Sign of the Cross

The most important of the sacramentals. It is a symbol of our deliverance from Satan, and an emblem of God‘s mercy as manifested through the crucifixion of Our Saviour. It consists in making a movement with the hands, or with some object, in the form of a cross. The ordinary method is to put the right hand to the forehead, and to the breast, and to the left and the right shoulder, saying: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The words and the action form a summary of the Catholic faith in God and the Redemption. We say “In the name” – expressing the unity of God; we mention the three Persons of the Trinity; the cross itself, made with the hand, manifests our belief in the Incarnation, death, and resurrection of Our Saviour, and shows that we regard Him not only as God but as man – for otherwise He could not die. The use of this sign goes back probably to the days of the Apostles. The triple sign of the cross was common in the Middle Ages, but is not now generally used except at the beginning of the Gospels at Mass. It is made by marking the forehead, the lips, and the breast, each with a small cross, using the thumb, and reminds us that we should worship God with our minds, our lips, and our hearts. The sign of the cross is made at the beginning and end of public and private prayers, in the administration of all the sacraments, and in all the Church’s blessings, over the people, the person, or the objects. In Baptism it is made 14 times; in Extreme Unction, 17 times; in the blessing of holy water, 12 times; and in the Mass, in various waysl 51 times. An indulgence of 50 days is gained every time we make it properly.