The Sign of the Cross, Icons, and Tradition in the Orthodox Church

Posted By on August 25, 2019

Hymn: “O Taste and see that the Lord is
good, that the Lord is good.” One of the first things you’re gonna see
when you come in an Orthodox Church is—there’s gonna be icons in there. What are these things?
What do they mean? Are they idols? Do we worship icons? Those are questions that very naturally
might come to mind. What are icons? First of all, they are pictures
of people we love. Our heroes, the ones we aspire to be like. What Orthodox Christians
do when they come upon an icon—perhaps there’s one next to the door as soon as they come
into the worship space, the nave—what they do is they make the sign of the Cross, and
then they kiss the icon. That’s called “venerating.” You might hear a mom say, “Go venerate the
icon.” Pretty soon you’d conclude that that means “Go kiss the icon.”
Why a kiss? You could picture a soldier in wartime who has a photo of his wife. And if
no one was looking, he might actually kiss the photo. Orthodoxy grew up in a culture
where it’s the custom to greet a friend with a kiss. It’s just a sign of affection.
“Greet one another with a holy kiss,” says St. Paul.
Let’s talk about making the sign of the Cross. The Cross is, quite naturally, the
shape of a cross, that you draw by touching forehead, and your belly or your lower chest,
one shoulder and then the other shoulder. In the Orthodox Church we also form our hands
into a particular pattern when we make the sign of the Cross. Bringing together the three
fingers to represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and these two fingers to represent
Christ’s two natures, human and divine—coming down to the palm, like he came down to earth.
Holding our hand like that, we make the sign of the Cross.
It sounds so complicated. When I was becoming Orthodox, and I learned that you’re supposed
to do all this, you know, wrangling your fingers into a certain shape, I thought, “This is
just too complicated! Why is this church like this? It’s too hard.” I grew in time to
appreciate the traditions of the Church. Because traditions—a living tradition—brings life,
and it forges a community together. So when I was becoming Orthodox, somewhat uncertainly,
following my husband, who was enthusiastically becoming Orthodox, I was a lot more hesitant—and
I came to appreciate the things that seemed little and picky at first. I came to appreciate
them as some of the—like the Christmas traditions of this big family I was joining, this family
all over the world and for 2000 years. And I enjoy taking part in those traditions now,
and making them my own tradition. Hymn: “O Taste and see that the Lord is
good, that the Lord is good.”

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 41 comments

  1. Icons? No my dear, they are idols, short and simple.

    And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.4 Thou
    shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything
    that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in
    the water under the earth.5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them!
    Sadly, this religion is an abomination to the One True God no matter how you justify your actions. He will not accept any justifications and he cannot be tricked because he is a Just God! It says it right there from the bible for those that want to see but if you ignore them, you will not be happy. If kissing is how you people greet those pictures, do you also kiss each other when you meet them every time? No of course not. Is it because you don't love each other the same way? You are supposed to! Do you people ever read the bible that God asks us to regularly or do you depend on a silly man in robes to.

    I hope that people that read this will open up their mind and join a good church, not an abomination. God Bless You All!

  2. Great explanation ! I learned much from this channel before I actually visited the Orthodox Church here and I am still continuing to learn about the Church as a Protestant . Thanks for that !

  3. The apostles were sinners like you and I they were not special people, with Hay Lows and glowing in appearance they should not be worshiped only God alone should be worshipped,
    “When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.”
    ‭‭Acts‬ ‭14:11-15‬

  4. “At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.””
    ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭19:10‬ ‭NIV‬

  5. PRAY TO JESUS CHRIST, He is the only mediator. Not Mary, not John not Peter, etc.

    The orthodox tradtitions are nice, but be careful christians, especially new christians and born again christians (like myself) that we are going directly to JESUS CHRIST Himself with all our prayers and concerns, & especially when we repent. when we repent, who do we repent to? Jesus Christ. That's who. So we should be praying to Him as well. Do not be distracted by the relics or icons, they are nice to look at and should be greatly appreciated. But make no mistake. The purpose of going to church is glorifying God and if you have accepted Christ into your heart, in turn the spirit of truth will reside in you. Donnot be distracted. 🙂

    God bless us all.

  6. Why some people come just to do bad comment, leave this space for people that want to learn about orthodoxy not to criticize!

  7. icons, what icons ? icons is just the portait of sacred people
    kiss icons, why ? jews met his brother (another jews) by with kissing on his cheeks, right ? jews tradition. why kissing icons ? if you want kissing sacred people in the heaven, u must die first, LOL

  8. I have observed while visiting an Orthodox liturgy that people made the sign of the cross many many many times.. My question is when do you actually make the sign of the cross? is it done when the name of Jesus is called?

  9. I don't think comparing it to a soldier makes sense. He's not hanging it up in the house of God and kissing it . I would be ashamed if anyone took my picture, hung it on the wall of a church, and kissed it . Especially if i died a martyr

  10. l'm a Roman Catholic and we have icons…
    and statues and pictures etc…
    They are symbols as reminders of the people they represent only. The reality of those symbols we carry them in our hearts, they are our faith, our virtue, our chastity , giving our will to God…the symbols become the reality of how to live a holy life.
    I have seen little children in our churches captivated by all these symbols. In every RCC there are the 14 stations of of the Cross Jesus ' lead up to his crucifixion…. these symbols really captivate their attention.

  11. cat-zulu… .in the reply….
    no they would not hang your picture and kiss it….l would kiss it if you were a martyr ….because martyrs die for the love of Christ…. he had his own blood spilt for Christ, because he wanted to die that way..
    the martyr chose to die that way. He died the same way as Jesus did, giving up his life for many .
    This is the ultimate witness to Christ. His picture should be venerate as an example to you and me. This is called red martyrdom. White martyrdom is bloodless, when we die everyday to our sins.

  12. I appreciate the orthodox commitment and I wish all the Christians do the same, especially my Catholic church. May the Lord bless our churches

  13. We worship God through the icons, and we pray to the saints because they're much closer to God than we are ,and can deliver our prayers to God with more 'power' if you will.

  14. Catholics or protestant or Orthodox Church first we all need to reach the lost souls and take the message of suffering and Love of Jesus Christ and Baptised in name of Father,Son ,Holy Spirit and reach the world , My dear Brothers and sisters from Beliver who believes Jesus Christ who is attending Protestant church💓🙏👍

  15. I really want to know…since orthodox church has direct lineage from Christ and his disciples. Pls, allow me ask this question – Did the Apostles also do Sign of the Cross, venerate the icons by kissing it? Or were all these developed and instituted by the church later when the Apostles left the earth.

  16. Interesting no holy water as Catholics do. I love the hand Byzantine tradition. The symbols are a constant reminders of the faith.

  17. For all the haters out there I say STOP. who's servant are they yours or the LORD!? DID you die for them on the cross!? Did you feed them when they are hungery!? Did you give them comfort when perplexed? If you did then you can tell them How to worship you. Are you under law or under GRACE!? You can not puck and choose what you want to follow. You can not wear wool and linen together. You can not plant corn and beans in the same garden. It must be a seperate plot. You can not sleep with you wife when she has her period. You become UNCLEAN. That is the LAW. Shall I go on !? If you have done ANY of these things my friend you HAVE sinned. We are called to LOVE one an other. Even in our own familes we may not like what they do…but we must love them! But who believes our report and to whom as the are if the LORD been revealed!?

  18. The word "orthodox" means right or correct belief, "Catholic" means universal, and "church" means called out. But to have the "correct belief," be part of the "called out" "universal" people of God, one must follow the teachings of the Apostles which are built on Christ, not the traditions of men who crept in unawares with damnable doctrines of devils mascarading as apostles of Christ. The Old and New Testament condemn idols, the 2nd commandment in Exodus 20 verse 4 says don't make an image of anything from heaven, earth, or beneath the earth…to bow down to. The Orthodox and Catholic Church INTENTIONALLY eliminated and changed the command to not make and bow before images that is in Exodus 20:4. By changing the 2nd commandment from idols and images to something else, these two churches have proven that they are apostate not apostolic and are among the liars who will have their part in the lake of fire. The Bible says all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. (Revelation 21:8)

  19. “For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.”
    ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭10:3-6‬ ‭

  20. I am a Protestant but these videos are leading me to consider Orthodoxy. I want to seek Christ's true church whether it's Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. Please pray for me.


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