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Originally published in Chinese and included in the catechetical prayer book compiled by Fr Nicholas Li Xunyi, and published with blessing of St John of Shanghai, 1948

English translation by Liubov Afonina

Explanation to Making the Sign of the Cross

Preface

This book was written to describe the meaning of the sign of the cross, what every Orthodox believer must know. As Jesus Christ has taught the people, the cross is an unconquerable weapon, that is why Our Lord Jesus Christ used this weapon to fight the devil, to save humanity from sin, damnation and death. Amen.

Printed with blessing of Bishop Innokenty

Why should Orthodox Christians cross themselves?
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

If once an adherent of a different faith asks you, for what do you cross yourselves, you should answer, that it was the Lord Jesus Christ, who told us to declare ourselves for Him in the presence of human beings. He said: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." (Mt 10: 32 KJV).

Such declaration, the expression of our faith in Jesus Christ Crucified is the substance of our existence. St Paul the Apostle in his epistle to the Corinthians wrote: "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." (1 Co 2:2 KJV). So how should we behave to declare our faith in Christ crucified? First of all we should declare our faith verbally to express our spiritual faith. But apart from spiritual faith we should declare Christ physically. Why is it needed? Because human beings have both soul and body. Soul and body together are the gift of God, declaring God you can not only limit yourself to spiritual or physical acknowledgment.

St Paul the Apostle in his epistle to the Corinthians wrote: "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Co 6:20 KJV).

Physical declaration is needed so that other people could see our faith in Christ crucified, which is why we cross ourselves.

Sometimes a man coming into a room crosses himself. Another man witnessing it can at once realize which religion you adhere to, that you believe in our Lord Jesus Christ Crucified. In this way such a man submits to our Saviour's exhortation to declare ourselves for Him in the presence of people.

If a man coming into a room or standing in prayer doesn't cross himself, it's not clear for others what religion he practices -- Judaism, Islam or heresy.

All right-believing should know, if somebody asks you why you do cross yourself, you should answer him as it is said above.

respectfully translated by Fr Sergei Chang

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cool!

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Thanks for posting this! I recently saw a lecture by an Orthodox monk doing missionary work in China. He says his beard, long hair, and his skuffia made him look, to some people, like a Daoist monk (the Daoists wear a similar hat but with a hole at the top for their top-knots to poke through). When Buddhists found out he believed in an eternal God, they would say, "ah, you're just like the Daoists." One of them asked "Do you eat meat?" "No." "Do you drink alcohol?" "No." "Well, then at least you're not going to hell like those other sinful Westerners."

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I find myself making the Sign of the Cross often--when people cut me off in traffic, for example, (usually so engrossed in their cell phone conversations)--as a sign that I acknowledge the Hand of Providence protecting me one more time.

BOB

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Were I to do so at work, I'd be fired for preaching. I work for the local school district.

It is interesting to note, however, that the RO-OCA I've worked with generally don't make any visible prayer at lunch, tho they frequently will do so when seeing that I do. Private prayer at meals was protected by the state courts some years ago.

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Glory be to Jesus Christ!!

Been there. You can do what I do when in that situation. I trace a small cross on my thumb with the index or other finger. God and I know what I'm doing. I've also traced a cross on my stomach when standing--just a "little scratch, doncha know."

It may seem like little or nothing, but it's still my act of defiance of proscriptions against expressions of faith.

BOB

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Daniel Bard is a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. When he goes to the mound in relief he always traces the Sign of the Cross on the mound. He does so very deliberately and with care and reverence. He also takes a moment to offer a private prayer. Hopefully his faith will help his team in the playoffs! smile


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