Crossing yourself during the elevation(s)


I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do the sign of the cross, but then I’m not exactly looking around during the elevation. I always cross my hands over my chest in an x-shape, and mutter “My Lord and my God” during the elevation of the Body. For the Blood, I cross my hands over my chest and whisper “have mercy, Lord”. Like in this painting:

It just seems right for me.


I cross myself before eating.
That’s the quickest prayer I know.


I’d stick with the ‘Dominus Meus et Deus Meus.’ It’s heavily indulgenced by Pius X.


We’ve had a new Manual of Indulgences since the 1960s now, and all those old indulgences by Popes like Pius X are no longer in force.
You might be able to still get a partial for “My Lord and My God” or “Dominus Meus et Deus Meus” under the new rules for “pious invocation” or “mental prayer”, but the wording of the prayer doesn’t matter, nor do you get a plenary for it.


I was taught to gently tap over one’s heart three times for each elevation. Hardly see that custom practiced anymore.

Some have taken to jingle their keys at the time bells would normally sound. As bells are not rung at the elevations for reasons unknown.


I can’t tell you whether you should or should not do this. But I do know in my diocese the bishop has asked that people not make the sign of the cross for the general absolution. In fact if I remember his document on liturgical norms recommends only making the sign of the cross at the prescribed times in the liturgy. I doubt most people in my diocese have any idea this document even exists. But, one may exists for your diocese that could help in your decision.


In general, rubrics are for clergy. Laity do whatever they want, as long as they do not do things collectively or make a big show. For example –

Anybody who studies the history of lay devotions will find out that elevation devotions have always been very diverse, and sometimes quite complicated. It used to be customary to say little poems or sing little songs at the elevation, but it got a bit loud with everybody saying different things.

So a pope instituted a devotion of looking at the Host and thinking, “My Lord and my God,” but not saying it out loud. However, this was not enforced. There was just an indulgence for looking and thinking it, and you did not earn the indulgence if you said it out loud. And that did the trick where things were getting loud, but did not kill off the poems and songs in any rude fashion; people just got silent or quieter.

And that is as enforced-ish as lay rubrics ever got, back in the mean old rigid old days, because laypeople can do whatever we feel like. (Not to be mean or irreverent, but that is how it is.)

So bishops really have no canon legal foot to stand on, when they come up with new ways to annoy the laity. Make your own decisions about this stuff. As long as you are not making blasphemous gestures, gesture however you like. Piety is not achieved by pew choreography.


The 2018 “Archdiocesan Liturgical Handbook” of the Archdiocese of Portland has:

"Additional Gestures and Postures
1.14.1 Unless approved for the Universal Church by the Holy See or for the local Church by
the competent Bishop’s Conference, other gestures and postures cannot be admitted
to the Sacred Liturgy. Liturgical law is prescriptive in nature and therefore the absence
of a prohibition does not allow for innovation. "

It can be accessed at


My guess would be this only applies to Portland.


Laity out in the nave are not “admitted to the sacred liturgy” in that fashion, in canon law. The sacred liturgy is the stuff happening on the altar or at the lecterns. You could make a case for the choir, because we are clergy stand-ins. Nobody else. The laity in general “assist” at the sacred liturgy, and that is as far as it goes. The laity regulate themselves, other than things like “It is sacrilege to murder someone inside a church building.”

You want illegal gestures, that is where you find them - in the altar area… Not “thou shalt not sneeze twice in the pews.”

Argh. Clericalization of the laity – see where it leads? Madness. And breastfeeding posture regulations, probably, with diagrams of baby angles.

Back in the day, there was an instruction that at a Low Mass, the laity should kneel the whole time and say nothing, except when they stood to hear the Gospel. But it was only a guideline during Victorian times, might not have existed before then, and went away entirely in 1920.

The other guideline for laypeople was “do like the clergy do when they sit in choir ( ie, attend Mass in the pews).” But again, it was just a nice idea with no legal teeth.

Women sit on one side, men on the other? Nothing but a custom that the laity felt like doing, in some times and places. Do we want to do it now? No. The closest thing to a lay rubric was the hat regulations, and those went away. So why this craze to regulate our perpetual freedoms away? Because some people are bored?

If they want us to have rubrics, they can tonsure us and give us stipends.


And yes, holding hands during the Our Father is only iffy under canon law because people get boxed into doing it, it stretches over aisles, etc. Theologically and liturgically, it is not ideal, but as a lay custom it is pretty near untouchable. Sweet persuasion is the only way to legally end it. (Father doing it up on the altar? Kapow. Big difference under the law.)

So there is no reason to feel embarrassed about following a fairly widespread, long-surviving Eucharistic custom of the laity, like crossing oneself, especially since it bothers nobody (except maybe people not looking at the altar). If the servers or the deacon were doing it, that would be different.


I see a few people doing it at the Tridentine Mass. I have a tendency to copy the movements of the people around me because I’m just now becoming a regular Latin Mass attendee. I’m used to bowing at the elevation in the Ordinary Form, but I don’t know how many do it in the EF.


From the Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium of Vatican II:

"30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.

31 . The revision of the liturgical books must carefully attend to the provision of rubrics also for the people’s parts.

32 . …"

The complete document is at

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