the one God gave to Cain after he killed his brother able to preserve his life in Genesis 4:15. For Catholics, the Sign of the Cross does not need to be explicitly recorded in the Scriptures in order to justify its use. But does the Sign of the Cross go back as far as the Bible? STEVE RAY HERE: In this case it appears to be a literal sign. In the New Testament the cross was the instrument of crucifixion, and hence used for the crucifixion of Christ itself (Eph. 2. Luke 1:26-38 ESV / 2 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful. Pustet & Co., 1885, vol. As noted on page 21 of the BW book, its name (Tav) is a common Hebrew word that denotes a mark, sign, or cross. A regular plus sign (+) looks way too much like a cross, and is carefully … St. Jerome’s cross-centered view of Ezekiel 9:4 has continued to be taken seriously since then. The three bars of the cross most likely represent the three realms of the Pope's authority: the church, the world, and heaven. Copyright © 2000–2020 Stephen K. Ray. 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. What was written on the sign that was hung on the cross above the head of Jesus? 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. Miracles have been performed with this simple gesture and parliaments and councils have opened under its sign. The simplest and most common Christian cross is the Latin cross, also … . We mark ourselves as Christians through the Sign of the Cross. ), Now, what was so exciting for St. Jerome and others is that in its ancient forms the letter tav looked like a cross. Ghezzi writes that at its heart, the sign of the cross is "a simple gesture and … a simple prayer." What did this sign or seal look like? In Israeli schools, writing the “plus” sign is frowned upon, because it looks too much like a cross. Or should we see it as something symbolic, not an outward sign, but rather a spiritual seal(Ephesians 1:13)? Over time, Christians have imbued this small, simple gesture with volumes of theological meaning. And, in Revelation 22:4, while an angel is leading John on a tour of the New Jerusalem that descended out of heaven, he is told that the servants of God who live in the celestial city will have God’s name on their foreheads. The combination of the words and the action are a creed—a statement of belief. How Can Beauty & Culture Save the World? The truth must always be told and the Catholic Church will always do just that. Jesus died in this way. They are far removed from the Divine Face. We mark ourselves as Christians through the Sign of the Cross. Such baptismal language strengthens the connection with the Sign of the Cross, which is accompanied by the words, “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”—the same words with which we are baptized. Tradition will be held forth to you as the originator of them, custom as their strengthener, and faith as their observer” (The Chaplet 3, 4). Luke 1:26-38 ESV / 2 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful. The meaning of each Letter derives from its name, position in the Alphabet, grammatical function and associated KeyWords. St. Francis, who attended the council, was reportedly so inspired that he embraced the tau (the Greek letter that is the counterpart to the Hebrew letter tav) as the emblem of his order, according to historian Warren Carroll. rosʹ, according to Crucifixion in Antiquity, means “a pole in the broadest sense. From about the 6th century BC until the 4th century AD, the cross was an instrument of execution that resulted in death by the most torturous and painful of ways. Great article ! In the Sign of the Cross, we profess the deepest mysteries of the Christian Faith: the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--and the saving work of Christ on the Cross on Good Friday. Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. … He writes of the wife who “signs” her bed and body (To His Wife 5). In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. As then-Cardinal Ratzinger once described it, the Sign of the Cross as the “summing up and re-acceptance of our baptism.”. . Thank you. If, for these and other such rules, you insist upon having positive Scripture injunction, you will find none. 2:16; Heb. At its heart is Calvary, the place where Jesus died so we could be forgiven. None of the above verses offer specifics. A History of the Word “Catholic”. And, even a Protestant commentator in the same century, British Methodist theologian Adam Clarke, lends it some credence. A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. Defenders of the Catholic Faith | Hosted by Stephen K. Ray. Contrary to what some Protestants would have you think, the Sign of the Cross dates back to the earliest times. St. Paul writes, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2), and “may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 6:14). In the Sign of the Cross, we profess the deepest mysteries of the Christian Faith: the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--and the saving work of Christ on the Cross on Good Friday. It is not the equivalent of a ‘cross.’” The word xyʹlon, used at Acts 5:30, is “simply an upright pale or stake to which the Romans nailed those who were thus said to be crucified.” Over the centuries, this interpretation of Ezekiel 9:4 has been taken seriously by saints and scholars alike. sin ('oth "a sign" "mark" mopheth, "wonder"' semeion, "a sign," "signal," "mark"): A mark by which persons or things are distinguished and made known. Specifically, St. Jerome says the mark was shaped like the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, which, in its earliest forms had a cross-like shape. Few actions so clearly distinguish a person as a Catholic in our culture as the Sign of the Cross. The sign of the cross is the supreme sacramental. I need to know what is the biggest difference between the modern Christianity and Catholic religions? There are slight differences in how it is made between the various rites of the Church, but they are all legitimate. By this sign thou shalt conquer, and that" on the following night Christ himself appeared and ordered him to take for his standard the sign of this cross. I have printed it and posted it on my fridge at eye-level for my seven-year-old son who has just begun serving Mass in the Extraordinary Form. crossing self, My subject today--”The Meaning of the Cross”--may strike you as being a bit theological and impractical. The Sign of the Cross simply affirms in gestures the core of the creed—the existence of the Trinity and the crucifixion of Jesus. The cross is thought to have originated from the ancient Babylonians before its spread to other parts of the world such as Syria, Egypt, Greek, Latin, India, and Mexico. He is a former news editor at GoLocalProv.com and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. The idea of a sign or a seal marking members of the Church as God’s own also surfaces elsewhere in the New Testament. Ezekiel provided a support for the early Christians to use it as a “sacramental” (CCC 1235, 1668) to display their devotion to Christ and His Cross. It is the most common and visible means by which we confess our faith. Historically, the sign has also been viewed as representing the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Charles Stanley. The Bible teaches that there was a crucial event, the event of the cross. Can i please adopt it to my parish newspapper ? He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites (Revelation 7:2-4, New American Bible, Rev. Then I saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. Cross, the principal symbol of the Christian religion, recalling the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the redeeming benefits of his Passion and death. The evidence is hidden in a book whose very name suggests the unveiling of concealed concealed—a book so filled with tales of beasts, a seven-headed dragon, horse-like locusts, and a two hundred million-strong army of fire-breathing steeds that you might have missed where it talks about anything like the Sign of the Cross: the Book of Revelation. Commentators, both Catholic and Protestant, have seen Revelation 7:3 as an allusion back to Ezekiel 9:4, where we read God’s instructions to a linen-clad man in one of the prophet’s visions: “Lord said to him: Pass through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark … the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the abominations practiced within it.”. And parliaments and councils have opened under its sign may strike you as being a theological! M not mistaken `` and the action are a creed—a statement of belief for a certain type of insect it... 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