Nicea II council (pro-icons) rejected by the Western Latin church

Discussion in 'Church History' started by Stalwart, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I've often mentioned how the Western Latin Church rejected the Nicea II Council of the 8th century, which established the prayer to images in the Greek part of Christianity. They sided with those who maintained that icons have no place in the worship of the one true God. This was the last stand of the doctrine of the Church Fathers, whose position against images is well known. Even as late as the 8th century, those who held to that view included the Emperor himself (!), as well as many of the churches and bishops. Thus from the 8th century on, in the Western church had continued to consistently exclude Nicea II from the list of official councils. This explains why the culture of icons has never taken hold in the West, and why to this day the Western churches do not use icons, even among the Romans.

    However the Popes were on the pro-icons side (in opposition to the rest of the Western church), and from the 8th century on they sought to overturn its doctrine on this point. It's crucial to recognize that the medieval Popes controlled the monks and the scribes who did all the writing (clerics = clerks), and thus in the 12th century one of the Papal scribes simply included Nicea II among the councils, and there it stayed ever since. Now, today, "seven" is seen as a magical number, and "the seven ecumenical councils" is recited like a magical mantra, when in history it was literally the opposite.

    People have asked me to provide support for this statement. One of the best descriptions can be found in "A Treatise on the Church of Christ" by William Palmer, from the bottom of the page:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=24wOAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA189#v=onepage&q&f=false

    "The Pseudo-Synod of Nicea.

    Let us now turn to the west. It is a matter of certainty that (with the exception of the Roman see which always supported and approved it,) the churches of the west generally condemned and rejected the synod of Nice as illegitimate... But what is still more remarkable is, that even the Roman pontiffs themselves, though they always received and strenuously defended the synod of Nice, did not for a long time include it in the number of oecumenical synods. In 859, Pope Nicholas I in his reply to a letter of Ado, bishop of Vienne, asking the pallium, requires his assent only to six general councils — omitting that of Nice: and, lest it should be alleged that this arose merely from that Pope's toleration of the error of the Franks who rejected that council, in the year 863 or 866, he held a synod at Rome, and in the decree against Photius there unanimously made, six general councils only are again acknowledged; excluding as before, the synod of Nice. In this case there can be no conceivable reason for such an omission, except that the church of Rome did not at this period reckon it among the general synods. Even in 871, Pope Hadrian, in a letter to the Emperor Charles the Bald, still only speaks of six general councils, though before this time the eighth, (as it has since been styled by the Romans,) had been approved and confirmed by that Pope. At length, however, the church of Rome held the synod of Nice to be the seventh ecumenical synod, as appears from Cardinal Humbert's excommunication of Cerularius, A. D. 1054. The several chronicles of France and Germany during the ninth and following centuries, uniformly speak of it as a “PSEUDO-SYNOD.”

    The Annales Francorum, written A. D. 808, say, that at the synod of Frankfort, “the PSEUDO-SYNOD OF THE GREEKS, which they falsely called the seventh, and which they had made in order to sanction the adoration of images, was rejected by the bishops.” It is also termed “pseudo-synod” in the Annales Francorum, continued to 814, and in the anonymous life of Charlemagne written after 814; and is condemned in the annals written after 819. Eginhard, in his Annales Francorum, written in 829, says that at Frankfort, “the synod which had been called by the Greeks not only the seventh, but universal, was entirely annulled by all, as of no force; that it might neither be held nor spoken of as universal.” In 824, the Gallican bishops again condemned it at Paris. Hincmar, archbishop of Rheims, about 870, speaks of the “pseudo-synod” of Nice as entirely destroyed and annulled by a general synod in France. Ado, bishop of Vienne, who died 875, in his chronicle speaks of the “pseudo-synod,” which the Greeks call the seventh. Anastasius, librarian of the Roman church, translated the synod of Nice into Latin, when he was at the (so called) “eighth general synod,” A. D. 870; and, in his preface to it, observes that the French did not approve the worship of images. The chronicles of the monastery of S. Bertinus, written after 884, speak of the synod of Constantinople 870, in which that of Nice was approved, and the worship of images authorized, as “ordaining things concerning the adoration of images contrary to the definitions of the orthodox doctors,” &c. The Annales Francorum, written in the abbey of Fulda after the year 900, speak of the synod of Nice as “a pseudo-synod of the Greeks, falsely called the seventh.”

    Etc.

    Further on down, he describes how it was surreptitiously snuck in by Papal clerks into the manuscript lists of official councils, in the 11th and 12th centuries; and after that time (until the 16th century) it became a fait accomplit.
     
