"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Universal Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross

Today's feast, observed in East and West, celebrates the central paradox at the heart of Christianity: an instrument of torture and death is the instrument of everlasting life. As we commemorate this feast, I think especially of the role of the dowager empress Helena, who has been much on my mind after I have been re-reading (in preparation for a public lecture later this month) that absolutely wonderful
eponymous historical novel about her by Evelyn Waugh.

We are fortunate this year to have a new book about the sign of the cross from the hand of the young scholar Andreas Andreopoulos, author of previous works on iconography and art, who, his publisher tells us,
was born in Greece in 1966 and is recognized throughout the world as one of the most eloquent young scholars of Christianity. He earned his Ph.D. in theology at the University of Durham under Fr. Andrew Louth and has taught in Toronto, Montreal, and Philadelphia. He is currently Lecturer of Christian Theology at the University of Wales.

About this book, the publisher tells us:

Millions of Christians around the world use the sign of the Cross—and have done so for centuries—as a gesture of blessing. It is practiced when alone, during worship, before sleep, upon waking, before eating, before travel, and many other times throughout the day. But, what does it mean? Where did it originate? What did the sign of the Cross mean to the first Christians, and how has this simple movement of the hand evolved over the centuries?
The sign of the Cross is literally a tracing of the Cross of Christ onto the body. By so doing, Christians invite the mystery of the Cross into their everyday lives. Now and for the first time, young Greek scholar Andreas Andreopoulos explains the tremendous meaning, mystery, and history of this dramatic gesture shared by Christians worldwide. This readable account will fascinate and inspire all who desire to know more about the inherited spiritual practices of everyday life.

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