Today as I was praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I opened my hands to count on my fingers and offer my prayer to the Father. As I prayed, I realized that our hands can actually help us to meditate…
1. Thumb: ‘Who Comes First?’
The thumb is the finger closest to your heart. It’s the “first” finger on your hand. Think, ‘Who comes first in my life?’ Is God first? Do I put Him before all things? Do I come to Him first with things that are troubling me? Do I first praise Him when I am joyful? Do I honor and bless His Name, and His Day? Or…do other things come first in my life? What do I hold closer to my heart than God?
2. Pointer Finger: ‘To Whom Am I Pointing?’
Next in line is your “pointer finger.” Many of us, when we’re upset, are accustomed to pointing at others when we blame or scold. Think, ‘To Whom Am I Pointing?’ How often do I accuse others of wrongdoing? Do I ever stop to think about what I have done wrong? We’re also given the ability to point others toward or away from God; how often do I point others to God? Have I ever led someone away from God, in my words or actions? What can I do to ensure that I begin pointing everyone I meet towards Eternal God?
3. Middle Finger: ‘Do I Insult or Encourage?’
The third or “middle” finger is generally the tallest. American society has the famously obscene “bird” gesture, pointing our middle finger at those who offend or upset us. Think, ‘Do I Insult or Encourage?’ How often do I insult others? How often do I become angry or upset with someone? Do I ever examine my own faults instead of focusing on the faults of others? What about encouragement – how often do I encourage others? Do I put myself down, or do I listen to God’s encouraging voice?
4. Ring Finger: ‘How Do I Love?’
The fourth finger in many cultures designates marriage or singleness. Interestingly, it is also generally the weakest finger. In our weakness, God tells us that we are “made strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Christ showed His love for us by coming as a vulnerable human baby, and was made weak through torture until He finally died.
Think, ‘ How Do I Love?’ If you are married, do you frequently express your love for your spouse—in word and action? If you are a parent, do you express your love for your children—in word and action? As a child, how do you demonstrate love and honor for your parents? For your other family members? Have you misused your sexuality? Does the way you dress demonstrate the love you have for others (by helping them to maintain purity of mind & heart)? Do you insist on dominating or winning during conflicts, either with your spouse or with others? Do you maintain a healthy love of self, seeing yourself as lovingly made by God, or do you mistreat yourself emotionally, physically, psychologically?
5. Pinky: ‘Who Do I Make Small?’
The last finger is sometimes called the “pinky.” It’s often thought of as the “small” finger. Think, ‘Who Do I Make Small?’ Have you made someone feel less valued through name-calling, gossip, bullying, taunting, etc.? Do you often make others to feel “smaller” or weaker rather than humble yourself?
Palm: ‘Do I Take Or Give?’
Look at the inside of your open hand at your palm. Think, ‘Do I Take or Give?’ Have I ever taken gifts or compliments and allowed them to feed my ego, or have I been grateful for them? Have I taken something that did not belong to me—either by cheating, theft, or unchaste activity? Do I give of my time, or do I take time from others? Do I give my skills and resources to those in need, or do I take from others’? Do I take God’s gifts without thanking Him? Do I offer Him what He has given me?
Open My Hands, Lord…
This method of praying is very helpful for me as a visual learner because it helps me to concretely and methodologically examine my conscience during prayer. Seeing my hands reminds me that they are gifts that can either be used rightly or misused, but that the choice is always mine.
Most of all, praying this way helps me remember that I should always keep my hands open and raised to God: ready to praise and to receive all the graces He wants to give us. Hope this helps you, too.