The Importance of the Sign of the Cross for Daily Life
When we awake, before we sleep, before and after we eat, before and after studies or work, before we leave the house, before we start the car, in moments of danger, in moments of tempation, in moments of sickness, in moments of gratitude, in moments of anxiety, we should carefully and attentively make the Sign of the Cross. This simple but great action invites the power of the Saving Sacrifice of Christ into our lives, seals us by the Name of the All-Holy Trinity, and guards us against every evil influence. It also proclaims our faith to those around us.
We must make the Sign of the Cross Attentively and Reverently
It is most important to sign ourselves with the Cross carefully and attentively. When we make our Cross carelessly, waving our hands as though we were swatting flies or shaking our fingers in the vicinity of the chest as if we were playing the mandolin, this is not pleasing to God and gives malignant joy to the devil. It takes what should be a most sacred action and makes it into an act of irreverence. Therefore, one of the first things to teach our children, and something that we need to remind ourselves of constantly, is to make the Sign of the Cross correctly, completely, and consciously. We place the thumb together with the forefinger and middle finger of the right hand, place the other two fingertips in the palm, and then sign ourselves, touching the forehead, belly, right shoulder, and left shoulder, saying (aloud or silently), “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Let us, then, daily recall the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and render thanks to Him for this great Gift that cannot possibly be repaid. Let us daily make the Sign of the Cross frequently, teaching our chlidren to do the same, as a remembrance of the Lord’s Sacrifice in daily life, as invincible protection against the devil, and as a proclamation of our Fatith. The Lord has done everything for us, even to shedding His Precious Blood upon the Cross. Let us respond to Him with all our hearts.
Further Clarification on Correctly Making the Sign of the Cross
“…one must comment on a most strange, incomprehensible, and completely impermissible distortion found in all textbooks which we have seen so far. This distortion concerns the sign of the cross. In these textbooks it is said that the sign of the cross is made with the right hand thus: from the forehead, to the chest, then from the right to the left shoulders.
Imagine thus, that in the course of many years one has incorrectly made the sign of the cross. Instead of that victorious sign of Christ’s victory over the devil, the Cross of Christ, one has distorted this holy sign [by turning the cross upside-down!]. This can only be the joy of the demons.
In the sacred book, the Psalter, from which Orthodox people were educated from ancient times, it is said in the ‘Brief Instruction”: ‘…about how it becometh the Orthodox Christian, according to the ancient tradition of the Holy Apostles and Fathers, to form on himself the sign of the cross…I shall state: first on our forehead, which touchest the highest point of the cross, second on our stomach, which touches the lowest point of the cross, third on our right shoulder, and fourth on the left shoulder, by which the crossbeam is signed by the extended arms of the cross, on which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, His hands extended to gather all the nations scattered to the ends of the earth into one.’
May the Lord preserve us from even the slightest deviation from the authentic Orthodox faith of Christ! May He help us to lighten the labor of educating children and the younger generation in eternal truth, righteousness, and love of God…May the Lord God, by the prayers of His Most-pure Mother, render herein His mercy to us and may He, through the power of His honored and life-giving Cross, guard us from all evil.”
- from the Introduction to The Law of God, by Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy