Blessing at the end of Mass

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I participated at Mass recently when you were a concelebrant. I noticed at the end, when the bishop gave his blessing, you were the only priest who did not make the sign of the cross over himself. Was there a reason for that?


A: As you probably know, I generally advise, “Do what it says, and don’t do what it doesn’t say.” There is no rubric at the end of Mass for people to make the sign of the cross over themselves, as there is at the beginning of Mass.

The purposes of those two signs are different. At the beginning, all are performing an act of devotion together—actively involved in preparing themselves for worship. Even the presider makes the sign of the cross over himself at the beginning of Mass—not over the people.

But at the end, the presider is the agent bestowing a blessing on others, who are passive recipients of the blessing.

Now, it could be that the missing rubric is just an oversight—that the Vatican intended all to make the sign of the cross, but it never got inserted.

If I were to try to stop people from making that gesture at the end of Mass, I would have near zero success. It is an extremely popular way for people to conclude the service with an act of devotion. There’s nothing wrong with it.

But I rather like letting the presider’s blessing wash over me without getting involved. The absence of the rubric permits that interpretation.