Priest making the sign of the cross backwards

I don’t want to be one of those people that see things everywhere, but … in one of the parishes in my area (not mine), the priest regularly does something really strange. During the Eucharistic prayer, when he makes the sign of the cross over the bread and wine, he does it with his left hand and backwards. Any reasons he might be doing this? Is it normal? it kind of freaked me out - esp. since there are some other things going on (ministers opening and closing the tabernacle, ministers cleaning up the altar after Communion, etc).

He doesn’t belong to a different Catholic rite, correct? Either way, I don’t think that makes a difference. I’m not sure about this one.

:eek::banghead:EEEK! This would definitely make me think twice about visiting there again…but then again, I tend to avoid parishes that don’t offer the Mass in Latin, given the option. :slight_smile: I would tactfully ask the priest if something was wrong with his right hand; that might explain some of it, at least. As for the backwards cross, perhaps he’s dyslexic or something. But barring this, I’d be on the phone to the diocese to find out if they consider such things appropriate. And I’d be a bit hesitant to receive Communion from this priest. Since you aren’t sure, and the Eucharistic prayer isn’t (to my knowledge) one of the parts of the Mass that allows for “personal expression”:rolleyes: you’re entitled to stay in your pew.

I know the Orthodox left to right. Are there any real “rules” on this. I suppose there is no wrong way, but if something is in the rubrics for a perticular rite, then I guess it should be followed.

If one wants to go exactly by the words of the rubrics , they actually are silent on the matter, unlike previously. I think it was more or less assumed that priest would make the sign of the cross as they had always done it: right hand, and right to left. Aside from the final blessing, the priest is not directed to use his right hand, and no where is he required to make the sign of the cross from right to left.
However, if one considers the Ceremonial of Bishops as providing claification, it does state both directly and indirectly that the right hand is to be used.

(At least) some Eastern sui juris Churches make the Sign of the Cross “up, down, right, left”, but they use their right hand. Perhaps this priest is left-handed. If so, it would be natural to make the motion in a mirror image. Anyways, he probably should be using his right hand, as per tradition and the rubrics.

i would always give the priest the benefit of the doubt. however, i would still give myself peace of mind and just let him know that you noticed and he made the sign of the cross with his left hand. it could that he is left handed and so does it backwards. ive seen my husband do it unconsciously a time or two and he is a lefty.

Relax. He probably is left-handed and this is just what comes naturally to him. I doubt he is doing this to be contrary or irreverent, and it doesn’t affect the Eucharistic prayer or the Consecration one bit. To advise a person not to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist because of this is rather poor advice, don’t you think?

My daughter is left-handed, and people have tried to make her switch and all it did was confuse her and make things worse. Her brain is not wired to use her right hand as the dominant hand, that’s all. And that’s the way God made her–and the priest.

Why would you hestitate to receive Communion? It doesn’t sound as if he did anything to invalidate the consecration.

It might seem like poor advice to you; but the priest’s backward cross seems to have bothered pentecostbaby enough to post a question about its correctness. I’ve always been told that if you have a serious question as to whether the Consecration was properly done, you should abstain from receiving, out of reverence for the integrity of the Sacrament. My understanding is that “back in the day” we had some priests who thought that “the spirit of Vatican II” gave them license to pretty much re-invent the Mass in any way they might feel moved. Sadly, this included the Eucharistic Prayer. You’re right: it could have just been a simple gaffe on the part of the priest (although I don’t think being left-handed explains the backward cross. That’s why I suggested he might be dyslexic, or something similar. Since you didn’t seem to notice, I’d like to point out that I also suggested tactfully asking the priest if there was something wrong with his hand. Most priests I’ve met are more than happy to explain seeming anomalies, when they’re pointed out.) Still, where we still have a number of mini-Popes running around “innovating”, I’d say it’s better to be safe if you’re not sure. (It seems that the parish pentecostbaby visited is one where overuse of the laity in the sanctuary is not considered a problem, so it does make me wonder about the priest.)

I am left handed. When I was growing up, teachers tried to get me to switch. My mom let 'em have it. :smiley:

That being said, I learned to do the sign of the cross with my right hand, left-to-right.

That ALSO being said, since I am left handed, I have found myself making the sign of the cross with my left hand since to me it is natural to move my left hand first when I want to do something - pick up a pen to write, reach for my keys, use my computer mouse, and sometimes make the sign of the cross.

I know Byzantine Catholics make their cross right-to-left.

I don’t know what this particular priest has on his plate, but I know that several times the local Byzantine church has had a priest come from Latin rite to perform Divine Liturgy since they are currently without a priest. They have to get one that is “allowed” to perform an Eastern Rite (I don’t know how all of that works, that’s just what I heard.)

Anyway, if the priest is left handed he probably “instinctively” “reached with” his left hand to do the sign of the cross, and if he has had to perform some Eastern Rite services or what not (not sure of the correct word to use here) he may have gotten momentarily mixed up. And no, lefties do not do things in a “mirrored” fashion, we do things normally with the left hand.

Side note: I am dating a Byzantine Catholic man. When we sit across from each other and say grace before a meal, he does his right-to-left and I do my left-to-right cross. It’s kinda cool because our arms move together in the “same” direction. :smiley:

Anyway… I wouldn’t freak out. I know that I have done this a few times being left handed. I had even made the cross with my left hand right-to-left rather than left-to-right. Now, I realize this is a priest and we all know he “should know better,” but he is also human too and may have gotten mixed up.

If you MUST know, simply go up to him, “Hey! I didn’t know you were left handed! I know thus-and-so is. Not many lefties around!” :thumbsup:

I knew a deacon (now a priest, and a monsignor at that) who always distributed communion with his left hand. It’s not because he’s left-handed, nor that he’s being disrespectful. He does so, (with the indult of the bishop), because of a medical condition.

When offering Mass, though, he uses his right hand as normal (except for communion).

I actually have a theory on that. I think that hand motions like the sign of the cross, or writing (which is my anecdotal evidence) are memorized not by “left” and “right”, but by “closer to the body” and “further from the body”. I’ve just noticed that writing with both hands just seems “more natural” if one is the right way, and the other is a mirror image :shrug::shrug:

What do you mean?

Enough with the left-handed/Eastern Christian business! The Sign of the Cross is made by Catholics with the right hand from left to right.

Do you have to use your right hand to do the sign of the cross? Can you use either hand whether your left or right?


Hi Larry,

Yes of course, unless one is physically unable to do so. Since this is the way the Church teaches us to acknowledge the Holy Trinity and the saving Passion of Jesus, why would one consider doing otherwise?

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.


i also am left handed and i have taught myself to make the sign of the cross with my right hand. it would be easier and natural to me to use my left hand, but i use my right hand to prevent people from staring or saying “you are doing it wrong” or “that’s not how you do it”.

No, not always. It’s always the right hand, but not always from left-to-right. The East, (and whether you want to believe it or not, there are Eastern Catholics), do it from right-to-left. Keep in mind that Rome did it the same way for quite some years.

This thread isn’t about the history of the Sign, it is about its current use. Stop confusing Catholic Christians by invoking the history of the Sign of the Cross.

Excuse me, but the current use in the East IS from right-to-left and they ARE Catholic.

And this isn’t the Eastern Christian forum, is it?

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