Give Him a Hand!

The VerbumQUO for today is "manum", which, in English, is the noun for "hand." It is taken from today's Introit and Gospel and so perfectly represents the dedication of today's Saint - the holy Doctor of the Church Saint John Damascene - the great crusader against the iconoclasts. He was not afraid to go against the grain to uphold truth, just as Christ was not to be detained or belittled by the Pharisees for healing a man's withered hand on the Sabbath.
Michael Cain
Editor, The Daily Catholic

      This series highlights one word from the Proper of the day's Mass. Taking the Latin Verbum and Quotidianum, which mean respectively "Word" and "Daily", we have coined the word "Verbumquo" by contracting quotidianum to quo and running it together as VerbumQUO for this feature series, thus "The Daily Word," as in the sum of the message, the 'quotient', if you will. It is also our hope that in choosing the Latin word with its meaning and etimology more will be attuned to hearing the word read at the altar and better comprehend the beauty of the Mother tongue. Hopefully in this Time of Passiontide we can gain a higher appreciation and contemplation on how the Daily Proper of the Holy Mass applies in our lives in alignment with the will of Christ and His Blessed Immaculate Mother and His Mystical Bride, His Holy Roman Catholic Church.

    The VerbumQUO for today's Proper of the Double Feast of Saint John Damascene is manum taken from today's Introit for the Mass of this holy Confessor and Doctor of the Church who was such a staunch defender of the Catholic Treasures of Orthodoxy. The Introit is taken from Psalm 72: 24:
      Tenuisti manum dexteram meam, et in voluntate tua deduxisti me, et cum gloria suscepisti me. (Psalm 72: 1) Quam bonus Israël Deus, his qui recto sunt corde!
      Thou hast held me by my right hand; and by thy will thou hast conducted me, and with thy glory thou hast received me. (Psalm 72: 1) How good is God to Israel, to them that are of a right heart!

    How true those words apply to St. John who stood strong his hand against the heresies raining down on the Church in Constantinople with the cruel iconoclast rulers of the Byzantine Empire. From the Latin manus - pronounced MAH-NOOS - the VerbumQUO is manum - the objective noun. From the root of this word we get the English noun "manus", and the adjective "manual" which means "by hand." Since "hand", itself, both noun and verb, is an Anglo Saxon word hond, let us look at the etimology of the English manus in Webster's:

    "manus" - [From Latin manus, the hand.] 1. Anatomy & Zoology The distal segment of the forelimb of a vertebrate, including the carpus and forefoot or hand. 2. Roman Law. The power or rights of a husband over his wife. "manual" - adjective, [From Latin manualis from manus hand.) - 1. Of or pertaining to the hand or hands; done, made, or operated by hand; as manual labor. 2. Of the nature of, or designed for a manual, as a text. - noun 1. A small book; handbook. 2. Mil. A prescribed exercise in the handling of a weapon; as the manual of arms. 3. Music. An organ keyboard for the fingers. - manually, adverb. Also manubrium, noun plural manubria [From Latin handle, from manus hand.] Anal. A handlelike process or part; especially, in man and most mammals, the cephalic segment of the sternum." Also we get from the root of manus the noun and verb "manufacture [From Latin manus hand + factura a making, from facere to make.] Obs. A making byhand. 2. The process of making wares by hand, by machinery, or by other agency, often with division of labor and the use of machinery. manufacturer One who manufactures; an employer or operatives in manufacturing. manuscript, noun or adjective [From manus hand + scriptus written.] Written with or by the hand. 1. A written composition, as an acinet book. 2. An author's copy of his work in handwriting or type; a written or typewritten document of any kind as distinguished from a printed copy." And finally we have the word: "manumit, verb [From the Latin ablative of manus hand + emittere to send forth.] To release from slavery; to free, as a slave. - Syn. See FREE."

    And that is exactly what St. John Damascene worked all his life for, to free Holy Mother Church from the heresies ravaging Her children, specifically Iconoclasm. Dom Gueranger, the inspired Benedictine Abbot shares this insight from Volume 5 of The Liturgical Year for today's feast in explaining how this horrid heresy pillaged the churches and parishes of the faithful and consequently sought to deface the Sacred Deposit of Faith:

       "There heresy of the Iconoclasts or Image-breakers represents the last phase of Oriental error with regard to the Incarnation of the Son of God. It was right that the feast which commemorates the restoration of the holy Images should receive the glorious name of the Feast of Orthodoxy. It celebrates the last blow struck at Byzantine dogma, and recalls all those delivered by the councils of the Church between the first and second of Nicaea. A peculiar solemnity was given to this feast by the fact that all the anathemas formulated in previous times against the adversaries of revealed truth were renewed in the Church of St. Sophia while the Cross and the holy Images were exalted in triumph and the emperor stood at his throne.

