Yet another featured Flipboard article, yet more fodder for my blog articles. This time is an article by a Mr. Philip Kosloski titled “Why do Catholics make the Sign of the Cross before praying?” (One caution in using the link, I noticed it kept pinging my computer. Not sure if it were merely harmless ads or whatnot. I copied the whole article into a text document in order to have it for reference then closed the link.)
Per Philip’s article, the history of this action is as follows:
According to writings that date back to the 3rd century, Christians have been making the sign of the cross over their bodies from the very beginning. Christian apologist Tertullian wrote at the time, “We Christians wear out our foreheads with the sign of the cross.”
First of all, “writings that date back to the 3rd century” do not constitute “from the very beginning” [of Christianity]. Christianity began around 100 years before Tertullian. Speaking of Tertullian, in that he was one of the first to propose the Trinity, he was obviously not an original Christian. It has long been known that it was indeed around the 3rd century that the false doctrine of the Trinity was first proposed. But it was not the belief of those that actually walked with Jesus. Philip also cites “Saint Cyril of Jerusalem” from the 4th century as a reference in using the “sign of the cross.” Cyril was involved in the Council of Nicaea and the formulation of “Homoousion,” the idea that Jesus in being one with God, was, in actuality, God Himself. Essentially, the pagan Trinity doctrine in its earliest form.
So this matter of the “sign of the cross” is something that grew out of the Catholic Church in around the 3rd century. Try as anyone might, they will not find this even alluded to in the Bible. Again, as has been mentioned before, the cross, as an instrument of torture and death was loathsome to first-century Christians. It should be such to ALL Christians.
It is believed this early tradition of marking one’s body with the cross was inspired by a passage in the book of Ezekiel where it says, “And the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it’” (Ezekiel 9:4).
In some translations of this passage it reads, “mark Tau upon the foreheads.” Tau is a letter of the Greek alphabet that is written as a T, and so the early Christians saw in it the sign of the cross. They believed that the sign of the cross set them apart and “marked” them as a chosen people who belong to the one true God.
The scripture quoted in Ezekiel was only to make a mark. There is no indication of the shape of the mark. If, as Philip cites, “some translations of this passage...reads ‘mark Tau upon the foreheads’” that is a corruption of what Ezekiel recorded as the word of God. And let's not forget that Jesus had not even yet come on the scene, so the supposed making a “T” on the forehead would lose all the symbolic sense that Catholics try to attach to it. In fact, under the heading “Symbolism,” the wiki article on Tau says that better researched and newer Bibles remove “taw” [aka, tau] from the cited passage in Ezekiel and replace it with “mark.”
As the Baltimore Catechism explains, “The sign of the cross is a profession of faith in the chief mysteries of our religion because it expresses the mysteries of the Unity and Trinity of God and of the Incarnation and death of our Lord…[it] expresses the mystery of the Incarnation by reminding us that the Son of God, having become man, suffered death on the cross.”
I’ve never understood why everything needs to be a “mystery” to Catholics. Yet they seem to use that word to describe so many of their beliefs. In the above quote from the Baltimore Catechism, it indeed accentuates that making the “sign of the cross” is directly related to the Trinity belief.
The cross is at the very center of what we believe and crossing ourselves is supposed to be a constant reminder of the price Jesus paid for our sins.
So if a close relative or beloved friend were killed with a gun, I should take that gun and hang it around my neck, and make “the sign of the gun” as a constant reminder of how much I love and miss my friend? How absolutely morbid! I would much rather carry a picture of my loved one -- THAT is what would remind me of what they meant to me, not the murder weapon!
According to Saint John Chrysostom, “wherever [demons] see the sign of the cross, they fly away, dreading it as a staff that they are beaten with.”
LOL. If using the name of Jesus doesn’t stop demons, why would some symbolic gesture do so?
In the end, the sign of the cross is a simple gesture that has ancient and biblical roots. While it may appear that some Catholics make it superstitiously, it was never intended to be done in such a way. It recalls that profound sacrifice of Jesus 2,000 years ago and actively calls upon his aid to help us in our need.
“While it may appear that some Catholics make it superstitiously, it was never intended to be done in such a way.” Well, let’s see here Philip. You just cited “Saint John Chrysostom” as recommending the sign anytime one feels the need to drive away demons and then you wonder why some Catholics make the sign superstitiously!? It’s because the “saint” so much as told them to do it anytime they sense something evil or even just bad. Indeed, my Mexican Catholic mother did exactly that. The Catholic Church is totally accountable, guilty, and reprehensible in this matter.
Philip, you never really proved that “the sign of the cross … has ... biblical roots.” You cited only one passage from Ezekiel that is not applicable and then made a quantum leap in your reasoning. As far as making that sign “recalls that profound sacrifice,” again, I’d much rather read about Jesus life and wisdom, the effect he had on people he taught, and the fulfillment he had on prophecies. Those things are much better than thinking of some instrument of death and torture.
The more I read about my former faith, especially by those supposedly defending it, I see such naivety regarding not only the facts but the guiding doctrines and principles found in the Bible.