Friday, March 16, 2012

The Sign of the Cross

By c.pio


In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
[In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.]

1 Corinthians 1:18: The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed
for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

Galatians 6:14:  As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified,
and the world’s interest in me has also died.

Question: Why we (catholic) make a sign of the Cross? What does it mean?


By tracing cross in our body, we are obeying what God’s commanded to us:  

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart,
and with your whole soul, and with your whole strength.
And these words which I command you this day, shall be in your heart:
And you shall tell them to your children,
and you shall meditate upon them sitting in your house,
and walking on your journey, sleeping and rising.
And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be
and shall move between your eyes.

             [Deuteronomy 6:4-8]

Therefore, the sign of the cross is a way of professing our faith in God:
Proclaiming our belief in One God the Father, and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit.


John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.

1Peter 3:18: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous to
bring you to God.

1 Corinthians 15:3: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.


Matthew 28:19: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 6:10: Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.


Matthew 28:19: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 9:23, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.      


           Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses   in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

And the Lord said to him: Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem: and mark Thau 1 (or cross) upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and mourn for all the abominations that are committed in the midst thereof.
[Ezechiel 9:4]

Wait Dont harm the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of
God on the foreheads of his servants.
             [Revelation 7:3]
This annual festival will be a visible sign to you like a mark branded on your hand
or your forehead Let it remind you always to recite this teaching of the Lord.
[Exodus 13:9]

1 Some Bible translation does not bear the word “THAU”:

The original words, והתוית תו vehithvitha tau, have been translated by the Vulgate, et signa thau, "and mark thou tau on the foreheads," etc. St. Jerome and many others have thought that the letter tau was that which was ordered to be placed on the foreheads of those mourners; and Jerome says, that this Hebrew letter ת tau was formerly written like a cross. So then the people were to be signed with the sign of the cross! It is certain that on the ancient Samaritan coins, which are yet extant, the letter ת tau is in the form +, which is what we term St. Andrew's cross. The sense derived from this by many commentators is, that God, having ordered those penitents to be marked with this figure, which is the sign of the cross, intimated that there is no redemption nor saving of life but by the cross of Christ, and that this will avail none but the real penitent. All this is true in itself, but it is not true in respect to this place. The Hebrew words signify literally, thou shalt make a mark, or sign a sign, but give no intimation what that mark or sign was. [Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, [1831],

Answer: with or without the word “THAU” in Ezekiel Chapter 9:4, the mere fact that in the new covenant, the CHURCH – the bride of Christ is the NEW JERUSALEM therefore the MARK to be put upon the foreheads is the mark of Christ – and this is the Cross.


This question originated to Logical Fallacies that says: Similis hoc Ergo Propter Hoc [Similar to this, therefore because of this] Is Catholic a Pagan Religion?  They argued that Cross was a Pagan in origin therefore it is an idolatrous symbol. They believe that the Early Christians did not use the present illustration of cross the way the Catholic Church describe it. So, they reject this sign/mark and illustrate it according to their own understanding. Allow us to check and verify if they are correct in describing it:


"unless I see in his hands the print of the NAILS and stick my finger into the print of the NAILS and stick my hand into his side, I will certainly not believe".
[John 20:25]

Thomas said “nails” not nail; Thomas said “his hands” not “his wrist”

"Above his head they had put the charge against him in writing: 'THIS IS JESUS, KING OF THE JEWS' ".
[Matthew 27:37]

“Above his head” not “above his hands”


(b.1) From Non-Christians description: Years Prior to Christ Time          

"A Roman citizen of no obscure station, having ordered one of his slaves to be put to death, delivered him to his fellow-slaves to be led away, and in order that his punishment might be witnessed by all, directed them to drag him through the Forum and every other conspicuous part of the city as they whipped him, and that he should go ahead of the procession which the Romans were at the time conducting in honor of the god. The men ordered to lead the slave to his punishment, having stretched out both hands and fastened them to a piece of wood which extended across his chest and shoulders as far as his wrists, followed him, tearing his naked body with whips" [Dionysius of Halicarnassus [First Century B.C.] a Greek rhetorician and
historian, (Roman Antiquities, 7.69.1-2)]

This account was described by Dionysius hundreds years before Christ. By considering this account, we can now say that long before Christ time, Romans did not confined or used a single mode in Torturing the victim/s. There are several medium of putting someone to death. They even used Cross wherein a horizontal wood was connected to a vertical beam. Read how eyewitnesses account in the bible described Christ suffering on his way to Golgotta and you will see the parallel description.

(b.2) First Half of Second Century

"the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter."

"Here again you have an intimation concerning the cross, and Him who should be crucified in Moses, when Israel was attacked by strangers the Spirit speaks to the heart of Moses, that he should make a figure of the cross, and of Him about to suffer thereon Moses therefore placed one weapon above another in the midst of the hill, and standing upon it, so as to be higher than all the people, he stretched forth his hands." [Epistle of Barnabas]

Epistle of Barnabas is an Apocryphal book, [used by some Early Church Fathers written about first half of Second Century.] No doubt the testament of the writer is correct since his memory is quite fresh [considering the span of years after Christ death]

(b.3) Early Christians Posture of Praying [Christians Catacomb 2nd to 4th Century]

Orans (Latin, praying) or Orante is a figure with extended arms or bodily attitude of prayer, usually standing, with the elbows close to the sides of the body and with the hands outstretched sideways, palms up. It was common in early Christianity and can frequently be seen in early Christian art.

