Veneration of the Cross
the differences between Orthodoxy and Protestantism is
the Orthodox's wonderful veneration of the cross. Our brethren the
Protestants do not sign themselves with the sign of the cross before
or after prayer, and say: “In the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.” They do not sign food with the sign of the
cross before eating, nor do they use the cross to bless people or
brethren the Protestants are content that they believe in the
cross in their hearts without using it. Until recently, they were not
raising crosses on their churches. Many of them do not wear
crosses and none of them hold crosses in their hands. Also, they do
not celebrate the feasts of the cross nor do they make any
processions holding crosses whilst singing hymns and praises.
They neither kiss the cross nor take a blessing from it.
Now we will try to
explain why Orthodoxy gives such
importance to the cross and we shall see that making the sign of the
cross is beneficial, useful and in accordance with the teaching of
the Holy Bible.
(1) The emphasis of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross
Since the commencement of
the Lord’s ministry, during His
teaching and prior to His crucifixion, He laid great emphasis on the cross. He says: “And he who does not take his cross and follow
after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matt. 10:38) and “If anyone
desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow Me” (Matt.16: 24); (Mark.8: 34). In His
conversation with the rich young man, He said to him: ‘Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor... and come, take up the cross, and follow Me’ (Mark.10: 21). He also says: “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk.14: 27).
(2) The cross was the core of the ministry of the angels and the Apostles
An important point is that
the angel who proclaimed the
Lord's resurrection said to the women: “...you seek Jesus who
was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said”
(Matt.28: 5,6). Thus the angel called the Lord “who was
crucified”, although He had already resurrected. Thus the title ‘crucified’ continued to be attributed to the Lord.
fathers the Apostles emphasized the Lord's crucifixion in
their preaching. In preaching to the Jews, St. Peter said:
let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God
has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and
Christ” (Acts2: 36). St. Paul says: “..we preach Christ
crucified” (1Cor.1: 23), although the Lord's
considered “a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness”.
The Apostle considered the cross the essence of Christianity and says: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1Cor.2: 2). He means that the cross is the only subject he wants to know.
(3) The cross was the object of the Apostles’ glory
St. Paul the Apostle says: “But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal.6: 14). If we ask him the secret behind these words, he will continue and say: “by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal.6: 14).
(4) When we make the sign of the cross, we remember many of its divine and spiritual meanings
We remember God's love for
us, who for the sake of our
salvation accepted to die for us: “All we like sheep have gone
astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the
Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Is.53: 6). When
we make the sign of the cross, we remember “The Lamb of
God who takes away the sin of the world” (John.1: 29), and
that “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for
ours only but also for the whole world” (IJohn.2: 2).
(5) When we make the sign of the cross, we profess that we belong to the Crucified
who take the cross only by its spiritual meaning inside the
heart without showing any manifest sign do not reveal this
belonging openly which we proclaim in making the sign of the
cross, in wearing and kissing the cross in front of all, in engraving
it on our wrists and in upraising it on our places of worship. By
doing all these we are merely proclaiming our belief openly. We
are not ashamed of Christ's cross in front of people but we glory in
it, are called by it, celebrate its feasts and cling tort so that, even
without us talking, our appearance professes our belief.
(6) Man is not only spirit and mind but he also has corporeal senses which should sense the cross through the above-mentioned means
all people are of the same spiritual level and do not need
the senses for their spiritual contemplation. The senses are
nourished by all the above-mentioned means and are not
confined within themselves but they transfer the effects they
receive to the mind and the spirit. The mind by itself might not
remember the cross or might not remember it much. But when
it perceives the cross before it, through the senses, it remembers
all the divine and spiritual feelings connected with the cross and
the Crucified. Thus we worship God spiritually, intellectually
and physically. All these strengthen each other.
(7) We do not make the sign of the cross in silence, but we say: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. One God. Amen”
Therefore every time we make the sign of the cross, we profess our belief in the Holy Trinity who is the One God forever. Amen. Thus we are given the chance of constantly remembering the Holy Trinity.
(8) In making the sign of the cross, we profess our belief in the Incarnation and the Redemption
make the sign of the cross from up downwards and from
left to right. We remember that God descended from heaven to
earth and transferred people from the left to the right; from
darkness to light; from death to life. How numerous are the contemplation we think of with our minds and feel with our hearts when we make the sign of the cross!
(9) Making the sign of the cross is a religious teaching to our children and to others
makes the sign of the cross when he prays, when he
enters the church, when he eats, when he goes to bed and all the
time, is the one who remembers the cross. This remembrance is
beneficial spiritually and is Biblically requested. It also teaches
people, especially little children, that Christ was crucified.
(10) In making the sign of the cross, we proclaim the Lord's death for us, according to His commandment
This is the commandment of the Lord: to proclaim His death (which is for our redemption) till He comes (1Cor.11: 26). Every time we make the sign of the cross we remember His death and will remember Him till He comes.
We also remember the Lord in
the Eucharist but this
Sacrament is not celebrated constantly whereas we can make
the sign of the cross at any time, and thus remember the Lord's
death for us.
(11) In making the sign of the cross, we remember that the penalty of sin is death
That was why Christ died. We
were “dead in trespasses”
(Eph.2: 5), but Christ died for us on the Cross and gave us life. On
the Cross He paid the price and said to the Father: “Father, forgive
(12) In making the sign of the cross we remember God's love for us
remember that the Cross is a sacrifice of love. “For God
so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting
life” (John.3: 16). We remember that “God demonstrates His
own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ
died for us... we were reconciled to God through the death of
His Son” (Rom.5: 8,10). In the cross we remember God's love
toward us, because “Greater love has no one than this, than to
lay down one's life for his friends” (John.15: 13).
