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If the Cross of Christ became the symbol par excellence of the Church, a sensible expression and manifestation of the faith of Christians, it was not simply in order to recall the passion of the God-man and the price which was paid to the enraged justice of God. Christians impressed the sign of the cross on their bodies, revealing the willing self-renunciation of individual self-sufficiency, the sacrificial offering of their life to the will of the Father. "All visible things need a cross," said St Maximus the Confessor, "and all intelligible things need a tomb." [1] Everything that can be seen, everything which becomes accessible to us by means of individual senses and every knowledge which we acquire by our individual understanding, everything which seems to be subordinated to us thanks to our individual abilities, must be crucified and buried, be put to death as individual certainties and a fortress of the ego, if they are to function as a loving relationship and self-transcendence.

Therefore Christians sign their bodies with the sign of the cross, not only when they pray, but "when they begin any deed whatever"; [2] "over bread to be eaten, and over cups from which to drink, on coming in and on going out ... when going to bed and when rising again." [3] Every phase and every turn of our everyday life is sealed with the mark of lifegiving death, of obedience to the will of the Father, the will of life, because the Cross is not a sign of recollection or emotional or morally instructive reference, but a symbol and manifestation of conformation to Christ's mode of existence, the way of life. As such a symbol revealing the life which constitutes the Church and the hope of the faithful, the cross is impressed finally even on the tombs of those who have fallen asleep, affirming their entry into the "land of the living."

Christos Yannaras, 'Elements of Faith: An Introduction to Orthodox Theology' (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1991), 113-114.

[1] "Chapters on Knowledge," ยง67 in 'Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings', tr. George C. Berthold (New York, 1985), 140.
[2] Origen, 'Commentary on Ezekiel' 9.4 (Patrologia Graeca 13, 801A).
[3] St Cyril of Jerusalem, 'Catachetical Lectures', 13.36.

Amen. Bow before it, don't market it.

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