Friday, November 2, 2012


On Facebook these last few days I've seen a wide variety of "scary" costumed children and adults, especially vampires, but there have also been some dressed up as nuns and priests (and even as bishops!).  These are also scary--very scary...

But a consideration leads me to think that perhaps ALL of us priests should "masquerade" as bishops by signing our names as bishops do:  with a little + in front of the signature.

These days one sees this exclusively in front of the names of prelates, but the history of this custom is interesting.  What looks like an honorific cross is actually an abbreviation of a Greek word, [t]apeinos.  The Greek tau (letter "t") can easily look like a cross...

What does the word mean?  It is properly translated as "lowly, humble."  And wouldn't that be a good reminder for all of us clergy? 

Once upon a time, as well, clergy signed their names and added the word peccator after.  Yes, this means "sinner."  And aren't we all?

Again, these are good reminders of what we really are and reminders, as well, of what we are called to be:  we are sinners in need of a Savior (no surprise there!), and we are to be lowly, humble servants after the model of the great Servant who came to serve, not be served, and give His life as a ransom... (Mark 10:45).

If every time we intentionally added such a "tau-cross" before our names, and included the word "sinner" (no need to hide it in Latin) after our names, perhaps the message would sink in.  Lord knows it needs to...

1 comment:

  1. Just an informal comment concerning the sign of a cross - a friend of mine who had been in a convent and later changed the course of her life always, to this day, places a small cross at the top of the stationery. then she writes her message. I rather liked this 'custom' and sometimes use it when responding with handwritten notes.