How to Know When to Do the Cross During Greek Orthodox Church Services
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For Greek Orthodox Christians, the sign of the cross is the ultimate expression of their faith. While making the sign of the cross, Orthodox Christians do so by touching their thumb, index, and middle fingers together, which represents the Holy Trinity. While the fingers are grasped in this way, the individual touches them to their forehead, heart, right shoulder, left shoulder, and then finished by placing the palm of the hand on their hearts. This gesture is also symbolic of loving God with all our hearts and minds.
We all know that we can make the sign of the cross whenever we want and there are no rules in this regard. However, while at church, there are moments when everyone seems to do their cross in unison. How do we know when we are supposed to do our cross? Here’s more information:
Before Venerating an Icon
When we walk into a Greek Orthodox Church, one of the first things we do is light a candle and place it in its proper spot. After we are done lighting a candle, the next step is to stand in front of one or more of the icons that are located near the candles. We make the sign of the cross as we stand before the icon and then kiss the icon (usually, we kiss the hand of the individual depicted if there is one visible).
After Saying a Prayer
When we pray, it is typical to do our cross after the prayer is done. For example, when we say the Lord’s Prayer or pray before a meal, most of us make the sign of the cross. The same is true during a church service. Sometimes, we all make the sign of the cross after saying prayers. For example, after we recite the Lord’s Prayer in the church service, we always do our cross.
After Mentioning the Holy Trinity
Another common place that the sign of the cross is made is when the Holy Trinity is mentioned during the service. In this instance, it can be made both before and after the Holy Trinity is mentioned.
During the Divine Liturgy
While in church, consider following along with the Divine Liturgy books that are located in the pews. Most books notate the areas where the sign of the cross should be made. You can also look around and make the sign of the cross whenever you see that others are doing it.
Making the sign of the cross is an integral part of the life of an Orthodox Christian. You can never overdo it! When in doubt, do your cross whenever you desire and you can’t go wrong.
The Religion section on GreekBoston.com was written by Greeks to help people understand some of the traditions of the Orthodox Christian religion, which is a religion practiced by people in countries such as Greece, Russia, United States, and other nations throughout the world. This article is not a substitute for information found in the Holy Bible or by our church fathers, priests, and other clergy members.
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