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Author Topic: Why do I see clergy crossing themselves differently?  (Read 2873 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 08, 2009, 07:49:22 AM »

When I see clergy crossing themselves during services, (typically i see the readers, because they are the most visible throughout) more often than not I see some sort of variant on the standard "forehead-sternum-right/left shoulder". I see this most often: "forehead-sternum-middle right breast-below left breast-sternum".  This almost looks like they are making the sign of the vertical beam of the cross and the lower diagonal "footstep". Other times I will see them cross themselves different entirely. Is there a reason for this? Is it acceptable for laypeople to cross themselves such as this? Huh
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2009, 09:07:42 AM »

Never noticed any difference. Could it just be the way they do it?
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2009, 09:52:08 AM »

First, there is no "clerical" form or "lay" form of the sign of the cross.

Sounds to me like (1) the readers in question are not overly concerned that their fingers touch the same exact location every time; and (2) you are reading way too much into the way people make the sign of the cross.

Some people make big, slow, pain-stakingly deliberate movements. Others speed it along and barely manage to hit their pecs. Still others zip along with such laxity that they don't even fully touch their chest (the banjo player cross). Just a fact of life. None of these ways are actually different forms of the sign of the cross - and certainly not forms reserved for clergy.   
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2009, 10:40:33 AM »

Ok.  It just seems distinctly different from how I see most of the laypeople perform it, and it seems to be intentionally so. (it is repeated the same way) In fact, oftentimes I don't even see them touch their forehead, it seems like they just make a cross sign on their chest. (I've seen priests do this also) Is there much flexibility/individuality in how we can sign the cross?
« Last Edit: October 08, 2009, 10:42:45 AM by Ortho_cat » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2009, 11:08:26 AM »

I know what you mean, but I don't think there's any meaning behind it.  It's just how some people do it.  My father, for instance, does the "return to the sternum" thing. 
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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2009, 11:51:00 AM »

I serve at the Alter so I observe up close, there is no difference. What you are likely noticing is the habit of that particular Priest.

Have you heard the joke; " I dont belong to an organized religion, I'm Orthodox"  Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2009, 12:09:20 PM »

Ok.  It just seems distinctly different from how I see most of the laypeople perform it, and it seems to be intentionally so. (it is repeated the same way) In fact, oftentimes I don't even see them touch their forehead, it seems like they just make a cross sign on their chest. (I've seen priests do this also) Is there much flexibility/individuality in how we can sign the cross?
The sign of the Cross should always be made intentionally, so it's good that your clergy are doing so with intent. Yes, there are many variations, and as long as it is done in good theology and in the right state of mind, as a prayer in service to God, it could be acceptable worship (I'll leave the absolutes to God).
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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2009, 12:20:59 PM »

So has anyone else heard of/noticed what seems to be a signing of the vertical post and diagonal footrest of the cross, or is this my mind playing tricks on me?
   
   
 
     
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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2009, 02:10:39 PM »

Ok.  It just seems distinctly different from how I see most of the laypeople perform it, and it seems to be intentionally so. (it is repeated the same way) In fact, oftentimes I don't even see them touch their forehead, it seems like they just make a cross sign on their chest. (I've seen priests do this also) Is there much flexibility/individuality in how we can sign the cross?
I have also noticed some chanters making the sign entirely over their chest. I think that this may have to do with keeping a clear line of sight to the service books and/or not bothering the chanter to his right.
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« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2009, 09:19:56 PM »

So has anyone else heard of/noticed what seems to be a signing of the vertical post and diagonal footrest of the cross, or is this my mind playing tricks on me?       
No, I've noticed this too, but it's not always clergy who cross themselves this way. I think it's just an ordinary variation, with no special significance.
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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2009, 11:52:12 PM »

I have a tendency to walk at a faster pace than most people and with an almost ramrod straight posture that leads many people to recognize the Marine Corps training I've received.  This is just the way I walk, which is quite different from how other people walk.  I think the fact that different people make the sign of the cross differently is very similar.  Personal variations with no theological significance...
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2009, 12:38:26 AM »

So has anyone else heard of/noticed what seems to be a signing of the vertical post and diagonal footrest of the cross, or is this my mind playing tricks on me?
   
   
 
     

Sometimes, vestments get in the way and hinder the arm movement.
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2009, 02:09:05 AM »

No.  Every priest and every bishop I have seen, cross themselves as they and our parents have taught us, to cross ourselves.  I am a chanter and don't mind offering that when I'm concentrating on chanting, I am not as conscious of my prayerfullness as I cross myself, every few minutes, it seems.  I know my stavro is a little sloppier than it should be.  At a wedding once, a Roman Catholic guest approached me afterward and asked me why Orthodox cross themselves twice, because that's what he'd seen me do.  I acknowledged that I may make the sign of the cross once or three times, but if I did it twice, it was in error.  For clergy, their vestments, while holding a book, too, as noted above, may affect the exactness of the form of making the sign of the cross.
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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2009, 02:12:29 AM »

So has anyone else heard of/noticed what seems to be a signing of the vertical post and diagonal footrest of the cross, or is this my mind playing tricks on me?
   
   
 
     

Yes, I have noticed it in the Greek Orthodox Church. I wondered about it as well.

Selam
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2009, 02:41:54 AM »

So has anyone else heard of/noticed what seems to be a signing of the vertical post and diagonal footrest of the cross, or is this my mind playing tricks on me?
   
   
 
     

Yes, I have noticed it in the Greek Orthodox Church. I wondered about it as well.

