Thursday, August 27, 2015

Glory, Grace, and Mercy, Part VI: Honor

 Lord Jesus Christ, through your glory, grace, and mercy, help me to honor and obey.

If the three forces are sent from above, what does that leave for us to do?

This is the point of the second part of the form of prayer—Help me to Honor and Obey—which represents mankind’s sacred obligations in regard to God. 

Honor and obedience are reciprocal properties in man which, of themselves, represent direct reflections of Grace and Mercy. There is, of course, no reflection of Glory in mankind because of the high (actually, highest—as intoned in the phrase hosannah in the highest)) place which is occupied by Glory. We are unable to reciprocate in this quality of God, which leaves us in essence incomplete. It’s only by surrender to the Lord that we can compensate for this.

The word honor has so many important meetings in relationship to Christian practice that it's impossible to cover them all in the scope of a single essay. However, it is notable that the Oxford English dictionary includes the following meanings of the Latin root honorem as repute, esteem, official dignitary, honorary gift, ornament, grace, and beauty. Of the list, esteem, grace, and beauty are essential in the understanding of sacred inner action. We esteem the Lord; we receive and appreciate his grace; and we dwell within his beauty. 

So the action of honoring the Lord first includes the high respect, esteem, and reverence in accordance with his exalted worth and rank. (see first definition in the OED.) 

Second, we adhere to standards whereby we have a fine sense of and strict allegiance to what is due or right. This is another quality of honor that is built deeply into the Christian lexicon of prayer; and it embodies the masculine, paternal qualities of loyalty and right action according to authority. 

Thirdly (as with the first two, I take here the definitions in the OED in their appearing order) we take honor  in its embodiment of the essential maternal and female qualities of virtue, chastity, and purity, inner qualities of the highest consideration.

So when we honor the Lord, we esteem the Lord; receive his grace; participate in his beauty; adhere to what is good and right; and remain virtuous, chaste and pure. One can see, in this way, that to honor the Lord embodies all the essential virtues not only of Christianity, but indeed, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and other great world religions. If we understand the word honor in a greater sense of its scope and attempt to taste and savor the meaning of this within our body and our being, organically, we call ourselves to a much greater and deeper appreciation of the sacred nature of both being and consciousness, as well as the natural and spiritual worlds.

To honor is to consciously acknowledge; for it is impossible to honor without full awareness of one’s place, and what one is honoring. Honoring is the act of appreciation. In the same way that God honors and appreciates man first by bestowing Grace upon him, so man honors God in return. This is why I say that honor is a reflection of Grace, the corresponding force on our level which acknowledges Grace and responds. 

Honor must arise in three ways: through an intellectual appreciation, a feeling-appreciation, and a material appreciation. So it is a three centred activity, which makes sense, because it corresponds to conscious labor of God’s part, which is a three-centered activity emanating from the Holy Trinity. Man’s corresponding response must be equally three centered, a mirroring of God’s action, which gives us a clue as to why Gurdjieff so thoroughly emphasized the need for three-centered work. It simply isn’t possible to properly honor the Lord with anything less than three centers: our minds, our emotions and our bodies all have to become involved.  

To honor is to engage in the action of the whole mind, the “fourth mind” described by Gurdjieff in the final chapter of Beelzebub’s Tales; so to honor is in fact an act of intelligence, although it is a refined and sublime intelligence we must bring to this action. To honor mechanically or unconsciously is not enough; to honor must, on our part, reciprocate the same conscious labor that the Lord exercises in bestowing Grace. We come to the Lord and honor Him, in other words, willingly. 


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