Friday, January 8, 2010

About the title of my blog

Here are two excerpts from a thread on The Ancient Way forums about the phrase Kyrie Eleison (which is Greek for Lord have mercy btw):

From Wikipedia:

Kýrie is from the Greek word κύριε (kyrie), the vocative case of κύριος (kyrios), meaning O Lord. It is the common name of an important prayer of Christian liturgy, also called Kýrie, eléison which is Greek for Lord, have mercy.

In the Eastern Christianity (including be Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic), the phrase Kýrie, eléison (Greek: Κύριε ἐλέησον) or its equivalents in other languages is the most oft-repeated phrase.

The various litanies, popular in Orthodox Christianity, generally have Lord, have mercy as their response, either singly or triply. Some petitions in these litanies will have twelve or even forty repetitions of the phrase as a response.

The phrase is the origin of the Jesus Prayer, beloved of Eastern Christians belonging to the Byzantine rite, and increasingly popular amongst Western Christians today.

The biblical roots of this prayer first appear in 1 Chronicles 16:34
...give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever...

This is key to fully understanding the Greek Kýrie, eléison. In this respect, the prayer is simultaneously a petition and a prayer of thanksgiving; an acknowledgment of what God has done, what God is doing, and what God will continue to do. This prayer is refined by Christ Himself in Luke 18:9-14 (KJV) The Parable of The Publican, where we see more clearly the connection to the Jesus Prayer: "God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" (KJV)

And from Evlogia:

One of the most beautiful thoughts that I have pondered through this day was offered by Matushka on the meaning of the word mercy. In the Jesus Prayer we repeatedly pray the words have mercy on me...have mercy on me. For what are we praying? And why are we praying this 33, 50, 100 or more times? Matushka pointed out that the meaning of the Greek word for mercy, eleison, is lost in English translation. Often our English words have already been charged with meaning before they are borrowed to explain the truths of Faith. This leads to confusion. Often we use the same words, but mean different things by them.

Remember the childhood game in which one child pulls back the fingers of another until the contorted child can no longer take the discomfort? The child yells out in a panic, "Mercy!" In English we often think of the petition for mercy as begging God to show us His love and compassion, asking Him to stop doing whatever it is that is making us uncomfortable. But that is not what mercy means, at least not within the Orthodox mindset.
Eleison literally translates into an image of one pouring oil on a wound. In the ancient world olive oil was treasured for its medicinal properties and was used on both the sick and wounded. Recall the parable of the Good Samaritan. The wounds of the man lying half-dead were bandaged and anointed with oil by the compassionate Samaritan man. When we pray Kyrie elesion me, we are asking God to pour His healing Grace on our wounds and heal us. We are asking God to make us whole. Are we not the man lying half-dead in sin, waiting for the Physician of our souls to heal us of the great disease of sin?

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, heal me with the balm of your Love because I am wounded. That is the Jesus Prayer.

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