The orans posture was practiced by both pagans and Jews before it was adopted by the earliest Christians. Christians saw the position as representing the posture of Christ on the Cross; therefore, it was the favorite one of early Christians.

Christian Praying [Catacomb]

"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble   knees" [Hebrews 12:12].

"Therefore I desire that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." [1Timothy 2:8]

(b.4) Early Church Father

"For the one beam is placed upright, from which the highest extremity is raised up into a horn, when the other beam is fitted on to it, and the ends appear on both sides as horns joined on to the one horn."

"There are the following predictions:--"Unto us a child is born, and unto us a young man is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders;" which is significant of the power of the cross, for to it, when He was crucified, He applied His shoulders, as shall be more clearly made out in the ensuing discourse. And again the same prophet Isaiah, being inspired by the prophetic Spirit, said, "I have spread out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people, to those who walk in a way that is not good. They now ask of me judgment, and dare to draw near to God." And again in other words, through another prophet, He says, "They pierced My hands and My feet, and for My vesture they cast lots." And indeed David, the king and prophet, who uttered these things, suffered none of them; but Jesus Christ stretched forth His hands, being crucified by the Jews speaking against Him, and denying that He was the Christ."

Ancient Roman Ship
 [ see the cross? ship Main Mast and the Yard]

"But in no instance, not even in any of those called sons of Jupiter, did they imitate the being crucified; for it was not understood by them, all the things said of it having been put symbolically. And this, as the prophet foretold, is the greatest symbol of His power and role; as is also proved by the things which fall under our observation. For consider all the things in the world, whether without this form they could be administered or have any community. For the sea is not traversed except that trophy which is called a sail abide safe in the ship; and the earth is not ploughed without it: diggers and mechanics do not their work, except with tools which have this shape. And the human form differs from that of the irrational animals in nothing else than in its being erect and having the hands extended, and having on the face extending from the forehead what is called the nose, through which there is respiration for the living creature; and this shows no other form than that of the cross. And so it was said by the prophet,

Roman Vexilla

"The breath before our face is the Lord Christ." And the power of this form is shown by your own symbols on what are called "vexilla" [banners] and trophies, with which all your state possessions are made, using these as the insignia of your power and government, even though you do so unwittingly. And with this form you consecrate the images of your emperors when they die, and you name them gods by inscriptions. Since, therefore, we have urged you both by reason and by an evident form, and to the utmost of our ability, we know that now we are blameless even though you disbelieve; for our part is done and finished." [Justin Martyr (114-167 C.E) is a Disciple of Polycarp and Polycarp is disciple of Apostle John.]

"You hang Christians on crosses (crucibus) and stakes (stipitibus); what idol is there but is first molded in clay, hung on a cross and stake (cruci et stipiti)? It is on a patibulum that the body of your god is first dedicated"

"For this same letter TAU of the Greeks, which is our T, has the appearance of the cross (crucis)"

"Every stake fixed in an upright position is a portion of the cross; we render our adoration, if you will have it so, to a god entire and complete. We have shown before that your deities are derived from shapes modelled from the cross. But you also worship victories, for in your trophies the cross is the heart of the trophy. The camp religion of the Romans is all through a worship of the standards, a setting the standards above all gods. Well, as those images decking out the standards are ornaments of crosses. All those hangings of your standards and banners are robes of crosses. I praise your zeal: you would not consecrate crosses unclothed and unadorned." (Apologeticus, 16) [
Tertullian A.D. 190-220]

(b.5) Graffito [The Mocking of Christians]
The Alexamanos Graffito, c.200 AD or earlier, is an early parody of Christianity. This early graffito (wall-scratching) was discovered in 1857 in a guardroom on Palatine Hill near the Circus Maximus in Rome [now in the Palatine Antiquarian Museum]

The drawing shows a man with an ass's head being crucified, to which a youth is raising his hand as if in prayer. The text in Greek reads:


which means, "Alexamenos worships his god."

Christians had been charged with worshipping an ass. The criticism is mentioned in several early pagans and Christians works:

"the religion of the Christians is foolish, inasmuch as they worship a crucified man, and even the instrument itself of his punishment. They are said to worship the head of an ass, and even the nature of their father" [(Octavius, IX) Minicius Felix]

Tertullian mentioned that the pagans think "our god is an ass's head" (Apology, XVI). "A new representation of our God has quite recently been publicized in this city, started by a certain criminal hired to dodge wild beasts in the arena. He displayed a picture with this inscription: 'Onokoites, the god of the Christians'. The figure had the ears of an ass, one foot was cloven, and it was dressed in a toga and carrying a book. We laughed at both the caption and the cartoon" (Apologeticus, 16.12-14). [Tertullian A.D. 190-220]

Notice the hands of the 'ass', same posture: both hands are stretch.This is one reason why Apostle Paul had remarked that the crucifixion was "unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness" [I Corinthians I.23]. 

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:14-15

Thru this Cross, Christ conquered Death... Death has no power now!

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