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  2. Moses

    Moses Member

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    Didn't they reject Nicaea II under the impression it endorsed the worship of images? This, at least, is was Archbishop Cranmer's stated reason in the Homily Against the Peril of Idolatry.
     
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  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The phrase 'worship of images' is extremely contentious. In those 3 words reside 1200 years of incredible acrimony.

    On the one hand, the extreme iconoclasts will say yes, any existence of religious imagery is ipso facto, worship of images. On the other hand, the clever and scholastic iconophiles will make subtle distinctions between dulia, hyperdulia, and latria, all of which are not in English and therefore applying the English 'worship of images' to those terms is doomed to be inaccurate.

    Because both parties use incommensurate terms, and different languages, there has not been much progress in dialogue.

    I propose that we use the experience of the modern Eastern Orthodox today, as our reference point. We can say that they practice piety toward images (whether or not worship is included). If that's a more neutral term that captures the Greek nuances of dulia/hyperdulia/latria, but also captures the Western anxiety against idolatry, then let's make that our English shorthand: piety toward images.

    And if that's our shorthand, then that is what the Byzantine iconoclasts were (perhaps ineptly) opposing; and that is what the iconophiles had (wrongly) advocated. That is what we see in the Latin West: they opposed this piety toward images. Only the emergence of Rome and the Papacy has altered this practice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  4. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I have to take issue with the history being written out here. The Franks, in a synod, declared against Nic II and wrote the Libra Carolina. They used a bad translation. The Pope rebuked them and a better translation was offered. They acceded to it and never published their Libra Carolina again. By the 800's Rome was the clear head of the Western Church, sure it was not the imperial pontiff that we came to know but it was the head.

    And if that's our shorthand, then that is what the Byzantine iconoclasts were (perhaps ineptly) opposing; and that is what the iconophiles had (wrongly) advocated. That is what we see in the Latin West: they opposed this piety toward images. Only the emergence of Rome and the Papacy has altered this practice.... Other than us disagreeing on the history I think we align on this issue. Images are fine. They are fine to have in church, they are fine to have at a house, but piety towards images in the EO style is a dangerous innovation in my eyes.
     
  5. Devin Lawson

    Devin Lawson Member

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    It is common knowledge that the Synod of Frankfurt had an incorrect translation of what happened at Nicea II, and anathematized worshiping images in the exact same sense Nicea II did. Using Frankfurt to try to discredit the Christian use of images in worship is contrary to current scholarship about the issue with Frankfurt.

    As for the distinctions of Dula and Latria - they are fine. The Church has a track record for making distinctions using big scary foreign words - Homo-ousion, and Hypostatic Union. Sure, you could say "personal" union, but that is not the terminology that the Church uses here. You can't drop the distinctions that are made and then deduce from there.
     
  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It’s not about a one-time Frankfurt synod; it’s about 400 years of systematic Western rejection of Nicea 2, and the meticulous exclusion of it from the lists of councils. Among other things it means that the Western form of Christian piety even into the 1200s, did not see itself substantially connected to images. And then after just 300 years, it was put off again.

    Add to it the Eastern fathers (Athanasius, Clement, Chrysostom, etc) universally pushing back against images into the 500s, and the piety of the True Church comes into pretty stark relief, especially when attached to the 2000 years of pre-NT worship.

    But most Protestants corrupted on their side as well by abandoning liturgies.

    it’s corruption and decay, all around.

    So where can you find a church with a heavy liturgical piety, and a clean embrace of the bounds of the early and One true church? Yep, Anglicanism.
     
  7. Devin Lawson

    Devin Lawson Member

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    I hold to the teachings of the councils of the Church, including Nicea II. Having Icons is Christological in nature, and can be very healthy. The West was operating under mistranslated manuscripts of what happened at Nicea II.

    Most of the anti-icon quotes you find are against the images being worshiped, which is correct. That is exactly what Nicea II discussed. I'm not sure how you can skirt the incarnational arguments the saints make in favor of having images based on that Libri Carolini and the imprecise Greek edition of the acta of the council.

    Lastly, I am a member of GAFCON, and we hold to the 4 Great Councils, as well as the three other councils as they pertain to Christology. (see Jerusalem Declaration). Considering the entire issue of the permissibility of icons in the Church hinged upon Christology (see St. John of Damascus, St Symeon), then that is the clear intention of GAFCON Anglicans. What GAFCON Anglicans do mean regarding only accepting the Christology of these councils, is that the canons mandating veneration and exhibition of images in churches to be de fide is wrong. We could also discuss the anti-latin canons of Trullo that were inserted into the canons of the 6th and 7th councils. This also played a huge part in the issue of Nicea II in the west, and is partially why we have the Agnus Dei in the Liturgy today.
     
