Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Beautiful Hands of a Priest

I just came home from helping out in Sto. Nino Parish, which is the biggest in our fair city of Tacloban. It's the last night before the great Triduum is about to begin and the place was swarming with penitents. The scene is replicated in many a parish Church anywhere in the Archdiocese, still without its shepherd, or all around the whole Catholic orbis for that matter. I came in to help in response to a request made by a brother priest.

Line after line of penitents came, all with the same burden of sin, and yet each burden personalized and unique. It was the same human load of weakness than unburdened over and over again I simply lost count of the penitents that knelt by me to get that weight of their chest (not that I was trying to count). I lost count of how many times I raise my hand in absolution.

It was in one of those times that I looked at my raised hand in an attempt to break the monotonous litany that came pouring in torrents over me and into my ears. I loked at my outstretched hand and realized that for many people how beautiful that hand was...not because it was MY hand (of course that my be the case heheh) but because of the pardon that it was imparting at that moment for someone who came thirsty to the well mercy. I had raised it a million times in exactly the same way but I  never mused on how beautiful it was at this precise moment. 
I straightened up, squared my shoulders, and braced myself to receive another penitent soul. Somehow the greatness of that seemingly insignificant and ordinary gesture provided me with the energy to go on with another line of penitents, each one eager to pour down the same fetid burden of sin before the confessional behind which I was seated.

We need them in life's early morning,
We need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek it while tasting life's woes.

When we come to this world we are sinful,
The greatest as well as the least.
And the hands that make us pure as angels
Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

At the altar each day we behold them,
And the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness
Their dignity stands alone.

For there in the stillness of morning
Ere the sun has emerged from the east,
There God rests between the pure fingers
Of the beautiful hands of a priest.

When we are tempted and wander
To pathways of shame and sin
'Tis the hand of a priest that absolve us.
Not once but again and again.

And when we are taking life's partner
Other hands may prepare us a feast
But the hands that will bless and unite us,
Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

God bless them and keep them all holy,
For the Host which their fingers caress,
What can a poor sinner do better
Than to ask Him who chose them to bless
When the death dews on our lids are falling,
May our courage and strength be increased
By seeing raised o'er us in blessing
The beautiful hands of a priest.

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