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  #1  
Old Jun 16, '11, 8:39 pm
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Ana v Ana v is offline
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Default The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Taken from this website of a Russian Orthodox Church:

Quote:
Why do Orthodox Christians "cross themselves" different than Roman Catholics?

They touch their right shoulder first, then their left, whereas the Roman Catholics first touch their left shoulder. Is this difference important? Does it make any difference?
Orthodox cross themselves from right to left. first we will describe the mechanics of making the cross, then explain why it is indeed important that we make the sign of the cross correctly.

"Placing the cross on oneself"

1.We place our thumb and first two fingers together in a point, and our last we fingers flat against our palm. The three fingers together represent the Holy Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the two fingers in the palm represent the two natures of Christ.
2.We touch our forehead, then our belly, tracing the vertical part of the cross.
3.From our belly, we bring our hand up to our right shoulder, touching it.
4.We finish placing the cross on ourself by touching our left shoulder.
The act of "Placing the cross on oneself" is a request for a blessing from God. We make if from right to left to mirror the actions of the priest when he blesses us. The priest, looking at the parishioners, blesses from left to right. Therefore, the parishioners, putting on the sign of the cross on themselves, do it from right to left.

Because the Lord separated the sheep from the goats, putting the faithful sheep on His right side, and the goats on the left, the Church always treats the right side as the preferred side. We only cross ourselves with our RIGHT hand. The priest, when blessing a person, first touches or points to their RIGHT side, then their left. Also the censing of the Holy Table in the Altar is always done from the RIGHT side first; censing of the Ikonostasis, the Congregation and of the Church itself always begins with the right side. The priest always gives communion with his RIGHT hand, even if he is left handed. There are other examples of this right side preference.

When a parent makes the sign of the cross over a child, they will cross them from left to right, just as the priest blesses. When they make the sign of the cross over themselves, they would do it, logically, the other way.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states that in the Roman Catholic Church, the faithful crossed themselves from right to left, just as the Orthodox do, until the 15th or 16th century. They must explain why they have changed an ancient and apostolic tradition.We cannot answer as to their motivations.

Is it important to cross ourselves a particular way? In a word, YES. We do not have the authority to choose willy-nilly what parts of the Christina Tradition we want to follow. Our fathers, and countless saints crossed themselves from right to left. Ancient icons show Christ or bishops beginning a blessing from right to left. the right side is referred to in a preferential way many times in scripture and our sacred hymns What should we want to change?
(red emphases mine)

The above troubles me a bit. This is not the first example, that I see members of the Eastern Orthodox Church cite, of how Roman Catholics have deviated from Sacred Tradition.

Shouldn't we be upholding tradition, not modifying it?
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  #2  
Old Jun 16, '11, 8:46 pm
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Corki Corki is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ana v View Post
Taken from this website of a Russian Orthodox Church:

(red emphases mine)

The above troubles me a bit. This is not the first example, that I see members of the Eastern Orthodox Church cite, of how Roman Catholics have deviated from Sacred Tradition.

Shouldn't we be upholding tradition, not modifying it?
You should read the whole Catholic Encyclopedia article. It's quite informative.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm

There were lots of variations on making the sign of the cross in the early Church. The full body version seems to have only appeared in about the 5th century. That's early in the Church but hardly "apostolic" times. How we make the sign of the cross is not Sacred Tradition (big T) It is a "small t" tradition that has evolved over time to what it is today.
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  #3  
Old Jun 16, '11, 9:47 pm
Wesley7 Wesley7 is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

. .
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  #4  
Old Jun 16, '11, 10:42 pm
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

I can't stand when people get caught up in these minutiae like that. There's a small (thankfully not vocal) minority who are rigorous about the letter and not the spirit of the law. If they want to be so nit-picky fine, but they shouldn't imply that others are risking their salvation if they cross right to left or left to right (though to be fair I'm not sure this site is going to that length)

A woman at my parish crossed herself from left to right for years (despite never being Catholic funnily enough) and our priest never corrected her or said she was wrong.

