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DEAR FATHER | Finger positioning in the Church has several meanings

Why is Jesus often depicted in images and statues only holding up three fingers?

In images with Christ, He is often pictured with His right hand lifted in blessing. In that pose, He has three fingers up and two down.

The three fingers pointing up symbolize the three persons of the Blessed Trinity. The two fingers joined together point to Jesus’ two natures: that He is fully human and fully divine.

Why do priests often put their pointer finger and thumb together during consecration, leaving only three fingers up?

As part of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (the Latin Mass), the priest after touching the consecrated host would join the thumb and pointer finger. This is to protect any particles of the host that may still be on their fingers from falling onto the ground. Although not called for in the current rubrics of the Mass, some priests continue this practice as a form of devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. A priest who may not do it isn’t less pious than a priest who does do it; it’s simply a matter of personal practice and devotion for the priest.

Father Mayo is pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Warrenton.

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