The Sign of the Cross...

Dear Forum members, I was on a live-in vocation for 2 weeks at the local cistercian community in the summer of July 2008. in the morning we had mass at 8pm.

anyway Fr.Bernard before the Gospel was read, instead of doing the three crosses, one over the forehead, lips and heart, he did it just as we would all normally make the sign of the cross before mass or devotional prayer such as the rosary.

he was not the one reading the gospel or saying mass, just standing beside me.
He said to me that, this was the way they used to make the sign of the cross in the bridal days of the church when the gospel was read out at mass and that it was a monastic tradition. does this mean as a Catholic lay person I may also do the same at my local parish when the gospel is being read?

and finally, I like to make the sign of the cross as the Orthodox do, with the three fingers together to honour the trinity and the two fingers across the palm of my hand, although I do not cross myself from right to left, but from left to right. is it ok for me to do this?

No priest has ever stopped me from doing it so so far so…:confused:

God bless
Stephen

Dear Stephen,
The original sign of the cross for Caholics has some traditional way.like when you make sign of the cross for readings its always with cross on the forehead, and making cross on your lips and also making cross near chest by your thumb and then followed by regular simple sign of the cross with fingers across the palm and when you say holy spirit first on the left shoulder and then to your right shoulder. This is the correct method passed on to us by our church teachings.
Its OK, to have your little changes to this but the main thing is you are making the sign of the cross with your great faith.Thanx

like when you make sign of the cross for readings its always with cross on the forehead, and making cross on your lips and also making cross near chest by your thumb

Hi, thank you for taking the time out to reply.
can I make the sign of the cross like this one :signofcross: <<<< at the gospel readings instead of the three crosses on forehead,lips and chest? as this is what Father Bernard did in the monastry.

God bless you
Stephen.

Hi,
Good,duly noted.

You can make that sign of the cross for every place where it may require except during reading(when the Gospel is read by Fathers…)
Regards
Martin Sagayaraj

Father Bernard said to me that he does it this way :signofthecross: as that is the monastic tradition since the bridal days of the church. :confused:

I took it also that I could do it when I pleased too, but since you say that is the way I am to do it, then let it be done so.

God bless
Stephen

Stephen…there is a reason we do the three places. A prayer is said silently that goes something like this: May I keep these words forever in my mind, on my lips and in my heart.

God Bless.

Yes I am aware of this, but Fr.Bernard did it and told me it was a monastic tradition in the bridal days of the church, a tradition he still carries out.

thank you for that prayer by the way, I never heard that before I shall memorize it.

God bless
Stephen

(That’s a funny time of morning to have Mass) :wink:

Whether what you describe is a “monastic tradition” I cannot say. But if it is, I would not do so outside of the monastery.

The rubrics of the current Missal direct that the proclaimer of the Gospel sign his forehead, mouth, and breast with his thumb, and for the faithful to do likewise.

tee

Thank you for that clarification Tee.

Yes 8pm, we would arise at 3am, go down for morning vigil at 4am then at 5:45 it was morning prayer and then mass a 8pm.

all in a day we had seven offices, Morning Vigil, morning prayer, terce, midday prayer, afternoon prayer, evening prayer and then compline and lights out at 8:30pm.

God bless you
Stephen

**anyway Fr.Bernard before the Gospel was read, instead of doing the three crosses, one over the forehead, lips and heart, he did it just as we would all normally make the sign of the cross before mass or devotional prayer such as the rosary.

he was not the one reading the gospel or saying mass, just standing beside me.
He said to me that, this was the way they used to make the sign of the cross in the bridal days of the church when the gospel was read out at mass and that it was a monastic tradition. does this mean as a Catholic lay person I may also do the same at my local parish when the gospel is being read?**

What Fr. Bernard did is the Western Monastic useage, but probably should not be followed in a parish church, lest you get the hairy eyeball.

However, this monastic custom is also followed in the Byzantine Churches.

