Q: My wife and I recently went out of state and attended several Masses in this state. Prior to each homily, the priest would begin by signing himself and at the conclusion of the homily he would once again sign himself.
I recall in diaconal formation, you had stated that you would not begin by signing yourself, since you do this already at the beginning and ending of the Mass. Any additional signing would negate the Alpha and the Omega of the Mass. I assume this is the custom of the diocese and the way their bishop has asked his priest/deacons to do this. Although I did not witness a deacon saying the homily.
A: I don’t remember saying that “any additional signing would negate the Alpha and the Omega of the Mass,” but I stand by the basic point. The Mass includes two important signs of the cross at the beginning and the end. They have specific purposes of gathering the community under the cross and blessing the people before they are sent forth. The revised Mass eliminated dozens of signs of the cross, which allows all to put more meaning into the ones that remain.
It is a pious custom to begin and end a homily with a sign of the cross, but I still hold that it is not appropriate within the liturgy of the Mass.
This is not a diocesan custom, nor the way that our bishop has asked priests and deacons to do this. My comments are based on the Order of Mass in the Roman Missal published for the entire church.