Sign of the Cross for the Theotokos and the Church?

Anna.T

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I've been wondering this as well?

I'm not sure if the traditions are the same through all Orthodox churches, but in our church, we cross ourselves at certain times.

I understand why, when the Trinity is mentioned (at least that was what was explained to me).

But why does almost everyone do it when the Theotokos is mentioned? And as well, most do it during the Creed when the Church is mentioned?

Thank you.
 

xOrthodox4Christx

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Good question. I don't think there is a direct connection with the Sign of the Cross for the Theotokos and Church, as much as alongside them.
 

LBK

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Anna.T said:
But why does almost everyone do it when the Theotokos is mentioned?
This is a custom in Greek tradition, and almost unheard-of in Russian/Slavic tradition. Just another variation in personal piety.  :)
 

Asteriktos

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Regarding the part about the church, are you sure that rather than doing it for 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church' (which I assume you are asking about), that they aren't just late doing it for the mention of the trinity a few words before: 'Who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified'? I never took much notice myself...
 

DeniseDenise

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and my parish does do it at the end of the Great Litany....at the Theotokos and all the saints.
 

Anna.T

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Asteriktos said:
Regarding the part about the church, are you sure that rather than doing it for 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church' (which I assume you are asking about), that they aren't just late doing it for the mention of the trinity a few words before: 'Who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified'? I never took much notice myself...
I'm pretty sure it's for the Church. At least half the people do it, maybe more, and nearly all at the same time.

And yes, it's for "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church".

They don't do it every single time the Church is mentioned, but always in the Creed for the Church, and it seems to me there might have been one or two other times the same phrase was used in some service or prayer, and they still do.

But for example when the prayers are for the people who enter the church, who love the beauty of it, and so on, there is no crossing then.  Only for that exact phrase from the Creed, as far as I have seen.
 

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Asteriktos said:
Regarding the part about the church, are you sure that rather than doing it for 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church' (which I assume you are asking about), that they aren't just late doing it for the mention of the trinity a few words before: 'Who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified'? I never took much notice myself...
Asteriktos, in my limited (in years), yet expansive (in parishes) experience, Greek parishes tend to cross themselves at the mention of each member of the Trinity during the Creed (I believe in... the Father, cross.... and in... Jesus Christ, cross.... and in the Holy Spirit, cross....). This gives a decent amount of lead time between the crossing at the mention of the Spirit and the crossing during "One holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" that happens at the Greek parishes (the crossing at "... with the Father and Son" never happens).

As to the why of the OP, I can only surmise. The practice has been around long enough that one might get many different answers from many different priests (and blank stares from priests of other jurisdictions). My own theory, we cross ourselves at the mention of the "One holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" because it is this Church that is the Bride of Christ, the voice that speaks from the Holy Spirit, and the Ark of Salvation for all believers. It is this take that still has me crossing myself at this point even attending a parish that lacks such a tradition.
 

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DeniseDenise said:
and my parish does do it at the end of the Great Litany....at the Theotokos and all the saints.
Yes, that is when I especially notice it. I should have been more specific. I do think there are other instances of the Theotokos being mentioned when people will, but it won't be everyone. And it's not at every mention of the Theotokos.

But at that point in the Divine Liturgy - "let us commend"? - when the priest mentions the Theotokos and all the saints - nearly the entire church does it then.

Figuring out when it is done for the Theotokos is more difficult as there seems to be some variation between people.
 

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LBK said:
Anna.T said:
But why does almost everyone do it when the Theotokos is mentioned?
This is a custom in Greek tradition, and almost unheard-of in Russian/Slavic tradition. Just another variation in personal piety.  :)
Thank you for the information. I wasn't sure if this was common to all the traditions.

I'm very much still sorting things out ...
 

