At Gospel, does the Congregation Make the Sign of the Cross Three Times?


Greetings All,

 I am a catechist for my parish's Confirmation program.  Currently, we are discussing the parts of the modern Novus Ordo Mass and how to participate fully.  I am presenting on the Acclamation and the Gospel.

 I looked this part of the Mass on on the most complete Order of the Mass I could find online ([]( ).  As you all know, just before the Gospel, the deacon or priest makes the three signs of the cross on forehead, lips and breast, echoing the wish that the Gospel be in his mind, on his lips and in his heart.  

I have been instructed in the past that the congregation performs this motion also and I do it.  However, in researching this gesture, I find that the Order of the Mass referenced above only says that the proclaimer does it.  There is no mention of the congregation performing this action.  Generally, things not prescribed in the Missal are not to be done; they are innovations.  So now I am wondering whether this is an extra-liturgical "innovation", like holding hands during the Our Father or giving "blessings" at communion?

I have not had a chance to look in a real Roman Missal (ordered it last weekend) and can't get at my parish's copy.  Can anyone give me guidance on what the normative instructions are for celebrating the Mass?  I have looked in my old GIRM and there is not even a mention of the proclaimer's  action at the Gospel.  Any guidance would be appreciated.


From the GIRM:
“Then he [the priest] says, A reading from the holy Gospel, making the Sign of the Cross with his thumb on the book and on his forehead, mouth, and breast, which everyone else does as well.”

Sorry, no abuse to be found here.


If it makes you feel better it was in my children’s lenten book


May God bless you and your class. I just started teaching 8th grade catechism and it includes Confirmation in April. So if you have any “pointers” this rookie is all ears! Thanks


Hello Agnes,
Thanks for your response, it is just the info I am looking for! Can you tell me the date on your GIRM and what paragraph you are quoting? Does it refer to the revised Missal? Also, if there is a link online, could you share it?


Hello KP,
Thanks for your response. I also have seen it so many places that I was pretty sure it is legitimate. But I am looking for where the Church says it should be done. This would be either in the Roman Missal (couldn’t find it in what I have) or the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (which Agnes is quoting). Generally the Catechism and Code of Canon Law do not give detailed liturgical instructions.


Hello fastenating!
May God bless your work also. In my diocese (Oakland, CA), we start confirmation instruction in 8th and finish in the sophomore year of high school. So we are probably dealing with the same age group. In my teaching I try to balance emotional appeals with rational explanations of doctrines from scripture and the catechism. Hence this question about where we get the congregation doing the three signs of the cross.

Because kids this age are in puberty and are hormonally off balance, I find that emotional appeals alone can be powerful, but temporary.  Also it tends to feed the relativist soup our society bathes in.  Luckily Catholicism is the perfect balance of faith (emotion) and reason, so I am hoping that we get deeper conversions by engaging the kids emotionally and rationally.  Of course, the Holy Spirit is the real actor here.

Feel free to send me email thru my account if you want to talk more.


GIRM 134. At the ambo, the Priest opens the book and, with hands joined, says, The Lord be with you, to which the people reply, And with your spirit. Then he says, A reading from the holy Gospel, making the Sign of the Cross with his thumb on the book and on his forehead, mouth, and breast, which everyone else does as well. …]

Yes, this does refer to the latest edition of the Roman Missal.


Hello Japhy,
Thanks for the reference. It is just where you quoted it. :thumbsup: BTW, I see it there in my 2002 GIRM and in the GIRM published in the new Roman Missal which just arrived in the mail (thanks Amazon!). I need to understand the structure of the GIRM better. Also, thanks for the link! I did not know that USCCB had the GIRM online!


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