4. Commit the whole self to Christ
In moving our hands from our foreheads to our hearts and then both shoulders, we are asking God’s blessing for our mind, our passions, and desires, our very bodies. In other words, the Sign of the Cross commits us, body and soul, mind and heart, to Christ. (I’m paraphrasing this Russian Orthodox writer.) “Let it take in your whole being—body, soul, mind, will, thoughts, feelings, your doing and not-doing—and by signing it with the cross strengthen and consecrate the whole in the strength of Christ, in the name of the triune God,” said twentieth-century theologian Romano Guardini.
5. Recall the Incarnation
Our movement is downward, from our foreheads to our chest “because Christ descended from the heavens to the earth,” Pope Innocent III wrote in his instructions on making the Sign of the Cross. Holding two fingers together—either the thumb with the ring finger or with index finger—also represents the two natures of Christ.
6. Remember the Passion of Our Lord
Fundamentally, in tracing out the outlines of a cross on ourselves, we are remembering Christ’s crucifixion. This remembrance is deepened if we keep our right-hand open, using all five fingers to make the sign—corresponding to the Five Wounds of Christ.