DeniseDenise

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I give you the 'Denise rule of when in Rome'


at any particular parish...first visit...sit in back...this cunningly allows you to see 'universal crossing' vs 'individual crossing'

do the universals....don't worry so much about the 'individuals'.....

if people longer in the church then I have variations....then its not a 'they will all turn and stare' moment...

no help with the why....but sometimes that answer is 'traditionally we do so'

:laugh:

go to a different parish and the rules may be different
 

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FormerReformer said:
Asteriktos said:
Regarding the part about the church, are you sure that rather than doing it for 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church' (which I assume you are asking about), that they aren't just late doing it for the mention of the trinity a few words before: 'Who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified'? I never took much notice myself...
Asteriktos, in my limited (in years), yet expansive (in parishes) experience, Greek parishes tend to cross themselves at the mention of each member of the Trinity during the Creed (I believe in... the Father, cross.... and in... Jesus Christ, cross.... and in the Holy Spirit, cross....). This gives a decent amount of lead time between the crossing at the mention of the Spirit and the crossing during "One holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" that happens at the Greek parishes (the crossing at "... with the Father and Son" never happens).
Yes, I see some people in the church cross for each member of the Trinity. And some cross only once for all three (the priest does only once, so I wonder if some people may be following him - in many things I learn by watching him since there is some inconsistency between parishioners, but I also worry I'll do something the way only priests are supposed to do, so I try to be careful. At least he is very kind about people making mistakes, but I'd still rather not.).

Oh, and I never see crossing for "the Father and the Son" or any mention that does not include all three persons of the Trinity - though I've made that mistake a time or two myself.

As to the why of the OP, I can only surmise. The practice has been around long enough that one might get many different answers from many different priests (and blank stares from priests of other jurisdictions). My own theory, we cross ourselves at the mention of the "One holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" because it is this Church that is the Bride of Christ, the voice that speaks from the Holy Spirit, and the Ark of Salvation for all believers. It is this take that still has me crossing myself at this point even attending a parish that lacks such a tradition.

That may be? I have thought of how salvation comes to us through the Theotokos, as the Mother of God. And also it comes to us through the Church. So ... maybe that is part of the reason?
 

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Anna.T said:
But at that point in the Divine Liturgy - "let us commend"? - when the priest mentions the Theotokos and all the saints - nearly the entire church does it then.
Yeah, my Antiochian parish crossed at "Calling to remembrance our all-holy, immaculate, most blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary..." And then again immediately after for "and all our life unto Christ our God."

I'm sadly the only one, aside from rare exceptions, that does the first one at the OCA parish I attend. They just sign for the "unto Christ our God" bit.

Figuring out when it is done for the Theotokos is more difficult as there seems to be some variation between people.
Don't worry too much about figuring things out too quickly. It took me months if not longer to initially conform to how the majority of people crossed themselves, and even then there are still plenty of variations.

 

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DeniseDenise said:
I give you the 'Denise rule of when in Rome'


at any particular parish...first visit...sit in back...this cunningly allows you to see 'universal crossing' vs 'individual crossing'

do the universals....don't worry so much about the 'individuals'.....

if people longer in the church then I have variations....then its not a 'they will all turn and stare' moment...

no help with the why....but sometimes that answer is 'traditionally we do so'

:laugh:

go to a different parish and the rules may be different
Good advice of course. :)

My very first visit to an Orthodox Church, I went near the front. Not very helpful, LOL. I was looking over my shoulder all the time. Standing, sitting, prostrations, all kinds of things I have no names for. I had NO IDEA how to act or what to do, and the end when they all went to venerate the Cross, I had no idea what to do. It was awkward, LOL.

I next went to a different parish, and sat IN THE BACK. Stayed there for the first several services. Now I know (basically) how to act, but I don't know all the "why's". ;)

Speaking of everyone turning and staring, I'm glad they didn't but I had SUCH an embarrassing moment. The first time I tried to venerate an icon, it was the one on the stand right inside the door. First problem was I had tucked my book under my right arm, without realizing it would limit me being able to move my hand to cross myself first, which made that awkward and very abbreviated. So I was already embarrassed, and went to kiss the icon on the hand as I was told, without realizing how tall the stand was and how short I am - I almost knocked it over.  :eek:

No one stared, but a few people were standing near me. I know they saw.

Now if I can't reach the icon, I don't try to go higher than I am able. And many times, I will steady something first. Just to be safe.
 

