Orthodox cross themselves from right to left. First
we will describe the mechanics of making the cross,
then explain why it is indeed important that we make
the sign of the cross correctly.
"Placing the cross on oneself"
- We place our thumb and first two fingers
together in a point, and our last we fingers
flat against our palm. The three fingers
together represent the Holy Trinity - Father,
Son and Holy Spirit, and the two fingers in the
palm represent the two natures of Christ.
- We touch our forehead, then our belly,
tracing the vertical part of the cross.
- From our belly, we bring our hand up to our
right shoulder, touching it.
- We finish placing the cross on ourself by
touching our left shoulder.
The act of "Placing the cross on oneself" is a
request for a blessing from God. We make if from
right to left to mirror the actions of the priest
when he blesses us. The priest, looking at the
parishioners, blesses from left to right. Therefore,
the parishioners, putting on the sign of the cross
on themselves, do it from right to left.
Because the Lord separated the sheep from the goats,
putting the faithful sheep on His right side, and
the goats on the left, the Church always treats the
right side as the preferred side.
We only cross ourselves with our RIGHT hand.
The priest, when blessing a person, first touches or
points to their RIGHT side, then their left. Also
the censing of the Holy Table in the Altar is always
done from the RIGHT side first; censing of the
Ikonostasis, the Congregation and of the Church
itself always begins with the right side. The priest
always gives communion with his RIGHT hand, even if
he is left handed. There are other examples of this
right side preference.
When a parent makes the sign of the cross over a
child, they will cross them from left to right, just
as the priest blesses. When they make the sign of
the cross over themselves, they would do it,
logically, the other way.
The Catholic Encyclopedia states that in the Roman
Catholic Church, the faithful crossed themselves
from right to left, just as the Orthodox do, until
the 15th or 16th century.
They must explain why they
have changed an ancient and apostolic tradition.
We cannot answer as to their motivations.
Is it important to cross ourselves a particular way?
In a word, YES. We do not have the authority to
choose willy-nilly what parts of the Christian
Tradition we want to follow. Our fathers, and
countless saints crossed themselves from right to
left. Ancient icons show Christ or bishops beginning
a blessing from right to left. the right side is
referred to in a preferential way many times in
scripture and our sacred hymns What should we want