Monastic Sign Language

In a biography of Thomas Merton, a mention of “Cistercian Sign Language,” one of a few monastic sign languages developed in order to help monks communicate with one another.  A bit on Catholicism and sign language, from Jonathan Burgess:

Monastic sign language, much like the sign language with which most of us are familiar, is based on symbolic gestures involving the hands and face to communicate basic concepts. A Catholic who regularly attends Mass already knows at least one. Tapping one’s chest with a closed fist means, “Forgive me” or “Pardon me.” Pressing one’s thumb under the chin can mean “Alright. That’s it.” or “Enough.” Pressing one’s index fingers together to create the shape of a triangle means “Finish[ed].” Spreading the fingers of one’s hand and sweeping them across one’s cheek means “Pretty” or “Beautiful.” To sign “God,” touch the thumbs of both hands to the opposite palm while touching both index fingers to point upward in a triangle to indicate the Blessed Trinity. “Soul” is indicated by making a semi C-shape with the index finger pointing upward, touching the hand to one’s forehead, and then extending the hand upward. If a friend or interlocutor asks how one’s day is going, a brief touch of the cheek is “good” and a rub of the nose is “bad.” Touch one hand to the chin, and extend the hand forward keeping the fingers extended and joined with the back still facing the other person to say “thank you.” He or she returns the gesture to say “you’re welcome.”

Does this stuff really all come up in mass?  Or only the first one?  Anyway, I would fucking love to learn Cistercian (a specific order) sign language.  I’d put it in my bio and show off my skills at parties.  I’d sign my accomplishment from the Seven Storey mountain!

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