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DeniseDenise said:
I give you the 'Denise rule of when in Rome'


at any particular parish...first visit...sit in back...this cunningly allows you to see 'universal crossing' vs 'individual crossing'

do the universals....don't worry so much about the 'individuals'.....

if people longer in the church then I have variations....then its not a 'they will all turn and stare' moment...

no help with the why....but sometimes that answer is 'traditionally we do so'

:laugh:

go to a different parish and the rules may be different
It is interesting how widely things can vary, but I don't do the "when in Rome" so much anymore and cross myself at the times I originally learned to. I just feel more comfortable crossing myself when being blessed/censed, regardless of what's "proper." :angel:
 

DeniseDenise

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Nephi said:
DeniseDenise said:
I give you the 'Denise rule of when in Rome'


at any particular parish...first visit...sit in back...this cunningly allows you to see 'universal crossing' vs 'individual crossing'

do the universals....don't worry so much about the 'individuals'.....

if people longer in the church then I have variations....then its not a 'they will all turn and stare' moment...

no help with the why....but sometimes that answer is 'traditionally we do so'

:laugh:

go to a different parish and the rules may be different
It is interesting how widely things can vary, but I don't do the "when in Rome" so much anymore and cross myself at the times I originally learned to. I just feel more comfortable crossing myself when being blessed/censed, regardless of what's "proper." :angel:

and thats fair enough.....but in terms of learning.....if one is a prospective convert and still doing a bit of parish visiting.....

I think once you ARE orthodox you have probably stabilized practice wise.....
 

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DeniseDenise said:
Nephi said:
It is interesting how widely things can vary, but I don't do the "when in Rome" so much anymore and cross myself at the times I originally learned to. I just feel more comfortable crossing myself when being blessed/censed, regardless of what's "proper." :angel:
and thats fair enough.....but in terms of learning.....if one is a prospective convert and still doing a bit of parish visiting.....

I think once you ARE orthodox you have probably stabilized practice wise.....
Of course, I wasn't disagreeing with your advice, but rather making a general comment. I should've been a bit more clear.
 

DeniseDenise

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Nephi said:
DeniseDenise said:
Nephi said:
It is interesting how widely things can vary, but I don't do the "when in Rome" so much anymore and cross myself at the times I originally learned to. I just feel more comfortable crossing myself when being blessed/censed, regardless of what's "proper." :angel:
and thats fair enough.....but in terms of learning.....if one is a prospective convert and still doing a bit of parish visiting.....

I think once you ARE orthodox you have probably stabilized practice wise.....
Of course, I wasn't disagreeing with your advice, but rather making a general comment. I should've been a bit more clear.
oh i didn't misunderstand....its just the convert issues board  ;)

 

Anna.T

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Nephi said:
DeniseDenise said:
I give you the 'Denise rule of when in Rome'


at any particular parish...first visit...sit in back...this cunningly allows you to see 'universal crossing' vs 'individual crossing'

do the universals....don't worry so much about the 'individuals'.....

if people longer in the church then I have variations....then its not a 'they will all turn and stare' moment...

no help with the why....but sometimes that answer is 'traditionally we do so'

:laugh:

go to a different parish and the rules may be different
It is interesting how widely things can vary, but I don't do the "when in Rome" so much anymore and cross myself at the times I originally learned to. I just feel more comfortable crossing myself when being blessed/censed, regardless of what's "proper." :angel:
Oh that I can actually understand. I mean there are certain times - especially when being censed or when the priest goes by with the Eucharist or holds us the book he reads from. I would feel strange not crossing myself at those times, and some others. Even if no one else did.

There are certain times I definitely feel more comfortable doing certain things already.
 

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I was taught that we cross ourselves for mention of:

The Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit/Ghost)

When the name of the Lord is blessed

At the Creed (and within the Creed in the portion about the Holy Spirit being worshiped with the Father and the Son. Some also cross themselves on all the stanzas following that till the end.

The Our Father (and it is my understanding that on weekdays the tradition is to further say this standing on ones knees outside the Paschal season)

The invocations over the Holy Gifts, making a full metanoia at the triple amen (outside Pashcal season if a liturgy is served during the week, then instead of a metanoia (fingers touching the ground) a full prostration is made (face to the floor).

At key places starting and within the confessional prayer before Holy Communion, esp. on the "Like the thief will I confess thee "remember me O Lord in Thy Kingdom", "receive me today as a communicant of Thy Holy Mysteries", and at the end.

