|When to make the Sign of the Cross
from "The Orthodox Companion"
by Rev. David F. Abramtsov
God is always near us because He is everywhere. He always sees us just as He sees everything. But during prayer we are especially close to God: we stand before Him, speak to Him and He listens to us. Because of this, while praying, we sign ourselves with the Cross more often, and especially before and after each prayer in order that we may not be distracted in saying them. We also make the Cross upon ourselves when we enter church or approach any sacred object or kiss and icon, and many times during church services. We shoul make the Sign of the Cross in the morning in order to obtain blessing of God on the day; in the evening to ask for His protection during the night; at all the important moments of our life: when in danger, in sorrow, in joy; before all important undertakings that they may turn out well; at mealtime to invoke God's blessing and to give Him thanks.
The first Christians used the Sign of the Cross constantly. Tertullian, a writer of the latter part of the second century, says of it: "At every motion and at every step, entering in or going out, when dressing, bathing, going to meals, lighting the lamp, sleeping or sitting, whatever we do, or whithersoever we go, we makr our foreheads with the Sign of the Cross." St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes: "Let us not be ashamed to confess the Crucified; let us boldly make the Sign of the Corss on the forehead, and on everything; on the bread which we eat; on the cups from which we drink; let us make it at our going out, and coming in; when we lie down to sleep, and when we rise, when we journey, and when we rest: It is a great safeguard, given to the poor without price, to the weak without labor. For this is the Grace of God; a token for the Faithful, and a terror for evil spirits."
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