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prodromas
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« on: October 25, 2007, 04:50:49 AM »

A Greek teacher I once had, was telling the class about the sign of the cross and how the Orthodox do it (3 fingers form the Trinity and two fingers touching palm form Jesus' two natures) the teacher then went on a Catholic bashing monologue about how the Catholics use 4 fingers straight to signify the Trinity along with the Pope (as the vicar of Christ). I'm not sure how sound this was and was wondering if anyone can confirm or deny this?
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2007, 08:44:35 AM »

I've never heard of that before.

To be honest, I don't know what the "correct" way is. I do it with three fingers together and the ring finger and pinky tucked in. But a quick perusal of fisheaters.com revealed this:


The Sign of the Cross is made thus: First choose your style:


Option A. With your right hand, touch the thumb and ring finger together, and hold your index finger and middle finger together to signify the two natures of Christ. This is the most typical Western Catholic practice.
 
Option B. Hold your thumb and index finger of your right hand together to signify the two natures of Christ
 
Option C. Hold your thumb, index finger, middle finger of your right hand together (signifying the Trinity) while tucking the ring finger and pinky finger (signifying the two natures of Christ) toward your palm. This is the typically Eastern Catholic practice.
 
Option D: Hold your right hand open with all 5 fingers -- representing the 5 Wounds of Christ -- together and very slightly curved, and thumb slightly tucked into palm
Then:


touch the forehead as you say (or pray mentally) "In nomine Patris" ("In the name of the Father")
 
touch the breastbone or top of the belly as you say "et Filii" ("and of the Son")
 
touch the left shoulder, then right shoulder, as you say "et Spiritus Sancti" ("and of the Holy Ghost"). Note that some people end the Sign by crossing the thumb over the index finger to make a cross, and then kissing the thumb as a way of "kissing the Cross."


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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2007, 11:58:37 AM »

Yeah, I'm going to go out on a very strong limb and say your teacher's reasoning for the way Roman Catholics do the sign of the cross is at best a parroting of anti-Catholic propaganda.  I've never heard that and was never really given any reasoning for using my whole hand.

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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2007, 02:46:00 AM »

Actually, I've heard the earliest Christians made the sign of the cross on the forehead only, with their thumbs.

An early practice was to use the two fingers, symbolizing the two natures of Christ. At some point, the Byzantine Greeks changed it to three fingers. The Russians were much later in making this same change, and when the Tsar tried to force this change in the 1600s, the "Old Believer" schism occurred.

I'm guessing the two finger or three finger practice came during the disputes in the East during the 300-400s over whether Christ had one or two natures. The west never experienced this controversy, so it could be that the "whole hand" gesture is older than the current Eastern practice. That's my speculation, anyway.
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« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2007, 11:06:59 PM »

Hello,

Currently, the standard way that Latin Catholics make the Sign of the Cross is with the whole hand - all five fingers. This is to symbolize the unity of the Trinity.

Here is how I make the Sign of the Cross:

I form my hand like this: I extend and touch my thumb, index, and middle fingers to symbolize the Holy Trinity. I tuck my ring and pinky fingers into my palm to symbolize the two natures of Christ.

I touch my forehead with the point of the three fingers to symbolize that the Father is the head and source of the Trinity: In Nomine Patris,

I move down to touch my heart to symbolize that Jesus is begotten of the Father and that He descended from the throne of Heaven to earth for my sake. It also reminds me of the Sacred Heart, Precious Blood and Divine Mercy: et Filii,

I move to my left shoulder to symbolize that Christ died for me and that by His Cross He has brought me from death (see next part): et Spiritus

I move to my right shoulder to symbolize (from previous part) to life and that Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father in eternal glory with the Trinity: Sancti. Amen.
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« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2007, 11:30:01 PM »

In a small effort to bring our new members up to date somewhat, here are some previous threads on similar topics:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,6648.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2111.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3855.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12043.0.html
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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2007, 11:59:37 PM »

So may be it would be possible to differentiate this way:
Western Rite Sign of the Cross - applied by some Western Orthodox and all Roman Catholics
Eastern Rite Sign of the Cross - applied by Eastern Orthodox, some Western Orthodox and all Eastern Rite Catholics
Oriental / Coptic Rite Sign of the Cross
Old Rite Sign of the Cross.