Trisagion prayer (full metanoias on the Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One)

Paschal Troparion (Christ is Risen...)

At the reading of the epistle and at the reading of the Gospel.

We also cross ourselves entering the temple, before icons, crossing across the middle of the temple from one side to the other (passing before the Holy Altar), entering the altar (special rules, ask the priest), leaving the temple, when the Holy Cross passes before us, when the Gospels pass before us, and some cross themselves when the Holy Gifts brought before the people prior to their consecration. We also cross ourselves prior to kissing the cross at the dismissal, and it is the general custom to cross oneself before the icon of the Theotokos after communion and clear of the chalice (no bumping), this is a show of gratitude for her permitting us to receive the Holy Gifts...It is like regarded as a personal piety, but it is a very old and widespread one.

I was also taught we cross ourselves in private when passing before a temple while driving or walking past.

We do not cross ourselves:

When the priest is blessing us with his hand or with the Gospel, candles, or with the Holy Chalice. In those situations, we receive the blessing with a bow/inclination of our head and upper body. We also bow before the cross and when during the Divine liturgy the priest elevates the Holy Gifts and says, "Holy things for the Holy"

This was what I was taught...others may have had other variations on the above taught to them (things like prostrating entering and leaving the temple on weekdays, greeting icons, and metanoias when entering temple/cathedral property, etc.)
 

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Seraphim98 said:
The Our Father (and it is my understanding that on weekdays the tradition is to further say this standing on ones knees outside the Paschal season)
I've never seen non-Slavs do this, and even among the Slavs, I haven't seen it everywhere...even within the same jurisdiction and diocese, I've seen it done otherwise in different parishes. 

The invocations over the Holy Gifts, making a full metanoia at the triple amen (outside Pashcal season if a liturgy is served during the week, then instead of a metanoia (fingers touching the ground) a full prostration is made (face to the floor).
I've actually only seen this in places where that part of the anaphora was read aloud.  :p

We do not cross ourselves:

When the priest is blessing us with his hand or with the Gospel, candles, or with the Holy Chalice. In those situations, we receive the blessing with a bow/inclination of our head and upper body.
Interesting...I had heard that one was to bow and receive the blessing if the priest blessed with his hand, but to sign oneself with the Cross if the priest was blessing with an object. 
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
We do not cross ourselves:

When the priest is blessing us with his hand or with the Gospel, candles, or with the Holy Chalice. In those situations, we receive the blessing with a bow/inclination of our head and upper body.

Interesting...I had heard that one was to bow and receive the blessing if the priest blessed with his hand, but to sign oneself with the Cross if the priest was blessing with an object. 
Same with me but I do see plenty of people cross themselves when the priest blesses with his hand.  However, if the priest is blessing us with any objects, I was taught to cross myself.
 

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Following our rubrics, we Old Believers tend to cross ourselves a whole lot during services, quite frequently for Theotokos and the Saints alike.

Were the Russians just historically exceptionally cross-happy compared to everyone else or was there a Church-wide effort to reduce the amount of mandated crossing? If more so the latter, when was it?
 

Mor Ephrem

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Hawkeye said:
Were the Russians just historically exceptionally cross-happy compared to everyone else or was there a Church-wide effort to reduce the amount of mandated crossing? If more so the latter, when was it?
Honestly, I think it's the former.  No one else seems to have the same enthusiasm. 

But I'm not sure there's "mandated" crossing at all.  Piety has developed in different places in such a way that we can come up with "rules", but you wouldn't necessarily find that in the rubrics of the liturgical books, synodal decrees, etc.
 

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Honestly, I think it's the former.  No one else seems to have the same enthusiasm. 
Indeed. Russians, more than even Greeks, rarely do anything by halves.  ;) :laugh:
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
But I'm not sure there's "mandated" crossing at all.  Piety has developed in different places in such a way that we can come up with "rules", but you wouldn't necessarily find that in the rubrics of the liturgical books, synodal decrees, etc.
Perhaps it's not all that mandated but it's certainly encouraged. Indeed, every Old Believer service book I've ever seen has had copious notations for when to cross oneself or to bow.
 

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Hawkeye said:
Perhaps it's not all that mandated but it's certainly encouraged.
Definitely.

