Making the sign of the Cross


In Holy Orthodoxy, everything we do reflects the Apostolic and living theology of the Church. This is most evident in the way we make the sign of the cross, being the symbol of Christ’s victory over death. Using only the right hand, we join our thumb and first two fingers and lay the last two fingers flat against our palm. The three fingers together signify the Holy Trinity, i.e. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the two fingers in the palm represent the dual natures of Christ, i.e. divine and human.

We touch our forehead, then our lower chest, our right shoulder and then our left, thus tracing the sign of the cross on our bodies. This is to acknowledge that all our faculties, mind, heart, soul, and all our strength is dedicated to God. It must always be done with faith, conviction and humility. It is second nature for Orthodox Christians to cross themselves as a protection from evil or as an assertion of faith. Most commonly the sign is made when entering church or passing by one, when hearing the words “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, or at the Trisagion prayer “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us”.

Other times we do the sign of the cross include when we hear the name of the Theotokos or the Saints, before and after receiving Holy Communion, at the end of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, after the reading of the Gospel, when we venerate an icon or cross, before and at the end of our daily prayers, before and after each meal, and when we travel daily from our home or work or general travel anywhere.

It is used as a protection over our children and grandchildren and is a blessing before exams or tasks. It is burned into the thresholds of our homes on Pascha night as a protection against all evil and made whenever we are confronted with danger. Whether we wear a cross or make the sign of the Cross we identify ourselves as followers of Christ.


Source: Lychnos August/September 2018