Q: I was just reading your book Guide for Celebrating First Communion and I had a question: is it required or advisable for you to cross yourself after receiving Communion? Many people do and we have sometimes taught children to do so. Your book doesn’t specifically say. Thanks.
A: There is no rubric in the Missal calling for people to cross themselves after receiving communion. Many, many Catholics do this, but the Missal wants us to make a sign of reverence before receiving communion: a bow of the head. Not a bow from the waist, just a reverent nod of the head, as if saying the name “Jesus” devoutly. It is silent about the sign after communion: It does not forbid it, but it certainly does not require it.
My advice is not to teach children to sign themselves with the cross after communion, but to make a bow of the head before communion. I also advise explaining this to their parents.
The sign before communion shows reverence for the sacrament about to be received. When you think about, what possible good can a sign of the cross do you after you have just received the Body of Christ?