“Sign of the Cross” sacrament

This is also a special sacrament exclusive to this church. This is used as a substitute to marriage, which is not counted as a sacrament in this church. A reasonable doubt has been raised by many how the sign of the cross is a sacrament. Mar Abdisho has put it as a sacrament because “cross is that by which Christians are ever kept, and by it all the other sacraments are sealed and perfected”. Mar Abdisho himself has added to the confusion of the state of this sacrament by not explaining about it in Memra 4 where he has written about other sacraments in detail. To make the confusion worse confounded Mar Abdisho has a chapter ‘of Matrimony and of Virginity’ in the same Memra where he deals with sacraments only. Instead in the following Memra, he has a chapter “on the worship of the Lord’s Cross”. “By this sign the Apostles wrought miracles and the laying on the hands for the priesthood, and all the other sacraments of the church are perfected thereby”. Abdisho concludes his treatment of the subject quoting the well known Pauline passage “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God”. Mar Abdisho reminds that “the great foundation of Christianity is the confession that through the cross renewal and universal salvation were obtained for all”. It is believed that the sign of the cross will appear in the sky at the second coming of our Lord. Abdisho also states that the cross is to be worshipped. Hence we offer a fervent and eucharistic worship, not to the fashioned matter of the cross: but to Him whom we figure as upon it, and above all to God, who gave His son to be a cross (i.e crucified) for us, through Whom He gives to such as are worthy everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven.It must be be noted in this connection that cross is the only object of veneration in the Church of East. They do not use crucifix and images. But the cross is kissed in the churches and in the homes.
There is a separate festival for the cross on September 26th which is the commemoration of the finding of the cross. There is a long service for this day in the Khudra.The cross is kept in the churches. It is found on the top of the church building. It is inside the altar. It is kept on the tables in the nave of the of the church so that the worshippers can kiss it when they enter as well as they go out of the church. Inside their homes, a cross is placed on the eastern wall of the first room. If one sees a cross in a house and do not find a crucifix or pictures, it is almost certain that the particular family belongs to the Church of the East. The cross is worn from a chain around the neck, not only by the Bishops but also by several laywomen and men. During the wedding ceremony the bride gives a golden cross to the bridegroom. in return for the ring which he puts on her finger. Golden and silver crosses are taken out in festival processions. When blessing is given for any service the priest or Bishop holds the cross in his hand. Golden, silver, wooden and plastic crosses are used. Crosses are stitched with thread on all the towels, table clothes, veil etc used in the Church. Crosses are engraved on the chalice, paten, spoon and even on the mould in which bread is baked.

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