"With My Body, I Thee Worship. . ."

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Jaime's comment below provoked my interest and I thought I would scrounge around for more information. The following is an excerpt from an article available at EWTN by John Saward.

from " The Grace of God in Courtesy"
John Saward

Courtesy is not strictly distinct from the other virtues, but rather
a quality to be found in them all. It has something to do with
reverence, humility, and chastity. It is shaped by charity, the form
of all the virtues, into the quality of mercy. It is the beauty of a
brave and generous life.

Courtesy is, first of all, reverence for one's fellow man. In the
Christian knight, it is a habit of seeing made possible by faith and
charity, an eye which sees in every man, great or small, the shining
image of the Trinity, the brother for whom Christ died. The courteous
person has an attitude of "worship" toward his fellows: by small
deeds of kindness, he acknowledges their worth, their dignity, as
human persons. In the Sarum marriage rite, the husband vows reverence
and thus courtesy toward his wife in the very acts of married love.
"With my body I thee worship." Chivalrous respect is of the very
essence of husbandly love.

Secondly, courtesy is closely tied to humility. In fact, Chesterton
defined courtesy as "the wedding of humility with dignity" and gave
us an example of the Black Prince, who waited like a servant on a man
who was his own prisoner (). The courteous
man has dignity, but he does not stand on it. He does not lose his
throne, and yet he is ready to leave it. There is something in
courtesy that deserves to be called self-emptying, the noble refusal
of self-worship. The proud or self-centered man may be polite, but he
can never be courteous, because he refuses to serve. is
the defiant cry of the prince of death and discourtesy.

Thirdly, courtesy is the first cousin of chastity, what the Middle
Ages called "cleanness." A man blinded by lust cannot see his lady as
the fitting recipient of his courtesy. She has become a thing to be
used rather than a person to be served. Malory's Sir Lancelot does
not consort with paramours "for dread of God." The debauched knight
will not only be distracted in the short term, but disappointed in
the long: "Knights that are adventurers should not be adulterers or
lechers, for they would not be happy nor fortunate in wars." (Sir
Thomas Malory, Works.)

The whole article is worth your attention. And I find this notion of courtesy very evolved and quite appealing.

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Of Courtesy, it is much less Than Courage of Heart or Holiness, Yet in my walks it seems to me That the Grace of God is in Courtesy -- Hilaire Belloc John Saward, in his article, "The Grace of God... Read More



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 2, 2004 9:14 AM.

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