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The Sign of the Cross

AntoniousNikolas

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The Catholic Encyclopedia states that in the Roman Catholic Church, the faithful crossed themselves from right to left, just as the Orthodox do, until the 15th or 16th century. They must explain why they have changed an ancient and apostolic tradition. We cannot answer as to their motivations.
http://www.orthodox.net/articles/about-crossing-oneself.html

I've heard Oriental Orthodox priests say that we've crossed ourselves from left to right from the beginning.  How can we reconcile that with the above?  Which is truly the older way?
 

Salpy

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I always assumed our way was more ancient because it is more widespread among people who, until recently, have had so little contact with each other.

I don't know for sure, though.  Interesting question.
 

Luke

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Would the Oriental priests be thinking about how they stand in front of the parish during Liturgy?
 

Asteriktos

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Neither is apostolic. In earlier times it was signed by the thumb on the forehead.
 

Regnare

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"The use of the right hand betokens His infinite power and the fact that He sits at the right hand of the Father. That the sign begins with a downward movement from above signifies His descent to us from heaven. Again, the movement of the hand from the right side to the left drives away our enemies and declares that by His invincible power the Lord overcame the devil, who is on the left side, dark and lacking strength." --Peter of Damascus, 12th century

"The sign of the cross is made with three fingers, because the signing is done together with the invocation of the Trinity. ... This is how it is done: from above to below, and from the right to the left, because Christ descended from the heavens to the earth..." --Pope Innocent III of Rome (r. 1198-1216)

Both according to St. Wiki of Pedia.
 

Ivanov

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Would it be noteworthy that the 2 most significant groups that broke away from the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental and the Latins, make the sign of the cross from the left to the right, directly opposite...  in reverse?

Ivanov
 

Mor Ephrem

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Ivanov said:
Would it be noteworthy that the 2 most significant groups that broke away from the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental and the Latins, make the sign of the cross from the left to the right, directly opposite...  in reverse?

Ivanov
As notable, I suppose, as the fact that the Nestorians and the Eastern Orthodox make the sign of the cross in the same exact way.
 

minasoliman

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(Beat me to it)

Ivanov said:
Would it be noteworthy that the 2 most significant groups that broke away from the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental and the Latins, make the sign of the cross from the left to the right, directly opposite...  in reverse?

Ivanov
And the Assyrian "Nestorians" make it like the EOs.  Is that noteworthy?
 

Mor Ephrem

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minasoliman said:
Ivanov said:
Would it be noteworthy that the 2 most significant groups that broke away from the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental and the Latins, make the sign of the cross from the left to the right, directly opposite...  in reverse?

Ivanov
And the Assyrian "Nestorians" make it like the EOs.  Is that noteworthy?
Jinx.
 

Ivanov

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So, the answer is no, with a 'jinx' thrown in for good measure. Thank you.
 

wgw

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Mor Ephrem said:
Ivanov said:
Would it be noteworthy that the 2 most significant groups that broke away from the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental and the Latins, make the sign of the cross from the left to the right, directly opposite...  in reverse?

Ivanov
As notable, I suppose, as the fact that the Nestorians and the Eastern Orthodox make the sign of the cross in the same exact way.
From my observations the Assyrians tend to do it with a slight flourish especially when it is combined with a bow during the initial downstroke, which is evocative of the Arabic Salaam gesture.  However, this does not appear to be a universal practice but is rater similiar to the more elegant bowimg and scraping before some icons that pious Eastern Orthodox make, a stylized gesture.

I have read regarding the extinct liturgy of North Africa, that is, of Carthage, Africa Proconsularis, Hippo, and so on, the so called "African Rite" which was lost when this region's "imdigenous Christianity" entirely fell to Arian visigoths and then and Saracens, involved the rpiest making the sign of the cross with his entire body, by extending his arms fully and I believe if I read the article right, by looking upwards.  What we know about that rite are primarily guesses from the writings of its prelates like Ss. Cyprian and Augustine.

I also do not dount the antiquity of the Anglican and Methodist "double intersecting karate chop" gesture made over the Eucharist and at the end of the services.  This I suspect was a local custom of the Sarum Rite before the Reformation, since it stands to reason the manual acts being retained in the BCP by Cranmer, and this being one fo the major causes of controversy with the Puritans and later Non Conformists, that Anglican priests would continue to make this gesture as they were accustomed to.  I have to confess while attending the Tridentine mass and the Novus Ordo mass I havent paid enough attention; I thought I saw it there but am nit entirely sure.  The Syriac Orthodox dismissal however the priest makes, with his hand on the horn of the altar, at the end of the Qurbana, is of course quite distinctive in that his finger seems extended at us, as though he were making the sign on an invisble person in front of him.
 
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wait Coptic Orthodox don't do right to left? I swear I saw the right to left done in the Coptic Church. Anyways all the info is fascinating especially wgw you seem very smart.
 
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Father Peter said:
Bar Salib writes extensively in the 12th century, IIRC, about the sign of the cross. Certainly it had always been as we do it now in any record of the Syrian Church of that time.
Father Peter does Bar Salib writtings still survive to this day. This info peaks my curiosity.
 

dhinuus

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seekeroftruth777 said:
Father Peter does Bar Salib writtings still survive to this day. This info peaks my curiosity.
Works of Dionysius bar Salibi still survive and some English translations are also available.

The following works are extant.
Commentary on the Old Testament (mostly unpublished)
Commentary on the New Testament. series of some of this exists; on Matthew, Mark, Luke, and also on Acts, Catholic epistles, and Revelation.
https://sites.google.com/site/demontortoise2000/bar_salibi_intro
http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/dionysius_syrus_revelation_01.htm
http://www.archive.org/stream/inapocalypsimact00dion#page/n9/mode/2up
Commentary on the Liturgical Offices. (A Latin translation exists).
Commentary on Myron and Baptism.
http://www.amazon.com/Dionysius-Bar-Salibi-Commentaries-Baptism/dp/1611435781
Three anaphoras
http://sor.cua.edu/Liturgy/Anaphora/BarSalibi.html
Polemical works against the Moslems , Jews, Melkites (English translation) and Nestorians (unpublished).
http://www.amazon.com/Dionysius-Response-Scriptorum-Christianorum-Orientalium/dp/9042915684
http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/CUA/id/75234
https://archive.org/stream/woodbrookestudie01theouoft#page/2/mode/2up
Commentary on the Centuries of Evagrius.
Commentary on the Isagogue of Porphyry, and on the Logical works (Organon) of Aristotle. This was completed in 1148, and is unpublished.
Penitential canons. A Latin translation by Denzinger exists.

Lost works known to us include a chronicle, a treatise on Providence, a compendium of theology, commentaries on the works of various Greek fathers, letters and poems.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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Justin Kissel said:
Neither is apostolic. In earlier times it was signed by the thumb on the forehead.
This is only retained liturgically by the Latins and done at the Epistle reading if memory serves correct. I know that I did it as a child in the Latin church, but the exact gesture I've forgotten. I think it is a cross with the thumb over the forehead, mouth, and then perhaps the chest? Any Latin rite people care to clarify?

edit - This article states that it is done just before the Gospel reading. Anyway, it retains a more ancient usage than they are giving it credit for here: http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/whats-the-significance-of-the-crossing-of-the-forehead-lips-and-heart-before-the-gosp
 
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