Why do Catholics have crucifix in their home and Churches; priest, bishops, cardinals, popes and the faithful wear crucifix in their neck and make a sign of the cross before and after prayer and always say “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, amen”. Would this mean that the culmination of the Catholic Faith of salvation was on Christ death and His triumph over death in order for a man’s death to sin will be brought back to immortal life in unity to Christ? If this is so, the sign of the cross will forever in history and the age to come to be remembered and not forgotten in our hearts. Are there theological, history, catechism, canon on this?
Is the sign of the Cross as well as the crucifix a Catholic “trade mark”?
The Catholic Church does not have a trade mark on this subject, but the sign of the cross, crosses and crucifixes are extremely popular in the liturgy and in private devotions.
The Crucifix is a visual reminder for the Catholic faithful of the enormous price Jesus paid for our salvation.
Why do we have to make the Sign of the Cross physically?
There are several reasons why we make the sign of the cross physically.
- Man is composed of a soul and a body.
- As such the body is united in the prayer of the soul though a physical action.
- The sign of the cross sets us apart from other men.
- Our salvation was secured by the Cross which hung the Savior of the World.
The Devil flees from the sign of the cross. The sign of the cross is a blessing in itself. The first “sign of the cross” that early Christians made was tracing a small cross on their foreheads. Around the year 200, Tertullian, an early Christian theologian, wrote about this sign: “In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our forehead with the sign of the cross.” By the fifth century, other Christian writers reveal that the sign of the cross was also being made on the lips and on the chest. Over time, Christians began making large crosses over their bodies as Catholics do today. It is unknown exactly when and how that developed, but the sign of the cross as we know it today is probably about 1000 years old. - Why do Catholics make the Sign of the Cross?
The Sign of the Cross is the sign of the Christian, that is to say, it is the outward sign which distinguishes the Christian from other men. And why is this?
1st. Because it recalls to him who makes it, and to those who see it made, that Jesus Christ is the God of Christians and the Lord of their whole lives. Because it reminds us that God has loved us so much as to give Himself up for our sakes to suffer on the Cross, and that we must love Him with our whole hearts. It places incessantly before our eyes Jesus Christ crucified; and Jesus crucified is the Divine and living rule of life to each one of His disciples, and His sacred Cross their moral law. The sign of the Cross recalls to him who makes it with reverence and devotion that he is bound to imitate in his daily conduct the penance, mortification, humility, meekness, patience, detachment, chastity, and obedience of his Master; His love for His heavenly Father and His Blessed Mother, and toward all men; His mercy to His enemies, and His love of suffering.
2nd. The Sign of the Cross is distinctively the sign of the Christian, because it reminds him of the blessed eternity which awaits him. It was after His passion and death that Jesus rose again. And by His Cross He entered into glory. And so it must be with His disciples. Their glory in heaven must be the full fruition of the crucified life they have led on earth, like unto the life of their Saviour. The Gospel also declares to us that when He shall come at the last day to judge the world, the sacred sign of the Cross shall appear in the heavens, to be recognized by the elect with thankfulness and love, and by the reprobate with fear and trembling; for then shall it be the disciples of the Cross, and none but they, whom He will acknowledge for His Own.
3rd. It is the sign of the Christian because it brings before his mind the most important doctrines of the Catholic religion. It recalls the mystery of the holy and undivided Trinity, for in making it we say, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; three persons, but one God. In the name; and not, In the names. And also the mystery of the Incarnation, that is to say, the coming down of the Son of God from Heaven to earth, to assume a body and soul like ours in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; for, in saying "In the Name of the Son," we move the hand down from the forehead to the breast, a lively image of the annihilation of the Son of God, who reposes in the hearts of the faithful, as formerly in the chaste womb of Mary. And, again, the mystery of the Redemption, since it was upon the Cross He died to wash away our sins, to merit for us pardon and salvation, and to open the gates of Heaven which sin had closed. And the mystery of the Church of God, that great society of the disciples of Jesus Christ, that perfect union, holy, Catholic, and apostolic, of the children of the Cross; since, being the same for all, it is necessarily the sign of their union in one body under one head: a most distinctive mark of the Catholic Church, for it recalls by its unity that the Church is one, and by its universality that the Church is Catholic. - The Sign of the Cross
As well as being traditionally placed in Catholic homes and churches, it is also a sacramental.
