Author Topic: Coptic Prayer Cross  (Read 3517 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline KostaC

  • Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 252
  • Chicago River Dyeing, March 15th, 20
Coptic Prayer Cross
« on: June 05, 2013, 06:03:37 PM »
Three years ago, when my Mother and Father were visiting Ellis Island, my Mother noticed an Orthodox priest milling about along with the other tourists. She went to kiss his hand, when he pulled his hand away. My Mother was confused, since this is what we do in the Greek tradition, and he jovially explained that he was a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and that she need not kiss his hand. As he had somehow placed his hand into his raso, his cassock, he pulled it out and placed something into her hand. It was a jet black cross, about seven-and-a-half inches long, made from braided leather strands that came together in circles to form the top and side bars of the cross. She entrusted it to me, and when I got back from Greece, I called the priest to thank him for his gift to us.  He explained that it was hand-made by monks in Egypt and on each of the circles, a prayer is said, and one goes around the 11 edges of the cross thrice to make 33 times, the number of years that Christ was on earth. This, he explained, was like our Church's komboskini. I take it with me when I go on important trips--I've taken it with me to regattas, to college, and to Istanbul and back. I only have one slight problem: I don't actually know what the prayer cross is called. I'll send a picture of it in this post in case I haven't adequately described it enough, but here's hoping that three years of wondering are about to come to an end. This generous priest and I talk all the time, in fact there have been times when I'm more comfortable telling him everything than my own parish priests, since I come from a large congregation and 1,100 souls can really weigh on them, and because this Father is an all-around amazing man. That being said, every time I make the call, it always slips my mind to ask him what his first gift was called. What can I say: I'm really scatterbrained  :D.

Also, as much as I'd like to say the priest's name, I don't know if that's allowed in the rules here over privacy issues. Hopefully I'm not overstepping any potential boundaries by saying that he hails from Egypt and currently serves the community of East Rutherford, New Jersey.
«Μὴ μεριμνᾶτε λοιπὸν διὰ τὴν αὔριον, διὀτι ἡ αὐριανὴ ἡμέρα θὰ φροντίσῃ διὰ τὰ δικά της πράγματα. Φθάνει ἡ στεναχώρια τῆς ἡμέρας». Κατά Ματθαίον 6:34

"Bendito seja o que vem em nome do Senhor, o Senhor é Deus e se manifestou a nós."

Offline IXOYE

  • Site Supporter
  • OC.net guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,030
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 08:08:21 PM »
It is a blessing Cross.  Comparable to the ones used in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Made of different materials.

Offline Mor Ephrem

  • The Fourteenth Apostle and Judge of the Interwebs
  • Section Moderator
  • Stratopedarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 22,813
  • "I pledge allegiance to the flag..."
    • OrthodoxChristianity.net
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: But my heart belongs to Czech Lands
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 08:34:55 PM »
I've never seen one of these made of leather, though I've seen other Coptic leather products.  Nice.

A general question to Copts/Ethiopians: is there a tradition of laypeople holding small hand-crosses like this in their own private prayers?  I met an Ethiopian deacon at a local Coptic parish, and he prays with a small hand-cross in his hand.  At first, I thought it was odd because I associated those with priests, but he said it's common.  Is it?  Or perhaps he misunderstood what I was asking? 
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

Quote
Bartholomew, 270th Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, is spiritual leader to 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

Offline Jonathan

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 837
    • St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2013, 08:53:23 PM »
I've never seen one of these made of leather, though I've seen other Coptic leather products.  Nice.

A general question to Copts/Ethiopians: is there a tradition of laypeople holding small hand-crosses like this in their own private prayers?  I met an Ethiopian deacon at a local Coptic parish, and he prays with a small hand-cross in his hand.  At first, I thought it was odd because I associated those with priests, but he said it's common.  Is it?  Or perhaps he misunderstood what I was asking? 

Deacons hold a hand cross up when they say the responses in the Liturgy. The reason is that it is not by their own authority that they say it. When chanters and readers take the place of the deacon they do the same. The priest uses the hand cross to bless. The deacon holds it upright, and is not using it to bless people.

Offline minasoliman

  • Mr., Sir, Dude, Guy, Male, tr. Minas in Greek, Menes in white people Egyptologists :-P
  • Section Moderator
  • Toumarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 14,320
  • Strengthen O Lord the work of Your hands(Is 19:25)
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2013, 09:56:28 PM »
I know a few laity who do hold hand crosses in their private practice.  My priest encourages it, although among the laity, it's also somewhat "mocked" for trying to act like a priest.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline Mor Ephrem

  • The Fourteenth Apostle and Judge of the Interwebs
  • Section Moderator
  • Stratopedarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 22,813
  • "I pledge allegiance to the flag..."
    • OrthodoxChristianity.net
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: But my heart belongs to Czech Lands
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2013, 10:41:11 PM »
I know a few laity who do hold hand crosses in their private practice.  My priest encourages it...