All these variants express one and the same great message.
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2007, 12:05:27 AM »

Hello,

Here is an excellent book on the subject:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9781557254962&itm=2
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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2007, 01:47:38 AM »


The important thing is, which ever way it is done, to cross one's self deliberately and with great reverence each time it is done. I love the Orthodox signing because it involves a very humble bow afterwards. However, Ive seen it done very haphazardly and what looked like a race to see how many could be done in one minute.

Someone asked me how many times we made the sign of the cross at Liturgy.  My answer was as many as you want to. But, whenever the Trinity, beginning and ending of prayers, the "Lord have mercy", or "Grant it O Lord" is said, "Now and ever....", the Epiclesis during the changing of the Bread and Wine, Thine Own of Thine Own, etc. we cross ourselves. you know come to think of it, we do a lot of crossings during Liturgy.  But again, you will find those who cross very seldom to those who do it a lot. It varies.

JoeS

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« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2007, 10:58:02 AM »

Hello,

The important thing is, which ever way it is done, to cross one's self deliberately and with great reverence each time it is done.
AMEN!
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« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2007, 05:47:01 PM »

An interesting side note.  The way Roman Catholics cross themselves before the Gospel reading at mass may be the earliest form of crossing yourself.  You make the three fingers and make a small cross sign on your forehead, lips and heart.
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« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2007, 06:35:32 PM »

An interesting side note.  The way Roman Catholics cross themselves before the Gospel reading at mass may be the earliest form of crossing yourself.  You make the three fingers and make a small cross sign on your forehead, lips and heart.
Actually, I think they just use their thumb.
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« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2007, 06:38:58 PM »

you know you are right! You don't stick your thumb out though you just make a sort of little fist!  The things you forget.
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« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2007, 10:02:16 PM »

Hello,

For the Gospel, we use the thumb. We form it like a thumbs up. We cross our foreheads, our lips and our hearts. Not an official part of it (though I believe the rubrics for the Priest does include something similar), but I say as I cross myself: Lord, may Your holy Gospel be in my thoughts, words, and deeds.
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« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2007, 10:41:08 PM »

Yet another is the series of three small Crosses traced by the thumb of the right hand -- one small Cross on the forehead, one small Cross on the lips, and one small Cross on the breast -- just before the Gospel reading at Mass. The sign on the forehead is to show that we believe the Gospel, the sign on the lips is to show that we respect the Gospel and desire to spread the Good News, and the sign on our breast is to show that we love the Gospel and want it kept in our hearts.

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« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2007, 03:59:17 PM »

Hello,

For the Gospel, we use the thumb. We form it like a thumbs up. We cross our foreheads, our lips and our hearts. Not an official part of it (though I believe the rubrics for the Priest does include something similar), but I say as I cross myself: Lord, may Your holy Gospel be in my thoughts, words, and deeds.

We were taught it meant: Lord be on my mind, my lips, and in my heart.

Gloria, tibi dominae
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« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2007, 09:52:09 PM »

We were taught it meant: Lord be on my mind, my lips, and in my heart.

Gloria, tibi dominae

Hey JoeS, I'm not sure what you meant by "Gloria, tibi dominae" was that to the person you were replying to (presumably a girl)? Or were you trying to say "Glory be to thee, O Lord" (in reference to Jesus). If it was the latter then you should have said "Gloria tibi, Domine".

Catholig
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« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2007, 01:12:02 PM »

Hey JoeS, I'm not sure what you meant by "Gloria, tibi dominae" was that to the person you were replying to (presumably a girl)? Or were you trying to say "Glory be to thee, O Lord" (in reference to Jesus). If it was the latter then you should have said "Gloria tibi, Domine".

