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Why do we use our right hand instead of our left hand to make the sign of the cross?

Full Question

Why do we use our right hand instead of our left hand to make the sign of the cross?

Answer

The right hand, probably in part due to the fact that most people are right-handed, is traditionally the hand of blessing and greeting in many cultural settings, a convention found in Scripture and Tradition. For example, Jesus places the sheep on his right hand but the goats on his left; he himself is “seated at the right hand of the Father”; at God’s “right hand are blessings forevermore”; and so on. In sacred images, Jesus is depicted raising his right hand in blessing. Even today, we use our right hand for handshakes or salutes, we are familiar with the phrase “the right hand of fellowship” and so forth.

By contrast, the left hand has in many cultures a very different set of traditional associations (for example, it is often designated for personal hygiene; the word sinister is derived from the Latin for left-handed; etc.). For all these reasons, it is natural that the sign of the cross has traditionally been made with the right hand.










22 comments

  1. Gordon Rafool Reply

    I was taught that if you are left haned 9which is your dominant hand) then you can sign yourself with your left hand

  2. Delia Spencer Reply

    I have seen priest as well as lay people do the sign of the cross with their left hand, Is this still appropriate?

  3. Albert Edward Vella Reply

    the Scouts movement shake hands with the left to show solidarity as it is nearer to the heart and therefore a hearty hand shake. .Nothing against religion or otherwise

  4. Roger Reply

    It probably also has to do with early writing ( Greek/ Hebrew/ )and many languages today are read right to left instead of left to right.

  5. MADISON M. ANG Reply

    MOSTLY OUR HAND ON THE RIGHT IS THE MOST STRONGEST…SO BE STRONG TO OUR DEAR LORD GOD.

  6. thomas guidry Reply

    Is it wrong to use the left hand?

  7. Georges Kawkabany Reply

    because satan is left-handed

    1. Dave Reply

      ? you are joking, aren’t you? or do you know this first hand?

      1. Jason W Reply

        Who were the three Wiseman? Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. Where is that in the Bible? It’s not.

        John 21:25-Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

        What did the early church do for the first three centuries? The Bible wasn’t compiled into one book until the 4th century. They taught by tradition. By the way, on whose authority was it compiled 300+ years after written? who went through the many letters and Gospels claiming to be authentic and determine which ones truly were the Word of God.?

        2 Thessalonians 2:15-So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

        1 Timothy 3:15-if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

        Clearly, not all of Christ’s teachings were written down. Also clearly, the apostles stated that word of mouth was to be taught, not just what was written. If that is so then the only ones that would know all of that word of mouth, were the early church that’s still present today. I already know the answer, but I challenge you to research it and determine who it was, which councils, designated which books were inspired, and later reaffirmed by different councils.

        1. Becky Jo Reply

          Imho, I think Matthew 23 also offers another challenging question, ( it was for me, as a former Protestant of various denominations, I was part of). the major problem I encountered is that all of these Christians adhered to the Bible being the sole source of authority.

          In this chapter Jesus Himself referred to “those who sit on the seat of Moses” whom Jesus states quite clearly that we are to hear, obey and not reject what they teach for they have the authority from God to do so. ( Jesus also states that we are NOT required to do as the Moses sitters do when what they do is contrary to what they correctly teach (hypocrisy).

          As a Protestant growing up we had Bible memorization contests and I literally had the most blue ribbons because I had a bazzilion lol, Bcverses I could quote word for word, so I thought I knew the Bible inside and out.

          Mathhew 23 is THE only place in the Bible where the term chair of Moses sitters is referred to. Obviously Jesus’ listeners knew who chair of Moses sitters were and what their responsibilities were, which tells me He was speaking from an oral rather than written Tradition.

          It was Jewish Moses chair sitters who late in the 1st century, determined not only the criteria for their selection of inspired by God writings, but the books themselves as well. One of the criteria established by these chair of Moses sitters was the books had to have been written in Hebrew. The 7 books in the OT that Protestants rejected in the 16th century, but are found in our Catholic Bibles, fell into this category. With the finding of the Dead Sea scrolls, in the late 1940s, we now have current Moses sitters researching these these Dead Sea scrolls to see if the books they previously rejected because of the Hebrew language in the 1st century, could now be included.

          One such as myself wonders if the current Moses chair sitters, decide to change their OT table of contents, will Protestants also follow suit, and change their OT table of contents as well? It’s my understanding that Jews do not consider these 7 Books to be false, because they use them as authentic history books.

