"The solution is to be found through the sanctification of the parents. Become saints and you will have no problems with your children." Father Porphyrios , Wounded By Love

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Orthodox Pop Quiz - Sunday of the Cross


"Orthodox Pop Quizzes"

Who can tell us where the saying and superstition
"Knock on Wood" comes from?

good luck!


Quinault said...

"When Saint Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, visiting the Holy Land and seeking the True Cross upon which Jesus was crucified, found the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, the Cross was venerated by all the faithful in many public processions. Many faithful would come to touch the Holy Cross for blesssing and healing. It was customary to touch the Wood of Life three times (as a confession of faith in the Holy Trinity). This act of touching the True Cross became the earliest recorded histories of "knocking on wood." This history, alas, has nothing to do with the Rosary since the Rosary is a much later innovation. Whenever the Holy Cross was put forth for public veneration, touching it, or as English translations render it "knocking," became common liturgical practice. Once the Holy Cross was transferred to Constantinople and placed in the Great Church of the Holy Wisdom (aka Saint Sophia), Christians continued this piety by touching or knocking on any cross or crucifix (wood was the medium of the day) for blessings and healings. This ancient tradition has been with us for over 1,600 years and has been a pious tradition to this day where people tend to touch anything made of wood ... but all interpretations of this behavior point back directly to Jerusalem in the 4th century AD and the True Cross. No doubt, wooden prayer beads may have become a customary item for similar veneration, but historically much later."

Prof Anastasios Zavales Phd ThD
Ecumenical Patriarchate
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the USA

Really awesome correlation. I wouldn't have known the connection if you hadn't posed the question, and in turn I had to research it. Thanks.

Elenie said...

This is an excellent find! Well done ~ I have also heard, that many persecuted Christians who were fortunate to have a piece of the cross, carried it in their pocket, and called upon the power of the cross to protect them in times of trouble.

Today, some folks continue this custom by carrying with them a small cross.

Although American Express coined the phrase "You can't leave home without it"...I'd forego by credit card for a cross anyday!

Anonymous said...

I had always heard that it was a Pantheist/Pagan attempt to wake the supposed spirits who dwelt in wood. When I do a web search, I find this explanation more frequently than a Christian one. Although Prof. Zavales' search results are appealing - what evidence do we have that this explanation is the accurate one, especially in light of the fact that Americans (at least) nearly always engage in this practice in a superstitious, rather than devout, manner?

Orthodox Education - Elenie (Poulos) Grasos said...

Very interesting Anonymous,
Thank you for your message.

As we certainly don't "knock" per say on wood, I would emphasize to our young people, (if they have heard of the saying these days!) that for us, as Orthodox Christians we do believe that God sanctified everything Christ came into contact with. We have a theology where items retain the grace of God, and miracles even happen afterwards through these objects or bodies through relics.

You see, this is why we don't throw away Crosses into the garbage from popular "Christian" paper plates or napkins that others may use, we do not walk or step on the cross, sit, etc. There is great reverence, as you probably know.

I'd use this common saying as a way to explain our unbelief in superstitions or coincidences...but our absolute belief in the power of the Cross.
To have a piece of that real wood was miraculous and an incredible treasure.

Do you recall when Saint Nektarios lowered the cross he was wearing around his neck as a small boy into the stormy sea, which contained a fragment of the true Cross inside...what happened?
Just from the wood alone, the sea calmed, and the Cross was found fixed to the guts of the ship, knocking loudly for the sailors to find it!

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