  8. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Interesting details about GAFCON; I learned something new today!
     
  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It can also be very unhealthy. Want to see how? Just try to put your icons away and see if you can get into this whole religion thing at all. You may not be able to do it.

    And that’s when you’ll see that icons have formed the bedrock to your piety rather than being a stimulant to it. And that’s when you’ll realize why the church fathers were so freaked about a few icons of Jesus for the first time starting to appear, and a few marcionites and donatists even starting to offer adoration. It was all the post-Jewish Christians of the 4th century, who brought their Gentile iconographic habits upon conversion. There are records of the Fathers ripping paintings of Jesus from peoples walls everywhere they went (something I’m not advocating), because they knew it meant the apostolic ways would be almost impossible to restore once it set.

    They knew that having an icon would be more captivating than not having one. Given an option people will always choose having physicality than not: their relation to the divine, their Eucharist. And that’s how you get icons, transubstantiation, and other declines from the Original Faith.

    They were terrified that the images would sweep away the church they once knew and loved, and guess what, they were RIGHT. Just try your piety with images and then without them, which will be easier?

    Once you enter icon mode, you’ll never be able to understand how people related to the divine without it, and will struggle to relate to the apostolic church, or millennia of Hebrew history. Or to the 2000 years of Anglican history, both in the pre-Norman (pre-icons) era, and in the post-Reformation era.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2021
  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    This subject sort of came up tangentially in today's Sunday School lesson. Our rector talked about the "harrowing of hell;" he explained the differing views among the Romans, the Orthodox, and the Lutherans, but he pointed out that the concept comes out of a cobbled-together smattering of scriptures, many of which can be interpreted in several different ways. Thus, he said, the best Anglican position for what Jesus did between His death and His resurrection is, "we don't know," because we can't say for certain and we don't have enough solid evidence about it.

    The Orthodox, however, apparently celebrate their firm belief in the "harrowing of hell" every Holy Saturday, which (on their calendar) falls on May 1st this year. And, our rector said, the Orthodox have an icon to represent the event: an image of Jesus coming out of the tomb, starbursts and all, while leading others by the hand. Naturally, when one has an icon to reverence of the supposed event, one's belief in the event is greatly bolstered! And that is how a theologically uncertain happening becomes honored every year on the Orthodox' church calendar.
     
  11. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The idea of uncertain things being made artificially certain through imagery is real, but in this case the Harrowing of Hell has zero doubt about it, because it's in the Apostles Creed and many Divines wrote treatises for it against the puritans who were denying it at the time. The apostles creed was obviously written long before icons were added to christian devotion.

    So if your rector doesn't know about it, I am wondering what he thinks about the apostles creed (and the underlying Scriptures). Anyway that's probably for another discussion.

    From wikipedia (bad source I know)-

    Descensus controversy
    The third of the Thirty-Nine Articles affirmed the Harrowing of Hell. Thomas Bilson preached in favour of a literal reading of this article before the queen and at Paul's Cross in 1597; ostensibly he was aiming at the Protestant Separatist objections to this view of the descensus or descent to hell of Christ as mentioned in the Apostles Creed. After a hostile reception at Paul's Cross, Bilson was set to work by the queen on his lengthy Survey of Christs Sufferings to argue the point.[4] In so doing he was emphasising a theological point at odds with the Genevan Catechism and Heidelberg Catechism, and so with some of the Reformed Churches, who followed Calvin's opinion that the descent was not literally meant but descriptive of Christ's sufferings on the cross.[5] Adam Hill had brought the point to prominence in The Defence of the Article (1592), against the Scottish presbyterian Alexander Hume.[6]
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Ah, yes, but his point was that we don't know exactly what Jesus did during that period. Did He preach to all of the dead? Did he preach only to those in Abraham's bosom? Or what?? Whereas the Orthodox have a specific view of precisely what Jesus did, and this is what they convey in their teachings, like they really know for sure. Sorry I didn't make that more clear; yes, our rector did address the Apostle's Creed (which, if I recall his words correctly, originally used the word Hades and not Hell).
     
  13. Devin Lawson

    Devin Lawson Member

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    That is actually a rather large assumption you make. When I left the Moscow Patriarchate I actually boxed all of my icons and crosses and all images up in a box and put it in storage. I worshiped for months without images. There were no spiritual issues with that actually, and one day I added them back in slowly. So i'd caution against hasty generalizations, because i've been through the hypothetical you provided and reached a totally opposite conclusion.

