Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Cross in the Dakotas - Worth Remembering In Spite of Current Church Agony

"Certificates of Baptism and Confirmation meant nothing to Indian converts who could not read. Bishop Hare desired to give to those who took upon themselves obligations as Christians some token that would not only mark them as communicants, but also serve as a constant reminder to them of their Christian calling. He, therefore, in 1874, designed a cross to serve this purpose. It was his custom to give a cross to each Indian candidate he confirmed, just before he made his address to the confirmation class.
In June 1975, the Niobrara Deanery during their 103rd annual Convocation, voted to share with the whole Church in the Diocese the Niobrara Cross. To this day, all confirmands receive the Niobrara Cross as a symbol of their confirmation in the Episcopal Church.
The oval in the center of the cross is the Episcopal seal of the Diocese of South Dakota. The Greek letters on the cross which quarters the oval read, "That they may have life." In each angle of the cross is a tipi surmounted by a small cross. The seal signifies that Christ has come to the Dakotas and gathered them under the protection of the Cross, that they have accepted Him, and their homes have become Christian homes."
(That They May Have Life, Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve),
Diocese of South Dakota (TEC) website.

(Highlights by Northern Plains Anglicans)

By the way, if you are moved by this vision of Christ and His cross protecting your home, you might like David Ould's Bible insights here.

May God's own touch mold and shape you anew during the Triduum.

1 comment:

David Handy+ said...

I didn't know about this wonderful custom or its historical origins. The more I learn about Bishop Hare, the more I like him. And this motto he chose, "That they may have life," is superb. Admirable.

I'm reminded of the rose window above the entrance to the cathedral there in Sioux Falls, with its depiction of John the Baptist crying out "in the wilderness" (which the Dakota Territory certainly was in his time) "PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD!"

Well, Fr. Tim+, his mantle has perhaps fallen upon you, my friend. Now you seem to be the lonely prophetic figure calling earnestly for the People of God to repent and warning of the judgment that is to come. And alas, the Diocese of SD has seemingly become like the wilderness again, i.e., a barren, spiritual wasteland.

Now I trust you will be spared the gruesome fate of John the Baptist. So keep up the good work, Tim+, "that they may have life."