This morning Father preached on the line "Take up your cross" from today's Gospel.
His homily was a fascinating tribute to the early Church and the traditions they have handed down to us regarding the sign of the cross. Here are some of the things I learned today:
The reason we touch our LEFT shoulder before our RIGHT shoulder when we make the sign of the cross comes from the Gospel of Matthew, when we are urged to try to stay on the right side of God (with those who are living as God has asked them to) rather than on the left side (with those who have turned away from God). Father said that was we cross ourselves we should remember that we are to strive to stay not on God's left side, but on His right.
The triple-cross we make just before we hear the Gospel read at Mass is one of the oldest forms of the sign of the cross in our tradition.
In Baptism when we are signed with a cross, we are claimed for Christ. In Confirmation, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
In the early Church, the sign of the cross was made with three fingers of the right hand, held together--a symbol of the Trinity--three in one.
Take up your cross, and remember--keep right!