    As for iconoclasm in the early Church, I believe you are referring to Epiphanius. Some saints in the 7th Century examined the accounts of that and determined a degree of probability that this account was forged by iconoclasts later on, added into accounts of Epiphanius. I am no textual scholar, so I can't say for sure - but I know St. John of Damascus discusses this extensively.

    Lastly, I am not sure what version of History you are operating under, but the Churches of the Isles had images from about the 4th century onwards. We have Celtic manuscripts showing clearly Coptic influenced images, we have chalices with images on them as well. This is all pre-norman. It seems a bit revisionist to shoulder everything evil on the Normans to try to preserve the English Church and then have it "restored" later on.
     
  14. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I appreciate the personal experience and obviously the details will differ for everyone so my generalization is qualified. That being said, after a few months you had to add the icons, didn't you? Would you be able to not have them for years at a time? And if yes, then why add them, what changes does it bring to your devotion?

    It's far from being just St. Epiphanius. It is also St. Augustine, St. Clement, St. Athanasius, Methodius. Irenaeus attributed the first icons to heretics. You also have emphatic statements against images from Tertullian, Eusebius, Lactantius. It's pretty much every church father who had even remotely touched upon the issue.

    I cover them here:
    https://forums.anglican.net/threads/update-of-church-fathers-on-images-rejecting-them.4220/


    Surely you don't interpret my position as being 'against images', right? Images are fine. It is only against icons, ie. 'images used in worship'. We know for a fact that even among the Greek Orthodox, the further into the past you go, the more bare their walls become. The Hagia Sophia is cited by modern EO with some consternation, because apart from a few big famous mosaics there is nothing on its walls, in contrast to every little EO church today which is saturated with icons from top to bottom. So the further into the past the EO churches go, the more 'iconoclast' they become. And the Western churches had a cultural barrier against icons even into the 12th century, as we already discussed.

    So, are you saying the English churches bucked the combined testimony of East and West, to be the only ones heavily using images in worship? On the contrary, there is zero evidence of the English churches using images in worship, until after the Norman invasion (which is around the time the West began to adopt icons as a whole).
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  15. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I am not against images. I am not even against a person well formed venerating them. I find it a dangerous innovation as a not well formed or well led could be led to idolatry and worshipping the images or thinking you have to worship in from of the images. In my prayer corner my wife, who is a painter, painted me the signs of God the Father, Jesus, the Redeemer, and The Holy Spirit the Sanctifier of the faithful right out of the Litany. Sometimes I look at it sometimes I don't.
     
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  16. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus Member

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    Just in case this applies, here's something to consider:

    Unlike an angel, which is a spirit with a bodily shape, a spirit without a bodily shape is only an image.

    (Resurrection, angel, spirit)
    Acts 23:8
    (Angels and spirits go together)
    Hebrews 1:7, 14
    (Angel and spirit division distinguished)
    Job 4:13-18
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  17. Devin Lawson

    Devin Lawson Member

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    I did not have to "add" them in as if I were under compulsion. I find them to be beneficial to me in my devotional life, as I am reminded of the reality of saints in heaven. Having visual reminders is not somehow evil, its pretty Manichean to try to say that matter is bad and spiritual is good. Creation is good, and this is a matter of Incarnational theology. But to get back to the question at hand, they enhance the remembrance of the cloud of saints, They also serve as reminders to lift up our hearts to God. Most Icons have a golden background, which represents the Glory of God. They exist in the presence, light, and glory of the Lord. So seeing the glory of God around them visibly, helps me consider the moments of the Glory around me - such as in Church during the Holy Eucharist. Much the same way the incense recalls us to the Glory of God in the midst of us, and the presence of the Holy Spirit - Icons are visual reminders that the saints are very much present and we are surrounded by the Glory of God. Sure you could just spray some febreeze in the Church to make it smell good, but there are strong catechetical reasons to use visible incense smoke. Sure you could have a Liturgy with no incense, but that doesn't mean incense is bad or shouldn't be used just because it isn't essential. In theory, the whole mass itself isn't even essential! Why not just waltz to the altar and say the words of consecration and take communion and go on your way? Because the Church in her motherly wisdom has given us these things to consider visibly, audibly, and sacramentally.

    2. I'll have to read your post regarding them, but again, I used to be against Images in worship, and have since changed my mind! I came to Anglicanism opposed to them, and I have since changed my mind on that again. But I will consider what you have to say there, as I do all arguments.