There are real issues Orthodoxy has with Catholicism, actual serious areas we believe that Catholicism has deviated from Sacred Tradition. We should focus on these things, not stupid issues like how our fingers are held when we bless ourselves. Should Orthodox take care when they bless themselves? Yes. It is a serious act that we often do without thought and that's a sin on our part. If you're Orthodox you should follow the ancient tradition, but if someone brought that to an ecumenical talk with Catholicism that's a mistake.
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  #5  
Old Jun 16, '11, 11:01 pm
dzheremi dzheremi is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Crossing left-to-right is not an invention of the Latins, full stop (as the Copts also cross themselves this way, and maybe also other Orientals?), but rather is an invention for the Latins, as it is not how they originally did it. From what I can remember from a video I watched some years ago when I began to attend a Byzantine Catholic church, the Latins didn't so much switch deliberately, but by mirroring incorrectly the action of the priest. Over time, what started as a mistake just kind of became "the way things are done" by force of years of uncorrected habit.

I wouldn't consider this a minor issue, but rather one for which there is acceptable variation, within the spiritual tradition concerned. I cannot remember the Coptic reasoning for the left-to-right crossing at the moment. Something about being brought from God's left side (among the unrighteous) to His right (with the righteous) by the holy cross. But, y'know, more eloquent than I've put it.

If the Latin church has a similar theological explanation for crossing themselves as they do now, I haven't heard it.
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  #6  
Old Jun 17, '11, 6:57 am
Alexander Roman Alexander Roman is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

The Russian article fails to mention that the Old Believers crossed themselves with two fingers and that the Russian Stoglav ("one hundred head") sobor anathematized anyone who would dare cross themselves with other than two fingers.

The Russian fascination with such detail has historically led them into their ongoing problems with the Old Believers to the point that they have two Rites, the Old Believer and the Nikonian, within their Church.

Pope Innocent III, the pope who saw St Francis, did write a defence of the three-fingered Sign of the Cross from right to left. But he also commented on the new RC method that was slowly developing.

RC's began to go from left to right as they followed the way their priests blessed (which as the article correctly states, had them go from left to right as they blessed people).

In the Oriental Orthodox tradition, Christians go from left to right to underscore how Christ led us from darkness to light (this is how Oriental Orthodox priests have always explained it to me).

The Ethiopian tradition has more than one way to cross oneself, but they all involved going from left to right.

For my part, I like to vary my Sign of the Cross from time to time. When I'm in a Latin parish, I like to form a cross with the thumb over the index finger and go from left to right - as they do in Spain at festivals I've attended.

Alex
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  #7  
Old Jun 17, '11, 11:12 pm
mardukm mardukm is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Whenever I've had occasion to talk about the sign of the cross with Latins, both before and after I became Catholic, I have noticed that they ALWAYS focus on WHY the sign of the cross is made (either as a sign of blessing, or to call to mind our Baptism in the most Holy Trinity), and never on the HOW. That's a very healthy spiritual attitude, IMO.

Blessings,
Marduk
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  #8  
Old Jun 18, '11, 3:36 am
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Cavaradossi Cavaradossi is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Roman View Post
The Russian article fails to mention that the Old Believers crossed themselves with two fingers and that the Russian Stoglav ("one hundred head") sobor anathematized anyone who would dare cross themselves with other than two fingers.

The Russian fascination with such detail has historically led them into their ongoing problems with the Old Believers to the point that they have two Rites, the Old Believer and the Nikonian, within their Church.

Alex
It wasn't really a question of two or three fingers but rather which fingers formed the three of the Trinity and which formed the two for the two natures of Christ. The Old Believer way Is that the index and middle fingers form the two (also forming a cross) while the ring finger, pinkie and thumb form the three. In the Byzantine fashion, it's the index finger, middle finger and thumb which form the three and the ring finger and pinkie which form the two, but either way, the basic symbolism for the trinity and the two natures of Christ remains.

