Sign of cross?


Should a person make the sign of the cross immediately before he is given the Eucharist by the priest?


I was taught immediately after…:shrug:


I was taught to bow or genuflect before, sign of the cross after receiving, while turning to face the Altar briefly.


You bow before receiving. You don’t genuflect.

The sign of the cross after receiving is optional.

I don’t believe you face the altar or bow to it after receiving.


I always bow before receiving, but we have a few people who do genuflect, probably a habit left from kneeling at the Altar rail pre-Vatican II. As for facing the Altar as I make the sign of the cross, about 3/4 of the members of my Parish do so. I have done so for years, probably also a remnant of having received the Eucharist while kneeling at the rail for about 20 years, and growing up with that.


Easter 2013. Our RCIA class was taught to bow, say Amen when it is offered. No sign of the cross. When we asked about the sign of the cross (because we had observed many doing this) the priest said NO. We should never attempt to “stand out” and make it a show of ourselves. We are not to draw the attention to us. He also told us to not watch others receive :slight_smile: although when we could not receive we were obviously curious and observant of how others did. :slight_smile:


In my diocese, the form of reverence is to take the form of a bow of the head. In a training video that was distributed to all parishes at the time of promulgation (around 2003), it was explained that the easiest way to do this was while saying “Amen”, so that is now what I do always. Almost nobody else does this; most people seem to be under the impression that they should make a profound bow while the person in front of them is receiving. Some genuflect instead.


You must be obedient to your Priest, but if at least half of the congregation is making the sign of the cross after receiving, I would imagine you could do likewise if you wish. We do have some in my Parish who do not, but the majority do so. I haven’t asked our Priest, as I really don’t want him to start in on that too!


Also to be noted, you have a right to receive kneeling, on the tongue in any Latin parish - anywhere. You don’t have to, but you can and father cannot deny you communion for choosing to do so.


From USCCB : Postures and Gestures at Mass

“Finally, with the new General Instruction, we are asked to make a sign of reverence, to be determined by the bishops of each country or region, before receiving Communion standing. The bishops of this country have determined that the sign which we will give before Communion is to be a bow, a gesture through which we express our reverence and give honor to Christ who comes to us as our spiritual food.”

In the General Instruction, I did not find mention for or against making the sign of the cross after communion


[quote="CyrilSebastian, post:1, topic:347949"]
Should a person make the sign of the cross immediately before he is given the Eucharist by the priest?




It would seem awkward to me to make a bow of the head after saying Amen, particularly if one receives on the tongue. The priest is already holding up the host and would be preparing to give it to the communicant. A bow at this point would seem to disrupt the process.


You don’t necessarily have to. When I go to the EF Mass since I receive kneeling and am stationary, I typically do the sign of the cross since I have a few seconds to stay there before I get up. When I go to the OF, I just wait until I get back to the pew, kneel and then do it. I don’t believe there’s anything specific that says that you MUST do it though. It’s up to you.

In terms of kneeling and everything in the OF Mass. I typically bow just because I feel like kneeling/genuflecting can get a little odd for the person behind you. I have done it though. Personally I’d rather genuflect than bow and would rather kneel when receiving, period.


Historically, there is a TON of different ways that laypeople have expressed devotion, both before and after receiving Communion. Historically, this hasn’t really been something that was closely legislated, either. Laypeople were left the heck alone, as long as it wasn’t disrespectful, and the only person you had to reckon with was the opinion of your parents or perhaps of the parochial school nuns.

So… yeah, the American bishops have the right to say that they’ve decided a particular sign. However, the Vatican has consistently insisted that laypeople have the right to receive pretty much any way they want (kneeling, standing, even sitting or lying in cases of necessity), and that they can perform pretty much any act of devotion that they want, as long as we’re not talking something sacrilegious or occult.

In the US, where people come from many different ethnic Catholic traditions, and have been taught by many different religious orders with their many spiritualities and traditions, it is particularly normal and natural that people would receive Communion with a lot of different devotional accompaniments. It’s the way a living Church looks.

And who really cares, or even notices? My mom always told us not to stare at the communicants, because it’s rude. If Father is watching to make sure that communicants actually consume the Host, that’s one thing. If Father is watching to make sure that people bow in only one precise way, Father needs to get a busybody parochial school nun on the case so that he can relax – because seriously, that’s not his concern, and because it’s weird to to want to curtail the tiny itsy bitsy permissible freedoms of the laity. Nuns are consecrated people but still laity, so attempts to regulate lay behavior in lay matters of choice are much more their purview than a priest’s.

(For what it’s worth, I understand that crossing yourself after receiving is fairly common in Hispanic countries, and I think it’s an Irish thing also. In most US parishes I’ve attended, some people cross themselves after receiving, and some people don’t. St. Cyril of Jerusalem back in the early Christian days taught his catechism class to cross themselves after receiving, but other early Christian sources didn’t. So you can go either way and be super duper ancient.)


I spent all the years from early 20’s (after college) until my late 30’s living in a mainly Hispanic community in New Mexico. I still make the sign of the cross (anytime, even in private prayer) the way I learned among those Hispanics. (Making a cross of the thumb across the index finger, signing myself, kissing that cross symbol of thumb over finger, then folding my hands palm to palm.) Can’t break the habit, and don’t need to! I look odd to strangers who visit our Parish doing this, but when I go to our other Parish (about 15 miles from my home, same Priest) and attend the Spanish Mass, I fit right in, since most of them do so as well. Also, at Spanish Mass, it’s not uncommon for someone to go through the Communion line and kneel to receive the Host. Most younger ones don’t, but the older people, who grew up in Mexico or Central America often do so. (They also line all the children up, AFTER the Mass ends, to go forward for an individual blessing, also a custom in many Hispanic cultures. Our Priest would rather not do this (he has no Hispanic background), but they’ve done it for about 30 years here, and I don’t think he’s going to stop the 300 families (& often more) from sending about 15 - 20 small children, usually 4 to 7 years of age who are too young to receive Communion, up in a small procession after the Mass ends for their “Sunday blessing”. Different cultures have different customs, and all are acceptable to the Church, so long as they are not disruptive or disrespectful. I have seen a few people go to Communion on the EWTN Mass receive the Host on either one or both knees. Seems to be o.k. with the Priest friars! God accepts us all just where we are & with our cultural baggage!

I also made my First Communion in Oklahoma with quite a few Hispanic and Indian children in the Catholic School, but back then, in 1949 - 50) we all knelt at the Communion rail anyway, so it wasn’t an issue then. But we were taught to cross ourselves before rising from the rail and returning in order to our pews - taught by the Sisters, and it was acceptable to our Bishop. By the way, the Bishop was my Godfather (!!) and his housekeeper was my second Godparent for my Baptism, as I was the only Catholic in my family when we were in Oklahoma, except for a stepbrother and stepsister, who were too young to do so! How wonderful he was to me!!


I bow before, say Amen right before receiving, and cross myself only after I have concluded my post-communion prayer back in my pew.

Different people were taught different expressions of piety. I tried different expressions and combinations of piety when I was younger, and this is what I usually do these days.



I generally do a simple bow, and cross myself before reeving. (Not immediately before though, when I’m next in line). I receive, then I cross myself.

Is that wrong?


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