Show forth your work to your servants; let your glory shine on their children. Let the favor of the Lord be upon us: give success to the work of our hands, give success to the work of our hands. – Ps. 90:16-17
Thirteen years ago tonight, I tucked a 2-year-old Mike into bed. On my way out his door I grabbed a clean sheet and small blanket from the dresser and made up the cradle Victor had carried up from the basement to set by our bed, then packed my bag to go to the hospital. Two days later, I would carry a newborn Chris up the stairs and tuck him, sleeping, into its safe confines.
The cradle is the work of my father’s hands. He found the plans, altered them to suit, ordered the cherry planks and braved snowy streets to pick them up. He measured, cut, glued, sanded and waxed the wood and set it out to await the arrival of his first-born – me. The work of his hands has since cradled eight babies and two generations.
The psalmist sought God’s favor – not in the abstract, but for the very tangible – grant success to the work of our hands, or as some translations put it, make firm the work of our hands. I wonder if we feel that desire even more so now, where so much is mass produced and disposable. We long to create that which will last, like the cradle, from one generation to the next.
We often cherish things handmade, not so much for their beauty, but because of what they reveal to us of the hands that made them. My desk is replete with such revelations. A lime green origami swan, painstakingly folded by a one-handed Chris, perches atop my computer, while Mike’s first efforts at pottery serve to keep my emergency chocolate supply within reach. I rarely register the uneven folds and lopsided edges of the bowl; I always see their hands in love on these objects.
The works of our hands have the potential to be more than small reminders of love. In one of his general audiences Pope John Paul II reflected, too, on the very end of this psalm, noting “the person praying asks something more of God: that His grace support and gladden our days, even while they are so fragile … may he grant us to taste the flavor of hope … Only the grace of the Lord can give our daily actions consistency and perpetuity.”
We look for success not in our efforts, but ask instead for God to pull them firmly into His work. The work of our hands, even with its uneven edges and lopsidedness, can be acts of hope and faith as much as love when grounded in God’s work.
The cradle my father’s hands made for his children yet unborn speaks volumes both of love and of hope, of his willingness to be drawn into the work of God’s hands – the work of hope and love that made us all. Grant success to the work of our hands, grant success to the work of our hands.
Eternal Father, You give us life despite our guilt and even add days and years to our lives in order to bring us wisdom. Make us love and obey You, so that the works of our hands may always display what Your hands have done, until the day we gaze upon the beauty of Your face. Amen.- from the Office of Readings, Thursday Week III
Michelle Francl-Donnay is a member of Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish in Bryn Mawr. She can be reached at: email@example.com.
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it without youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month. Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can -- a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: