Wearing A Cross
In the Orthodox Church infants (and adults converting to the faith) receive a Cross at their Baptism to hang around their necks. This is not an adornment for cosmetic purposes but rather a WITNESS and SYMBOL of the Faith that they have been received into. The Cross is the universal Christian symbol acknowledged by all to mean that the wearer is a follower of Jesus Christ.
Before the Crucifixion of Christ the cross signified suffering, defeat and death. With Christ’s death on the Cross, it became the symbol of triumph, salvation and eternal life.
The Cross is the first and greatest Christian sacred object. When the priest sanctifies the water, he immerses the Cross in it and it becomes holy. The Fathers of the Church tell us that the evil spirits fear the power of the cross and flee from it!
Unfortunately some people, in ignorance, favour the wearing of the ‘mati’ or ‘eye’ to ward off the ‘evil eye’. This is NOT Orthodox practice but a pagan practice based on superstitious beliefs that they will be protected from bad luck, ill health etc. It is absolutely FORBIDDEN to wear this adornment for any Orthodox Christian. Much love and patience is required to inform these people that the Cross is our protection against all evil! By the cross we were saved and wearing the cross is a simple way to keep Christ in our daily lives and to fight the influence of the devil.
The Church acknowledges that evil and envy exist and has special prayers for her flock for cases of ‘βασκανία’ which are read by the priest over the affected person.
A ‘filakto’ can also be worn by the faithful and is often pinned on a baby before they are baptised. This normally takes the form of a square or triangular shape and is embroidered with the sign of the cross. They are made in monasteries and sewn into them is something from holy ground or something that is blessed e.g, soil from the grave of a Saint, cotton wool with oil and myrrh, flowers from the epitaphios etc.
Many Christians today are persecuted and martyred for wearing a cross for bearing witness to Christ. Let us with all consciousness wear and adore the cross around our necks!
Source: Lychnos October / November 2016