Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich
(c. 1342-1416)

   In fourteenth-century England, a young woman prayed that God would grant her the three things she most desired. She longed for a vivid understanding of Christ's Passion, to feel as close to Him as Mary Magdalene had felt. She longed for severe bodily sickness in her thirtieth year, so that, by nearly dying, she might live more truly in worship for the remainder of her life. Finally, she longed for the gift of three wounds:

     The wound of deep contrition,
     The wound of kind compassion
     The wound of earnest longing for God.

   The first of these desires passed from her mind eventually and so did the second; the third stayed with her continually. She might have forgotten the other prayers, but God forgets nothing, and halfway through her thirtieth year she fell gravely ill. On the 8th of May, 1373, the young woman lay on her deathbed and found all that she had yearned for, granted in a series of sixteen visions. She came to understand God as a loving Creator, who, for the sake of Love, would allow no soul to be lost. God assured her, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

   After she received these visions, she recovered from her illness, and settled into a life of contemplative prayer as an anchoress in the Church of St. Julian in Norwich. "Dame Julian" became well-known for her sound spiritual guidance, and her Revelations of Divine Love have survived, and still speak with clarity.

   What follows is Julian's fifth revelation, related here in the original English, and followed by a translation done by Father John-Julian, O.J.N.

Fifth Showing
(From A Revelation of Love, received 1373)

   How God is to us everythyng that is gode, tenderly wrappand us; and all thyng that is made, in regard to almighty God, it is nothyng; and how man hath no rest till he noweth himselfe and all thyng for the love of God - the v chapter.

   In this same time our lord shewed me a ghostly sight of his homely loveing. I saw that he is to us everythyng that is good and comfortable for us. He is our clotheing that for love wrappith us, halseth us and all beclosyth us for tender love, that hee may never leave us, being to us althyng that is gode, as to myne understondyng. Also in this he shewed a littil thyng, the quantitye of an hesil nutt in the palme of my hand; and it was as round as a balle. I lokid thereupon with eye of my understondyng and thowte: 'What may this be?' And it was generally answered thus: 'It is all that is made.' I mervellid how it might lesten, for methowte it might suddenly have fallen to nowte for littil. And I was answered in my understondyng: 'It lesteth and ever shall, for God loveth it; and so allthyng hath the being be the love of God.' In this littil thyng I saw iii properties: the first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the iiid, that God kepith it. But what is to me sothly the maker, the keper, and the lover I canot tell; for, till I am substantially onyd to him, I may never have full rest ne very blisse; that is to sey, that I be so festined to him that there is right nowte that is made betwixt my God and me. It needyth us to have knoweing of the littlehede of creatures and to nowtyn all thyng that is made for to love and have God that is unmade. For this is the cause why we be not all in ease of herete and soule: for we sekyn here rest in these thyngs that is so littil, wherin is no rest, and know not our God that is almighty, al wise, all gode; for he is the very rest. God will be knowen, and him liketh that we rest in him; for all that is beneth him sufficeth not us; and this is the cause why that no soule is restid till it is nowted of all thyngs that is made. Whan he is willfully nowtid, for love to have him that is all, then is he abyl to receive ghostly rest. Also our lord God shewed that it is full gret plesance to him that a sily soule come to him nakidly and pleynly and homely. For this is the kinde yernings of the soule by the touching of the Holy Ghost, as be the understondyng that I have in this sheweing: 'God, of thy goodnesse, give me thyselfe; for thou art enow to me and I may nothyng aske that is less that may be full worshippe to thee. And if I aske anything that is lesse, ever me wantith, but only in thee I have all.' And these words arn full lovesome to the soule and full nere touchen the will of God and his goodness; for his goodness comprehendith all his creatures and all his blissid works, and overpassith without end, for he is the endleshede. And he hath made us only to himselfe and restorid us be his blissid passion and kepith us in his blissid love. And all this is of his goodness.
    -Julian of Norwich

Fifth Showing (translation)

At this same time that I saw this sight of the head bleeding, our good
     Lord showed to me a spiritual vision of His simple loving.

I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comfortable for us.
     He is our clothing which for love enwraps us,
          holds us,
       and all encloses us because of His Tender love,
              so that He may never leave us.

And so in this showing I saw that He is to us everything that is good,
     as I understand it.

Also in this revelation He showed a little thing,
     the size of a hazelnut
     in the palm of my hand,
     and it was as round as a ball.

I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought:
     "What can this be?"

And it was generally answered thus: "It is all that is made."

I marveled how it could continue,
     Because it seemed to me it could suddenly have sunk into nothing-
          ness because of its littleness.
And I was answered in my understanding:
     "It continueth and always shall, because God loveth it;
     and in this way everything hath its being by the love of God."

In this little thing I saw three characteristics:
     the first is that God made it,
     the second is that God loves it,
     the third, that God keeps it.

But what did I observe in that?
     Truly the Maker, the Lover, and the Keeper for,
          until I am in essence one-ed to Him,
          I can never have full rest nor true joy
       (that is to say,
          until I am made so fast to Him
          that there is absolutely nothing that is created
          separating my God and myself.)

It is necessary for us to have awareness
     of the littleness of created things
          and to set at naught everything that is created,
          in order to love and have God who is uncreated.

For this is the reason why we are not fully at ease in heart and soul:
     because here we seek rest in these things that are so little,
          in which there is no rest,
     and we recognize not our God who is all powerful, all wise, all
          good, for He is the true rest.

God wishes to by known,
     and He delights that we remain in Him,
     because all that is less than He is not enough for us.

And this is the reason why no soul is at rest
     until it is emptied of everything that is created.
When the soul is willingly emptied for love
     in order to have Him who is all,
     then is it able to receive spiritual rest.

Also our Lord God showed
     that it is full great pleasure to Him
     that a pitiable soul come to Him nakedly and plainly and simply.
          For this is the natural yearning of the soul,
          Thanks to the touching of the Holy Spirit,
          according to the understanding that I have in this showing -
               "God, of Thy goodness, give me Thyself;
                  for Thou are enough to me,
                  and I can ask nothing that is less
                  that can be full honor to Thee.
     And if I ask anything that is less,
        ever shall I be in want,
                  for only in Thee have I all."

These words are full lovely to the soul
     and most nearly touch upon the will of God and His goodness,
          for His goodness fills all His creatures and all His blessed works,
          and surpasses them without end,
          for He is the endlessness.

And He has made us only for Himself
     and restored us by His blessed passion
     and ever keeps us in His blessed love.

And all this is from His goodness.

-- Julian of Norwich, received 1373, translation by Fr. John-Julian, O.J.N






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