          Bottom line imho is simply asking our Protestant brothers and sisters ‘who their current chair of Moses sitters are and historically speaking how far back can they trace themselves’.

          Catholics can historically trace themselves to the Apostles, in an unbroken lineage…as well as Orthodox Jews can do today,according to what an Orthodox Jew told me this past year…I’ll have to do more research because their lineage goes back 5000 years…

          My husband is an ordained Deacon, he as well as all ordain Catholic deacons priests bishops and even Popes to the Apostles, as Moses chair sitters.

    2. gladys h mariani Reply

      If you are not joking, you need a basic refresher course. Satan is an angel and angels are purely spiritual beings; that is, they don’t have bodies. Therefore, angels do not have right or left arms….

      1. Georges Kawkabany Reply

        I just read the comments on my post…Certainly I do not need a basic refresher…

        For thousands of years, the Devil has been associated with the left hand in various ways and is normally portrayed as being left-handed in pictures and other images. In the seventeenth century it was thought that the Devil baptised his followers with his left-hand and there are many references in superstitions to the “left-hand side" being associated with evil. As an example, in France it was held that witches greet Satan “avec le bras gauche" or with the left hand. It is also considered that we can only see ghosts if we look over our left shoulder and that the Devil watches us over the left shoulder…

        Furthermore in the Islam, Ibn ‘Umar reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: When any one of you intends to eat, he should eat with his right hand. and when he intends to drink he should drink with his right hand, for the Satan eats with his left hand and drinks with his left hand.

        1. Linda Reply

          Sorry, but you need to understand. Angles are pure spirit beings as Gladys said. Therefore, no hands. Also, the reason you are supposed to eat with your right hand, has nothing to do with Satan being left handed…look it up, it’s not pleasant but it also has nothing to do with Satan…

  8. Alvin Zamora Reply

    https://esoriano.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/prophecies-fulfilled-in-roman-catholicism/
    (Read the full article and start reading your bible now)

    The doctrine of limbo, purgatory, rosary, sign of the cross, mass, the infallibility of the popes, All Souls’ Day, All Saints’ Day and many more are neither Biblical nor sensible! These words, even the very idea they convey, are not Biblical. Nowhere in the Bible can we find the word limbo, purgatory, rosary, mass, sign of the cross, pope, All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day.

    If Catholic popes speak infallibly (ex-cathedra) as they claim, why is it that the present pope declared that limbo, which was part of the teachings of all previous popes, is non-existent?

    Whether they declare it or not, not only is the doctrine of limbo non-existent. The apostles have not mentioned anything about All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day! The first century Christians did not celebrate a feast for the dead or for the souls in purgatory. Neither can the celebration of “All Hallows Eve" or “Halloween" be found in the Bible!

    The Christian faith must be based on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ – no more, no less. These teachings were written down on the pages of the Bible by eyewitnesses.

    I JOHN 1:1-4

    1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

    2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

    3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

    4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

    Our learning must not go beyond what was written.

    I CORINTHIANS 4:6(Revised Standard Version)

    I have applied all this to myself and Apol’los for your benefit, brethren, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

    What was written was commanded by the Lord to be written.

    I CORINTHIANS 14:37

    If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

    Any article of faith not written in the Bible falls into fable! Not found in the Bible are limbo, purgatory, novena, rosary, mass, sign of the cross, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day as in the following

    1. Bob Reply

      Alvin,
      Sola scriptura is not Biblical. Oral tradition is Biblical. There is your dilemma. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:15. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. That is the Bible telling you to hold fast to the written word of God AND the oral traditions of the Church. So if you are only going to follow the Bible and not oral traditions, then you are not following the Bible. You are defying God’s word. I told you it was a dilemma. Besides, what did Christians do before the Bible was written and compiled? Were there no Christians? Were the apostles not Christian?

      1. Becky Jo Reply

        Without chair of Moses sitters Matthew 23-IMHO Protestants don’t have a leg to stand on because then everybody ” who can read” becomes their very town personal chair of a Moses sitter, which of course distorts what Jesus actually states in this chapter. In short the passage states….”…..you must hear obey and do not reject, what THEY teach, for they have authority FROM God to do so….

    2. aymamibrockway Reply

      One more thing. 1 Corinthians 4:6 – That you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written.
      It means that the Corinthians should avoid the false wisdom of vain speculation, contenting themselves with Paul’s proclamation of the cross, which is the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old Testament (what is written). If we take this literally to mean to believe nothing other than what is written (remember the New Testament has not been written and compiled yet) then we would not have a New Testament at all because it certainly goes well beyond what was written at the time (the Old Testament).

