The Cross of Jesus Christ is the joy and boast of Christians. By the Cross we were saved and by the Cross the demons are put to flight.
Wearing the Cross on our person is a fundamental and simple way to keep Christ in our daily life and to fight the influence of the devil.
Who wears the Cross and when?
At holy Baptism, every Orthodox Christian receives an image of the Precious Cross to be worn around the neck. From the moment of Baptism until the moment of death, every Orthodox Christian should wear the Cross at every moment.
The cross is not merely jewelry or decoration for our person, but the sign of the triumph of Christ over death and our belonging to Christ. It is not Orthodox simply to “decorate” ourselves or our children with the cross on Sundays to come to Church and then leave the cross off the rest of the week. A Christian wears the Cross at all times.
Do we wear the cross on the inside or the outside?
Except for the clergy, we normally wear the cross on the inside of our shirt or blouse, not the outside. It is not outward adornment but rather a reminder of our baptism, an act of prayer, and a protection against the devil. It is not bad to wear the cross on the outside, if we desire, but this is not actually the ancient custom.
What about Small Icon Medallions and Phylakta*?
It is Christian and praiseworthy to bear these on ourselves, for they are holy and grace-giving. But wearing the Cross is “square one” - more basic and necessary.
Concerning «φυλακτά» “phylakta” (plural, singular is φυλακτόν): A phylakton is a small pillow with a cross on both sides (there should not be an eye on one side), which is usually pinned on a baby’s clothing for protection from demonic energies. What is contained in the phylakton is as follows: After the consecration of a church there remains in a pot a remnant of wax-masticha and other materials used during the consecration; included in the mixture is Holy Myrrh. This mixture is hot and in liquid form. The white garment which the Bishop wore during the consecration is then put into the pot and the pot is wiped clean with the garment. When the garment dries and becomes hard, being soaked with the mixture, it is cut into small pieces and sown into the “phylakta” and given out to the faithful as a blessing. This is a perfectly Orthodox Christian practice…
What about Wearing an Eye?
Wearing the image of an eye is not a Christian practice but rather a practice of magicians. It is powerless and will not protect us from the activity of evil spirits. Perhaps older relatives or friends taught us this custom because they did not understand its origins, but we should not pass on such a practice to our children.
(See the article on “The Evil Eye” at our metropolis website at http://hotca.org/orthodoxy/337-the-evil-eye)
After Baptism, put away your child’s “official” baptismal cross, which normally is very beautiful and costly, until he is old enough to take care of it properly. Then obtain small, inexpensive images of the cross - metal, wood, or cloth - and pin one to the baby’s clothing. As children grow older, they can wear an inexpensive cross on a simple chain or string. Of course, they will lose them, but this should not stop us from striving for our children always to wear the image of the Cross. Check them every day to see that they have their cross!