Proclamation of the Gospel
No particular prayer is prescribed to accompany the signs of the cross made by the priest or deacon on the gospel book, forehead, lips, and breast just prior to reading the gospel. The gesture is neither required by nor prohibited to the laity.
I believe that I was taught to say, "May your word be in my mind and on my lips and in my heart" while making the three crosses. Others were taught other prayers.
I just use my thumb to make the crosses. Others, apparently, use two or three fingers.
- Rubrics: The Deacon or the Priest says, "A reading from the holy Gospel according to [Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John]" and, at the same time, he makes the Sign of the Cross on the book and on his forehead, lips, and breast."
- GIRM #60. The reading of the Gospel constitutes the high point of the Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy itself teaches the great reverence that is to be shown to this reading by setting it off from the other readings with special marks of honor, by the fact of which minister is appointed to proclaim it and by the blessing or prayer with which he prepares himself; and also by the fact that through their acclamations the faithful acknowledge and confess that Christ is present and is speaking to them and stand as they listen to the reading; and by the mere fact of the marks of reverence that are given to the Book of the Gospels.
- Clarion Herald, "The proclamation of the Gospel."
- As we sign ourselves, we silently pray, like the priest or deacon, “that the Word might enlighten our minds, cleanse our hearts, and open our lips, to proclaim the praise of the Lord.” This prayer reminds us that the Word of Jesus is not to fall upon deaf ears, but rather is meant to permeate our minds, purify our speech, and change our hearts.
- Scott P. Richert, "Reader Question: Living the Gospel,"
- Usually, this takes the form of placing the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand together (symbolizing the Holy Trinity) and tracing the entire Sign of the Cross first on the forehead, then on the lips, and finally over the heart. ...
- That we're mimicking the deacon or priest only answers why we do this, not what it means. For that, we should look at the prayer that many of us were taught to pray while making these Signs of the Cross. The wording may vary; I was taught to say, "May the Word of the Lord be on my mind [make the Sign of the Cross on the forehead], on my lips [then on the lips], and in my heart [on the chest]."
- In other words, the action is the physical manifestation of a prayer, asking God to help us to understand the Gospel (mind), to proclaim it ourselves (lips), and to live it in our daily lives (heart). As I discussed a few weeks ago, the Sign of the Cross is a profession of the essential mysteries of Christianity--the Trinity and the Death and Resurrection of Christ. Making the Sign of the Cross as we prepare to hear the Gospel is a way of professing our faith--and of asking God that we might be worthy to profess it and to live it.
- The crosses are made with the thumb and forefinger and now that I think of it, probably stylistically evolved out of the crosses made with holy water. Some people do the full size cross with holy water, while others do a smaller one with the fingers and sometimes kiss their fingers (with the holy water). Anyway to the observer, these crosses are usually too small and indistinct to look much like a cross to the observer, but that is what they are intended to be.
- As I was taught, the prayer is:
- + May the gospel always be on my mind
- + On my lips
- + and in my heart.
- There is a tradition of making the sign of the cross on our forehead, lips and heart with a prayer that we understand, speak and take to heart the gospel.
- I was told that the three crosses represent knowing, speaking, and loving the gospel.