Sign of the Cross by a Lutheran minister at a funeral

While attending a Lutheran funeral, the minister blessed the congregation with the sign of the cross. As a Catholic, how should we respond to his blessing? Should were cross our self? Thanks

(not sure I put this question in the correct location).

I have always done so, having been to a few Lutheran funerals and Masses ( My wife is Lutheran). Even though Lutherans make the sign of the cross from right to left, it is nevertheless has the same meaning and symbolism. I make the sign of the cross as we Catholics do, of course, when I have gone to Lutheran funerals and Masses, but no one has ever made an issue of it. I don’t even know if anyone has even noticed, and/or they know that it would not be in their best not to tell me anything. ;o) The Pastor has never brought up the subject, because it is really not an important issue.

They worship the same Trinity, so I’m sure it is fine. I believe the Eastern Rite also crosses themselves right to left, but someone who belongs to that rite could answer better.

In general I disagree. I think Catholics should avoid accepting a blessing from a Protestant minister with the sign of the cross. It would seem to me to represent recognition as valid something that is not (his ministerial priesthood). However I do also think there might be certain circumstances when this would be permissible.

May God Bless you

You should make the sign of the cross and cross yourself according to your custom. Most Lutherans go right to left, but I go left to right. Feels more natural for me.

Exactly! When passing a Catholic church, even in a car with Jews, Hindus, and Muslims, I would cross myself in the usual manner. Wherever I am, I am Catholic, and follow my custom. :slight_smile:

The Sign of the Cross is a prayer.
Why would one not enter into the prayer?

Making the sign of the cross places one in the presence of God, whose name is “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” while proclaiming Christ crucified as the beginning of prayer. Why in the world would anyone object to doing this whether in a Catholic Church or any other faith community? This is one practice that was not abandoned by at least some of the “Reformers”, so that it is a good thing.

The issue doesn’t seem to be the sign of the cross, but rather receiving a blessing from a Lutheran pastor. I don’t think giving a blessing, at least generally, requires valid ordination. We bless people each an every time we say “God bless you”. It is not uncommon, and in fact, a very good practice for parents to bless their children. I certainly do.

So, I would not hesitate at all to make the sign of the cross while in a Lutheran congregation.

Do what your communion and your comfort dictate.
You will find that some Lutherans cross themselves, some don’t. Some cross left to right, some right to left, though I’ve rarely seen right to left.

We ask the same of you as you ask of us; be respectful.



Since I was not sure what to do, I did nothing. I know there were other Catholics in the service and I did not see anyone crossed themselves.

I went to Lutheran services years ago. What I noticed was the pastor singing the cross at the blessing at the end, but the congregation did nothing. Maybe things have changed since?

I never noticed Lutherans crossing from right to left. I always thought that was a thing we Orthodox had to our selves.

American Lutherans returning to the practice of crossing themselves is relatively recent. As a kid growing up in the fifties and sixties, I rarely saw it, as well.
I may have related this story previously, but a few years back we attended our daughter’s college commencement at a Lutheran university. The commencement was held in the gym - the only venue big enough for what I estimate was 2,500 to 3,000 attendees. When the pastor began with the Invocation, it was a sea of hands moving.

Times have changed.


Does this vary among the Lutheran synods?

I have been to two Lutheran funerals, but I don’t remember the congregations crossing themselves. The funerals were very crowded, so I could have missed it.

I went to a Lutheran wedding many years ago, so this is dated and may have changed since. The pastor did the sign of the cross, but no one else did.

In either case, I would think everyone would do the same thing, whether Catholic or Lutheran.

Lutherans went through a regrettable ‘anti-Catholic’ stage in the last century - and crossing yourself was considered (by some) as being Catholic. Thankfully, we’re getting better.

Thanks to Chuck Colson’s (Baptist) wonderful book, Being the Body, you will see non-Catholic (Protestant) Christians from all kinds of denominations (and non-denominations) using the Sign of the Cross prayer.

My father-in-law, who spent most of his life in the Assemblies of God church, but is now attending a United Methodist Church (because the church is near his house and he is old and frail), uses the Sign of the Cross in his church! Other Methodists do, too.

As someone else in the thread said, the Sign of the Cross is a prayer. Why would we not join with other baptized believers, Catholic or not, in this powerful prayer?

I personally feel that other Christians besides Catholic using the Sign of the Cross prayer is a possible sign that unification is finally on the horizon.

I have only limited exposure to Lutheran services, mostly funerals and confirmation. I was at a nephews confirmation and the minister started the service with…In the Name of the Father, the Son…I made the sign of the cross…I was the only one! The minister happened to be looking in my direction and smiled at me, later on in his sermon he mentioned the beauty of the sign of the cross and showed his congregation how to make the sign of the cross…I smiled at him!

Awesome! :smiley:

That is news to me. Must be an American thing. It is not universal.

I cross myself from left to right. And I have never seen any Lutheran, here i Norway, cross themselves from right to left unless they, because of some necessity, were right handed, and had to use their left hand.

I think you may be right. I’ve always crossed myself from left to right because it’s the way the Western Church historically, generally, has done it.:shrug: I do know some Lutherans who intentionally cross right to left because it’s the “old” pre-Schism way of doing it and is therefore “less Roman.”:rolleyes: Not that it makes any difference; the intention and meaning is the same.

Do priests in Norway move in the opposite direction when giving the sign of the cross to others, so that it is “traced?”

To the OP, the sign of the cross is not odd among Lutherans. In fact, the Lutheran catechisms instruct Lutherans to make the sign of the cross. The following link might be useful:

The above blog mentions Dr. Timothy Maschke, a theology professor at Concordia University Wisconsin (he may or may not have known several of my sisters from classes :D). His book, Gathered Guests, is quoted in the blog. It’s worth a read for anyone who doesn’t understand why/how Lutherans worship as they do.

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