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The different faces of grace

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The different faces of grace

The Different Faces of Grace

Grace. Just what is grace? Why did I choose the word grace for my paper? I chose the word grace because it means something to me personally, and I wanted to enhance my knowledge of it's many meanings. When I think of the word grace, I think of something wonderful,something powerful. To me, grace is more than just a word, it is a gift from God. I have always known it's definition to be "receiving what is undeserved." An example of grace is forgiveness. No one "deserves" to be forgiven. Forgiveness is something we "undeservingly receive." So, that makes forgiveness a form of grace. I first learned these things from my parents, from church sermons, and from studying the Bible. I have often confused the definitions of grace and mercy. Mercy is "not receiving what is deserved." For example, in a court of law, a judge may show mercy to the convicted person by pronouncing a sentence less severe than the law allows for an offense. Grace and mercy go hand in hand; it is impossible to have one without the other. Grace is a big part of my life because it allows me to love and forgive others. If I were not living under "God's grace" I am not so sure I could forgive others as easily as I do. The word grace has been around for many years. Grace's meaning began as one which applied to attractiveness. It was later used to mean favor and then to mean gratitude. Through the years, grace has made an impact on many people's lives. Some form of grace can be found in songs, plays, businesses,royalties, poems, and Christianity.

According to The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) the English spelling of grace comes from the French word grace. The word grace goes back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries when it was spelled grass or grease. The history of grace originated from the Latin word gratia which lead to the Spanish word, gracia, the Portuguese word, graca, and the Italian word, grazia. The first definition given in the OED is "pleasing quality, gracefulness." The archaic definition is "pleasantness of flavor." Both of these definitions deal with something being pleasant or pleasing to a person. The first definition in the unabridged dictionary states the same when it reads "elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action." For example, when a person says someone moves gracefully, like a ballerina, they are referring to grace as an elegant motion. The second definition in the unabridged dictionary is "a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment." These definitions show that grace also deals with beauty, and beauty is definetly a pleasing quality. One interesting thing I discovered is there once was a game called "the graces." The game was played with hoops and a pair of slender rods. It got its name because it helps develop graceful movements of the arms (OED).

The second definition for the word grace is "favour." "It is a matter of favour not of right" (OED). The OED contains some old terms using the word grace. These include, "save your graces," meaning "may it not displease you." Another is "by grace of," meaning "thanks to." This definition relates grace to being like forgiveness, as when a person asks for forgiveness he is asking a favour. A favour is usually asking someone to do something for you that you don't deserve. Being in a person's "good graces" implies being in his favour and good opinion (OED).

An obsolete definition that I found interesting was "a gratuity or douceur" (OED). I would never have associated grace with a tip. This is another example of finding favour. For example, a server at a restaurant must find favour with the customer, and his reward is the gratuity left for him.

The OED also associates the grace definition of "favour" in a religious sense. The OED refers to "the grace of God" or "free grace", as "unmerited favor of God." Another definition for "the grace of God" is the divine influence which operates in men to regenerate and sanctify. This definition tells of the abilities a Christian has through God's grace. Different religious terms that apply to grace are as follows: "A state of grace" is the condition of one who is under divine influence. The "year of grace" is a year as reckoned from the birth of Christ (OED).

The term "days of grace" refers to the period (in England three days) allowed by law for the payment of a bill of exchange, after the expiration of the term for which it is drawn (OED). This is where we get our "grace period" used with credit card, mortgage, and loan payments today.

Another form of grace is used when talking to highly respected people such as queens, kings, and archbishops. People under such authority often call them "Your grace" when speaking

to them (OED). This is considered a sign of respect toward royalty, which is still used today.

One definition I found that I liked refers to "grace notes." Grace notes are, "an embellishment consisting of additional notes introduced into vocal or instrumental music, not essential to the harmony or melody." I'm a singer, so I know from experience that grace notes can be very fun. They allow the musician to intertwine his/her own personal style into a song (OED).

The last definition for the word grace in the OED is "thanks" or "thanksgiving". Grace is still used today in the form of thanks when a person "says grace." People, Christians inparticular, still say grace today before partaking in a meal. This is a way of thanking God for providing their food.

Even William Shakespeare refers to grace in a few of his plays. One such play is Hamlet. The following is an example of the word grace used in Hamlet. Stay illusion! If thou hast any sound or use of voice,Speak to me! If there be any good thing to be done

That may to thee do ease and grace to me, Speak to me! (1.1.134-139)

Here Horatio is speaking to a ghost that looks very much like Hamlet's father. Horatio is shouting at the ghost, almost commanding the ghost to talk to him. I believe Shakespeare uses

the word grace here in the form of "receiving something that is undeserved." Horatio doesn't deserve ...

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