Do you ever make the sign of the Cross on yourself? I do. Roman Catholics have always done this, and so also have the Orthodox. But, (esp. evangelical) Protestants have not done this almost entirely because it would be an act that would put them in liminality — a state of in-between: if they did that they’d not be Protestant or they’d be what were not (Catholic or Orthodox). In addition, many think such an act is borderline magic.
John Stott disagrees: “There is no need for us to dismiss this habit [of making the sign of the Cross] as superstitious. In origin at least, the sign of the cross was intended to identify and indeed sanctify each act as belonging to Christ” (The Cross of Christ, 22).
I wonder what you think of the practice.
Clarification: the Catholics cross themselves from head to chest, from left breast to right breast. The Orthodox cross themselves from head to chest, from right breast to left breast. If using the right hand, the Catholics “pull” and the Orthodox “push.” And the Orthodox hold their fingers just so: in such a way that it evokes the Trinity and the two natures of Christ.
Some prayer books note when a person is to make the Sign of the Cross. The prayer book has a small cross in the text (+) to indicate the moment for crossing oneself. Protestants have avoided signing themselves, mostly protest of the Roman Catholic tradition. But, as I have told my Protestant students for years, the sign of the Cross is no more Roman Catholic than a sermon is Protestant. Christians have crossed themselves from the earliest days. Tertullian, a powerful apologist for the Christian faith in the late Second and early Third Centuries, said this:
At every forward step and movement,
at every going in and out [echoes Shema],
when we put on our clothes and shoes,
when we bathe,
when we sit at table,
when we light the lamps,
in all the ordinary actions of daily life,
we trace upon the forehead the sign [of the Cross].
World without End. Alleluia.