The altar of the New Covenant is the Lord's Cross, from which the sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the center of the church, the sacrifice of the Cross is made present under sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the People of God are invited. In certain Eastern liturgies, the altar is also the symbol of the tomb (Christ truly died and is truly risen). – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1182
It has long been a tradition of Catholic families to hang crucifixes throughout their homes, or to even have a crucifix embedded into the foundation of the house. Some merely hang the crucifix on the walls of their home as a reminder of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice, but beyond this it is also a sacramental, used in devotion to Our Lord and as a guard against evil.
The tradition is hard to date exactly; the earliest Christians did not openly display the crucifix partly to not scandalize the weak, and partly to avoid subjecting it to the ridicule of Pagans. Instead they carried and used veiled symbols in art, for example an anchor, to refer to the Cross of Jesus. However, by the 5th century, the open depiction of the crucifix had become widespread; by the 6th century veneration to the Cross was firmly established. The Christian Faithful not only used it in art and to hang on walls but also on household utensils and plates, medals, lamps, toys, combs, the seals of wine-jars, and even on water-pipes.
The two traditions that have lasted and remain prevalent in the lives of Catholics today are to wear a crucifix and to place them throughout the home.
They are often hung on the wall, but standing crucifixes which stand on a table are also popular. The Vatican’s exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, encourages the faithful to keep a crucifix in every room.
Prayer in front of a crucifix is encouraged as a means of focusing contemplation on Christ. Many of the saints practiced this, both in everyday prayer and also when they were suffering. Catherine of Siena was known to look upon a Crucifix for hours each day and when Joan of Arc was martyred, she asked a member of the clergy present to hold a crucifix before her. - Why have Crucifixes and Crosses in the Home?
The exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth has stated that the crucifix is one of the most effective means of averting or opposing demons.
Roman Catholic (both Eastern and Western), Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran Christians generally use the crucifix in public religious services. They believe use of the crucifix is in keeping with the statement by Saint Paul in Scripture, "we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God". (1 Cor 1:23-24) - Crucifix (Wikipedia)
The pectoral cross of prelates May be either an actual cross or a crucifix.
A pectoral cross or pectorale is a cross that is worn on the chest, usually suspended from the neck by a cord or chain. In ancient and medieval times pectoral crosses were worn by both clergy and laity, but by the end of the Middle Ages the pectoral cross came to be a special indicator of position worn by bishops. In the Catholic Church, the wearing of a pectoral cross remains restricted to popes, cardinals, bishops and abbots. The modern pectoral cross is relatively large, and is different from the small crosses worn on necklaces by many Christians. Most pectoral crosses are made of precious metals (platinum, gold or silver) and some contain precious or semi-precious gems. Some contain a corpus like a crucifix while others use stylized designs and religious symbols.
In many Christian denominations, the pectoral cross symbolizes that the person wearing it is a member of the clergy, or that the wearer is a member of the higher or senior clergy. However, in many Western churches there are an increasing number of laypeople who choose to wear some form of a cross around their neck.
Throughout the centuries, many pectoral crosses have been made in the form of reliquaries which contain alleged fragments of the True Cross or relics of saints. Some such reliquary pectorals are hinged so that they open to reveal the relic, or the relic may be visible from the front through glass.
One of the earliest mentions of a pectoral cross is its mention by Pope Hilarius in 461. In 811 Nicephorus sent Pope Leo III a golden pectoral cross. At this time, pectoral crosses were worn by both clergy and laity.
A pectoral cross worn by the 7th-century female teenager of the Trumpington bed burial
According to Fr. Spiral, the sign of the Cross is the peculiar property of Catholics all the world over and so ancient that it is generally believed to have been introduced by the Apostles.
