4.21.2006

Conversations with my Boyfriend

Boyfriend: Do non-Catholics cross themselves?
Me: No. I don't think so.
Boyfriend: Why not?
Me: Well, in order to answer that question we'd have to know why Catholics do cross themselves. Do you know why Catholics do cross themselves?
Boyfriend: No.
Me: Well, when we know why Catholics cross themselves we might be able to figure out why non-Catholics don't... maybe.

Question of the day: Why do Catholics cross themselves (make the sign of the cross)?

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13 Comments:

Blogger k_sra said...

wikepedia says

21/4/06 09:47  
Blogger k_sra said...

also, Lutherans DO make the sign of the cross.

21/4/06 09:49  
Blogger honestus said...

Most Catholics know what the Sign of the Cross is... but asking to explain it is sometimes difficult.

Catholics are taught to make the "sign of the cross" upon themselves when they begin their prayers. It is meant as devotional gesture giving the utmost respect for the sacrifice Christ made on the Cross. It also represents the unconditional love we are meant to have with and for God with all one's heart, soul, mind and strength.

The "sign of the cross" is traced back to the earliest of Christians with countless mentions in the Bible of those who have made the seal of the cross. The "sign of the cross" used to be made with just the thumb but at later date, throughout the greater part of the East mostly, three fingers, or rather the thumb and two fingers were displayed, while the ring and little finger were folded back upon the palm. These two were held to symbolize the two natures or wills in Christ, while the extended three denoted the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. The three fingers also gave meaning to or indicate the common abbreviation I X C (Iesous Christos Soter), the forefinger representing the I, the middle finger crossed with the thumb standing for the X and the bent middle finger serving to suggest the C. ‘Lesous Christos Soter’ translates to ‘Jesus Christ the Savior.’ The four points that are touched, forehead, chest, and two shoulders also represent the four points of the Cross on Calvary.

21/4/06 10:00  
Blogger honestus said...

What other conversations have you two had... I smell a new blog being created! =)

21/4/06 10:11  
Blogger Saint Kansas said...

Why did the Catholic cross himself? To get to the other side.

21/4/06 10:17  
Blogger k_sra said...

"the four points of the Cross on Calvary"

Also meaning the mind, heart, body, and spirit, I presume.

Not to split hairs with you, Honestus, but I think in truth most Catholics cross themselves because everyone else is and for them it is as natural as breathing. I understand the symbolism, but doubt very much that in practice it is as noble a gesture as it was first intended to be.

Now, why do non-Catholics (for the most part) NOT cross themselves? Lack of reverence? What were the early protestants (we will assume for argument that they all sprang from protesters of Catholicism) trying to achieve by cuitting this out?

And for the record, non-Catholics frequently make the sign of the cross in oil on the foreheads of people receiving special prayer. This is called anointing with oil. Early old testament origins.

Kankan, yer funny! : )

21/4/06 11:28  
Blogger Steve DeGroof said...

And here I thought they were just brushing off the Eucharist crumbs.

21/4/06 11:54  
Blogger honestus said...

four points - yep.

splitting hairs... not funny for a man whose balding. =P

21/4/06 11:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything you could ever want to know about the sign of the cross by Steve Ray

http://www.catholic-convert.com/...t.aspx? tabid=83

Select the document: Sign of the Cross, It's Meaning and History. Downloads as word document.

21/4/06 19:27  
Blogger Catholic Mom said...

A very detailed answer to this question is found in the book The Sign of the Cross: Recovering the Power of the Ancient Prayer. In this book, Bert Ghezzi describes the history and the prayer behind the action. A good read for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

22/4/06 12:01  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Here is a working link that Anon was referring to above that directly opens the word document.

Sign of the Cross: It's Meaning and History

It contains a number of quotes from the Church Fathers as well as an interview of Bert Ghezzi by Zenit, about his book that Catholic Mom referenced.

24/4/06 14:35  
Blogger honestus said...

Most catholic churches have holy water receptacles at the entrance and exits of the church which prompts Catholics to make the sign of the cross upon entering the building.

Non-catholic churches do not have these receptacles and i can't recall them using holy water. does that have anything to do with it?

25/4/06 09:40  
Blogger tyledras said...

Wow, what I learned when I was taught to make the sign of the cross has only some resemblance to what a lot of the links point to.

I was taught, and had confirmed by a liturgist far more learned than myself, is that the sign of the cross is also a remembering of one's baptism. People who are not baptised are not supposed to cross themselves because every time you do so you are recalling your baptism, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It is a sign that I am a baptised Christian, and every time I do it, I am reentering into my baptismal vows. That's what I was taught anyway.

25/4/06 21:08  

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