Indeed, every Old Believer service book I've ever seen has had copious notations for when to cross oneself or to bow.
I would say they are the exception that proves the rule.  But that's not a bad thing.  I respect the Old Believer tradition, and find in it a tradition not unlike my own in a number of ways. 
 

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What makes the most sense to me is that by confessing Mary as the Theotokos we defend the divinity of her Son who died upon the cross for our sake.
 

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Sam G said:
What makes the most sense to me is that by confessing Mary as the Theotokos we defend the divinity of her Son who died upon the cross for our sake.
Thank you, Sam. That does make sense. :)
 

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Seraphim98 said:
I was taught that we cross ourselves for mention of:

The Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit/Ghost)

When the name of the Lord is blessed

At the Creed (and within the Creed in the portion about the Holy Spirit being worshiped with the Father and the Son. Some also cross themselves on all the stanzas following that till the end.

The Our Father (and it is my understanding that on weekdays the tradition is to further say this standing on ones knees outside the Paschal season)

The invocations over the Holy Gifts, making a full metanoia at the triple amen (outside Pashcal season if a liturgy is served during the week, then instead of a metanoia (fingers touching the ground) a full prostration is made (face to the floor).

At key places starting and within the confessional prayer before Holy Communion, esp. on the "Like the thief will I confess thee "remember me O Lord in Thy Kingdom", "receive me today as a communicant of Thy Holy Mysteries", and at the end.

Trisagion prayer (full metanoias on the Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One)

Paschal Troparion (Christ is Risen...)

At the reading of the epistle and at the reading of the Gospel.

We also cross ourselves entering the temple, before icons, crossing across the middle of the temple from one side to the other (passing before the Holy Altar), entering the altar (special rules, ask the priest), leaving the temple, when the Holy Cross passes before us, when the Gospels pass before us, and some cross themselves when the Holy Gifts brought before the people prior to their consecration. We also cross ourselves prior to kissing the cross at the dismissal, and it is the general custom to cross oneself before the icon of the Theotokos after communion and clear of the chalice (no bumping), this is a show of gratitude for her permitting us to receive the Holy Gifts...It is like regarded as a personal piety, but it is a very old and widespread one.

I was also taught we cross ourselves in private when passing before a temple while driving or walking past.

We do not cross ourselves:

When the priest is blessing us with his hand or with the Gospel, candles, or with the Holy Chalice. In those situations, we receive the blessing with a bow/inclination of our head and upper body. We also bow before the cross and when during the Divine liturgy the priest elevates the Holy Gifts and says, "Holy things for the Holy"

This was what I was taught...others may have had other variations on the above taught to them (things like prostrating entering and leaving the temple on weekdays, greeting icons, and metanoias when entering temple/cathedral property, etc.)
OK, I'm going to have to ask Fr. M. a few questions, maybe. :)

There are actually many of these times I recognize that people do cross themselves, though I'm not sure about all of them (some are not done in our church that I'm aware of).

And it depends on who I'm watching. Generally speaking, the older folks cross themselves more often, and the much younger ones almost never cross themselves.

One of the ladies who explains things to me said that we cross ourselves when we pass the church because of the presanctified Body and Blood that are within. I've also been told to do so when entering the Church, or before venerating an icon.

I noticed right away that everyone crosses at the "Christ is Risen" line (in either language) when singing the troparian. The priest also crosses with a candle at that time.

I've actually been closely watching to try to figure out when to cross when the priest blesses us. I'm still confused on that one. Sometimes people seem not to, but maybe I'm watching different people at different times, because I can't figure it out.

I tend to bow AND cross myself whenever he blesses us with his hands or with the book, as long as I see anyone else cross themselves. I'm usually a beat behind. But I'm just not sure.

We bow and cross when he censes, or passes by with anything, really. And we turn to face as he passes by. When the altar boys carry the cross, the priest censes, passes by with the Eucharist or the Holy Book. Which gets confusing, since the altar boys with the cross precede the Eucharist.

Generally I try to watch everyone else. ;)  Some parts are becoming very natural to me, and others I am not yet sure of.

And of course as far as the seasons, I don't know yet. I began coming just before the beginning of Lent, I believe, so I really only know anything about Lenten season and Paschal season so far. I know there is some difference in days of the week and seasons.

