07 September 2007

Speaking of Crossing Oneself


In the comments section from Wednesday's post, we ended up talking about making the sign of the cross. Rev. McCain reminded us of Luther's exhortation to make the sign of the cross each day when we pray. Here's a little tidbit from A. C. Piepkorn that builds on Luther's instruction in the Small Catechism:
[Speaking of reminding ourselves of our Baptism, and in a way better than using holy water:] ...we have a far better way of reminding ourselves suggested in our Small Catechism. The head of the family is directed to instruct the members of his household to bless themselves morning and evening after this fashion; "In the morning when you get up, and in the evening when you retire, you shall bless yourself with the Sign of the Holy Cross and say, 'In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.' Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord's Prayer; if you wish, you may also say the little prayer, I Thank Thee." Let me call attention to the relation between this brief office and the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The blessing with the sign of the holy cross corresponds to the signing with the holy cross at Baptism with the formula: "Receive the sign of the holy cross, both upon the forehead and upon the breast, in token that thou hast been redeemed by Christ the Crucified." The invocation, "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost," reminds us that we are baptized into that name. The Apostles' Creed has always been the ancient baptismal symbol, as the Nicene Creed has been the ancient Eucharistic confession, and its use is designed to remind us of Holy Baptism's divine gift of faith. The "Our Father" recalls that in order to implore the blessing of Almighty God upon us, the minister laid his hands upon our head and bade the congregation pray with him the Paternoster with special intention for our eternal salvation. If thus at morning's dawn we consecrate ourselves anew to God and at nightfall plead again the perfect sacrifice of Christ, into whose death we have been baptized and into whose new divine life we have been engrafted, Baptism will mean more to us than a rite and we shall experience the constant power of the new birth's sanctifying operation ("The Lutheran Church--A Sacramental Church, in The Church: Selected Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn, p. 81).
Wow! All of that connected to one little gesture of making the sign of the cross! What a treasure to maintain and actually practice!

4 comments:

Past Elder said...

Oh yeah! That's why I'm Lutheran. Now I can be a real catholic.

Christine said...

The Apostles' Creed has always been the ancient baptismal symbol, as the Nicene Creed has been the ancient Eucharistic confession, and its use is designed to remind us of Holy Baptism's divine gift of faith.

That is brought out very succinctly in works by Jaroslav Pelikan and John Meyedorff's "Catholicity and the Church."

Lutherans are much more diverse in their understandings of Eucharistic worship. Most still don't refer to the worship service as "Eucharist" and only in the Church of Sweden have I heard reference to the "Mass".

Episcopalians and Anglicans make the sign of the cross, too. It's not a real strong indicator of orthodoxy these days.

Randy Asburry said...

Christine,

I don't think the point is to judge anyone's "orthodoxy" by this practice of piety, but rather to celebrate the practice of piety itself for what it truly confesses - our life of being joined to Christ's death and resurrection in our Baptism. Who knows, maybe those who aren't quite as "orthodox" as you'd like to see may come to a new or renewed appreciation of the real meaning of crossing themselves.

Christine said...

but rather to celebrate the practice of piety itself for what it truly confesses - our life of being joined to Christ's death and resurrection in our Baptism.

Yes indeed, Pastor. Growing up I saw my Catholic father and family sign themselves but not my Lutheran mother and her family.

Good Father Luther did, after all, learn much of his piety as a Catholic priest.