Stephen,
Many people try to justify individual changes to the Mass by saying that it is “ancient tradition.” Sometimes that statement is true, sometimes it’s questionable, sometimes it’s an outright fabrication. Yes, the sign of the cross has been made that way since Apostolic times (right side or left side first doesn’t matter, but we should do it in the way that matches either our own tradition or the tradition of the place where we’re worshipping–so a Western Catholic visiting and Eastern parish might do it the Eastern way and vice-versa, but a W Cath in a W church should do it the Western way).

Having said that, though, the rubrics of the Mass are very specific as to what is done at that particular moment before the Gospel is proclaimed: three crosses on the forehead, lips, and heart. From GIRM 134
"Then he [ie priest] says, Lectio sancti Evangelii (A reading from the holy gospel), making the sign of the cross with his thumb on the book and on his forehead, mouth, and breast, which everyone else does as well"

Since the liturgical law is so specific as to what is to be done, any variation would not be licit–even if it does date to ancient times.

Prior to the novus ordo, many different religious orders had their own variations on the Mass (called “peculiarities” a curious word), and these were licit at the time. In the current Ordinary Form, these no longer apply.

I believe you indicated he was a religious priest and not a secular priest. So for him maybe that is appropriate. I think you should do the 3 at the Gospel. We should follow the rubrics of the Mass. God bless.

Even though he is a member of a religious order, that wouldn’t change what happens at that part of the Mass (whether he’s the celebrant or there as a member of the congregation). The rubrics specified in the GIRM would still apply to him. Claiming that something is an ancient tradition (whether it’s true or not) isn’t justification for changing the gestures of the Mass. I gather from your post that you already know that, I’m merely making the point that “order priests” aren’t exempt.

Thanks…I wasn’t sure about religious priests.

Thanks. I had thought at least some of these were still in force, but I may well have been misled.

(Years ago I used to occasionally attend the Mass of a Trappist (?I think?) priest, who explained that in their liturgical use the priest would make a profound bow* rather than genuflect at the consecration)

(* Emphasis on the *profound *-- The man would practically double over. It was something to see)

tee

There used to be all kinds of minor variations done by religious orders. As I said earlier, these were called “peculiarities” which sounds like a negative word, but wasn’t meant in that way. In the novus ordo, they are now defunct. Personally, I have mixed feelings on that.

Interrestingly, most Catholics only attended Mass at their own parish, and had very little idea that these even existed.

I’ve also heard (but am not in a position to say whether or not it’s true) that some of the current options for the penitential rite MIGHT have had their origins in these peculiarities. Most of them were relatively minor things which most people would probably not have noticed.

In any case, right now, the topic is purely academic because everyone, in consecrated religious life or not, is obligated to strictly follow the current GIRM.

I do wonder though, if they might still be done if a religious order priest is celebrating the extraordinary form? I’d never thought about that until right now…

No, not OK.

The Code of Canon Law has in canon 846 “The liturgical books, approved by the competent authority are to be faithfully followed in the celebration of the sacraments.”

One of these liturgical books is the Ceremonial of Bishops. It includes a description of the Sign of the Cross in n. 108, footnote 81: “When making the sign of the cross, he holds the palm of the right hand turned toward himself, with all the fingers joined and held straight, and makes the sign of the cross by moving this hand from head to chest and from left shoulder to right. …” (My bold text.)

The description in the books is in quotes, and the source of it is: Missale Romanum, ed. 1962, Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, III, 5.

The Latin edition of the Ceremonial of Bishops was published in 1984.

Reference: Ceremonial of Bishops, Liturgical Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1818-9, page 44.

canon 846 though says it is to be ‘‘followed in the celebration of the sacraments’’, but does not say I can not do it when mass is not being celebrated, therefore I cannot do it at mass but I can do it outside of mass.

thats how I feel about it now so thank you for your corrections.

Stephen <3

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