Tag Archives: Julian

Difficulty and Grace

“And this has been a comfort to me, that I choose Jesus as my Savior-by His grace. In my suffering and sorrow He has taught me that I should choose only Him for my salvation in my well being and sorrow.”

–Julian of Norwich

Long ago Julian found a way to touch the grace of God in difficult times of her life. In our very trying and difficult world ,we too, can

St Margaret's church - stained glass - geograp...

find this grace and make challenging times of life opportunities for growth and grace. Let us vow to make our difficult times teach us to rely and His grace.

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

—–1 Peter 4:13

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A Week with Julian of Norwich

This week’s Lenten Prayer guides will include a daily quote from English mystic Julian of Norwich.

Who is Julian of Norwich?

English mystic of the fourteenth century, author or recipient of the vision contained in the book known as the “Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love”.

The original form of her name appears to have been Julian. She was probably a Benedictine nun, living as a recluse in an anchorage of which traces still remain in the east part of the churchyard of St. Julian in Norwich, which belonged to Carrow Priory.

Julian Icon-filteredAccording to her book, this revelation was “shewed” to her on 8 or 14 May (the readings differ), 1373, when she was thirty years and a half old. This would refer her birth to the end of 1342. Her statement, that “for twenty years after the time of this shewing, save three months, I had teaching inwardly”, proves that the book was not written before 1393.

Like St. Catherine, Juliana has little of the dualism of body and soul that is frequent in the mystics. God is in our “sensuality” as well as in our “substance”, and the body and the soul render mutual aid: “Either of them take help of other till we be brought up into stature, as kind worketh.” Knowledge of God and knowledge of self are inseparable: we may never come to the knowing of one without the knowing of the other. “God is more nearer to us than our own soul”, and “in falling and rising we are ever preciously kept in one love.” She lays special stress upon the “homeliness” and “courtesy” of God’s dealings with us, “for love maketh might and wisdom full meek to us.” With this we must correspond by a happy confidence; “failing of comfort” is the “most mischief” into which the soul can fall. In the Blessed Virgin the Lord would have all mankind see how they are loved

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More through Grace

JulianThe passion came to my mind as a result of my prayers. I had a great empathy with the passion of Christ but it was clear that God could give me more through His grace.

—-Julian of Norwich

Lady Julian lived the simple life of a hermit, but she knew that she could experience limitless revelation through the grace of God. One of her great desires of life was to feel the pain and abandonment of the passion of Christ. This knowledge would allow her to better understand the depth of God’s extravagant love towards us.

Like Lady Julian, we can have more of God through His grace. Words could not adequately express how much more God wants to give to us if we only ask. We have long settled for second best, because we have depended on our ability and not his grace to take us on this quest. Julian urges us to call upon His grace.

She was keenly aware that she could never really attain her goal of viscerally experiencing the pain and sorrow of the passion of the Christ except through grace. The kind of grace that allows us to achieve beyond our ability or strength is what desire. What a sad fact it is that most people turn to “self-help” and expect to find the answers to life’s great mysteries in manmade formulas. This lesson of Julian is that grace is the way to achieve more.

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Brave Knights and Heroic Courage

03.365 (02.08.2009) Faith

“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”

—-C S Lewis

Not just children, but all of us need to experience brave knights and heroic courage. Every follower of Christ experiences difficult and dark times and without the encouragement of seeing others overcome adversities, we will fall utterly exhausted. With so many cruel enemies that prey upon the people of sincerity and faith, it is necessary that believers see and experience the stories of the giants of the faith.

For far too many years I neglected to acknowledge the suffering of my soul. Somehow I thought that if I lived a holy enough life, won enough spiritual victories, and just closed my eyes and prayed hard enough all things would be well. In Hebrews Chapter 11 we are given a long list of the behaviors of people of faith and there heroic lives. I have found great strength from the Fathers of the Church who withstood great afflictions to establish the Church that sustains us today. In studying the spiritual and physical afflictions of mystics Julian of Norwich and John of the Cross, I know that sufferings need not be hollow and spiritually useless. If we look closely enough, we can find present day heroes that quietly and faithfully practice their faith in our world. Their spiritual journeys enliven and strengthen my faith. Christians need to seek out and find strength in the stories of brave knights and heroic courage.

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Filed under C. S. Lewis, Devotional Quotes, Encouragement

Discovering the Desert of My Soul

Candle PrayerI don’t exactly know why, but a few years ago I felt a real spiritual unction to study Christian Mysticism. My first thought was to look at the experiences of the monks of the desert. These Desert Fathers fled to the parched lands of Egypt to escape the “one size fits all” Christianity of Constantine’s Empire. The Abbas of the desert wanted to experience God as they thought He wanted to be experienced. That experience would not come as a result of legislated belief at the point of the sword of a Roman Legion. That kind of belief was no belief at all, for such a faith had to be discovered within their own souls. They could experience God in a mysterious way in their desert monasteries, and then direct others by sharing these experiences. God is a mystery, and He is best seen in a mystical way. In the desert they would find the Spirit that had apparently left the organized church, and indeed, they did. They were the first mystics.

 Many factors prohibited this mystical movement from being the major driving force of the church. All throughout history there have been famous mystics. Notable ones are, Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Ignatius of Loyola. I wanted to learn as much from them as I could, but in the middle of that experience something happened to my own way of thinking. Suddenly, the idea of certainty of belief was replaced with a deep, abiding appreciation for the mysterious nature of God. After all belief in God is mystery, not certainty, and can best be understood through the eyes of the mystic.

 I don’t claim to be a Christian mystic at the level of the people I have mentioned, but I do contend that thinking as a mystic can open new panoramas of faith. These panoramas can lead to a much broader view of the work of God, and a more intimate involvement with Him. Things like meditation, Lectio Divina, silence, and icons have taken on a new meaning in my life. They have become invitations to spiritual portals that I never knew existed.

Major realities I discovered by embracing Christian Mysticism:

  • God does live within me
  • God really speaks to me (not audibly)
  • God protects me at all times
  • God gives me strength beyond my ability
  • God owes me nothing
  • Evil wins sometime
  • Suffering is a spiritual discipline
  • Scripture is the Word of God and it still lives
  • Silence is the loudest prayer
  • Silence is a portal to God
  • There is more than one right answer

My journey into mysticism has not so much brought me closer to God, as it has helped me to understand how far I have to go. Jubilantly, I can say that I am not alone on the journey. He is with me! The mystical, monastic journey brought me to the desert of my soul, and there I found the face of God. I continue to travel through that desert with the traveling companions I have discovered. Thanks for reading this story and the other stories that I have written about these mystics who have become my friends.

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Filed under Christian Living, Contemplation, Desert Fathers, Icons, Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, Lectio Divina, Silence

Prayer / Communication with God

And thus prayer makes accord betwixt God and man’s soul. For when the soul is tempted, troubled and left to itself byCandle Prayer
unrest, then it is time to pray, and make himself simple and obedient to God.
—–Julian of Norwich

This thought takes us straight to our communication with God.

  • How often do we pray?
  • Why do we pray?
  • How do we pray?
  • Is prayer a priority in our lives?

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Julian of Norwich

Church of St Julian, Norwich

Church of St Julian, Norwich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.”

—-Julian of Norwich

Julian was an anchoress. An anchoress is one who lives a solitary life, and dedicates that life to getting closer to God. Very little is known of Julian beyond her work, “Revelation of Divine Love.” She is the first woman who wrote a theological work in the English language. Her sufferings and wisdom still speak loudly today.In the coming weeks I will be blogging about the works of Lady Julian now and again. This quote is just the beginning.

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