        "Satan, the sworn foe of the Word, showed clearly that he looked upon the doctrine of the Iconoclasts as his last resource. There is no heresy which has caused more martyrdoms or more destruction. Nero and Diocletian seemed to be reincarnate in the baptized Caesars who defended it: Leo the Isaurian, Constantine Copronymus, Leo the Armenian, Michael the Stammerer and his son Theophilus. The edicts of persecution, published in defense of the idols of former times, were renewed for the destruction of the idolatry which was said to defile the Church."

    We can see the parallel of this in modern times when the beautiful exteriors and interiors of Catholic basilicas, cathedrals and churches have been ransacked, wreckovated and the magnificent statues, paintings, relief and reverent sacramentals removed in favor of the starkness of blah, with banners to assimilate a Masonic Lodge. Yes, the modern iconoclasts have resurfaced. Back in the 70's I can remember various priests spewing the heresy of why it was important to take out the tabernacles, remove statues, etc. because those would take away the focus of the altar. Little did I realize at the time that the plain tables set up against and away from the real altars were not "altars" but tables of "the abomination of desolation" (Matthew 24: 15). In our ignorance we all bought the lie. Had we known more of why the saints fought so valiantly against those who sought to dismantle Holy Mother Church, we would have stayed our own hand from allowing the iconoclasts - masked as "obedient ones to the Vatican II directives" - to have their way. But alas, we didn't truly know our Faith and because of that, we have allowed the iconoclasts to return en masse. Don't believe me, look at the mausoleums, gymnasiums and theatres in the round that the Novus Ordinarians call "churches" today. No they are lodges, as in Masonic Lodges, replete with table, the chair of man, lecturn, book and banners. All hail man. As for God, well they'll rationalize: He's okay with that according to these modern iconoclasts; in fact, their mantra is: "No matter what you believe, whether Zen, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Christian or Pagan - it's all the same God, just the way we look at Him." Oh, heresy of heresies.

    The saddest thing is that there are no more St. John Damascenes to defend Holy Mother Church's honor and doctrines, save the few in Traditional circles, who will not be given voice by the iconoclasts of modern Rome. Should we be surprised? Just as the faithful fighting iconoclasm back in the 8th Century were greatly persecuted, including hands burned and cut off, which is exactly what happened to St. John's right hand, so also today the modernist iconoclasts seek to sever the right hand of orthodoxy by demeaning Traditional Catholics and the dedicated priests and bishops who guide them. We can see this mindset in the consistory just this past weekend in modern Rome where the majority of the scarlet-lettered red-hats demanded that, for any reconciliation of the SSPX with modern Rome, the former totally accept Vatican II. Fat chance! And so the persecution will continue with the knowledge that, just as the Blessed Mother Mary heard St. John's plea - after his hand had been cut off and posted on display in the public square to deter the rest fighting against iconoclasm - and miraculously restored his hand to his wrist, so also through her intercession the hand of Tradition will be reunited with the arm of truth and be instrumental in fashioning the restoration of Holy Mother Church, helping her to become as beautiful and majestic as ever - just as depicted by the countless artisans and masters whose souls soared when they were creating, painting or sculpting memories of heavenly images from Michelangelo to the simplest, most dedicated artisan.

    No one can describe the times better than Dom Gueranger:

    "The soldiers, whom the emperor charged to carry out his will, gave themselves up to the pillage of churches and private houses. On all sides venerated statues fell under the hammer of the destroyer. Mural paintings were covered with chalk, vestments and sacred vessels mutilated and destroyed on account of images in embroidery or enamel. Masterpieces of art, which had nourished the devotion of the people, were publicly burnt, and the artist who dared to represent Christ, Our Lady, or the saints, was himself subjected to fire and torture together with those of the faithful who had not been able to restrain their sorrow at the sight of such destruction. The shepherds bowed beneath the storm and yielded to regrettable compromises, and the reign of terror was soon supreme over the deserted flock."

