Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Hands together and eyes closed --- and pray



It’s important to find a posture that actually works for us, when we pray. In the past, most people prayed while kneeling down, with their hands together. Why?

     Medieval societies were highly organised in terms of people’s social status, with the king at the very top and slaves at the bottom. Everyone knew their place in such a society, so everyone was conscious of status and looked above and below to preserve order. It was important.

        One of the ways in which this feudal society maintained its order was a simple display of status known as ‘homage’. For example peasants would pay homage to their local baron; barons would pay homage to their lord; and lords all paid homage to the king at the top of this social pyramid.

The rite of homage was simple. The person of lower status knelt before the person of higher status. As he knelt, he placed his hands together in front of his face. His overlord stood before him (or sat on a throne), and placed his own hands over the hands of his underling. Prayers and oaths were said, and thereby cemented the feudal bond.

        In exactly the same way, when we come before God, we acknowledge that he is vastly greater than we are. So we pay him homage and renew our relationship. We do so kneeling before him, with our hands together and outstretched before us.

Image result for homage

Image of King Edward III of England paying homage to the king of France as his feudal overlord.
© The
National library of Paris
 

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