Today we’re going to talk about some ceremonial customs in the Church and their meaning.
The Sign of the Cross
The Sign of the Cross is made with the right hand touching the forehead, chest and then the left and right shoulders with the tips of the fingers. This goes back to the earliest days of the Church. So a Christian writer called Tertullian, writing about the year 200 AD, said, “…in all our coming in and going out, … whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our forehead with the sign of the cross”, and he spoke of this as an old custom in his day. (1)
The sign of the Cross, by recalling Our Lord’s Crucifixion for us, is a reminder of everything that he stands for. So it is a sign by which we openly declare our belief in him and in the Christian Faith, as when we make it at the end of the Creed. And it also reminds us how, at our Baptism, we were signed with the sign of the Cross as a token that we should not be ashamed to confess the Faith of Christ Crucified, and should fight valiantly as disciples of Christ and remain faithful to him to the end of our lives.
The sign of the Cross is also a reminder that every blessing, which is ours as members of his Church, has been bought for us by Our Lord at the cost of his Crucifixion.
We must be careful not to make the sign of the Cross thoughtlessly but always with him in mind.