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My mom was taught to cross herself with her hand in the Orthodox position when she converted to be a RC in college. The way you describe is the Old Believer style of crossing yourself actually!
I am suprised that RCs decided to use the Orthodox position of the hand when making the sign of the Cross.
As for using two fingers instead of three and the Old Believers: I am not sure there is a relation though I have heard the use of two fingers is actually older. The Old Believers often use the this quote as the reason why they use two fingers:
A dogmatic explanation from Saint Theodoret:
This is how to bless someone with your hand and make the sign of the cross over them. Hold three fingers, as equals, together, to represent the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These are not three gods, but one God in Trinity. The names are separate, but the divinity one. The Father was never incarnate; the Son incarnate, but not created; the Holy Spirit neither incarnate nor created, but issued from the Godhead: three in a single divinity. Divinity is one force and has one honor. They receive one obeisance from all creation, both angels and people. This the decree for those three fingers.
You should hold the other two fingers slightly bent, not completely straight. This is because these represent the dual nature of Christ, divine and human. God in His divinity, and human in His incarnation, yet perfect in both. The upper finger represents divinity, and the lower humanity; this way salvation goes from the higher finger to the lower. So is the bending of the fingers interpreted, for the worship of Heaven comes down for our salvation., This is how you must cross yourselves and give a blessing, as the holy fathers have commanded.
Also I found this at www.newadvent.org
It appears on the whole probable that the general introduction of our present larger cross (from brow to breast and from shoulder to shoulder) was an indirect result of the Monophysite controversy. The use of the thumb alone or the single forefinger, which so long as only a small cross was traced upon the forehead was almost inevitable, seems to have given way for symbolic reasons to the use of two fingers (the forefinger and middle finger, or thumb and forefinger) as typifying the two natures and two wills in Jesus Christ. But if two fingers were to be employed, the large cross, in which forehead, breast, etc. were merely touched, suggested itself as the only natural gesture. Indeed some large movement of the sort was required to make it perceptible that a man was using two fingers rather than one. At a somewhat later date, throughout the greater part of the East, three fingers, or rather the thumb and two fingers were displayed, while the ring and little finger were folded back upon the palm. These two were held to symbolize the two natures or wills in Christ, while the extended three denoted the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. At the same time these fingers were so held as to indicate the common abbreviation I X C (Iesous Christos Soter), the forefinger representing the I, the middle finger crossed with the thumb standing for the X and the bent middle finger serving to suggest the C. In Armenia, however, the sign of the cross made with two fingers is still retained to the present day. Much of this symbolism passed to the West, though at a later date.
On the whole it seems probable that the ultimate prevalence of the larger cross is due to an instruction of Leo IV in the middle of the ninth century. "Sign the chalice and the host", he wrote, "with a right cross and not with circles or with a varying of the fingers, but with two fingers stretched out and the thumb hidden within them, by which the Trinity is symbolized. Take heed to make this sign rightly, for otherwise you can bless nothing" (see Georgi, "Liturg. Rom. Pont.", III, 37).
So apparently the use of two extended fingers came before the extension of three.
You may want to read the whole article particularly the sections that tell about the strong evidence that the West made the Sign of the Cross like the East up until the Middle Ages.http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm
Yeah, I've known some Catholics to cross themselves with their hand in the same shape as ours, but I've not seen the two finger method. I actually like the open hand, but since the Church tells me not to do it...
I cannot come up with some great argument against using the open hand or having alll five fingers extended except to that I can think of no theological reason for it. The extension of two fingers or three clearly relates to the Trinity and the Two Natures of Christ but five fingers seems to have no reason.
I have always (when invoking the Holy Trinity) crossed myself with two fingers from left to right.
But, now that I married my Greek Orthodox wife and when I attend an Orthodox or Eastern Catholic Church as a sign of respect I use two fingers and a thumb and go from right to left.
hate to use the cliche here but "when in Rome"
Did you grow up being taught this? Did others at the RC parish you attended make the sign of the Cross this way? And, out of curiosity, what part of the country are we talking about? By the way
hate to use the cliche here but "when in Rome"
I thought that was hilarious!
I have been using the Eastern way for the last 3 years or so, what I did before is a blur...
Does anyone at your Latin Mass parish find it odd? Just curious. Most RC traditionalists seem to be sticklers about that sort of thing.
I am Roman Catholic and I also use 2 fingers. I honestly haven't looked into the appropriate method perscribed. I try to correct it when I can because I picked it up from a priest, not for any other reason. Although what is it about using 5 fingers that is disrespectful or not right? I'm curious.
Same questions I asked Intrigued Latin: Did you grow up being taught this? Did others at the RC parish you attended make the sign of the Cross this way? And, out of curiosity, what part of the country are we talking about?
Also I am not saying it is disrespectful to extend all five fingers but I am at a loss as to the reasoning behind it. Believe me I would never go up to an RC and say, "You are doing it wrong! Let me show you the right way."
I am Roman Catholic and I make the sign of the cross in the Orthodox manner, as was taught me by an Orthodox priest I used to know - first two fingers join together with the thumb (representing the Trinity) and my ring finger and pinky tucked towards the base of my thumb (representing the two natures of our Lord). Ever since I learned to cross myself in this manner it seemed silly to do it any other way. There are some who cross themselves in a rather sloppy manner.
I used to think that too until I started reading more about the Russian Old Believers. I was suprised to find that the extension of two fingers has a Patristic basis. Of course I think their narrow adherence to this method of making the sign of the Cross was a bit silly but I can see why they took the issue seriously.
I have also been looking into the history of the sign of the Cross because it is an issue in the Orthodox Western Rite. Various parishes specifically ask the congregation to use three extended fingers and from right shoulder to left while others, such as St.Mark's in Denver, allow them to go from left to right but still using three extended fingers. At first I thought they should be made to adhere to the Eastern way of making the sign of the Cross but from further study I have come to realize that they should not only be allowed to go from left to right but extend two fingers rather than three as was common in the West and, apparently, still is found among many RCs.
I want to thank all of you for responding and if you find out anything else or know anyone else who makes the sign of the Cross this way please post.
Also, I am pretty sure it was not the St.Joseph's Missal that I mentioned in my previous post. I will do some rummaging in my parents attic and see if I can find the book again. Unfortunately I have no scanner so I cannot show you the page but I will find out the name of the book and its publisher.