That's good enough for me.  I'll start carrying a cross tomorrow morning.  :P
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

Quote
Bartholomew, 270th Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, is spiritual leader to 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

Offline Jonathan

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 837
    • St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2013, 09:23:00 PM »
I know a few laity who do hold hand crosses in their private practice.  My priest encourages it...

That's good enough for me.  I'll start carrying a cross tomorrow morning.  :P

You can order one sized for laity here: http://www.orthodoxbookstore.org/handcrossi.aspx
for priests here: http://www.agape-bookstore.com/product_info.php?products_id=256 (can also be used for deacon's role)
or in wood here: http://www.stmosesbookstore.org/index.php/church-items/wooden-hand-cross-style-2-detail (must be wooden for the Liturgy of Baptism)

Online Arachne

  • Trinary Unit || Resident Bossy Boots
  • Section Moderator
  • Taxiarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,900
  • Off to see the wizard!
  • Faith: Cradle Greek Orthodox. Cope.
  • Jurisdiction: Antiochian Archdiocese, UK
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2013, 05:53:37 AM »
I know a few laity who do hold hand crosses in their private practice.  My priest encourages it...

That's good enough for me.  I'll start carrying a cross tomorrow morning.  :P

I have an olivewood 'comfort cross' that I keep in the icon corner and carry with me when travelling away from home. They can be found even on Amazon, and very cheaply too.
'When you live your path all the time, you end up with both more path and more time.'~Venecia Rauls

Blog ~ Bookshelf ~ Jukebox

Offline Mor Ephrem

  • The Fourteenth Apostle and Judge of the Interwebs
  • Section Moderator
  • Stratopedarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 22,813
  • "I pledge allegiance to the flag..."
    • OrthodoxChristianity.net
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: But my heart belongs to Czech Lands
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2013, 10:24:04 PM »
You can order one sized for laity here: http://www.orthodoxbookstore.org/handcrossi.aspx
for priests here: http://www.agape-bookstore.com/product_info.php?products_id=256 (can also be used for deacon's role)
or in wood here: http://www.stmosesbookstore.org/index.php/church-items/wooden-hand-cross-style-2-detail (must be wooden for the Liturgy of Baptism)

Thanks for the links, but you underestimate me.  I have five or six hand-crosses, I don't need to buy any.  :P

Arachne, what's a "comfort cross"?  Is it what Google says it is in the first page or so of results, or something else? 
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

Quote
Bartholomew, 270th Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, is spiritual leader to 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

Offline orthonorm

  • Hoplitarches
  • *************
  • Posts: 17,275
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2013, 10:39:47 PM »
You can order one sized for laity here: http://www.orthodoxbookstore.org/handcrossi.aspx
for priests here: http://www.agape-bookstore.com/product_info.php?products_id=256 (can also be used for deacon's role)
or in wood here: http://www.stmosesbookstore.org/index.php/church-items/wooden-hand-cross-style-2-detail (must be wooden for the Liturgy of Baptism)

Thanks for the links, but you underestimate me.  I have five or six hand-crosses, I don't need to buy any.  :P

Arachne, what's a "comfort cross"?  Is it what Google says it is in the first page or so of results, or something else? 

It is probably like a "worry stone". That would be my guess and its how RCs I knew used their "comfort crosses". Perhaps Arachne is talking about something else.
If you have PMed me, the mods have taken my ability to PM away. Please see my email if you wish to contact me during my time of trial.

Online Arachne

  • Trinary Unit || Resident Bossy Boots
  • Section Moderator
  • Taxiarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,900
  • Off to see the wizard!
  • Faith: Cradle Greek Orthodox. Cope.
  • Jurisdiction: Antiochian Archdiocese, UK
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2013, 03:01:39 AM »
Arachne, what's a "comfort cross"?  Is it what Google says it is in the first page or so of results, or something else?

Not sure my Google (UK) would bring up exactly the same results as yours. :) This one looks a lot like mine, down to the grain of the wood:



Basically, they're slightly irregular and rounded all over, in order to fit in the palm. They are popular with RCs who don't do rosaries, although it is said they were originally designed for hospital patients with limited mobility.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2013, 03:02:01 AM by Arachne »
'When you live your path all the time, you end up with both more path and more time.'~Venecia Rauls

Blog ~ Bookshelf ~ Jukebox

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

  • "SERVANT of The HOLY SPIRIT"
  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 8,937
  • "Lord Have Mercy on Me a Sinner!"
    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=profile&id=1456515775
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2013, 03:21:38 AM »
In regards to the OP, that is a beautiful and touching story. Glory to God!

