The Church of St. Peter
Why do we make three small signs of the cross on the forehead, lips and heart before the reading of the Gospel?
The reading of the Holy Gospel is the climax of all the Scripture readings at any celebration of the Eucharist. In the words of the Gospel, the stories of Jesus are told again. As that happens, Christ comes to be with his people in a very special way, and he speaks to them anew. For this reason, we stand before the Gospel is read.
As the Gospel is being introduced, the priest and people may use their thumbs to cross their forehead, lips and heart. This is a way of praying that God may help us to understand the Gospel with our minds, proclaim it with our lips, and believe it in our hearts.
After the gospel has been read, the priest may either make the sign of the cross over the gospel book or may kiss it, as a sign of reverence that this is the good news of Jesus Christ.