I'm just happy that I (usually) know when to sit and stand. And Fr. M. came to me this week and explained that the first part of Orthros is not in the guide, so I can wait at the beginning of the service. Last week people kept asking me where we were, and I didn't know. It was a bit of pantomiming across the church, LOL, so not good I'm sure.

Much, much, MUCH to learn!

Then again, someone who I hadn't met before asked me last week - she thought I was already Orthodox and came from another church. So at least I don't stand out as badly as I might.

Still, every week there is a question or something I don't get quite right. This week I pulled out the kneeling bar because someone else did (and I hate to make noise with it, so I wait for a good time to lean down and do it carefully) ... then no one else did so I had to put it back up, but I had to wait until a good time to do that quietly too.
 

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Anna.T said:
Generally I try to watch everyone else. ;)  Some parts are becoming very natural to me, and others I am not yet sure of.
In terms of learning "external piety", this will help a lot.  Eventually, as you learn and experience more, you'll pick up on the patterns underlying the customs, and it will make more sense and help fill in the blanks. 

But "external piety" should also be linked to "internal piety".  If you're spending your time worrying about whether what comes naturally to you is "correct" (e.g., crossing yourself and bowing when blessed vs one or the other) rather than praying, just do what comes naturally until you pick up on those patterns and those become natural.  Anyway, it's not like it's a sin or an error to make the sign of the Cross at the "wrong" time...in a more broad sense, there's never a "wrong" time for it. 
 

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Hawkeye said:
Following our rubrics, we Old Believers tend to cross ourselves a whole lot during services, quite frequently for Theotokos and the Saints alike.

Were the Russians just historically exceptionally cross-happy compared to everyone else or was there a Church-wide effort to reduce the amount of mandated crossing? If more so the latter, when was it?
I have to see what Old Believers are?

I have also seen a book with LOTS of notes for when to cross oneself (I couldn't keep up) as well as bows, etc.

I have also heard teachings I love very much from Russian Orthodox about the sign of the Cross that stress the importance of it very much. So much so that it really bothers me that I'm not able to do this at home unless I am alone. Sooner or later I'm afraid I'm going to mess up, as it's becoming very natural at certain times.

But there are some in our church that cross themselves continuously at certain parts of the liturgy. I'm not sure which parts yet. I'm just trying to find out how to act, so I try to find the "middle ground" so to speak, so as not to draw attention to myself one way or another. Not that that's the only consideration, but since I'm learning, it seems the thing to do.

I do like to understand "why" though. I don't want it to be a meaningless ritual to me. Everything within the Orthodox Church is so beautifully full of meaning and expresses so much, that I don't want to miss out on that. I know it will take time (probably a lifetime) to learn, but I really want to appreciate why we do what we do.
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
Anna.T said:
Generally I try to watch everyone else. ;)  Some parts are becoming very natural to me, and others I am not yet sure of.
In terms of learning "external piety", this will help a lot.  Eventually, as you learn and experience more, you'll pick up on the patterns underlying the customs, and it will make more sense and help fill in the blanks. 

But "external piety" should also be linked to "internal piety".  If you're spending your time worrying about whether what comes naturally to you is "correct" (e.g., crossing yourself and bowing when blessed vs one or the other) rather than praying, just do what comes naturally until you pick up on those patterns and those become natural.  Anyway, it's not like it's a sin or an error to make the sign of the Cross at the "wrong" time...in a more broad sense, there's never a "wrong" time for it. 
Thanks so much, Mor Ephrem.

I think this is an important point, and I try not to miss it. I was just typing on that point in a general sense while you were posting. ;)

Much is becoming natural, and those I appreciate. I know why I am doing it, and that makes it a gesture with much meaning. Other times I don't quite understand the reason why, so I usually try to go along, but I want to understand. As you said, it will come. Can't get it all at once. ;)  I don't want to seem disrespectful by missing something I should be doing though.

On the other hand, one time I DID read that there was a particular time we should NOT cross ourselves. I wanted to know more about that, and I can't remember where I read it. It said something like when the judgment was mentioned? I wish I had understood better. The thing I read was more specific, but I just didn't understand the reason or the timing. It seems it was something about not placing the Cross between ourselves and judgment, maybe something like we appeal to the Cross anyway ... I'm getting confused in what I remember. Anyone else know anything about that? It may have been something spurious, I just don't know.

