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The  Sign  Of  The  Cross  -
The  Mark  Of  The  Letter  Taw

Fundamentalist often speculate about the Mark of the Beast, Revelation 13:16-17, and they usually speculate that it refers to an actual physical mark, not just something symbolic.  Yet, they do not like to think about its anti-type, the mark of Christ.

Revelation 9:4  
"… they were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads"    RSV

The Sign of the Cross is associated in idea with certain references in Scripture.

Ezekiel 9:3-4 
"Then he called to the man dressed in linen … saying to him: Pass through the city (through Jerusalem) and mark an X on the foreheads of those who moan and groan over all the abominations that are practiced within it."   NAB

The  "X"  in the above quote is the Hebrew letter "taw" which in its present form looks like an upside-down  "U."   However, the  primitive form of that letter is the "North Semitic taw" which is the common ancestor of both that Hebrew letter and our own letter "T,"  and it looked like a plus sign.  (See This Rock, September 1990, page 4, article by Don Schenk.)
(Note: The quotation above from Ezekiel is probably alluding to a man who is a priest since they wore linen vestments.)

When the Israelites fought in a battle in the Seventeenth chapter of Exodus Moses prayed for God’s help.  However, Moses prayers were only heard when he prayed with his hands extended making a cross or a "T"  shape similar to the form of Christ when He was crucified.  Exodus 17, 9-14.  Moses who was a Old Testament prefigurement, or type of Christ demonstrated, probably unknowingly, the symbol by which we would be saved.

Revelation 7:3  
"Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."  NAB

When a Catholic is Baptized, the priest makes the sign of the cross on the person's forehead three times.  One for each Person of the Blessed Trinity.

Revelation 14:1  
"Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads."   RSV

A persons name represents the very essence of who that person is.  The name  "Jesus"  in Hebrew means God saves.  Since Jesus Redeemed us by suffering for our sins on the Cross, it is appropriate that we bless ourselves by that sign.

Catholics are encouraged to renew their  Baptismal  commitment to accept and to follow Jesus with the sign of the cross.  They do this each time they enter a church by blessing themselves with holy water in the sign of the cross.  When they do this they remind themselves of how much Jesus Christ loves them that He even died on the Cross for them.  They also renew their personal and family relationship with Him and God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.   (Cf. Matthew 28:19)


Fr. William Saunders writes : 

“ … the gesture should be made consciously and devoutly. The individual must be mindful of the Holy Trinity, that central dogma that makes Christians “Christians.” Also, the individual must remember that the cross is the sign of our salvation: Jesus Christ, true God who became true man, offered the perfect sacrifice for our redemption from sin on the altar of the cross. This simple yet profound act makes each person mindful of the great love of God for us, a love that is stronger than death and promises everlasting life. For good reason, a partial indulgence is granted to a person who devoutly signs himself with the sign of the cross, saying, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Enchirdion of Indulgences, No. 55). Therefore, may each of us make the sign of the cross with purpose and precision, not hastily or carelessly.”  The Sign of the Cross



The Catholic Church does not claim that making the sign of the cross is an explicit teaching of the Bible, however we can see how this practice did develop out of a reading of the Bible.


"This sign [of the cross] is prescribed in our rituals to be frequently used … to signify, that all grace is derived from the Passion of Christ… On the altar is raised a cross with the figure of our crucified Savior placed upon it, to bring to our minds that it was He who died for the sins of the world, and that there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved."   From The Faith of Catholics


Tertullian  (160- 225 AD):   (De cor. Mil., iii),
"in all our coming in and going out, in putting of our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross".

Origen (185- 284 AD):
"This (the letter Tau) bears a resemblance to the figure of the cross; and this prophecy (Ezek. ix. 4) is said to regard the sign made by Christians on the forehead, which all believers make whatsoever work they begin upon, and especially at the beginning of prayers, or of holy readings" (T. iii. Select. in Ezek. c. ix).

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-86 AD):
"Let us not, therefore, be ashamed of the cross of Christ, but even though another hide it do thou openly seal it on thy brow, that the devils beholding that royal sign may flee far away trembling. But make thou this sign when thou eatest and drinkest, sittest or liest down, risest up, speakest, walkest; in a word, on every occasion, for He who was here crucified is above in the heavens" (Catech. iv. n. 14).

St. Cyril of Jerusalem:
"Many have been crucified throughout the world but none of these do the devils dread, but Christ having been crucified for us, when they see but the sign of the cross the devils shudder" (Catech, xii. n. 22).

St. Augustine (354-430 AD):
"What is the sign (or seal) of Christ, but the cross of Christ ?"    (T. iii. Tract. cxviii. in Toan. n. 5).

St. Macarius of Egypt ( 300- 390 AD):
"After the sign of the cross, grace immediately thus operates, and composes all the members and the heart, so that the soul from its abounding gladness seems as a youth that knows not evil" (Rom. ix. p. 481).


How can a person tell that Jesus died on a cross and not on a straight up and down torture stake without a crossbeam ?

John 20:25 
" … ‘We have seen the Lord.’   But he [Thomas]  said to them,  ‘Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ "     RSV

If Jesus's hands had been nailed together on top there would have been only one nail, but notice that  "nails"  is plural because His hands were spread apart at either side.



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