In the third and final part of Patriarch’s thoughts on prayer he continues with some more simple advice. This time about making the sign of the Cross, something that we as Orthodox might feel awkward doing in public at times.
I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoyed these. I think his words are particularly moving since he gives us no meaning of prayer, prayer as an idea, or something vague along those lines. Rather, those of us who either know Patriarch or have heard of him know that if he is anything, he is a man of prayer. He speaks to us from many years of experience.
His Holiness Patriarch PAVLE of Serbia on Prayer
3. The Sign of the Cross
We should not neglect to also mention the need for us to sign ourselves with the Cross when we begin our prayer. We should do this properly and not like those who are ashamed of the Cross of Christ and weave it before their face and chest not even placing their fingers in the appropriate place. Crossing ourselves carelessly saddens our Lord and is taken as a sin of the man of prayer. Such a Cross is not only powerless but it also gives joy to the demons, for then it is not the most terrible weapon against them. The sinner is less afraid of the place of punishment than the demons are of the Cross, for they tremble and flee in fear from the Cross, afraid to even look at its power (for the power of the Cross is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself) which burns them like fire. Armed with the Cross, the holy martyrs went to the most horrible tortures. The saints healed the sick, raised the dead, fearlessly drank poison, passed through fire and water by the power of the Cross of Christ.
One of the old Christian writers, from the first centuries of the Christian Church testifies that the Christians of that era, following the Apostolic constitutions and traditions, at the beginning of every task or journey signed themselves with the Cross. They did this at departure, putting on robes, putting on shoes, at washing, before and after meals, making fires, before lying in bed, sitting after a journey, in one word: at the beginning of every task, journey or event. Today’s Christians, however, taken over by some sort of a shame, even when they visit the home of a friend at their Slava, upon sitting for the meal won’t even think to cross themselves, as if they don’t know the words of the Lord: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).