Anglicanism 101 – Sign of the Cross
What is the sign of the cross? The sign of the cross is an ancient Christian practice of marking the shape of the cross of Christ upon one’s self or upon another person or object.
Why make the sign of the cross? Making the sign of the cross is a tangible way to mark ourselves as Christ’s own. It is often accompanied by a prayer, either aloud or in one’s own mind and heart. Usually, the spoken prayer is “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
There is nothing superstitious or rote about making the sign of the cross. Instead, it is a fundamentally Christian act.
How do I make the sign of the cross? With your hand, trace Christ’s cross from your
- head (center of forehead) to your heart (center of chest),
- then from your left shoulder to your right shoulder.
When do Anglicans make the sign of the cross? Anytime!
- During our daily lives, many Anglicans make the sign of the cross upon waking up and going to bed, as well as before each meal.
- We can bless our children and teach them by signing them with the cross at prayertime, bedtime, and mealtime as well.
- During worship and prayer, we often make the sign of the cross
- whenever we say the Trinitarian formula (“the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”),
- before the Gospel reading (with the “little” sign of the cross on our foreheads, mouths, and hearts),
- at the prayer for absolution/forgiveness,
- and before receiving the bread and wine at communion.
- Some people also sign themselves at
- the end of the creed (usually when we mention the resurrection),
- the name of Jesus Christ, and
- the second part of the Sanctus (“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”).
Do Anglicans have to make the sign of the cross?
No! No Anglican must make the sign of the cross, however, all may.
The sign of the cross is a powerful and tangible reminder that we are Christ’s.
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