Selam

I guess I'll ask my priest next time I see him if theres anything to this.
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2009, 09:45:42 AM »

Again, there's really nothing to this. End of story.

Same thing goes for prostrations and half-prostrations. Everyone does them differently. Some people touch their head to the ground; others, especially monks, just do this kind of super-fast squat thing when making dozens at a time.

Some people even blend a half-prostration with their normal cross, so they'll kind of throw their hand down a ways with a little tiny bow before and/or after making the sign of the cross.

Every body is different, so everybody moves their body in different ways.

(sounds like something from Sesame Street)
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2009, 10:20:49 AM »

So it would be ok if I make the sign of the cross over my chest then?
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« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2009, 01:24:41 PM »

So it would be ok if I make the sign of the cross over my chest then?
That's a question for your priest, but the most important thing is that the sign of the Cross be a prayer.
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« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2009, 02:04:32 PM »

So it would be ok if I make the sign of the cross over my chest then?
That's a question for your priest, but the most important thing is that the sign of the Cross be a prayer.

Agreed. It's up to your priest. Personally, I prefer a fuller cross, b/c it allows my prayer to be more intentional.
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« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2009, 02:53:52 PM »

I have a tendency to walk at a faster pace than most people and with an almost ramrod straight posture that leads many people to recognize the Marine Corps training I've received.  This is just the way I walk, which is quite different from how other people walk.  I think the fact that different people make the sign of the cross differently is very similar.  Personal variations with no theological significance...


Do you think the two finger cross ( Old Rite) is acceptable or does that cross a theological line?
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« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2009, 06:58:53 PM »

 My father, for instance, does the "return to the sternum" thing. 


Me too. Not sure where I picked it up. I saw a man at an Antiochian parish touch the priests' vestments, cross himself, back to the sternum and then kiss the tips of his fingers.



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« Reply #21 on: October 10, 2009, 02:34:55 AM »

I have a tendency to walk at a faster pace than most people and with an almost ramrod straight posture that leads many people to recognize the Marine Corps training I've received.  This is just the way I walk, which is quite different from how other people walk.  I think the fact that different people make the sign of the cross differently is very similar.  Personal variations with no theological significance...


Do you think the two finger cross ( Old Rite) is acceptable or does that cross a theological line?
I don't think the Old Rite or the current practice is superior theologically to the other.  It's probably best just to follow that which you have been taught in your own tradition and not judge those who were taught a different practice.
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« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2009, 03:20:08 AM »

Does anyone know of any good online resources about the history of the sign of the cross?
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« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2012, 07:55:34 PM »

The "two finger" sign of the Cross (which really means that instead of these three fingers together and those two fingers together, it's THESE three fingers together and THESE two fingers together) is done in Old Ritualist parishes of our Russian Church, with the blessing of the Patriarchate and of the Russian Church Abroad.

There is no theological difference.
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« Reply #24 on: September 05, 2012, 11:04:46 PM »

 My father, for instance, does the "return to the sternum" thing. 


Me too. Not sure where I picked it up. I saw a man at an Antiochian parish touch the priests' vestments, cross himself, back to the sternum and then kiss the tips of his fingers.



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So, why the kissing of your own fingers at the end?

I saw this last night on TV.  I was watching Hell's Kitchen.  I wish it was called something else...but, I was still watching it.  Next week is the final show of the season.  When they showed the clips for next week's drama, one of the remaining chef-wannabes, Justin, was under pressure and crossed himself....with his right hand, to the right first, then the left, and ended by kissing his fingers.

I thought perhaps he might be Orthodox, since he used his right hand, and crossed from right to left....but, the kissing of fingers seems foreign to me.  I Googled him, but, was not able to verify his religious affiliation.
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« Reply #25 on: September 05, 2012, 11:10:43 PM »

As for lay-crossing, I've seen many different ways of signing just from the people at my parish alone...

1) Forehead > sternum > right shoulder > left shoulder > pat/tap chest one or more times

2) Forehead > top of sternum > over an inch to the right > over an inch to the left (aka the smallest cross possible Cheesy)

3) Forehead > sternum > right shoulder > top of sternum

Just a few examples among many more. A lot of people love to tap/pat their chests during and after... I don't have the slighest clue as to why.
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« Reply #26 on: September 05, 2012, 11:15:11 PM »

Am I the only one who crosses down to my stomach?
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« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2012, 11:16:08 PM »

Am I the only one who crosses down to my stomach?

No.
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« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2012, 11:22:45 PM »

I do, too.

I also teach the kids to do so....slowly and deliberately.  I also emphasize that they touch all three fingers to their forehead, shoulders and tummy..

...and when I see them approach the cross on Saturday mornings, after the morning moleben before school....and not cross correctly they hear about it in class.  Cheesy

If your are going to do it, do it right.  If you do it wrong, than you aren't really paying attention, are you?  ....but, one has to be a bit more strict with kids, to get them in to a good habit.

Wink
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« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2012, 11:25:47 PM »

Am I the only one who crosses down to my stomach?

I do a lot of the time...  Tongue
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« Reply #30 on: September 06, 2012, 12:43:54 PM »

sometimes we kiss our fingers after (copts).
it's like we are kissing the cross
 Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: September 06, 2012, 01:00:04 PM »

I'm in the big cross to the belly and shoulders group too. 

Occasionally I kiss my fingers and then touch the priest's vestment if he passes near enough when he's processing with the chalice.  Some people (ok, little old ladies!) go for a full kiss, but I don't want to be assaulting the priest.  I figure what worked for the woman with the flow of blood is ok. 

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