    3. Becky Jo Reply

      I can’t seem to find an inspired of God table of contents could you give me a Bible chp verse for what God Himself wanted to be referred to as Scripture? I would need the Bcv for both the Old and Testaments…thanks…By the way, could you tell me who your current chair of Moses sitters is according to the Gospel of Matthew 23? Jesus Himself states we must hear obey and not reject ?

  9. Michael Reply

    Alvin Zamora. I am no expert but you protestant need to understand there is no sentence in the bible that’s states that all belief can be explicitly stated in word per word of a specific doctrine. Like Judaism, Catholic derive its beliefs via written tradition, oral tradition, and church magisterium. Catholic Church is even the one who made the Bible cannon and you guys butchered it by removing the Deuterocanonical books.
    Example of a doctrine that was not explicitly stated in the bible is “Holy Trinity”. Can this two words can be found directly from the written tradition? No. This comes from the Church interpretation of the written tradition is it not? There are some “bible Christian” even deny the divinity of Christ. You know why? Because they say the exact word “Holy trinity” is not found in the bible, so therefore they say it is not true. There are other beliefs that was not explicitly stated in the Bible but can be derive from it like purgatory. Like the old testament, which has the chair of Moses. In the new covenant, Peter was specifically entrusted to be the leader of the Church that’s why we now have the Chair of Peter which the Popes sits on. Take note normally in the Bible, if there is a name changed, they are given an important task by God. Example: Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, and Simon to Peter. So what’s the task given to Peter?? To be the Leader of the Church which was founded by Jesus Christ. Jesus states that hell will never prevail on his Church. Did Jesus lied? No of course. So where was your Church during those times? Where is Martin Luther during those times? Your Man-made tradition of Sola Scriptura was never been introduced to the world since the coming of your Master Martin Luther. And take note the written tradition on the early years of the Church were not yet available. And why do you think only few books of the bible were written by the 12 Apostles themselves? Because that was not commanded by Jesus. Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during his last days before he was crucified. He did not commanded his apostle wrote some books and memorize it and distribute it to everyone. He did not chose writers as his fishers of men. You know why? Because during those times majority of the people can’t read and write and beside there is no printing press yet during those times. If being Christian is just about studying the bible excluding the oral tradition and the Church which is the pillar and foundation of truth, then during those days “Bible” Christians can’t exist. That’s all I can say. I am not an expert so if I have made some mistakes here, you could read our Church Catechism for you understand why did the Church has those sets of beliefs. Stop spreading lies, God never wanted to have 30,000 “Protestant” Churches that has different interpretation of the Bible. And to be honest, many but not all protestant preachers are making a business out of Jesus which frustrates me.

  10. Edwin Zoom Reply

    alvin zamora i understand the point that you are trying to make but let me tell you that you are wrong, you must belong to one of the thousands of new christians religions if im not wrong, i used to think similar like you but i did realized after some research and experiences of life that i was kind of wrong too…
    first of all we cannot take all what the bible say literately word by word,why? because do you know that many new religions use many different bibles right? if you open their bibles they might look the same but often they change the comma’s position, the apostrophe’s positions ans son on.. so finally changing the meaning of the parragraph or biblical’s passage. it doesnt work like that. thats the problem with the many new christain religions that they profess that they think that anybody can open the bible on any chapter on any book and just take it like that, the bible were written in different times for different people, we have to understand the context of that part of the bible’s passage thats when the pope and the priest come to help so we can apply best for our present and our comunity.
    second of all the catholic church has been the guardian of the bible for over 2000 years we like it or not, they not just received, collect, found the books of the bible but they did receive the books of the bible from the apostles, remember the apostle peter was the founder of the catholic church… again you llike it or not.
    and third.,. you see, the problem with the many new religions for what i see they sometimes they arent really about the accuracy of biblical teaching but what they are really trying to do is slam, attack, offend, or make look bad the catholic church, thats not how you guys are gonna win heaven, shouldnt worry too much about the catholic church and really worry about show and teaching the gospel to anyone who are willing to listen about the lord Jesus Chist.

  11. K. Semyonov Reply

    It is not wring to use your left hand. You don’t even have to use any hands! The main thing is to do it in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It should come from the heart. If it doesn’t, no reason to do it at all.

  12. Paul Allan Reply

    thanks.. additional inputs to my CCD class.

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