    "Deserted flock" - talk about dejavu! We're seeing it all over again, and yet we can express hope that the outcome will be similar to the result of the perseverance of those resisting the iconoclasts. Dom Gueranger reveals the positives that came from these trials by the hand of God:

       "The heresy of the Iconoclasts helped, moreover to establish the temporal independence of the Roman pontiffs, for when the Isaurian threatened to enter Rome and destroy the statue of St. Peter, all Italy rose to repel the invasion of these new barbarians, defend the treasures of her basilicas and withdraw the Vicar of Christ from the yoke of Byzantium. It was a glorious period, a hundred and twenty years, comprising the reigns of great popes, from St. Gregory II to St. Paschal I. In the history of the Easter Church it begins with John Damascene, who saw the opening of the conflict, and ends with Theodore the Studite, whose indomitable firmness secured the final triumph. For many centuries this period, which gave so many saints to the Greek Kalendar, was unrepresented in the Latin Liturgy. The feast of today was added by Pope Leo XIII in 1892, and now John Damascene, the quondom vizier, the protege of Our Lady, the monk, whose excellent doctrines won for him the name of 'Golden stream,' commemorates in the Western cycle the heroic struggle in which the East rendered such glorious services to the Church and to the world."

    It was the fortitude of St. John that took precedence when the next onslaught threatened the Church - the Protestant Revolution in the 1500's. Harkening back to the Second Council of Nicaea, the infallible dogmatic Council of Trent decreed what St. John Damascene had upheld, as Dom Gueranger points out:

       "The account given by the Liturgy of the life of this holy Doctor is so complete that we need add nothing further. But it will be well to give a short summary of the definitions by which in the eighth and sixteenth centuries the Church has avenged the holy Images from the attacks made on them by hell. The second Council of Nicaea declares that 'It is lawful to place in churches, in frescoes, in pictures, on vestments and the sacred vessels, on the walls of houses and in public streets, images, whether painted or mosaic or of other suitable material, representing Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our most pure Lady, the holy Mother of God, the angels and the saints; and it is equally lawful to burn incense before them and surround them with lights (Concilium, Nicaea II, session vii).' This formula, which gives the true theological basis of the cult of images, is borrowed by the Council of Trent from the second Council of Nicaea, and was originally taken word for word from St. John Damascene, De fide Orthodoxa iv, 16. 'Not that we must believe that these images have any divinity or virtue of their own,' says the Council of Trent against the Protestants,' or that we must put our confidence in them as the pagans did in their idols. But the honor which is given to the images is referred to Christ the prototype, to Whom through them all our adoration is addressed, and to the saints whom we venerate in their portraits (Concillium, Trident. sess xxv.)."

    We can see how today the secular iconoclasts seek to eliminate crosses, crucifixes and creches from the public streets, working in tandem with the agents of lucifer - the ACLU and a lukewarm Vatican II church, the iconoclasts advance, but we have Our Lady to call on for protection and encouragement. And, as today's Proper points out in today's Epistle from the Book of Wisdom X: 10-17 that God raised His hand against His adversaries and stayed His hand, gently guiding His faithful ones. So also in the Gospel today from Saint Luke 6: 6-11, we see how Jesus' miraculous hand cured the right hand of the man with the withered hand:

      In illo tempore : Factum est autem in alio sabbato, ut intraret in synagogam, et doceret. Et erat ibi homo, et manus ejus dextra erat arida. Observabant autem scribæ et pharisæi si in sabbato curaret : ut invenirent unde accusarent eum. Ipse vero sciebat cogitationes eorum : et ait homini qui habebat manum aridam : "Surge, et sta in medium. Et surgens stetit." Ait autem ad illos Jesus : "Interrogo vos si licet sabbatis benefacere, an male : animam salvam facere, an perdere?" Et circumspectis omnibus dixit homini : "Extende manum tuam." Et extendit : et restituta est manus ejus. Ipsi autem repleti sunt insipientia, et colloquebantur ad invicem, quidnam facerent Jesu.
      At that time it came to pass also, on another sabbath, that He entered into the synagogue and taught. And there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched if He would heal on the sabbath: that they might find an accusation against Him. But He knew their thoughts and said to the man who had the withered hand: "Arise and stand forth in the midst." And rising he stood forth. Then Jesus said to them: "I ask you, if it be lawful on the Sabbath days to do good or to do evil? To save life or to destroy?" And looking round about on them all, He said to the man: "Stretch forth thy hand." And he stretched it forth. And his hand was restored. And they were filled with madness: and they talked one with another, what they might do to Jesus

   Yes, the hand of God is always there to forgive, heal and guide us; likewise it is there to swat us into exile if we persist in our stubbornness. In these days of turmoil when the modernist iconoclasts threaten our valuable and priceless treasures of the Faith, let us all follow the example of ecclesial giants like St. John Damascene and, let's all face it, for his undying loyalty and insistence on truth and orthodoxy in preserving the traditions, let's hear it for this holy Doctor; give him a hand!

Michael Cain, editor, The Daily Catholic

VerbumQUO for the Feast of St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church