(13) We make the sign of the
cross because it gives us
St. Paul the Apostle felt the power of the cross and said:
forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world” (Gal.6: 14) and “For the message of the
cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who
are being saved it is the power of God” (1Cor.1: 18). We
notice that he did not say that the crucifixion is the power of
God but that the mere word 'cross' is the power of God.
when we make the sign of the cross and when we
mention the cross, we are filled with power because we
remember that, through the cross, the Lord trod upon death,
granted life to all people, defeated and overcame Satan.
(14) We make the sign of the cross because Satan fears it
All Satan's efforts ever since Adam's creation and until the end of ages, came to naught on the Cross. God paid the price by His blood. He effaced with His blood the sins of all people who believe and obey Him. Therefore whenever Satan sees the cross, he trembles, remembering his great defeat and the loss of his strivings, is disgraced and retreats.
Thus the children of God use the sign of the cross because it is the sign of victory and the power of God. They are filled with power within, and the enemy trembles without.
The lifting up of the serpent in the past, which was a cure for people and salvation from death, resembles the lifting up of the Lord of glory on the Cross. It also resembles the sign of the cross in its efficacies (John.3: 14).
(15) In making the sign of the cross , we receive a blessing
whole world was cursed and under the penalty of death.
But on the Cross the Lord carried all our curses to give us the
blessing of reconciliation with God (Rom.5: 10), the blessing of
the new pure life; the blessing of membership in His body. All
the graces of the New Testament are derived from the cross.
That is why the clergymen use the cross in giving the blessing,
signifying that the blessing does not come from them but from
the Cross of the Lord who entrusted it to them to use in giving
the blessing. In addition, they use the cross because they derive
their priesthood from the Priesthood of the Crucified. All the
blessings of the New Testament sprang from the Lord's Cross
and from its efficacious.
(16) The cross is used in all the holy Sacraments in Christianity
All the Sacraments sprang from the merit of Christ's blood on the Cross. Had it not been for the Cross, we would never have been worthy to approach God as His children in the Sacrament of Baptism, we would never have been worthy to partake of His Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist (1Cor.11: 26), nor would we have been able to enjoy the graces of any of the Church Sacraments.
(17) We exalt the cross to remember our fellowship with
We remember the words of St. Paul the Apostle: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal.2: 20) and “... that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being confirmed to His death” (Phil.3: 10). Here, we ask ourselves: When can we enter into the fellowship of the Lord's sufferings and pray with Him?
We also remember the Penitent Thief who was crucified with the Lord and deserved to be with Him in Paradise. Probably he was singing in Paradise the song of St. Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ”.
Our aspiration is to ascend
to the cross with Christ. The
cross is our glory whenever it comes into contact with our
(18) We venerate the cross because it is the Father’s pleasure
The Father received Christ
on the Cross as a pleasing sin
offering and also as a burnt offering. He was “a pleasing
aroma to the Lord” (Lev.1: 9,13,17). Concerning this, the
Prophet Isaiah said: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him”
The Lord Jesus Christ satisfied the Father all His life on earth. But He entered into the fullness of this satisfaction on the Cross when He “became obedient to the Point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil.2: 8).
Every time we see the cross, we remember the perfect obedience and the perfect submission so that we may resemble Christ in His obedience: to the point of death.
The Cross which was the pleasing object of the Father, was also the pleasing object of the Crucified Son, about whom it is written: “... who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb.12: 2). Thus the full joy of Christ was in the Cross. May we be like Him.
(19) In the cross we go forth to Christ outside the camp, bearing His reproach (Heb. 13: 13)
reproach is His crucifixion and His sufferings. In
making the sign of the cross, we relive the feelings of the Holy
Week and remember what is said about Moses the Prophet:
“...esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Heb. 11: 26).
(20) We carry Christ's cross because it reminds us of His Second Coming
The Holy Bible says about
the end of the world and the
coming of the Lord: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will
appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will
mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds
of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt.24: 30).
Therefore let us venerate the cross, the sign of the Son of Man, now on earth as long as we expect to see it in heaven when He comes on the clouds of heaven at His great Coming.
|| The Orthodox Faith (Dogma) || Family and Youth || Sermons || Bible Study || Devotional || Spirituals || Fasts & Feasts || Coptics || Religious Education || Monasticism || Seasons || Missiology || Ethics || Ecumenical Relations || Church Music || Pentecost || Miscellaneous || Saints || Church History || Pope Shenouda || Patrology || Canon Law || Lent || Pastoral Theology || Father Matta || Bibles || Iconography || Liturgics || Orthodox Biblical topics || Orthodox articles || St Chrysostom |||| Bible Study || Biblical topics || Bibles || Orthodox Bible Study || Coptic Bible Study || King James Version || New King James Version || Scripture Nuggets || Index of the Parables and Metaphors of Jesus || Index of the Miracles of Jesus || Index of Doctrines || Index of Charts || Index of Maps || Index of Topical Essays || Index of Word Studies || Colored Maps || Index of Biblical names Notes || Old Testament activities for Sunday School kids || New Testament activities for Sunday School kids || Bible Illustrations || Bible short notes
|| Prayer of the First Hour || Third Hour || Sixth Hour || Ninth Hour || Vespers (Eleventh Hour) || Compline (Twelfth Hour) || The First Watch of the midnight prayers || The Second Watch of the midnight prayers || The Third Watch of the midnight prayers || The Prayer of the Veil || Various Prayers from the Agbia || Synaxarium