Is it important which hand I make the sign of the cross with?


#1

I’ve realized that in the Latin Tradition, the sign of the cross is normally made with the right hand, and I’ve been defaulting to using my left hand. Before I get too accustomed to it, should I start training myself to use my right hand, or is this not relevant to obeying the liturgy?


#2

The right hand, probably in part due to the fact that most people are right-handed, is traditionally the hand of blessing and greeting in many cultural settings, a convention found in Scripture and Tradition. For example, Jesus places the sheep on his right hand but the goats on his left; he himself is “seated at the right hand of the Father”; at God’s “right hand are blessings forevermore”; and so on. In sacred images, Jesus is depicted raising his right hand in blessing. Even today, we use our right hand for handshakes or salutes, we are familiar with the phrase “the right hand of fellowship” and so forth.

By contrast, the left hand has in many cultures a very different set of traditional associations (for example, it is often designated for personal hygiene; the word sinister is derived from the Latin for left-handed; etc.). For all these reasons, it is natural that the sign of the cross has traditionally been made with the right hand.

catholic.com/quickquestions/why-do-we-use-our-right-hand-instead-of-our-left-hand-to-make-the-sign-of-the-cross

That being said, I notice a brother who is left handed, using his left hand to make the sign of the cross.:slight_smile:


#3

Does “traditional” translate to something that needs to be obeyed in the liturgy? i.e. am I sinning?


#4

That’s a good observation, particularly in the liturgy and strictly speaking where rubric often decides the norm to be followed.

I am a cradle Catholic and often take it for granted that what’s being done or practiced as ‘how they should be done or practiced’.:o

I am not too sure about the sign of the cross though, perhaps that needs more research. At this point in time, I think it is okay for a left-hander to use his left hand because to him it is the ‘right hand’. I have seen one who is an experienced person whom I know every well in the church who makes the sign of the cross with his left hand. No one to my knowledge has made comment on it.

But obviously there is no doctrinal reason for it, AFAIK.

So if you are left handed, in my opinion it is alright to do so. Maybe others can comment.


#5

[quote="TK421, post:1, topic:340856"]
I've realized that in the Latin Tradition, the sign of the cross is normally made with the right hand, and I've been defaulting to using my left hand. Before I get too accustomed to it, should I start training myself to use my right hand, or is this not relevant to obeying the liturgy?

[/quote]

Thank you for asking this question, trying to learn the right way of doing things is interesting. I've grown up in a protestant but not very church going home. So the structure of Catholicism sometimes throws me off, and the question of...if I don't do it is it sinful is on my mind often.
Heck learning to go from left to right or right to left still confuses me.


#6

I go from right to left, but I use my left hand. I accidentally invented my own Rite of the glorious TK421 Tradition, founded in 2013 AD.

I've heard Eastern Catholics use their left hand, but they also go from left to right when making the sign.


#7

It’s kinda a good way to get confused. Cute creating your own tradition I like that lol.


#8

[quote="TK421, post:3, topic:340856"]
Does "traditional" translate to something that needs to be obeyed in the liturgy? i.e. am I sinning?

[/quote]

Don't ever think your sinning because you "incorrectly" do a gesture or posture or prayer. Those are only sins if you do it intentionally to some way mock the liturgical act.

If it's just a mistake or you don't know, or in this case it's natural to you is in no way and can not be sinful.

Sin is choosing your selfish desires over God.

You are in church trying to participate and commune body and soul with God. By definition it cannot be sin.

I hate seeing people get hung up these types of things. God cares about your heart and desire for HIM, not whether you use your right or left hand.

That out of the way, I don't know if the Latin church has made a statement on this, but most everyone used the right hand.


#9

You are before the Lord on your judgement day. Your angel pleads before the Lord that you had been a protestant that found the truth but failed to use the right hand.Too bad shouts the Lord as he pushes button B (not good),
What sort of God do you think Catholics worship? A loving Father that is not interested in the letter of the law but is willing to pull any of us out of the mud on the Sabbath. (To mix parables) Tittering adorably at my own wit...
Our Jesus is ambidextrous in his love of us all. Enjoy His cuddles!


