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Significance of the Sign of the Cross

11/24/2004 - 5:00 AM PST

(Page 2 of 2)

the anger, putting on patient behavior, imitating Jesus' practice of virtue.

Q: Do non-Catholics use the sign of the cross?

Ghezzi: Yes, the sign of the cross is used by Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians, particularly in baptisms. In his small catechism, Martin Luther recommends making the sign of the cross at bedtime and first thing in the morning.

It's a shame that many non-Catholics see it as something they shouldn't be doing; it comes from an ancient Church that we all share. One of my hopes in writing this book is that non-Catholics will read it and share in the sign of the cross.

Q: Why do Catholics use the sign of the cross with holy water upon entering and exiting a church?

Ghezzi: In order to participate in the great sacrifice of the Mass, you need to be baptized. Using holy water to sign yourself is saying "I am a baptized Christian and I am authorized to participate in this sacrifice."

When you make the sign of the cross when you leave, you say that the Mass never ends -- your whole life is participating in Christ's sacrifice.

Q: Why should Christians learn more about this prayer?

Ghezzi: I think that it's not something to be taken casually. The sign of the cross has enormous power as a sacramental; it does not cause the spiritual thing it signifies but draws on the prayer of the Church to affect us in our lives. The sign of the cross is the supreme sacramental.

When I see professional athletes make the sign of the cross during games, I'm not critical of them. It says that everything I do, I do in the name of Christ -- even games can be played in the presence of God.

When people make the sign of the cross casually, I pray that they will recognize how serious it is -- that they are declaring that they belong to Christ, they want to obey him and accept suffering. It's not a good-luck charm.

Q: Why is the sign of the cross significant today, especially in areas where laws are becoming less tolerant of public displays of faith?

Ghezzi: They can tell us that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a public building, but they can't stop us from making the sign of the cross publicly. We need to remember what Jesus said: If we are ashamed of him, he'll be ashamed of us.

We should feel confident in letting people know that we are Christians and that we belong to Christ.

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1 - 10 of 12 Comments

  1. Benedict
    2 weeks ago

    It was really helpful.I have been doing the sign of the cross for 17 years without knowing what it signifies.I hope that the modern catholic youths of nowadays will read this article to enlighten themselves.Thanks

  2. Grace Ediang
    1 year ago

    i could not believe her information. this article enlightened me thank God, if we put red heart on our dresses to signify love, why not sign the cross to signify Christ.

  3. john
    1 year ago

    The sign of the Cross is the sign of the Trinity. It is a powerful sign. Invoke it often. Keep it ever before you as you make your escape from godlessness to God. When you are asked what kind of god is your God, use the sign of the Cross to explain us to them:

    When you name the Father and point to the head of Jesus crowned with thorns, tell them that your God is an omnipotent King who is ever willing to sacrifice Himself for you.

    When you name the Son and point to the feet of Jesus pierced by a nail, tell them that your God is a humble God whose feet trod the desert of suffering, not above you as God, but with you and as one of you - an equal to you in your humanity - an equal to you in your suffering.

    When you name the Holy Spirit and point to the right and left arms of Jesus pierced by nails, tell them that the arms of your God are open wide and ready to embrace you in a great bear hug of overwhelming love.

    When you say Amen and touch your hands together to end the Sign of the Cross, tell them that this word of truth and gesture of gratitude are all we require from you in return.

  4. rheine
    1 year ago

    this is very helpful. Thank you first of all.. I am a catholic and my bf is a catholic also, but sad to say, he don't like to make a sign of the cross.. I don't know why because I don't want him to question his views, but I realize,how can he not make a simple gesture to make the sign of the cross if we are already married and we have childrens? what would be the teaching that we will taught to them. He is making a retreat right now, and I don't know what to do if he's going to change his belief or perception about us catholic. He is on a born again christian right now. I don't know what to do anymore. But I hope afer reading this article I am going to read it to him and write some important words to give him if someday he will realize what his doing. I hope it will help.

  5. winnie
    1 year ago

    just this morning, i heard a preaching from a non catholic where he blatantly stated that the sign of the cross was rubbish and i almost believed him, but then i realized i had no deep understanding of the meaning but after reading this, i know he can't be right

  6. Richard Norgah
    2 years ago

    Thanks very much for this article.

    I am a non-Catholic (a Methodist), married to Catholic. I first learned to make the sign of the Cross when we started counseling before our wedding and I have kept to it. Though I made the sign of the Cross till date with all seriousness, I didn't know so much of its meaning or significance until today 26/08/2012, some three years after our marriage, when I decided to look it up. What I found is amazing and I've never been ashamed to make the Sign of The CROSS.

    Thank you.

  7. Norma Duhon
    3 years ago

    I attended the first class in a series of lessons about the changes in the Mass, and the sign of the Cross was brought up in an informal discussion. It was mentioned that the proper way to make the Sign of the Cross is with 3 fingers, representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Some attendees use their thumb, index, and forefinger; others use the index, forefinger, and ring finger. Is there a "correct" way?

    I am learning a lot from the class, and am so very glad to be able to attend.

  8. Beatrice Balli
    3 years ago

    I wanted to know what the double cross means.I know that for one cross is, in the name of the father the son and the holy spirit and what is the meaning for it.
    there are also blessings that are given at the time of someone leaving for the day or trip.

  9. Danielle
    3 years ago

    I'm hoping the author can respond to my message. My husband and I were having a dispute over the meaning behind the Sign of the Cross and Holy Water in the Catholic Church. I read an article in a publication titled "Forward in Christ" A Lutheran Voice/WELS June 2011 edition. Author, Forrest L. Bivens. He writes that crossing oneself is more than simply a pervasive custom for Catholics, it is a Sacrament that earns indulgences. Extra indulgences are earned if holy water is used. Can you please comment on this. I was raised Catholic and I don't remember ever being taught that the sign of the cross was for indulgences nor Holy Water. I think of it as everything you stated in your article. Thanks for your comment on this.

  10. Sally Turner
    4 years ago

    Thank you

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