Post # 1
My fiance and I attended our first pre-marriage group session yesterday at the local church. The priest facilitating the session asked us to stand (we were all in a circle) and said a prayer and a blessing before we began and again when the session was finished. People crossed themselves at the end of the prayer/blessing (motioned the sign of the cross on themselves with their right hands – I don’t know if there’s a proper word for this).
Anyway, I’m not a baptised Catholic (my fiance is), but I do have faith.
My question is this: Is it “rude” for me to cross myself if I’m not Catholic? Should I just stand there with my head tilted down respectfully and hold my hands low in front of me? Or is it ruder if I don’t cross myself?
Just wasn’t sure – I felt disrespectful doing it/not doing it! Please help!
EDIT: I also have no personal issues with crossing myself if I had to. I would totally do it to be respectful/polite, but want to check with you guys because I don’t want to inadvertently offend anyone – the group were asked to introduce themselves, and I mentioned that I wasn’t Catholic (but was happy to be there).
Post # 3
I’m not catholic, but having I’ve been in the position of having to participate in Catholic mass several times. I follow along as best I can. I feel like refusing to take part would be kind of rude… but I felt like it was showing respect to try to observe with everyone else. Saying that, I pretty much had no idea what I was doing… :/
Post # 4
@ksus07: The sign of the cross, as far as I know, isn’t just a Catholic thing. Different groups of Christians also do it. If you fall into that group, it’s fine. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with not participating. It’s not rude or disrespectful. I’m Catholic, but Fiance isn’t. All I ask when he comes to mass with me (once a year, either Christmas or Easter) is to dress for the occasion. He chooses to stand when we stand and sit when we sit. He lets others bless him (the “Peace be with you” section). He won’t kneel or pray or respond with the rest of the congregation, but he doesn’t have to. He’s not comfortable with that, and no one judges him for it.
On the other hand, I’ve gone to FI’s “church” a couple times and I always participate. It’s not a matter of “doing what everyone else is doing” or being respectful. I understand why they do what they do and I can relate it to the worship of my own God. I celebrate my own faith while at their place of worship.
In short, don’t do it to fit in. I do find that disrespectful. As long as you’re sincere and your intentions are good, by all means.
Post # 5
@ksus07: I found this, by a Catholic author named Bert Ghezzi, in answer to the question of whether non-Catholics use the sign of the cross:
“Yes, the sign of the cross is used by Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians, particularly in baptisms… It’s a shame that many non-Catholics see it as something they shouldn’t be doing; it comes from an ancient Church that we all share. One of my hopes in writing this book is that non-Catholics will read it and share in the sign of the cross.” ( http://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/ZSIGNCRO.HTM )
So it’s not an exclusively Catholic thing, so I don’t think it could offend to use it.
Post # 6
I was raised Greek Orthodox Christian, and Greek Orthodox people cross themselves. I no longer practice, but I’ll cross myself when my grandfather says grace, because since I was raised with the religion, it feels more comfortable than not doing it, when with family. So really it’s just an old Christian tradition. I never thought much of it when non-Orthodox people crossed themselves or not, so I say just do whatever makes YOU feel more comfortable.
Post # 7
@ksus07: im catholic and I could never see being offended by someone making the sign of the cross! unless they were making fun or something… I think it’s totally fine and perfectly respectful.
Post # 8
@HappySky7: Haha yeah I feel the same way.
@HonoraryNerd: Thanks for commenting; I agree with your last paragraph. Definitely nothing but good intentions here 🙂
@aussiemum1248: Cheers for the link!
@ladyamalthea: Good to hear from the perspective of someone who’s seen people of different/no faith crossing themselves; thank you.
@FutureMrsT1221: Yeah, making fun of someone’s faith is definitely not cool.
Post # 9
I grew up Catholic and went through all the sacraments to confirmation. The sign of the cross is specific to those who believe in the holy trinity which I thought was primarily Catholic. You’re supposed to say either out loud or in your head “father” as you touch your forehead, “son” as you touch your heart and then “holy” on your left shoulder “spirit” on your right. I wouldn’t find it disrespectful if a non-Catholic did the sign of the cross, it’s not like you can tell by looking at people what their beliefs are. I would assume the believed in the Catholic belief in the holy trinity though.
Post # 10
@nineteen87: The trinity is believed in by almost all Christian denominations.
Post # 11
@ksus07: I’m not Catholic but I grew up attending Catholic school and also attended a Catholic university. I have always done the sign of the cross when praying and saying grace etc. It represents the holy trinity which I do believe in as a Christian. It isn’t disrespectful for someone who isn’t Catholic to do it. Also, I don’t think people are watching to see who does and doesn’t do it in church. I think if it makes you comfortable you can and if not, no one will be offended if you don’t.
@nineteen87: As pp said the trinity is believed in by most Christian denomiations. I’m cannot recall exactly (because it has been a while since I studied different religious groups) but I think non-trinitarians comprise about 5% of Protestant groups.
ETA: because I’m a geek I looked up the numbers: Unitarians, Universalists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons are non-trinitarians. They comprise 4.8% of the Protestant population.
Post # 12
- Wedding: June 2014 - British Columbia
I’m not Catholic; I’m Anglican. I cross whenever this is said in the liturgy, “The blessing of the Almighty Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be always with you.”
Do what’s comfortable to you. It’s neither rude to refrain from/ participate in rituals. I think, in general, as long as you are present in mind and in spirit (with an open heart), it’s what each church would ask of you! 🙂
If I saw a non-Christian doing the cross, I would presume that he/she is really interested to learn about the faith. I wouldn’t feel insulted at all!
The only time when I take offense is when people make fun of the religion, then do the cross all wrong, lol. It’s not nice to mock anyone’s religions. But it’s not like anyone would really point it out either — since Jesus teaches us to “turn the other cheek”.
Post # 13
@ksus07: There is absolutely nothing wrong with making the sign of the cross if you feel comfortable to do so 🙂
Post # 14
@ksus07: As far as I know, it is not just a Catholic thing. My mom is Catholic and my father is Apostolic and both do it. We do it in the Armenian church. If it feels right to you crossing yourself, I don’t see why not. Unless you feel uncomfortable, do it. If everyone else is closing their eyes or looking down making a cross, who would even notice that someone didn’t do it? Do whatever feels right.
Post # 15
The trinity is definitely not unique to Catholicism 🙂 I believe almost all mainstream Christian denominations believe in the trinity. The sign of the cross is a Catholic tradition, but I don’t see anything wrong with other faiths using it, as PPs pointed out it just signifies a belief in the trinity.
Post # 16
@ksus07: It’s the sign of the cross & a prayer in and of itself: The Father, The Son, & the Holy Spirit.
If you believe in that, then it’s not rude to make the sign of the cross.
If you DON’T believe that, then I would just reflect quietly and respectfully.