Monday, January 25, 2010

History of making the sign of the cross

I made the sign of the cross all my life, before and after prayer, when walking into the church and other times when like your scared or in a frightful situation. I never knew why, I was just taught to do that and so that was what I did.  Go to a hockey game or other sporting games and just before some of the players play you will notice someone making the sign of the cross.  Why and where did it start?

In my research I found that  the making of the sign of the cross is most prominent in the Roman Catholic church but is also practiced among the Eastern Orthodox and Episcopalians. I also was able to find that writings regarding the sign of the cross goes back as far as Tertullian, one of  the early church fathers who lived between 160 and 220 A.D. Tertullian wrote, "In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting of our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross."           

"Let us not then be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the Cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in, and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are in the way and when we are still. Great is that preservative; it is without price, for the poor's sake; without toil, for the sick, since also its grace is from God. It is the Sign of the faithful, and the dread of evils; for He has triumphed over them in it, having made a shew of them openly; for when they see the Cross, they are reminded of the Crucified; they are afraid of Him, Who hath bruised the heads of the dragon. Despise not the Seal, because of the freeness of the Gift; but for this rather honor thy Benefactor." -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem, A.D. 315 - 386

In the early days of Christianity when persecution was so strong, Christians had to hide their faith. Making the sign of the cross was a way of identifying themselves. One site stated that Christians would use a stick and mark the ground with a cross as identification. Also, I heard one Christian apologetic state that as Christians were being persecuted they would make the sign of the cross to let each other know they were Christians. Considering the persecution they went through at that time knowing another believer was there with you would provide some comfort.

I had a book on Lutheran catechism and was surprised to find that  Martin Luther urged his followers to use the sign. In his Catechism of 1529 he instructed fathers to teach their households the following: "In the morning, when you rise from bed, sign yourself with the holy cross and say, 'In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.'...At night, when you go to bed, sign yourself with the holy cross and say, 'In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.'"
Some of the meanings behind the sign of the cross are first that making the sign of the cross shows a sign of our faith, that we are people of the cross, of Jesus. Second there are different meanings behind the way it is made.

Sometimes you will see a priest or bishop make the sign with one finger, that represents the oneness of God, with two fingers it represents that Jesus is fully God and fully man, three fingers means the Trinity and five fingers as we do it today is to remind us of the five wounds of Christ that were suffered for our sake.
In all the years of my growing up I did not know how this started or what the meaning was besides it was a cross and Jesus died on the cross. For a time because of my lack of knowledge I stopped making the sign of the cross. I did not know where it came from or why Catholics did it or what it meant. For me it was interesting to look this up. I love apologetics and love to read Christian history.  Today we have so many ways to find out truth. The internet has many wary things on it but if you look you can also find historical facts.  It's the writings of the ancient fathers that helped shed light on aspects of faith for me. The study of church history that includes time before the middle ages is what helped me to see what early christianity was and what to look for today.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dressing with Dignity by Colleen Hammond

I have just read a very interesting book written by Colleen Hammond.  The book is titled "Dressing with Dignity."
With fashions the way they are today you might wonder how we got here. Why are clothes so skimpy? How did clothing go from dresses around our ankles to mini skirts?  Colleen answers these questions in her book and more.
Colleen herself was in the fashion industry, a  former cable network anchor, image consultant, actress, model and beauty queen who gave all this up to become a stay at home mom.
The book is an easy, quick read. It is very interesting and keeps moving describing the history of fashion. In the book Colleen describes to us events and attitudes that helps us understand how fashion trends have evolved. She shares interesting facts about fashions that occurred  during,  before,  and after the French Revolution, the 1920's, and other various points in history.  How about some interesting information such as, "who was the perfume Chanel #5 named after and why and what was this persons strong influence on fashion.  Where did the bikini come from? The information shared in this book  gives us  answers and ideas  so we can make wiser choices about the way we dress.
And what is great is it isn't about dressing "frumpy" or ugly.  It is about knowing the difference between "dressing attractively and dressing to attract."
Also, very interesting in the book are statements about manners of dress from Popes, Bishops, Saints and Scripture.
There are also guidelines for talking to teenagers about modesty, feminity, dignity and choosing tasteful attire. Isn't this what young girls need today to help them understand their value, their worth, especially in the eyes of God.
This is a needed book for today.
I highly encourage this as a good read for women, moms and their daughters.
You can find Colleen at and order the book at:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Archbishop Killed in Quake as Churches, Cathedral Reduced to Rubble

