From a reader…
Folks at my (exclusively Extraordinary Form) parish genuflect when the cross and then the priest pass them during the procession and recession. They also bless themselves everytime the priest does during the mass. I did not seen this at another traditional parish in a different state and I’m wondering if this is just a cultural thing for people from certain countries or maybe just the newness and unfamiliarity most of us have with the EF. It seems excessive to me.
May I suggest that you do what you choose to do and allow others to do what they choose to do?
There are no indications in the traditional Missal about what the congregation is to do. As a matter of fact, there are far more indications for the congregation in the Novus Ordo.
There are traditional practices which vary from place to place. However, some gestures make sense. For example, kneeling for the consecration, singing responses, making the sign of the Cross when receiving an absolution or blessing, etc.
If someone wants to make the sign of the Cross at the same time as the priest… what’s wrong with that? It seems to me that that isn’t an intolerable confusion of roles of laity and priest.
It seems to me a reasonable thing to make a pious gesture as a processional Cross – the symbol of our salvation – is formally brought into the sacred space of the church at the beginning or end of Holy Mass.
People don’t have to be in lockstep. Provided that they are not a massive distraction to others, congregants have freedom.