Volume II - Worship

The Church Building

Sign of the Cross

Also found on the altar table is a small hand cross used for blessing and for veneration by the faithful. The sign of the cross is used throughout the church building: on the holy vessels, stands, tables, and vestments.

The cross is the central symbol for Christians, not only as the instrument of the world’s salvation by the crucified Christ, but also as the constant witness to the fact—that men cannot be Christians unless they live with the cross as the very content of their lives in this world. “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow he” (Mk 8:34).

For these reasons Christians place upon themselves the sign of the cross. The Orthodox place their first two fingers and thumb together to form a sign of the Triune God and cross themselves from the head to the breast and from shoulder to shoulder, right to left. This unique and all-embracing symbol shows that the cross is the inspiration, power and indeed the very content of our lives as Christians; and that man’s mind, heart and strength must be given to the love of God and man.