When I was baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, my aunt bought me an Ethiopian hand cross as a gift. She's not Orthodox, but I took her to my favorite Ethiopian restaurant in Atlanta, and she saw the cross there and got it for me. So, in my zeal, I decided I was going to carry it with me everywhere I went, as a guard against temptation and as a constant reminder of my new life in Christ. But when I went to meet with my Priest and came in carrying the hand cross, he firmly but kindly rebuked me. He explained that only Priests can carry a hand cross like that publicly. But he said that it was fine for me to use in my private prayers, or even to bless my family and home when we pray.

It was my first temptation to decide whether I was going to trust the authority of the Church or trust in my own opinion. Even my wife (bless her heart) - still influenced by our former evangelical mindset - asked me "where does it say in the Bible that you can't carry a cross?" And I admit, I was troubled and discouraged. I couldn't figure out what in the world was wrong with me carrying around a hand cross. My intentions were not to imitate a Priest, I simply wanted to glorify God and have a tangible reminder of the imperative to "cling to the Cross." But when I submitted myself to the waters of baptism, I asked God to humble me and make me submissive to the Church's teachings and not my own fallible logic.

That hand cross is on our icon shelf, and when times are really difficult I pick it up and kiss it. And sometimes I even sleep with it. So, it has served its purpose well, even if I don't get to walk around with it publicly.


Selam
« Last Edit: June 10, 2013, 03:22:53 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus »
""Love is a dangerous thing. It will crush you if you trust it. But without it you can never be whole. Love crucifies, but love saves. We will either be saved together with love, or damned alone without it."    Selam, +GMK+

Offline Mor Ephrem

  • The Fourteenth Apostle and Judge of the Interwebs
  • Section Moderator
  • Stratopedarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 22,813
  • "I pledge allegiance to the flag..."
    • OrthodoxChristianity.net
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: But my heart belongs to Czech Lands
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2013, 10:01:45 AM »
Basically, they're slightly irregular and rounded all over, in order to fit in the palm. They are popular with RCs who don't do rosaries, although it is said they were originally designed for hospital patients with limited mobility.

Interesting...thanks!  That's basically what I pulled up (though now I'll have to search for "worry stone" :P).  I've never seen anyone use a cross like this, and I've never met a Roman Catholic who didn't "do" the Rosary in some way, so maybe that explains it. 
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

Quote
Bartholomew, 270th Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, is spiritual leader to 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

Offline Romaios

  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,933
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2013, 02:41:03 PM »

Online Arachne

  • Trinary Unit || Resident Bossy Boots
  • Section Moderator
  • Taxiarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,900
  • Off to see the wizard!
  • Faith: Cradle Greek Orthodox. Cope.
  • Jurisdiction: Antiochian Archdiocese, UK
'When you live your path all the time, you end up with both more path and more time.'~Venecia Rauls

Blog ~ Bookshelf ~ Jukebox

Offline Mor Ephrem

  • The Fourteenth Apostle and Judge of the Interwebs
  • Section Moderator
  • Stratopedarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 22,813
  • "I pledge allegiance to the flag..."
    • OrthodoxChristianity.net
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: But my heart belongs to Czech Lands
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2013, 04:04:37 PM »
Thanks.  Do these things "work", or are they just things to hold that feel nice?   
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

Quote
Bartholomew, 270th Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, is spiritual leader to 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

Online Arachne

  • Trinary Unit || Resident Bossy Boots
  • Section Moderator
  • Taxiarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,900
  • Off to see the wizard!
  • Faith: Cradle Greek Orthodox. Cope.
  • Jurisdiction: Antiochian Archdiocese, UK
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2013, 04:11:04 PM »
Thanks.  Do these things "work", or are they just things to hold that feel nice?

They work in much the same way that worry beads do, or squishy stress balls - keeping hands busy, as an alternative to fidgeting. Liking the feel is a bonus. :)
'When you live your path all the time, you end up with both more path and more time.'~Venecia Rauls

Blog ~ Bookshelf ~ Jukebox

Offline NicholasMyra

  • Avowed denominationalist
  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 6,429
  • Nepsis or Sepsis™
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: Antiochian+Greek
Re: Coptic Prayer Cross
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2013, 04:44:55 PM »
We have our own worry beads custom here in the States, which is called "keys".
Quote from: Orthonorm
if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

Πάντα μὲν καθαρὰ τοῖς καθαροῖς
Τοῖς δὲ μεμιασμένοις καὶ ἀπίστοις οὐδὲν καθαρόν