Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

Brief Catechism

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THE MEANING OF THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

The position of our fingers as we make the Sign of the Cross has a definite meaning. We join together the thumb, index finger, and middle finger of our right hand. This means that God is three in Person; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; yet ONE in Essence..

With-the other two fingers of our right hand we touch the palm. This means that Christ is both God and Man..

By touching first our forehead, then our breast, then our right shoulder, lastly our left shoulder, we pray that our mind, body, and heart be made pleasing to God..

By the Sign of the Cross we also express our faith in all the things which Christ the Savior taught us and did for us: by joining the three fingers we express our faith in the Most Holy Trinity, consubstantial and undivided; by the two fingers bent to the palm of the hand we express our belief in the descent to earth of the Son of God, and in His having assumed humanity without divesting Himself of His divinity, thus uniting both natures in Himself, the divine and the human. By touching our brow, breast and shoulders, we express our belief that the Triune God hath sanctified our thoughts, feelings, desires and acts; lastly, by making on our person the sign of the cross, we express our belief that Christ hath sanctified our soul and saved us by His sufferings on the cross..

THE RUSSIAN FORM OF THE CROSS OR BIBLICAL CROSS

Father John of Cronstadt explains the Russian form of the Cross:.

In our service of the Ninth Hour the hour of the death of our Savior, under the title of "Glory to Thee." we read the following Troparion:

"Between two thieves the rightful measure (the correct balance) is to be found, Thy cross;
the one led down into hell, through the weight of words of blasphemy;
the other relieved from the burdens of his sign,
into the knowledge of Divinity O Christ, our God, glory to Thee."

The meaning of the verse is as follows: the cross of Christ stood for the rightful retribution (the rightful balance, the scales) between the two thieves, who hung on their crosses at the same time with Christ; because one of them sank into hell dragged down by his blasphemous words, and the other, the wise thief, ascended into heaven as if soaring on light wings, because of his repentance, and his profession, "Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom." This makes it clear why the lower crosswise bar is placed at a sharp angle..

The upper bar of the cross represents nothing else than the inscription, which was nailed to the top of the Christ's cross: "And they crucified Him..." and a superscription of His accusation was written over, "The king of the Jews" (Matt. 27-32; Mark 15; 26.).

The middle crossbar was where the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ were nailed to, the lowest crossbar -- where the feet of Jesus rested, and to that bar is ascribed the symbolism of the two thieves..

The properly shaped eight pointed Russian Orthodox Cross more fully symbolizes the Crucifixion than the simple Cross of Western Christians, four pointed Cross..

The foot board is acknowledged to be a necessary attribute of the cross worthy of veneration and prophetically spoken of in the words, "let us bow before the place where His feet stand.".

Another question: Why is the foot board of the cross of Christ pointed the right side up, and the left down and the head of Christ also inclined to the right?
Answer: Christ makes His right foot light and lifts it ]above the footboard in order to lighten the sins of the ones who believe in Him, so than, on His second coming, they should soar up to meet Him. And His left foot He lowers on the footboard in order that those who do not believe in Him should be weighed down and descend into hell. His head is inclined to the right, that He might incline all the heathens to believe and worship Him.

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