Catholig

It is what we used to say in Latin when we blessed ourselves with the thumb in three places.  Thanks for the correction "Domine", my Latin is a bit rusty.
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« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2008, 12:27:34 AM »


Read "Jesus, Peter and the Keys," by Scott Butler
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« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2008, 12:35:56 AM »

Read "Jesus, Peter and the Keys," by Scott Butler

Why?
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« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2008, 11:19:34 PM »

Hello everyone:

We sing ourselves in different ways, many unfortunately do it very carelesly without the devotion and reverence they ought to have, but the general and standar way of making the sign of the cross is actually with the index and the thumb making a cross and starts from head to left shoulder to right shoulder, many end this (freely) by kissing the cross made with our fingers (practice very common in Latin America). Many I must concede do it with the open pal and don't kiss the sing of the cross.
At the gospel reading we do three crosses, forehad, mouth and heart.
But every prayer we do private or public liturgy we start it with the sign of the cross.
An interesting note: The three fingers are also used in the Latin rite but for some reason ove time its use is not so widespread now. 
Pax Domini
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« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2008, 11:21:59 PM »

Hello everyone:

We sign ourselves in different ways, many unfortunately do it very carelesly without the devotion and reverence they ought to have, but the general and standar way of making the sign of the cross is actually with the index and the thumb making a cross and starts from head to left shoulder to right shoulder, many end this (freely) by kissing the cross made with our fingers (practice very common in Latin America). Many I must concede do it with the open pal and don't kiss the sing of the cross.
At the gospel reading we do three crosses, forehad, mouth and heart.
But every prayer we do private or public liturgy we start it with the sign of the cross.
An interesting note: The three fingers are also used in the Latin rite but for some reason ove time its use is not so widespread now.  
Pax Domini  Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2008, 01:03:03 AM »

^ If, immediately after submitting a post, you want to make changes to it (such as adding a smiley), you can.  All you need to do is click the 'Modify' link attached to your post.  I think your window of opportunity to do this is something like 15 minutes.

BTW, welcome to the forum, Dominicanus3. Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: July 08, 2008, 04:23:27 PM »

Catholics make the sign of the cross with five fingers because they worship the quintitiy (Mary, the Trinity, and the pope). (I'M JOKING! Just making fun of stereotypes created by Protestants)

Catholics make the sign of the cross with five fingers because they are pentaphysites and believe Christ had 5 natures. (ALSO JUST JOKING!)

I've heard a lot of strange Protestant rumors about it being the sign of the Antichrist or somehow has something to do with Mary (only Fundamentalist Protestants, I'm not making fun of the majority of Protestants.)

To my knowledge it represents the 5 wounds of Christ, and I've heard other symbolism behind it, but nothing weird or heretical. It's only heretical if you make up your own interpretations of it. Like I've heard that the three-finger method is crucifying the entire Holy Trinity, but only from outside interpretations. People can sure find ways to invent other religion's theology for them!

Don't some Orthodox actually do the 5 finger method in Western Rite Churches? It wouldn't surprise me, or I don't see what Orthodox would have against it. Unless some interpreted it in weird ways (like the ones above I made up).
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« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2008, 12:05:23 PM »

Don't some Orthodox actually do the 5 finger method in Western Rite Churches? It wouldn't surprise me, or I don't see what Orthodox would have against it. Unless some interpreted it in weird ways (like the ones above I made up).

In some Western Rite parishes they do so, but not in all of them. The Western Orthodox Mission of Saint Gregory the Great (Antiochian) in Washington, DC, which I attended several times proceeds with the Eastern Rite Sign of Cross.

As a matter of fact, they are a great community, and I think, they have been elevated to the full status of the Parish recently.
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« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2008, 10:01:35 PM »

In some Western Rite parishes they do so, but not in all of them. The Western Orthodox Mission of Saint Gregory the Great (Antiochian) in Washington, DC, which I attended several times proceeds with the Eastern Rite Sign of Cross.

As a matter of fact, they are a great community, and I think, they have been elevated to the full status of the Parish recently.

This is correct, we're a parish now Smiley BTW, thanks for the kind words about the parish. We have a great congregation and a wonderful priest.

