Praying Hands

One of the most familiar drawings in the world is the “Praying Hands.” It was sketched by a great German artist Albrecht Dürer using ink and pencil on blue colored paper in the early 14thcentury. The drawing focuses on the hands of a man praying with his body out of view. It took more than a year to complete because the artist totally poured refined precision and exquisite craftsmanship into it. Today, this stunning masterpiece is found, along with Dürer’s finest collection of drawings, at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria.
It was a commissioned art work. But there are many stories surrounding its origin. One version has it that the artist used his brother’s hands as model to honor those hands that worked and suffered for him. The obra simply immortalized the nurturing hands of his brother.
When I attended the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Generoso A. Llenos at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Punta Princesa, Cebu City on May 23, 2015, I was reminded of the “Praying Hands.” During the laying of hands by Archbishop Jose S. Palma on his head, I observed the hands of his parents Mr. and Mrs. Celeste Llenos clasped in prayer position. They were certainly praying for their son, Gene. Indeed, all these years they have been praying. Finally he is ordained a priest! Those hands also provided for him, fed him, cared for and supported him. The priest is never alone in his journey to the altar.
Now those hands that once were nurtured will be anointed. In an amazing manner, after the bishop anoints his hands with holy oil, those will be consecrated hands to do a work exclusively sacred: to bless, to absolve sins and consecrate the bread and wine. Those hands will now be the extension of Jesus’ hands in the world.

At the rite of ordination, the bishop presents an offered chalice and paten to the new priest symbolizing the spiritual power that grace has bestowed on him. Many times, we priests, acquire a great sense of entitlement by using such power for self-serving reasons. Perhaps a towel and a basin should also go along to remind the priest of his role as servant leader in the community. Just like Jesus who washed the feet of his disciples, he needs to reach out in humble service.
The priest is to model his life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross. It is for this reason that when St. John Bosco was just a newly ordained priest his mother, Margaret, reminded him: “Remember John, to begin to say mass is to begin to suffer.” The very heart of priesthood is the Eucharist. Just so suffering is part and parcel of the priestly life. The vocation of the priest is to unite himself to Christ for the glory of God and the sanctification of the world.
As we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we need to take a second look at the Eucharist. It expresses the incredible love of Jesus. It is a memorial that brings us back to his Last Supper when he took with his sacred hands the bread and the wine. He broke his body and shared his blood to become the source of our nourishment and purpose. Every time we offer the Eucharist we remember Jesus’ tremendous sacrifice. Through it the world is continually blest and each participant constantly renewed. Our challenge is to see beyond the bread and wine the extraordinary love of our Savior and Lord.
The Eucharist immortalized the nourishing hands of Jesus giving himself to us as antidote for our indifference. Those hands were pierced by nails but they never gave up on giving. Our Eucharistic communion makes us part of the one family of God united in both suffering and glory. Every time we clasp our hands together in prayer to work for unity we become stronger. Through us the world is blest and sanctified. As Body of Christ and a priestly people, we become the extension of the praying hands of Jesus in our times. 


Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.

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