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Why do catholics make sign of the cross on their foreheads, lips and hearts before the gospel?

For Roman Catholics, there is a quick gesture that can often go unnoticed before the recitation of the Gospel reading at Mass. It is a brief tracing of the cross that is not the typical gesture usually performed and contains much symbolism. What does this Signify? 


The gesture is a direct imitation of what the deacon (or priest when a deacon is not present) is instructed to do before he recites the words of the holy Gospel. 

The Roman Missal states, “Then, with the thumb of his right hand, he makes the sign of the cross first on the book at the beginning of the Gospel to be read, and then on himself on the forehead, mouth, and breast.”


It is a beautiful action, one with deep biblical roots. For example, God explains to the people of Israel to recite a particular phrase (“Hear, O Israel …“) on a daily basis, but also to put that phrase “as a pendant on your forehead” (Deuteronomy 6:8). Many Jews took that literally and placed a small scroll on their forehead. It was a visible reminder to keep the Word of God always on their mind.

Secondly, the prayer is reminiscent of how the prophet Isaiah received a vision where an angel purified his lips with a burning coal (see Isaiah 6). This connection is presereved in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, where the priest recites the prayer before the Gospel.

Last of all, the prayer recalls the words of the Letter to the Hebrews, where the author writes, “the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Thus, when we make such a gesture at Mass, it is truly a profound prayer, opening ourselves up to the words of Jesus Christ. Every time we listen to the Gospel Jesus is knocking at the door of our heart, waiting to get in. We just have to open the door.

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. These gestures should be taken seriously and performed reverently. They are physical actions which help us form a proper spiritual disposition and reverence during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

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Content created and supplied by: Lewand9? (via Opera News )

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