“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” Isaiah 41:13
By Denise Trull
I love hands. That statement isn't as random as you may think. I have been pondering hands for the last year or so. Did you know that the human hand has the most bones of all the members of the human body? Each of those bones allows the hand to do the myriad things it does with such ease and ability.
My husband has beautiful hands. Whenever he pulls me close or takes my own hand in his at odd, little, spontaneous times, I feel instantly safe and cared for. I always found it quite miraculous, in a charming way, that his hands seemed custom made to fit the particular heads of our newborns, no matter how big or small. Each of those tiny, downy haired noggins fits perfectly in the curve of his cupped hand. By design? I think yes. Each father’s hands seems uniquely created for holding whichever little heads God, in His providence, has gifted him with; for our God, whom we have been taught to call Abba, has an intimate knowledge of fatherhood and its particular gifts. He holds each of us tenderly in the ‘palm’ of His infinite care as though it were meant specifically for us.
God loves hands. He used them in so many ways. The things I love most about Him have always involved his sacred and beautiful hands.
He held Mary and Joseph's finger perhaps when He was born, and they felt his need for them in that tiny grasping hand. They each perhaps marveled and were humbled at the same time. He played with toys. He sawed, hammered, drew up carpenter's plans with his hands. He washed his hands and was grateful for the coolness of water. He unrolled the ancient scrolls in the Synagogue with quiet, confident hands. He probably wrapped his big hands around those of his mother when he left Nazareth -- with a love in that tender gesture we will never be able to fathom -- a Son for his mother.
He laid His hands on feverish heads, on the bodies of surprised and shocked lepers, on crippled people’s twisted legs and hurting hearts. He mixed mud with his hands and pressed it on the eyes of the man born blind and they were opened. He lifted up Mary Magdalene from shame to dazed redemption with his strong, supporting hands -- in Simon's very house where all were scandalized that he had touched her -- touch being so important to the Jews. He drew in the sand. He cooked and ate with his hands.
I can't help but think his hands might have had a familiar smell to the apostles when he served them -- like my own mom's hands which always smelled faintly of garlic and yeast -- a smell of home to me. He hauled in nets with his hands, he raised Lazarus with those hands through which such power had come out. He cast out devils with a flourish of those hands and gave back sons, cured, to the arms of their fathers. He calmed the raging sea and pulled a terrified, dripping Peter from the waves with his hands. He gave a little girl back to her heartbroken parents -- raised to life with the very hands which in turn wiped their tears away.
All that love and tenderness seeping through those fingers. His hands were broken and scarred for us. Even after He resurrected from the dead, He held out his nail-marked hand for Thomas to touch, and I believe that once Thomas reached out so tentatively, Jesus enfolded that apostle’s trembling hands within his large ones and held on tight for a minute with such love and understanding. I believe that was what made Thomas sink to his knees and cry out "My Lord and My God." Touched by Jesus. Enfolded in his hands.
Our Lord’s hands have been part of my prayer life for years now. I am not particularly a ‘devotional’ type person, but I wished quite fervently that someone had written a special litany to his hands as they have to his Sacred Heart and his Precious Blood. I felt such a great need to honor them.
Over time, it slowly dawned upon my own heart that I could write this prayer -- that I could sing of his holy hands in the beautiful form of prayer that rises and falls in the rhythm of a beating heart: the litany. That prayer that lets me slide jewel upon jewel upon the string of my praise. I hope it honors him in some way, this mighty man of wonders, whose hands were created to save me and you. Whose hands are eternally raised in blessing.
If I ever make it to the end of my race and cross that finish line, I hope with all my heart that I will know what it is like to have my hands disappear into his and feel the warmth of totally belonging to him at last. I will know by his hands over mine that I am home.
Litany to the Holy Hands of Our Lord, Jesus Christ
Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.
Christ hear us, Christ graciously hear us.
God, the Father Of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, made Man, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Hands of Jesus, formed in the womb of Our Lady, protect and bless all unborn babies.
Hands of Jesus, first laid on the cheek of Mary, your mother as you nurse, bless and strengthen all new mothers.
Hand of Jesus, tucked in the strong warmth of Joseph’s protecting grasp...bless all fathers on earth.
Hands of Jesus, gently held in wonder by Holy Simeon, bless all those who wait so long and faithfully for you in prayer.
Hands of Jesus, kissed by Kings bowed down in humility, bless all those you have asked to lead the Church.
Hands of Jesus, pressed to the frightened lips of Mary one cold night of escape to Egypt, bless and comfort all immigrants who feel so far from home.
Hands of Jesus, gesturing in wisdom before the elders in the temple, bless all those who seek answers from you, but do not yet know who you are.
Hands of Jesus, folded in prayer, listening for the Father’s voice, bless all those who serve us as monks and nuns.
Hands of Jesus, roughened by wood and work, bless all those who labor with their hands.
Hands of Jesus, whose touch gave joy to those who had no wine, bless all young couples on their wedding day with your grace and gifts.
Hands of Jesus, cool on fevered brows, bless those worn out by chronic illness. Give them strength and peace.
Hands of Jesus, pulling in the nets, bless those who serve others through daily labor.
Hands of Jesus, held over the loaves and fishes, help us to see the miracles you perform in our lives each day.
Hands of Jesus, cupping worried faces gently within them, bless all those who struggle with daily anxiety.
Hands of Jesus, drying tears from faces, bless those bowed down by overwhelming sadness or despair.
Hands of Jesus, who felt power going through them, bless all priests hands in the confessional and give them wisdom.
Hands of Jesus, who baked fish, gathered wood, built fires, bless the work of our domestic Churches, our family life.
Hands of Jesus, who led a little girl back to her father, let us believe in your power to protect our children.
Hands of Jesus, feeling the cool water, the heat of the sun, the grasp of friends, bless our physical lives. Help us to seek you through them.
Hands of Jesus, raised in dancing with your disciples, help us to believe that your delight is to be with us, the children of men.
Hands of Jesus, lifting a whip to clear the worldliness from your Father’s house, bless our efforts to offer you fitting and unsullied praise in our liturgies and our daily prayers.
Hands of Jesus, lifting up your body and blood at the Last Supper, help us to receive you in wonder at Holy Communion.
Hands of Jesus, gently washing your apostle’s feet, bless our service to others.
Hands of Jesus, clasped in agony, waiting on the Father’s will, help us to pray even while knowing we must suffer.
Hands of Jesus, bound tightly, help us to accept the sorrows that cannot change.
Hands of Jesus on Veronica’s veil, bless our small efforts to love you in your sufferings.
Hands of Jesus, touching the face of your sorrowful Mother, bless all mothers who mourn for their children in any way.
Hands of Jesus, nailed to the cross, forgive our unwillingness to seek forgiveness and accept penance.
Hands of Jesus, laid gently on your chest in the tomb, help us to know the peace of a cross fully accepted until the end.
Hands of Jesus, still wounded in resurrection, help us always to remember what you have done for us.
Hands of Jesus, drawing all souls to yourself, grant us a happy death with our hand in yours.
Hands of Jesus, merciful, kind, gentle, and strong, bless our lives in every way.
Blessed be the hands of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, now and forever.
(For private use only)