Sign of the cross with left hand and right to left

Hard to say…

About 78% of Austrians are Catholic, according to the 1991 census; 5% Protestant, 17% “other”.

There is a “Greek Catholic Church in Western Austria”, but Arnold was born in Styria, on the Eastern border; I cannot find any other Eastern Catholic jurisdictions. The Austrian flavour of Catholicism is predominately Latin Rite, but many of the old Empire’s subject nations were Orthodox.

I just watched the clip of him at Reagan’s bier; Maria crosses herself L-R, Arnold R-L. Schwartzenegger claims to have been raised strict Catholic, was married in the Church, and attends Mass weekly. Perhaps there was some Eastern influence in Styria from Slovenia (altho’ I believe Slovenes are Latin Catholic); or maybe he just “got it wrong” – I don’t know (or presume to judge) how much church-goin’ he did in the years between his emigration from Austria and his run for office (when religion becomes a political factor). Quien sabe? :shrug:

I am ambidextirous when it comes to crossing. Even though I am right handed, I use my left when my right hand is loaded. Since this never occurs during the liturgy, I have no problem with it. After all, it is not a required devotion at most points I cross myself. Therefore, it is better to say the prayer evoked with my left hand than not at all. Rubrics do not extend to private devotion.

I’m also left-handed, but generally I’m now used to cross myself with my right hand (I remember when I was a kid when I would get reprimanded for making the Sign of the Cross with my left :shrug:).

Apparently, in many ancient cultures, the left is considered with ‘evil’ (thus the Latin word for left, ‘sinister’ became associated with evil; compare the Latin word for the right ‘dexter’), thus the custom.

In Semitic cultures, the left hand is symbolized the power to shame society, and was used as a metaphor for misfortune, natural evil, or punishment from the gods, thus the ‘Left Hand of God’ :p. By contrast, the right hand was seen as signifying a position of power and authority (thus the reason why Jesus is said to be at the ‘right hand of God’).

The left was also even considered to be the ‘toilet hand’ by Arabs (thus, when meeting with Arab men, you should always use the right hand when having a handshake)!

Apparently we lefties are discriminated against a lot of times… :smiley:

Patrick457’s post reminded me of the first time I became aware of the connotations against the left as evil or unclean mentioned by some posters on this thread.

It was when I first heard Matthew 25:31-46 read in Church. It was very frightening to a 8 year old left-hander who had to be reasured by her mother than God loved her whichever hand she used. (Yes, this was childish reaction, but I was a child and the reasurance didn’t wipe out the event. Also people still tell me that sometimes I take what some people say too literally.)

In case you don’t have a Bible handy here’s a summary:

“When the Son of Man comes as King and all the angels with him, he will sit on his royal throne …. He will put the righteous people at his right and the others at his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, Come you are blessed by my Father …. Then he will say to those on his left “away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels."

While training my child to overcome an aversion to using the right hand for this non-demanding task (we’re not talking about fine-muscle dexterity here), I might assure the child that if Jesus is on the Father’s right side, then His “good” hand is closer and more ready to serve.

Hello all! I am very new to the forum, but came across this thread because I wanted some other opinions about making the sign of the cross with the left hand. I have a five year old who has motor skills problems, and is left handed, and just cannot do it with his right hand. He is not disabled, not handicapped, and not “dumb.” He is just naturally left handed. I asked our priest, a veteran priest of 27 years, and he said left or right, it doesn’t matter. He said the fact is, you’re making the sign.

As for the CCD teacher and the 6th grade teacher who correct their students, I find this hard to grasp. I am a teacher and developmental specialist myself, in Lincoln, Nebraska (public school), and think it is OK for any child to be left handed.

Mercygate said “I insist that my 6th graders use their right and and knee. I compare it with an athletic exercise. The get comfortable with it in a few weeks. If a person wants to play a sport, he will “work” both sides of his body in order to build his skills. Same deal.”

I am a football and baseball coach, and we do not insist that our left handed players use their non-dominate hand in practice. If we have a left handed quarterback, he throws with his left hand. If we have a left handed pitcher or batter, he is not required to pitch and/or with is right hand as well. The sign of the cross should not be compared to athletic exercise.

In Matthew 25:31-46, it in no way, shape, or form indicates which hand the good or the bad use. It simply says the good on the right, the bad on the left. To indicate that people who use their left hand will be damned and people who use their right hand will be blessed for eternity is a judgement we as mortals cannot make.

Mercygate also says “While training my child to overcome an aversion to using the right hand for this non-demanding task (we’re not talking about fine-muscle dexterity here), I might assure the child that if Jesus is on the Father’s right side, then His “good” hand is closer and more ready to serve.” Mercygate proves what I am saying above, that the person’s good hand, their dominate hand, is closer and ready to serve. You don’t have to be right handed to be good or saved or blessed.

The is so much talk about making points and not conforming to the “rules.” Some may argue with me, but, some people just cannot use their non-dominate hand as well as their dominate. If we are supposed to love all and let the Father be our judge, why is this even being discussed? Why do we still tell left handed children to use their right hand? Let them be themselves and allow them to develop in their own ways. We are all different, and that’s what makes us all special.

