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What Is the Meaning of the Sign of the Cross on the Forehead, Lips, and Heart?

Jeffrey Bruno

Padre Antonio - published on 10/09/13

Aleteia’s own Padre Antonio explains the meaning behind the action that Catholics do during Mass at the proclamation of the Gospel.

Dear Father Antonio,

Could you explain the meaning of the Sign of the Cross on the forehead, lips, and heart that we make during the Mass?


– Milena

The introduction to the Roman Missal mentions some rules on actions to be done at the time of the proclamation of the Gospel. The Missal states that after making the Sign of the Cross over the page of the Lectionary, the deacon or the priest who proclaims the Word must also make the sign of the cross on his forehead, lips, and heart. The triple sign of the cross must also be made by the assembly. None of this should be considered a ritual gesture, but rather a strong reminder that the Church makes to emphasize the great importance that should be given to the Gospel.

The Word of God, which is always the light that must illuminate the path of the believers, must be upheld in the mind, proclaimed with the voice, and kept in the heart. All this should remind us that we must strive to understand and grasp the Word of God with attention and an enlightened intelligence. It must be announced and proclaimed by every Christian, because evangelism is a duty of all the baptized. It is to be loved and cherished in the heart so as to become a norm of life.

We are all invited to examine ourselves on how we receive the Gospel, how we involve ourselves in the proclamation of this message, and how we conform our lives to its instructions. We are called to become an “illustrated Gospel” – the “fifth Gospel,” written not with ink but with our lives. We receive with the mind, we proclaim with our lips, and we preserve the treasure of the Word in our hearts. Along this road, let us entrust ourselves to the Lord to be a reflection of the true light through the darkness of today’s world.

Send your question by writing an email to or by sending a letter to In His Image, Borgo Sant'Angelo 23, 00193 Rome. The answer will come from the silence and spirituality of the Monastery of San Benedetto of Subiaco. Father Antonio will offer a key to finding an answer to the questions posed, accompanying believers and non-believers on their journey.

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