Mystic Monday: Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich
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I’ve become real interested lately in the tradition of Mystics in the Church. From Bruno to Norwich and beyond, they interest me, especially when they come to some great truth verified only centuries later. So, I thought I might do a Mystic Monday feature for a while, to highlight the great spirituality which these people had.

Julian of Norwich is the first up. She was a 14th century Englishwoman, either a nun or a laywoman, but she was the first Englishwoman to write a book. Upon what was thought to be her death bed at 31, she had intense visions of Christ. This radically changed her and accompanied her throughout her life, a life led as a spiritual authority. Her theology was compassionate, not falling into the trap of the times which saw God as the angry father using suffering as a means to humor himself. She is also classified as a proto-universalist. She believed that the reality of hell hid the mystery of the love of God. She is also a sort of proto-feminist theologian due to the fact that she saw in God both mother and father… in Christ as well. Perhaps she and I will discuss Sophia and Logos one day.

Here are some quotes from her book, Revelations,

He loves us and enjoys us, and so he wills that we love him and enjoy him, and firmly trust him; and all shall be well.

Our soul rests in God its true peace, our soul stands in God its true strength, and is deep-rooted in God for endless love.

He is our clothing. In his love he wraps and holds us. He enfolds us for love and will never let us go.

He did not say ‘You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work-weary, you shall not be discomforted’. But he did say, ‘You shall not be overcome.’ God wants us to heed these words so that we shall always be strong in trust, both is sorrow and in joy.

Flee to our Lord and we shall be comforted. Touch him and we shall be made clean. Cling to him and we shall be safe and sound from every kind of danger. For our courteous Lord wills that we should be at home with him as heart may think or soul may desire

Prayer fastens the soul to God, making it one with his will through the deep inward working of the Holy Spirit. So he says this, ‘Pray inwardly, even though you feel no joy in it. For it does good, though you feel nothing, see nothing, yes, even though you think you cannot pray. For when you are dry and empty, sick and weak, your prayers please me, though there be little enough to please you. All believing prayer is precious in my sight.’ God accepts the good-will and work of his servants, no matter how we feel.

There were times when I wanted to look away from the Cross, but I dared not. For I knew that while I gazed on the Cross I was safe and sound, and I was not willingly going to imperil my soul.

I was filled full of everlasting assurance, powerfully secured without any pain or fear. This experience was so happy spiritually that I felt completely at peace and relaxed; there was nothing on earth that could have disturbed me. But this lasted only for a short time, and then I was changed and I began to act with a sense of loneliness and depression and the futility of life itself, so that I hardly had the patience to continue living. No comfort or relaxation now, just ‘faith, hope and love’, and truly I felt very little of this. And yet soon after this our blessed Lord gave me once again that comfort, so pleasant and sure, so delightful and powerful, that there was no fear, no sorrow, no pain, physical and spiritual that could bother me. And then again I felt the pain; then the joy and pleasure; now the one and now the other, again and again, I suppose about 20 times. In the time of joy I could have said with S. Paul: Nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ; and in my pain I could have said with S. Peter: Save me Lord, I am perishing. This vision was shown to teach me to understand that some souls profit by experiencing this, to be comforted at one time, and at another to be left to themselves. God wishes us to know however that he keeps us safe at all times, in sorrow and in joy.

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