Monday, January 22, 2007


“Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good, but graciously to know I am no better.”
William Shakespeare

One of my resolutions this year was to cultivate graciousness. And I discovered that when you hope for the resolve to pursue something you will almost immediately be tested. It's like praying for patience- something I have learned never to do. Am I growing in patience? I think I must be because I haven't killed anyone yet.

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines graciousness thus:

Pronunciation: 'grA-sh&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French gracieus, from Latin gratiosus enjoying favor, agreeable, from gratia
1 a obsolete : GODLY b archaic : PLEASING, ACCEPTABLE
2 a : marked by kindness and courtesy b : GRACEFUL c : marked by tact and delicacy : URBANE d : characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding
3 : MERCIFUL, COMPASSIONATE -- used conventionally of royalty and high nobility

Notice graciousness as a synonym for godly has become obsolete. Indeed.

Sometimes it is easier to define something by what it is not. Graciousness is not:

1. Abrupt
2. Selfish
3. Vulgar
4. Coarse
5. Emotional
6. Immature
7. Arrogant (hence my problem)
8. Slovenly
9. Insincere
10. Irreligious

This poem, if you can possibly get past the word "Tolerance", yes, I know it's hard expresses graciousness well.

The Graciousness of Tolerance

By Sui Shihuan

When the opinions of others differ from yours,
When being criticised,
When your weaknesses are being pointed out,
When the actions and words of others do not agree with what you are used to,
When your suggestions are voided,
When others make mistakes,
When being misunderstood,
When being envied,
When being neglected,
The graciousness of tolerance will untie the knots in your mind.
When the thought of gracious tolerance arises,
Everything seems to have never happened before.
It vaporises, within a second as though it had never existed.

Translated from


hilary said...

Litany of Humility

written by Cardinal Merry del Val

He was accustomed to recite this prayer daily after the celebration of Holy Mass.

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver, me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver, me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

qlinger said...

The Missionaries of Charity recite that prayer everyday. Saying it with them is a real lesson in Humility.

NCTradCatholic said...


Here's an excellent example of graciousness, from Senator Brownback:

Thanks for the pro-life heroism of your earlier years!

Edward said...

Don't like the poem.
It's Oriental escapism. Denial, really.
The Christian mentality is to ACCEPT these things just as they are and precisely for what they are-evils; accept that they hurt (yes, they suck); and then turn around and willingly offer them to our Lord as a small sacrifice.
Herein grace is obtained (which is the root of "graciousness") as well as TRUE peace: that peace which "surpasseth all understanding", yet which is REAL and very generously given, though not easily obtained, for this requires surrender to the Divine Will. Not some mental "technique".

Tradcatholic said...

For Edward's comment: I do believe that the Lord's prayer say:

DELIVER US FROM EVIL...and did He not say that we should "PRAY" that we not be subjected to the 'test'?

not, "let us accept all evil for what it is"...

And, two other observations: the "Poem" from Hilary is NOT a poem but a LITANY - a list of praises and or petitions...
As pride IS the root of all evil, no better way to counteract evil than petitions for humility, the antithesis of the root of evil. 'Surrendering' to the Will of God is NOT to mean laying down and 'offering it up'. We need to change the things we can change, and let God take care of the rest.Your ideas appear to be the real 'escapism' Oriental or not. Put your proverbial boots on and join the fight! Passivism is not becoming of Soldiers of Christ. Use the NCCB as a pitiful example. By the way, one does not have to LIKE the is a very difficult one to pray and really mean it!

Edward said...

Excuse me, tradcatholic;
I never mentioned Hilary's litany in my comment. I know it's a litany, and think very highly of it. The good Cardinal was secretary of State under St. Pius X and probably a Saint himself. I have prayed this litany often myself.
What I was refering to was that little offering in the original post about which we are all commenting.
Also, I was refering to "evil" as the the scholastics and schoolmen used it, i.e.: a condition or quality which is the opposite of perfection in a natural being; not the "evil" which is the Devil's doing.
Hope this clears things up. Now you may start again.

Tradcatholic said...

Sorry for the mix-up! I meant no offense - I guess I stayed up too late, was tired and missed the point altogether! Now I get the comment on 'oriental escapism'. Maybe one needs to be sitting like a tailor on the floor with palms out facing the sky, eyes closed to 'feel' this poem. Or, maybe it suffers in the translation. I liked all but the ending. Here I agree with you.

NCTradCatholic said...

Now THAT's graciousness, TradCatholic! :-)

M. Alexander said...

"oriental escapism"?

Hey my husband is oriental, and chinese food and red silk and karate and the three wise men.

Edward said...

No, no, no, Mrs. Alexander.
You know what I mean. The philosophy behind it (like that of Zen). I wasn't intending any sort of insult, only a clarification of schools.
Geez. I give up.
I can't seem to communicate at all here without being somehow abrasive (which I really, really don't mean to be).
Now I'LL start over.

Great post. Graciousness is indeed a beautiful quality for either a gentleman or a lady (both of which would of course be gracious by definition).
A sorely missed natural virtue in our times. Let's all make that resolution.

M. Alexander said...

I do know what you meant Edward and my response was meant tongue in cheek. I'm sorry I didn't express myself better.

Don't give up. All our fun is in arguing these points!

Edward said...

Gosh, all this apologizing and being on tenderhooks in order not to offend. This spot is great.
My God.