Also, there are not really two "Rites" within the Russian Orthodox Church. The Old Believers are properly referred to as being in schism, and are not in Full-Communion with Orthodoxy. Recently, I believe some of reforms were made to allow for Old Believers to reenter into Full Communion with the Russian Orthodox Church while keeping some of their distinct traditions, but many choose not to do so. It is also a mistake to call this a separate "Rite" in the way that "Latin Rite" and "Byzantine Rite" are separate. The Old Believers and modern Russians both use a version of the Byzantine Rite translated into Slavonic. Part of Nikon's reforms was to modify the Slavonic translations of the Greek texts to be more faithful to the Greek text and to change the manner of crossing oneself to be the same as the Byzantine manner, but his modifications could hardly be called a new "Rite".
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  #9  
Old Jun 19, '11, 6:12 am
Alexander Roman Alexander Roman is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Dear Friend,

You are right that both ways of making the Sign of the Cross emphasize the same chief truths of Christianity - the Holy Trinity and the two Natures of Christ.

However, for the Old Believers it truly was a question of two fingers. For them, to cross oneself with three fingers affirmed the heresy that the entire Trinity suffered on the Cross. So they emphasize the Person of Christ in two Natures with two fingers and are careful to not even allow the other three fingers to touch their body when they cross themselves. This can be gleaned from Old Believer literature.

The Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow patriarchate itself refers to "two Rites" within the Mother Russian Church, as it did last year in a report published in Russian during a synodal meetings called to review the state of "Ediinovertsie" or "United (Old) Believers."

That report found that while in pre-revolutionary Russia there were hundreds of United Believer parishes, they are not so numerous today.

The anathemas against the Old Believers were withdrawn formally by the ROC in 1977 and even before that, United Believer parishes existed in Russia with the full expression of the Old Rite.

As the Russians themselves refer to "two Rites" within their Church, so should we. The differences are more far-reaching than meets the eye. However, they are modificaitons on the Byzantine Rite, to be sure.

Alex
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Old Jun 19, '11, 8:32 am
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centurionguard centurionguard is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

I've always made the sign of the cross from left to right

I've seen others make the sign of the cross from right to left like in the Greek and Russian Orthodox.

Honestly; IMHO I don't seen a big deal in the difference. What's more important is what the symbolic gesture of the sign of the cross means to a Catholic interiorly.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm

Peace
Chris
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  #11  
Old Jun 19, '11, 10:56 am
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

I remember reading (though I don't remember where) that Christians originally made the sign of the cross with their thumbs on their foreheads. The full body cross was a later development. You can still see this form in practice at baptisms and when Catholics sign themselves at the announcement of the gospel, so in that sense they're actually *more* traditional.
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Old Jun 19, '11, 11:06 am
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Quote:
Originally Posted by centurionguard View Post
I've always made the sign of the cross from left to right

I've seen others make the sign of the cross from right to left like in the Greek and Russian Orthodox.

Honestly; IMHO I don't seen a big deal in the difference. What's more important is what the symbolic gesture of the sign of the cross means to a Catholic interiorly.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm

Peace
Chris
Unconsciously, I've done both lol.

God bless,

David
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  #13  
Old Jun 19, '11, 11:06 am
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ana v View Post
Taken from this website of a Russian Orthodox Church:

(red emphases mine)

The above troubles me a bit. This is not the first example, that I see members of the Eastern Orthodox Church cite, of how Roman Catholics have deviated from Sacred Tradition.

Shouldn't we be upholding tradition, not modifying it?
Who cares how one crosses oneself?

The Russian Church went into schism over how to cross oneself.

This is a great example of what our Lord said about straining out gnats and swallowing a camel.
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  #14  
Old Jun 19, '11, 11:07 am
dcointin dcointin is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Cross yourself, slowly, with reverence, and pray God's blessing. Anything else is "from the evil one".

God bless,

Don
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  #15  
Old Jun 19, '11, 11:49 am
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Ana v Ana v is offline
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Default Re: The Proper Way to Cross Oneself

Quote:
Who cares how one crosses oneself?
Well, we obviously care about things like the correct (valid) baptismal formula ... the right words.

So where do we draw the line on what practices are appropriate to alter, and what things are not?
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