Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Making The Sign Of The Cross

I have noticed that some people make the sign of the cross twice and/or end it by kissing their fingers or thumb. I’ve even seen people who cross from right to left at the part of “Holy Ghost”. Well I’ve always been a little curious as to why so I did a little digging, and this is what I came up with. Oh, please feel free to add comments or corrections if necessary.

I actually didn’t find much about making the sign of the cross twice, except on Orthodox websites. When venerating icons (statues/pictures) the sign of the cross is made twice, then kiss the icon (never on the face) and make the sign again. I also found something that states that the sign is made twice while entering the Church to give reverence.

Ending the sign of the cross by kissing your thumb is primarily an Italian or Hispanic practice. At the end of the sign of the cross a kiss is given to the thumb nail, as if a kiss was given to the nails on the cross. Nothing I found mentioned fingers.

No information was found on crossing from right to left so if anyone knows about it please share it for all to see.

None of the information I found came from any official documents, but from surfing the web and reading other peoples comments, so please don’t hesitate to correct or add any useful information.


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Actually, the reason why in the East it's done "in reverse" as us Latins is real simple, if you're looking at the priest, it appeared as if he's going from left to right, and it was done in imitation of the priest.

The theology about going from left to right, is that the right hand is where God the Son sits of course.

The left is explained from above.

Batjacboy said...

Good post, Rita!

I was going to answer the right-to-left question, but I see Joe already did!

Batjacboy said...

I found this on the famous story of St. Bernadette and the Sign of the Cross:

"Whether in the Rosary or at any other time, from the days of the Lourdes apparitions on, Bernadette was noted for the wonderful way she made the sign of the cross. One observer at the grotto later wrote, "If the Sign of the Cross is made in heaven, it can only be made in this manner." Everybody marveled at the way she crossed herself-slowly, reverently, "with majesty."

"It is important to make it well," she told one of her fellow novices in the convent. The sisters respected the way she blessed herself, because they knew who had taught her. It was Our Lady herself, during the Lourdes apparitions.

Do we make the sign of the cross often? (Do you know that we can obtain a partial indulgence, applicable, if we choose, to the souls in purgatory, every time we make it?) Why not take on the project of always blessing ourselves slowly and reverently, pondering meanwhile what that sign means?"

--Father Robert F. McNamara

Jen said...

Wow I love the way batjacboy has shined a new light on this subject for me I dont think Ill hurry and make the sign of the cross before eating again. thanks batjacboy. Also rita my father always taught us as the fransiscan munks taught to make the sign of the cross with your right hand thumb pointer finger and middle finger together to symbolize God the father God the son and God the holy spirit and the other too spread out symbolizing Christ's divinity and his humanity. thats how ive always done it and now I think ill always do it a little slower.

Aunt Laura said...

Thank you so much for this Rita.

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