Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hands at Mass

"The multiplicity of uses to which the human hand could be put, created a number of metaphors. On the whole, the hand stood for power. It dealt out riches or punishment; it could protect or destroy. But the hand also stood for work, and in time became a symbol for inferiority. In Flanders, the rich and cultured" bourgeoisie" was profoundly described as " those whose fingers' are not blue ", implying that the bourgeoisie was not engaged in that work of dyeing which ended by staining the worker's hands. But we found the ultimate degradation of the working hand when operatives were called "hands ", meaning that the men became depersonalized, nameless; that they were numbers, indeed, mere tentacular out-stretching’s of their invisible taskmaster, serfs as fully at the mercy of arbitrary scourge as ever were the subterranean dwarfs in Wagner's Rheingold.

All this is the exact opposite to the Scriptural metaphor where the idea of work is carried right up into the activity of God. Heaven and Earth are the work of His Hands. "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, ah, what is man?" Man is nothing in himself; yet, he is immeasurably exalted because-in a true sense-he is allowed to share in the divine Action by working himself. Man must not forget that in working he is drawing on the very source of all reality and activity.

In passing to the New Testament, we have no further need of metaphors. Apparuit humanitas. The" humaneness ", because of the true humanity, of Christ has been revealed. Our Lord, like His Mother, worked with His hands. They were not elegant hands but roughened with smithing and carpentry and the house-work. And, like His Father, " He opened His hand and filled every living creature with benediction ". He would take children into His arms and hold them to his heart. He would take the sick by the hand, encouraging them to rise; he would place His hands upon them, healing them. He laid hold of Peter as he was sinking and thus saved him. His hands were nailed and, at the end, " lifting up His Hands, He blessed them, and was lifted up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." On the night before He suffered, Our Lord" took bread" into His Hands, and blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: "Take; eat. This is My Body" . . . "And so it is that is still done all round the world, at every minute of the day, in every nation". 

I will go unto the altar of God

By my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault

Glory be to God on High

The Continuation of the Holy Gospel

Receive, O holy Father, almighty eternal God.

Grant unto us by the mystery of this water and wine

We offer unto thee, O Lord, the chalice of salvation

I will wash my hands in innocency 

 accept this oblation

He blessed

This is . . . 

My Body

All honor and glory

through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. 

Lord, I am not worthy

Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world

the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

"I lift the Paten and the Chalice a few inches above the Altar; but I lift them as high as God. I spread my hands out yet another few inches; but in Christ I embrace the world".

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