Thank you so much for this post though - that's a very important overall guide and consideration. :)
 

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In my parish most of the people (me included) cross themselves during the Creed upon mentioning the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. For me it made perfect sense from the start - we confess our faith in Father, Son, Spirit and then the last comes: (I believe) in one, holy ... Church, which is the ultimate fruit of the Triune love of God. It reminds me very strongly that the articles of Faith in the Creed are not abstract, but have direct influence on the reality around me - the story does not end on the personal "biography" of the Son of God, nor on the recognition of the Spirit, but unfolds into the lives of the saints on the icons around and of the Faithful present. It's an acknowledgement of the fact that God through the Son and the Spirit really dwells now among the people and this People indwelt by God is the article of faith just as the Most Holy Trinity.

Some cross themselves also on the mentioning of the Theotokos in prayers, maybe because of her participation in the Incarnation, maybe because she is the icon of the Church, but I guess it's generally a physical expression of a fervent prayer for her intercession. We often cross ourselves when the names of the saints especially dear to us are mentioned not only at the Liturgy and other services, but also in private prayer.
 

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My understanding is that when the Priest is blessing us.....we receive it...and do not cross at the same time...


But I am sure practice varies   ;)
 

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Luka said:
In my parish most of the people (me included) cross themselves during the Creed upon mentioning the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. For me it made perfect sense from the start - we confess our faith in Father, Son, Spirit and then the last comes: (I believe) in one, holy ... Church, which is the ultimate fruit of the Triune love of God. It reminds me very strongly that the articles of Faith in the Creed are not abstract, but have direct influence on the reality around me - the story does not end on the personal "biography" of the Son of God, nor on the recognition of the Spirit, but unfolds into the lives of the saints on the icons around and of the Faithful present. It's an acknowledgement of the fact that God through the Son and the Spirit really dwells now among the people and this People indwelt by God is the article of faith just as the Most Holy Trinity.

Some cross themselves also on the mentioning of the Theotokos in prayers, maybe because of her participation in the Incarnation, maybe because she is the icon of the Church, but I guess it's generally a physical expression of a fervent prayer for her intercession. We often cross ourselves when the names of the saints especially dear to us are mentioned not only at the Liturgy and other services, but also in private prayer.
Thank you. I can especially appreciate the part about the Church, and would like to think on this some more. Anything that helps me appreciate the meaning and significance of things. :)

I see what you are saying about the Theotokos and the particular Saints as well. Thank you. :)
 

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DeniseDenise said:
My understanding is that when the Priest is blessing us.....we receive it...and do not cross at the same time...


But I am sure practice varies   ;)
This is one question I really am going to have to ask Fr. M. I'm not sure what the thinking in our church is, or how much it matters, but this one point confuses me most about the timing (that and if there is a completely "wrong" time to do it).

So few people do when he blesses us though, that I would like to know this. Besides, as Mor Ephram says, I'd rather know and quit wondering so I can focus on what is important, rather than external details.

I suspect you may be right that it would be more proper in our church not to cross when he blesses us, since fewer people do, and yet all bow.

Also I notice when we reply "And with your spirit" Fr. M. will bow - I think his hands are slightly outstretched at that time, but he does not cross himself. And essentially we bless him in return, correct? Though of course he is the priest and we are not.
 

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Anna.T said:
I've actually been closely watching to try to figure out when to cross when the priest blesses us. I'm still confused on that one. Sometimes people seem not to, but maybe I'm watching different people at different times, because I can't figure it out.

I tend to bow AND cross myself whenever he blesses us with his hands or with the book, as long as I see anyone else cross themselves. I'm usually a beat behind. But I'm just not sure.

We bow and cross when he censes, or passes by with anything, really. And we turn to face as he passes by. When the altar boys carry the cross, the priest censes, passes by with the Eucharist or the Holy Book. Which gets confusing, since the altar boys with the cross precede the Eucharist.
At both the Antiochian/Greek churches I've been to, the people all cross themselves (for the most part) every time the priest blesses with or without an object (including the gifts), censes, passes with anything, etc. Sometimes people will just bow, but it's more of an abbreviated response than actively not crossing themselves at that given moment. And regarding the procession, generally it's my experience that people don't cross until the priest (or deacon) is parallel to them with the object of veneration.

