Saturday, August 2, 2014

Praying for Others

I don't know whom to give credit to for this drawing.  If anyone objects please contact me, and I'll take it down.
Today I was attracted to the Eastern Dominican Student Brothers' blog, Dominicana.    Br. Timothy Danaher, O.P. writes about how all people are connected.  He relates a story about Mother Teresa reminding us about the five fingers:  

“Remember the five fingers.” What she meant by this is explained well by a Dominican priest of the Irish province. In a memoir he recounts how on many occasions she asked him to hold his hand, and touching each finger one-by-one, she said, “You did it to me.” This was the secret of her whole spirituality. It’s a simple and sustainable model lifted from the pages of Scripture, and lived out by perhaps the greatest saint of our times. Mother Teresa knew that in loving the most unlovable in our midst – the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger – we love Christ himself.

I don't think Mother Teresa would complicate the five finger prayer.  I really think something is lost in translation.  The way the "You did it to me." is explained, doesn't make sense.  If Mother wanted to get the "You did it to me," message across, she would have pointed to the center of her hand (where Jesus was nailed).

Each finger was not nailed to the cross.

I think Mother Teresa was simply thinking of the five finger prayer that is taught to children:
Hold your hand out.
1.  The finger closest to you is your thumb.  It is pointing to your heart.  Pray for those closest to your heart--parents and other loved ones.
2.  The next finger is the finger you point with.  Pray for those who point the way for you -- teachers, priests, etc.
3.  The next finger is your tallest finger.  Pray for your leaders -- the pope, the president, etc.
4.  The next finger is known as the weakest finger in your hand.  Pray for the weak -- the sick, dying, prisoners, etc.
5.  The little finger is last.  Don't forget to pray for yourself.

Doesn't this explanation of the five finger prayer sound more like Mother Teresa?  Compare it with:

Mother Teresa always told her sisters to remember the “Gospel on Five Fingers.” She would say the words, “You did it for Me,” as she held up each finger of her hand. These words come from the Judgment of the Nations (Matthew 25:31-46) where Jesus tells us that we will be judged by how we treated those who were thirsty or hungry or sick. When Mother Teresa began her work with the poor she cared for thousands of people who were truly thirsty, hungry, or sick, but later in her life as she became world famous and was invited to travel to the United States she began to teach that even people who have food and clothes and lots of material possessions can be poor because they are lonely or do not know God. She began to encourage all people to know who the poor were in their own corner of the world.    source

Either explanation of the "five finger prayer" has the same message, however.  We all belong to the Communion of Saints.  We need to support each other.  Pray.


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