There is a mix of crossing styles at St. Gregory's, some do Eastern and some Western. it's a pesonal preference. Our preist once said when asked about this that he didn't think God much cared which way you did it - the most important thing is that yo do it.

 Either way, one should boldly and proudly make the sign of the cross. I think this is something the Catholics and Orthodox can both agree.

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« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2008, 10:22:13 PM »

Read "Jesus, Peter and the Keys," by Scott Butler

I ordered that from Amazon not long ago after reading reviews of it being the end all discussions on the papacy. I was very disappointed. It was no more convincing than Upon This Rock by Stephen Ray. It wasn't for lack of desire on my part either. If you are familiar with the Orthodox view on the subject, the book will do nothing to change your mind.
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« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2008, 08:10:05 AM »

Quote
We sing ourselves in different ways, many unfortunately do it very carelesly without the devotion and reverence they ought to have, but the general and standar way of making the sign of the cross is actually with the index and the thumb making a cross and starts from head to left shoulder to right shoulder, many end this (freely) by kissing the cross made with our fingers (practice very common in Latin America). Many I must concede do it with the open pal and don't kiss the sing of the cross.
At the gospel reading we do three crosses, forehad, mouth and heart.
But every prayer we do private or public liturgy we start it with the sign of the cross.
An interesting note: The three fingers are also used in the Latin rite but for some reason ove time its use is not so widespread now. 
Pax Domini
Yeah, you're right; also in Italy, Catholics often use a kiss as a conclusion for the sign of the cross. I tried to use the three fingers in a Church while I was in a period of transition between Catholicism and Orthodoxy to see if somebody noticed it: well nobody did, and many people position the right hand... randomly. There's just no more interest in the Sign of the Cross among Italian Catholics: most of them use it only to enter a sacred place (a church, a sanctuary or a cemetery) or when the liturgy explicitly asks for it (at the Introit, at the blessings and so on) but the practice is still decaying. As far as I am concerned, even as a Catholic I always found the Sign of the Cross a beatiful sign of my belonging to Jesus as a Christian, and used it more times then many other Catholics (my mother and grandmother provided a good education and respect for this "sacramental", as RC's call it). That's why I began to appreciate the Orthodox Church: they use it when possible because they love to glorify the Lord and also ask his blessing for every important action they do.
When I had my very first experience at a Divine Liturgy (Pascha 2008) in a Russian Church I found it so easy to repeat the Sign of the Cross that I was soon immersed in the supernatural of the rite.

It's a shame many Catholics lost their passion for this blessed ritual surviving against modernization for 2000 years, many consider it as a superstition... I also think it's a great loss for the Protestants who rejected it as some form of paganism. What a difference from saint Paul's words on how he was glad of the Cross of Christ Jesus!

Lord have mercy.
In Christ,    Alex
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« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2008, 11:50:47 AM »

It's a shame many Catholics lost their passion for this blessed ritual surviving against modernization for 2000 years, many consider it as a superstition... I also think it's a great loss for the Protestants who rejected it as some form of paganism. What a difference from saint Paul's words on how he was glad of the Cross of Christ Jesus!

Lord have mercy.
In Christ,    Alex

Say what one will about the Ancient Church of the East, but I have always felt that they are correct in holding that the Sign of the Cross is a Divine Mystery/Sacrament and sign it with the great reverence it is due.
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« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2008, 02:56:39 PM »

Yes, of course the Church of the East is right. Obviously if the word "sacrament" is used as a perfect synonim for "mystery" well the Sign of the Cross IS a Sacrament, and I do agree with the importance the Church of the East recognizes to it. And, of course, the distinction between sacraments and sacramentals is very weak in Orthodoxy... everything which communicates grace is a Mystery of the Church.

In Christ,     Alex
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« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2008, 10:14:26 PM »

Dear Reader Kevin Andrew,
Congratulations with the new status of your community! Hope you like your new location. Yes, I really enjoyed visiting St. Gregory's. A very nice parish.
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