Interestingly, at this OCA parish, normally most people do not cross themselves ever when being censed or blessed by anything, but a lot of the cradles that came for Pascha did quite a bit. It seems that it's primarily the converts, who make up the majority of the parish, that solely bow at those moments without crossing.
 

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Nephi said:
Anna.T said:
I've actually been closely watching to try to figure out when to cross when the priest blesses us. I'm still confused on that one. Sometimes people seem not to, but maybe I'm watching different people at different times, because I can't figure it out.

I tend to bow AND cross myself whenever he blesses us with his hands or with the book, as long as I see anyone else cross themselves. I'm usually a beat behind. But I'm just not sure.

We bow and cross when he censes, or passes by with anything, really. And we turn to face as he passes by. When the altar boys carry the cross, the priest censes, passes by with the Eucharist or the Holy Book. Which gets confusing, since the altar boys with the cross precede the Eucharist.
At both the Antiochian/Greek churches I've been to, the people all cross themselves (for the most part) every time the priest blesses with or without an object (including the gifts), censes, passes with anything, etc. Sometimes people will just bow, but it's more of an abbreviated response than actively not crossing themselves at that given moment. And regarding the procession, generally it's my experience that people don't cross until the priest (or deacon) is parallel to them with the object of veneration.

Interestingly, at this OCA parish, normally most people do not cross themselves ever when being censed or blessed by anything, but a lot of the cradles that came for Pascha did quite a bit. It seems that it's primarily the converts, who make up the majority of the parish, that solely bow at those moments without crossing.
The converts are usually the ones who are catechized. :)

In my OCA parish, we also tend to cross ourselves freely during the petitions, in a haphazard fashion--that is, each one of us will cross ourselves as we will, not because we are required to. This represents assent, a visual amen, a visual but silent "In the name of the Holy Trinity" after the Lord have mercy and Grant this O Lord. We almost always cross ourselves at each "let us commend ourselves and each other...", with a bow toward the icon of the Theotokos in the first part of  this prayer. Many of us also open our hands, with palms facing upwards and elbows bent, at the waist level during the Lord's Prayer. I do not know when this came from; I just saw it somebody else do it, liked it and adopted it. (about half of the congregation does it now).
One thing that most of us never do is to turn so the one continually faces the priest or deacon when the entire church is censed, as this makes one turn his back to the altar--a major no-no. Hope this helps.
 

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Anna.T said:
I have to see what Old Believers are?

I have also seen a book with LOTS of notes for when to cross oneself (I couldn't keep up) as well as bows, etc.

I have also heard teachings I love very much from Russian Orthodox about the sign of the Cross that stress the importance of it very much. So much so that it really bothers me that I'm not able to do this at home unless I am alone. Sooner or later I'm afraid I'm going to mess up, as it's becoming very natural at certain times. 
The easiest way to know/understand when Old Believers cross themselves is to pray like them!

I'm not quite sure if this is the book you were talking about, http://www.churchofthenativity.net/shop/old-orthodox-prayer-book,  but it contains nearly every prayer you'd need, in addition to a nice section in the back explaining when and how to make the sign of the cross at various times during prayer.  Granted, you should probably talk to your local priest about the customs that prevail in your church and look to acquire a prayerbook that uses the same translation of the prayers that you'd hear in church.
 

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Carl Kraeff (Second Chance) said:
Many of us also open our hands, with palms facing upwards and elbows bent, at the waist level during the Lord's Prayer. I do not know when this came from; I just saw it somebody else do it, liked it and adopted it. (about half of the congregation does it now).
Awesome! 

One thing that most of us never do is to turn so the one continually faces the priest or deacon when the entire church is censed, as this makes one turn his back to the altar--a major no-no. Hope this helps.
In just about every EO church I've worshiped in, the people do just this sort of turning, and I'm usually the only one who doesn't.  It's rather odd to have the whole congregation staring at you for a moment because the priest/deacon just happens to be behind you.  ;)
 
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