Supporting Vocations


Why Make the Sign of the Cross at the Gospel?

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By Fr. Joseph Roesch, MIC (Dec 7, 2007)
Q. At Mass, why do we make the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads, lips and hearts right before the Gospel?

A. Making the triple Sign of the Cross like this before the Gospel is a longstanding tradition. Surprisingly, though, there is nothing in the rubrics about the laypeople making this sign.

The prayers that the priest says silently to himself before and after proclaiming the Gospel can give us a clue. Before the Gospel, the priest bows before the altar and silently prays: "Almighty God, cleanse my heart and my lips that I may worthily proclaim Your Gospel." After the Gospel, he kisses the Gospel Book and prays: "May the words of the Gospel wipe away our sins."

Through the tradition of the triple cross, we are asking the Lord to bless our minds and our hearts that they will be open to hear the Gospel, so we might proclaim through our lips the good news of Jesus to all the world. Gospel means "good news."

It's a wonderful tradition to remind ourselves that the words of the Gospel — which are about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus — have the power to transform our lives. So, the next time you hear the Gospel proclaimed, think about how God wants to change your life through these powerful words.

Father Joe Roesch, MIC, serves on the Marians' General Council in Rome, Italy. His column is a regular feature in Marian Helper magazine. To order a copy of Marian Helper, click here. Father Joe welcomes your questions. Send them to ask@marian.org.

This story originally appeared in Marian Helper magazine. Get a free copy of the latest Marian Helper.

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Père Jean-François - Dec 8, 2008

134. At the ambo, the 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

from GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL of 17 March 2003.