Chris Funk, Ed.D

I agree that for serious athletics, you should work your dominant side: no question.

I am left handed and a figure skater. Had I been a competition skater, I would have skated “left handed” but I wasn’t going to the Olympics, and for me, it was better to skate “right handed” – with the flow – because I was skating often at public sessions where the traffic moves counter clockwise, so I could work jumps and spins into the overall pattern.

However: making the sign of the cross and genuflecting are not high-skill athletic operations. The average, non-disabled person can do this without suffering any long-term brain, muscle, or moral damage. In fact, it’s good to learn to use both sides of your body.

The question is not “is it OK to use your left hand?” – certainly it’s OK for someone who has some kind of dsability. But in general ANYBODY can do this.

P.S. I got an “A+” in neurophysiology in pre-doctoral studies at Columbia TC.

I was not aware of the correct knee to use when genuflecting until I joined the forum: up to that point, tho’, I can’t tell you which knee I used all the time, but I do know the majority of the time I bent my right knee (because I entered the pew from the left, and lowered myself down holding the corner of the pew with my right hand. I will make it a point to be more observant.

My view had been, WRT genuflecting, was “what’s the diff, which knee?”, until I read about the Sign of the Cross. It never occurred to me that one could/would sign with anything other than their right hand (barring a disability). It would be like saluting with the wrong hand. AFAIK, in polite society, one only offers one’s right hand to shake, regardless which hand is dominant.

I guess it’s a matter of, “This is the way we do it. This is our tradition, this is our way.” If crossing with the left is OK, or (for other than Eastern Catholics) right shoulder to left, then what’s wrong with going shoulder to shoulder first then going head to breast?

I think it’s just a matter of sticking with what is “proper” and traditional. God knows we have enough problems now with cries of “innovation” and “novelty”. (And this observation from a OF-goer.)

Should HMC announce tomorrow it is more correct to bless oneself with the left hand, though, then that I shall gladly do, no matter how “uncomfortable” or “unnatural” that might be.

It appears as this has become some kind of competition for you. I am not here to compete, congrats on your “A+” but be realistic, you are trying to convince people that the only way, if you are “capable,” is to use the right hand. Was Jesus right or left handed? Do we know? No we don’t, it is not possible to prove. If you think about it, and want to get technical, those who are from the Holy Land, do in fact use their left hand, which to me indicates they are following an example set by our Saviour.

This has somehow become a debate on physical ability. It has nothing to do with being able to do it, it is about a natural preference to one side or the other. My priest tells me it’s OK, and in my opinion, his beliefs are more valuable and trustworthy. I am sorry to be that way, but, you are what Non-Catholics call Militant Catholic. It is an amazing opportunity to be able to call ourselves Catholic and to be able to practice as we do, but, we are also mortal, and should never live our lives as Holy ones.

Chris FUnk, Ed.D.

In the Middle East they use the left hand for what?


This is a question of the language of gesture in the culture of the Church. We HAVE a language, after all.

Ghoti put it well: " It would be like saluting with the wrong hand. AFAIK, in polite society, one only offers one’s right hand to shake, regardless which hand is dominant."

Your priest affirmed that it is OK to make the sign of the cross with the left hand if there is a reason it cannot be done with the left, not as a general principle.

As for being “militant Catholic” – as a teacher, I take that as a compliment. It is my job to teach kids the language we use in worship.

[Edited] In no way did our priest say he could only use his left hand if there is no other way. You interpret things how you want, not how they are meant.

The people in the middle east use their left hand to make the sign of the cross, do your research. SO I guess they must all be damned to Hell? [Edited] The language of the church is an interpretation of former practices that one cannot prove even existed, it is a practice of Faith. [Edited]

I refuse to be a part of this thread any longer, you have succeded in running me off, hope youa re happy with yourself.

DOCTOR, yes I said it Dr. Chris Funk.

I apologize for saying that you flaunted your EdD, and I am sincere in admiring your achievement.

Please keep the discussion friendly, everyone. Thank you.

Eastern Rites (and Orthodox) = spectacles, [edited], upper right, lower left (of chest)

Actually, it’s supposed to be right shoulder, then left SHOULDER, not lower.


Taking one’s thumb, index finger and middle finger bunch together one signs my touching their forehead, their sternum, their upper right pectoral and then to the left, down to their heart.

Think it may be a bit late for that.

I dropped out of the discussion and will do so again after posting this (and I was the one who started the thread) because I felt that the overall emphasis changed from the issue I brought up to a discourse on tradition, its immutability and the unacceptability of those who do not accept this.

This immutability is a topic I choose not to take part in as the interchange between those who support this view and those who do not usually ends up with angry words, repetition of old arguments, very few people changing or modifying their views and new posters wondering what has hit them.

I have to add this.

I remember a comedian on TV…Chris Fonseca…he has cerebral palsy. He commented that he always had trouble making the Sign of the Cross, so he had to settle for the Mark of Zorro. :smiley:

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