    3. Just because a Church did not have icons, doesn't mean all churches must not have icons later on. It is something that develops in the Church, but we see images in the Roman Catacombs where the Mass would have been celebrated. We are discovering cave paintings of Images, and Churches out east decked in icons from the early centuries of the Church. As for them being more "iconoclast" that is just not true. They aren't actively destroying images. Just not having them is not the same as walking into buildings and destroying them. That would amount to heresy to do so without just cause. I'm fine with not having images in worship, if a Church decides to do that, that is fine by me! But it is also fine if a Church wishes to have them. I take the position of Pope Gregory, in that they are Catechetical tools, and are also symbols of Christian culture similar to the physical cross.

    3. As for a "cultural barrier" in using Images in worship, I'd have to disagree there again. The Psalters of the Celtic monks are decked with images, examine the Psalters of the Franks as well. Those are used in worship, keep in mind worship was the Opus Dei, or the Divine office. As someone who has spent over a year in the Roman Breviary at one point, as a Benedictine Oblate - believe me, the Psalter would have been the primary book of worship. Not to mention the book of the Gospels were adorned with images of the evangelists, are you proposing the book of the Gospels was not used in worship? How about Chalices? We know of St Symeon being portrayed on chalices.

    4. If we are to discuss the 6th council, Pope Hadrian said "sacred images and painted histories had of old time been reverenced." and the Synod of Frankfurt said "[A]doration, in the same way as to the Deific Trinity, should be adjudged anathema." (canon 2). That is exactly what Nicea II taught as well. Why would the council make this distinction if the idea of a distinction was supposedly not present? It is because it clearly was, in the minds of the fathers of Frankfurt. They condemned adoring images if they are adored in the "same way" as God is. That is in essence the same distinction of Latria and Dulia.
     
  18. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Regarding "icons and images in worship," I'm put in mind of the way people in my parish will bow their heads when the cross is carried past them. I don't.

    It bugs me. It's that RC background of mine. Bowing to a physical object, an image of a cross, still smacks of impropriety to me. Doing that seems not very far removed from bowing or kneeling before an image of a saint or an image of Jesus. People might say they're just paying reverence to the cross, but my question is: why are you reverencing a man-made object? I feel like we should revere God but not metal objects shaped to remind us of Him... and God is not 'inhabiting' the metal object, so how can we claim to only be reverencing God when we bow toward the object?

    The rest of you can do as you feel led, but hopefully no one will think I'm impious for not bowing toward the cross.
     
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  19. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I bow to the cross on the altar, in the same way that I kneel for the eucharist and offer other physical manifestations of devotion. For one I remember the tragic history, that when Christians have stopped physically manifesting their faith, they inevitably became secularized. On the surface you can't blame the puritans for trying to elevate the weekly sabbath; it seemed like an even higher and 'stronger' practice than the merely occasional holy days. But when they made it weekly, they made it routine, secular; fast-forward a few centuries and their descendants became the unitarian puritans. The Church knows, in its wisdom of millennia, and in its tragedies, what helps constitute devotion that lasts.

    That being said, bowing to the cross like kneeling at the eucharist and doing similar bodily things, is not adoring the image of a saint or even Christ himself; it is the submission of my body to the sacred things of the Church. If I lived in the 2nd century, I would bow to the fish which the early Christians died for. In 2000 years perhaps those Christians will bow to some new symbol, like an image of the 'staff' (episcopal staff; the rod of Aaron; plenty of fertile theology there). The Church has given us rites, ceremonies, doctrines, and symbols which instantiate our faith and make it real to us, rather than purely virtual.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  20. Devin Lawson

    Devin Lawson Member

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    I bow to Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I bow before his Altar where the Mysteries are celebrated and the prayers of the saints are led. I also bow before the cross (when I am not the Crucifer, which I currently am!) to honor what is represents. I think a proper understanding of Sacramental theology really helps here. Honor is not paid to the object but to the thing the object represents before us. It is a sign or symbol, whereas sacraments are the sign and the thing signified (think if a stop sign that was visible also simultaneously stopped your car as you view it). So I do not bow before a pole with a silver cross on it, I bow to Christ on the cross. It is also symbolic of the Ascension and Second Coming. At the beginning of the Mass, when the Crucifer brings the cross forward in procession, the faithful follow after by inclining themselves to the cross as it progresses up the aisle. It symbolizes the cross going before to the Altar of God the Father, the Son propitiating the Father through the Sacrifice on the cross, coming from amidst the people. Quite the powerful recollection there. Similarly, when the cross is leading out it symbolizes Christ coming back from God-ward to Earth again, surrounded by his minsters. We want to be found in the Church, with our eyes fixed firmly on Christ bowing to his will for us in that hour.

    Signum et Res, as St. Augustine and St. Thomas teach.