Here is a Catechism explained by Fr. Spirago:
IX. THE SIGN OF THE CROSS. The Catholic makes confession of his faith most especially by the sign of the holy cross. By it he lets men know that he makes profession of belonging to the religion of the crucified Saviour. To Jews and Turks the cross is an object of hatred and contempt; Protestants, too, pay no honor to the holy cross, though there are indeed some of them who, in the present day, have learned the practice from the children of the Church. The sign of the cross is thus the peculiar property of Catholics all the world over. It is a custom so ancient that it is generally believed to have been introduced by the apostles. The sign of the cross is made by touching with the outstretched fingers of the right hand first the forehead, then the centre of the breast, then the left, and finally the right shoulder, saying meanwhile the words, “In the name of the Father [touch forehead], and of the Son [touch breast], and of the Holy Ghost [touch left and right shoulders], Amen.” There is also another way of making the sign of the cross, by making three crosses with the thumb of the right hand on the forehead, lips, and breast successively, repeating the above words, so that each of the three crosses is made simultaneously with the name of one of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity. In making the sign of the cross the left hand should be laid across the breast, and the sign should be made deliberately—not hurriedly, as is too often done.
Reference: The Catechism explained by Fr. F Spirago
The sign of the cross is a prayer, a blessing, and a sacramental. As a sacramental, it prepares an individual to receive grace and disposes one to cooperate with it. The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of the Cross: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." In this way, a person dedicates the day to God and calls on him for strength in temptations and difficulties. John Vianney said a genuinely made Sign of the Cross "makes all hell tremble." Also, a longer version is commonly said while making the sign of the cross in the forehead, the mouth and the chest: "By the sign of the cross deliver us from our enemies, you who are our God. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." After the "you who are our God" part is recited, the ritual then proceeds with the normal Catholic sign of the cross as explained above.
Roman Catholicism draws a distinction between liturgical and non-liturgical use of the sign of the cross. The sign of the cross is required at certain points of the Mass: the laity sign themselves during the introductory greeting of the service, before the Gospel reading (small signs on forehead, lips, and heart), and at the final blessing; optionally, other times during the Mass when the laity often cross themselves are during a blessing with holy water, when concluding the penitential rite, immediately after receiving Communion, and when concluding private prayer after Communion. In the ordinary form of the Roman Rite the priest signs bread and wine once before the consecration. In the Tridentine Mass the priest signs the bread and wine 25 times during the Canon of the Mass, ten times before and fifteen times after they have been consecrated. The priest also uses the sign of the cross when blessing a deacon before the deacon reads the Gospel, when sending an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to take the Eucharist to the sick (after Communion, but before the end of the Mass), and when blessing the congregation at the conclusion of the Mass. Ordained bishops, priests and deacons have more empowerment to bless objects and other people. While lay people may preside at certain blessings, the more a blessing is concerned with ecclesial or sacramental matters, the more it is reserved to clergy. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion do not ordinarily have a commission to bless in the name of the Church, as priests and deacons do. At this point in the liturgy, their specific function is to assist the clergy in the distribution of holy Communion. Extraordinary Ministers of Communion blessing those who do not wish to or cannot receive communion can speak or raise the hand but not make the sign of the cross over the person.
A priest or deacon blesses an object or person with a single sign of the cross, but a bishop blesses with a triple sign of the cross. In the Catholic organization the Legion of Mary, members doing door-to-door parish surveys bless the homes of those not home by tracing the sign of the cross on the door.
Catechism on Sign of the Cross
FIRST ARTICLE OF THE CREED-GOD, 7. By what particular sign does the Catholic Christian profess his Faith? Chiefly by the sign of the Cross.
Application. Stand firm in the CatholicFaith and shun every- thing that may endanger it. Never be ashamed of it or of its holy practices. Make the sign of the Cross often and devoutly'.
Reference: Deharbe’s Catechism, Benziger Brothers, New York, Cincinnati and Chicago, p12, 1961.