Haiti Archbishop Killed in Quake as Churches, Cathedral Reduced to Rubble

Let us keep the churches, fellow Catholics and all people in this  country in our prayers.
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Monday, January 4, 2010

The Simple Womans Day Planner

Just for today:

Outside my window is:   snow and sun.
Today I am thinking about :   getting alot of  housework and schoolwork done.
I am thankful for:   heat and sunshine.
I am wearing:  blue jeans and comfy shirt.
I am remembering:  winters past.
Tonight I am going:   to be taking my son to scouts.
A good book I am reading:  Johnette Benkovic's "Full of Grace".
I am hoping for:  not as much snow this winter as they predict.
On my mind:  my son's grammar lesson.  Hoping he does well.
I am noticing:  a son growing out of his clothes.
Pondering these words from the Bible:   'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jer 29:11
From the kitchen tonight will be:  probably a smorgasbord.
Around this house:  are Christmas decorations coming down.
One of my favorite things:  is being with my family.

Check out more Simple Woman's Day Planners at:

Day 11

Today is day 11 in the twelve days of Christmas. I am going to start taking some decorations  down   :(
but leave up the most important ones until tomorrow. I usually like to leave up the manger scene, for sure, because that is what it is all about. The Christmas tree will stay but I have alot of other little things that need taking down.
What is  hard is that Christmas went very fast. Even with adding twelve extra days more than what the commercial world does it just seems short. I did notice that Hallmark has continued Christmas movies to play after Christmas. That was really great because some of the movies I only caught part of earlier because of so much busyness of shopping and baking and traveling.  What I really like is that at church on Sundays we will continue through the life of Christ. We will soon celebrate his baptism and then when we get to ordinary time we will continue through the life of Christ with other events that occurred and those  will help us grow spiritually until we come back around again next year to celebrate once again the birth of our Lord.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Epiphany and The Magi

Three kings, three wise men, the magi. It can be confusing. It really depends on the Bible version you use. I don't mean that one version means one thing and another means something else.  In Matthew chapter 2 is the story of the wise men coming to visit the child Jesus. Magi were members of a hereditary priestly class among the ancient Medes and Persians.  When I looked this up in New Advent  encyclopedia it stated several things:

" No Father of the Church holds the Magi to have been kings." 

 "The religion of the Magi was fundamentally that of Zoroaster and forbade sorcery; their astrology and skill in interpreting dreams were occasions of their finding Christ." 

 "The Gospel narrative omits to mention the number of the Magi, and there is no certain tradition in this matter. Some Fathers speak of three Magi; they are very likely influenced by the number of gifts. In the Orient, tradition favours twelve. Early Christian art is no consistent witness:

•a painting in the cemetery of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus shows two;

•one in the Lateran Museum, three;

•one in the cemetery of Domitilla, four;

•a vase in the Kircher Museum, eight (Marucchi, "Eléments d'archéologie chrétienne", Paris, 1899, I 197).  
The visit of the Magi took place after the Presentation of the Child in the Temple (Luke 2:38). No sooner were the Magi departed than the angel bade Joseph take the Child and its Mother into Egypt.
Okay, so I guess we can take from all this magi were wise men not kings, even though we sing , "We Three Kings."  We are not sure how many wise men came, we just know there were three different types of gifts. We also learn that they were wise in astrology, following the position of stars. Interpreting dreams probably means they knew to take serious what their dreams meant to go a different way in returning home.
I am not even going to try and say what the star was but here is an interesting article from Notre Dame University that investigates what the star was:
According to Catholic that star has been the emblem for the magi since the second century:  A second-century scene of the Magi in the catacombs displayed a star, "and in front of them was the star they had seen rising, it went forward and halted over the place where the child was."
So what can we take from this story. I take that God leads.  God doesn't care rich or poor. He loves us and finds ways to call us all. We have to decide to follow.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Saturday Evening Blog Post

Check out this blogging website I recently ran into. Elizabeth Esther hosts the Saturday Evening Blog Post on the first Saturday each month. This month she is allowing everyone to leave a link to one of their favorite posts.

Dear Lord help us to educate our family for your glory.

"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."--Gravissimum Educationis (one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council)

Helping and Loving Our Neighbor

Corporal works of Mercy
Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Admonish the sinner

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel the doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and the dead

Good Samaritain