Julian of Norwich: Weekly Summary — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Julian of Norwich: Weekly Summary

Julian of Norwich

Saturday, May 16, 2020
Summary: Sunday, May 10 — Friday, May 15, 2020

Like all mystics, Julian realized that what Jesus was saying about himself, he was simultaneously saying about all of reality. That is what unitive consciousness allows you to see. (Sunday)

Perhaps the best answer to the question “Why Julian now?” is that in our age of uncertainty, inconceivable suffering, and seemingly perpetual violence and war . . . Julian shows us the way toward contemplative peace. —Veronica Mary Rolf (Monday)

The love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person. —Julian of Norwich (Tuesday)

It follows that as truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother. Our Father wills, our Mother works, our good Lord the Holy Ghost confirms. Therefore it belongs to us to love our God, in whom we have our being. —Julian of Norwich (Wednesday)

Julian’s radical insistence that we know there is “no anger in God” directs us all to look at ways in which we project our own bitterness, anger, and vengeance upon God. —Mary C. Earle (Thursday)

“When he said these gentle words,” Julian writes, speaking of God-the-Mother, “he showed me that he does not have one iota of blame for me, or for any other person. So, wouldn’t it be unkind of me to blame God for my transgressions since he does not blame me?” —Julian of Norwich (Friday)


Practice: Nothing Will Separate Us From Love

In a way we may find difficult to understand today, prayer was absolutely essential for people in earlier times. People in the Middle Ages did not know the division between science and faith that impacts us today. Mystics, saints, and everyday people would have spent much of their time earnestly bringing their pain and longings to God. Surely, if we are willing to do the same, we may find some measure of solace. Theologian Bruce G. Epperly describes Julian’s life and faith:

Life was particularly difficult in the fourteenth century. Plague, death, and social upheaval characterized everyday life. Death equalized the wealthy and impoverished, and no place could offer escape from the ravages of disease. Scholars believe that unnamed mystic Julian, whose name came from her cathedral home, lived through three plagues and may have lost her husband and children to the dreaded Black Death. Despite the tragedy and loss she experienced, Julian affirmed that God will redeem all things, all sin will be forgiven, and everyone will find wholeness in God’s everlasting realm. . . .

Julian was painfully aware of life’s contingency. She no doubt saw thousands die from the plague. . . . She survived a life-threatening illness. Still she trusted God’s promise, “You will be safe. You will not be overcome.” God holds the future in God’s hands; what mortals plan for evil, God can turn into an opportunity for growth. God your Mother will protect you and God your Father will guide you through all the seasons of life.

I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38–39).

Consider your greatest fears and place them in the passage along with Paul’s list. For example, you may make affirmations such as:

  • Cancer [or other illnesses] will not separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Unemployment will not separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Bereavement will not separate me from the love of God.

Let go of your burdens, including your sin, guilt, and shame, to a Wisdom and Guidance greater than your own. Imperfection is inevitable in earthly life, but all shall be well.

We invite you to spend some time with the following “Prayer of Awareness and Transformation”:

Holy Wisdom, Mother God, you hold my time in your hands. Your providence guides the stars and my cells. Your compassion opens my heart to healing in the midst of pain. Help me rest in you, trusting the future in your care and giving comfort to those who mourn, hurt, and face personal challenge. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Bruce G. Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World (Upper Room Books, 2017) 98–101.

For Further Study:
Mary C. Earle, Julian of Norwich: Selections from Revelations of Divine Love—Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Paths: 2013)

Julian of Norwich: Showings, trans. Edmund Colledge and James Walsh (Paulist Press: 1978)

The Revelations of Divine Love of Julian of Norwich, trans. James Walsh (Harper and Brothers: 1961). Walsh’s earlier translations preserves more of Julian’s own words.

The Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love, eds. Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins (Pennsylvania State University Press: 2006). This book offers a close transcription of Julian’s original text, along with extensive notes.

Richard Rohr and James Finley, Intimacy: The Divine Ambush (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), CD, MP3 download

Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013)

Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008)

Veronica Mary Rolf, An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich (IVP Academic: 2018)

Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019)

Image credit: Revelations of Divine Love (detail), mid-15th century, (Add MS 37790) f. 97r from The British Library Manuscript, The British Library, London, England.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Julian [of Norwich] experienced . . . sixteen visions, or “showings” as she called them, all on one May night in 1373 when she was very sick and near death. As a priest held a crucifix in front of her, Julian saw Jesus suffering on the cross and heard him speaking to her for several hours . . . then she patiently spent twenty years as an anchorite in contemplation and prayer, trusting God to help her discern the deeper meanings to be found in the visions. Finally, she wrote a long [text] titled Revelations of Divine Love. —Richard Rohr
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