Friday, February 16, 2007


I've been told that these hands would be useful for many things. The most interesting was how useful these long fingers would be for picking pockets. The most popular was "those are piano playing hands." And then there were all the sports that they would be good for, though the rest of me was not.
Over the years they have held mop handles and hammers, telephones, textbooks and the hands of a sweetheart. They've been abused quite badly too. You can't make it out in this picture, but on the knuckle of each index finger there is a scar. One came from trying to quickly build a railing on the escape stairs on a theater set of a play called "Ghost". Working too quickly and not paying attention I drove a sixteen penny nail through my knuckle. On the other hand where marks from some long gone stitches are still visible is a scar caused by cutting luminaries out of milk jugs. The carpet knife slipped and ran up my finger.
You see? They are extremely ordinary hands. But some find them beautiful. Sometimes I find myself surprised by it and then I remember the poem, "The beautiful hands of the priest" and then I see their beauty, not because they are mine, but because Christ uses them in the unique vocation of the priesthood.
The importance of these hands was driven home to me one day by Christopher West of Theology of the Body fame. He came to the Diocese of Cleveland to give a talk and by mere chance I found myself alone with him for a minute and was able to tell him how much I appreciated his ministry. He was very gracious and then asked for my blessing which I gave. But after I was finished he took my hands which were hovering above him and pulled them down so that they touched his head. "Father," he said, "people need to feel the touch of their Father." Even thinking about that today I get a little choked up. What these ordinary, long, scared, hairy hands can do! And we've not even begun to mention touching Christ in the celebration of the mass!
You do not need extraordinary hands to be a priest. Your hands will do. Pray about a vocation to the priesthood. But whatever your vocation is to be, allow Christ to work through your hands too.


uncle jim said...

I wish we could all stop and look at our hands as wonderfully as you do. They are capable of so much more than we usually allow ... Oh, priest of God...we expect so much from your hands - I would hope that we find the calling in our hands, too.

Fr. V said...

Thanks Uncle Jim. That was a boost I needed today.