#10

:rotfl:


#11

I have read before that the right hand only must be used for blessing oneself. God bless you.

[quote="TK421, post:1, topic:340856"]
I've realized that in the Latin Tradition, the sign of the cross is normally made with the right hand, and I've been defaulting to using my left hand. Before I get too accustomed to it, should I start training myself to use my right hand, or is this not relevant to obeying the liturgy?

[/quote]


#12

It’s certainly not a sin, but you might get strange looks because few people use their left hand. It’s tradition because the vast majority of people are right handed and not from some deep seated theological reason. I would assume if 90% of people were left handed that left would be the norm and using your right would seem odd.

The only time I had a “problem” with someone making the sign of the cross left handed was because we were packed in pretty tight. When we went to make the lower point while saying “and of the Son” my right elbow met their left elbow as those arms flared a little bit from our bodies. It was a little like eating to the left of one of my southpaw siblings when we would jostle the other’s elbow.

Personally I would get into the habit of doing it right handed if possible simply for conformity sake. I had to do something similar when I converted from the Presbyterian church and started saying “forgive us our trespasses …” instead of “forgive us our debts …” during the Lord’s Prayer. Neither translation is strictly wrong, but when in Rome … :smiley:


#13

[quote="ready, post:11, topic:340856"]
I have read before that the right hand only must be used for blessing oneself. God bless you.

[/quote]

Not true at all.


#14

There is no rule on this. Just use whichever hand you are comfortable with.
There is also no rule on whether it is right to left shoulder or left to right shoulder.
None of it is a sin and if anyone tries to tell you that you should do it in a certain way just ignore them.


#15

:rotfl::rotfl::rotfl:

That was a great way to start my morning. Thank you!


#16

You are right about the direction, but Eastern Catholics use their right hands also.

Using one’s left hand is not a sin. I think it was probably more of a problem in the olden days than it is now.


#17

Interesting question. My little boy is left handed, so when trying to make the sign of the cross he does it with his left most of the time. I always correct him and take his right hand and make the sign. Perhaps I should just let him use his left, but this seems so odd to me.
(I once saw a woman at church do it with her left hand and my immediate thought was that she was probably not Catholic and did not know what she was doing. I now realise I was probably wrong :blush: )


#18

Tradition of centuries is part of the binding fabric of the church. It has “force of law” except when the magisterium says otherwise.


#19

I have read what I have read and it was written by a priest; sorry, I believe what the priest has said – not in your opinion (what authority do you have on spiritual matters, like: priests have?) I hope that the original poster goes by the priest’s words, and not by some laity with only strong opinions and hardly any religious training. Someone had asked a priest if he should bless himself with his left hand while he is holding his child, and the priest told him either to bless himself with his right or not to bless himself at all … he told the man to not to use his left hand. I read this in a Catholic newspaper God bless you.


#20

I’m left-handed, and a convert as well. It took some time to train myself, but I thought it important for a couple of reasons.

  1. We are part of the Body of Christ, and our religious practices should have a certain uniformity to express our uniformity of beliefs to each other and those outside.

  2. Tradition, especially since the right hand is traditionally the hand for blessings.

  3. Culture, many people from other cultures regard the left hand as “dirty” so I didn’t want to offend them if they saw it. (The reason for this is that before the days of modern bathrooms, the left hand was used as we use t.p. today. That is also a reason why the right hand is always used for these purposes, and also for hand shakes.) Many people who have come from 3rd world countries still have an aversion to the left hand for these purposes.

  4. A personal sign to myself that I am not above the “rules” or practices that everyone else uses. I struggle with this, and seeing myself as exempt to rules that “others” have to abide by. It is good for me to work on humility.

Just my thoughts.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.