In meditating on the Fourteenth Revelation, Julian writes about the great importance of thanksgiving. But she does not talk about giving thanks for “things” or “health” or “success” or even being spared from disaster. She considers thanksgiving as a continual state of mind, “a true, inward knowing, with great reverence and lovely dread” (that is, awe in God’s presence). For Julian the prayer of thanksgiving is our ongoing act of worship.
Julian reveals that sometimes this prayer of thanksgiving is so overwhelming that it breaks out in full voice saying: “Good lord, grant mercy, blessed may thou be!” It is a sudden realization of the sheer wonder of being alive, being loved, being liberated from sin, being blessed by God. Indeed, of simply being.
At other times, when the heart feels dry and empty, or else is undergoing temptations, Julian admits that then prayer “is driven by reason and by grace to cry aloud to our Lord, remembering his blessed passion and his great goodness.” In such times, she stresses the importance of remembering all the great works (such as the work of our salvation) that Christ has done for us in the past and is doing in the present and will continue to do in the future. We are to rejoice in them all – even those that have not yet happened.
Either in joy or in sorrow, Julian believes that when we remember in a spirit of thanksgiving, the power of the Lord enters the soul, enlivens the heart, begins a new spiritual work by means of grace, and enables the soul to pray more blissfully and to rejoice in him. “This is a very lovely thanking in his sight.” In fact, it is the essence of thanksgiving: to know in the depths of our soul from whom we receive our life, our breath, our courage, and our hope in every moment.
Let us give thanks for each other this Thanksgiving Day. Let us give thanks for specific blessings that have been bestowed upon us, and for all the times of fear and suffering that God has enabled us to survive. Let us also take time out from the hustle and bustle of preparations for the feast to spend time in silent contemplation in order to experience “a true, inward knowing, with great reverence and lovely dread.” Then, like Julian, we may feel an inspired prayer of joy-filled thanksgiving rise up in our hearts for the pure reality of God, the ground and source of all our reality:
And so the power of our Lord’s word converts the soul, and enlivens the heart, and initiates a true work of the soul by God’s grace, and make the soul able to pray most blissfully and truly to enjoy ourselves in our Lord. This is complete and lovely thanksgiving in his sight.
A blessed Thanksgiving to you all!
PLEASE NOTE: The quotations above are from Julian's Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books), Copyright © 2013 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. This article may not be copied or reprinted without the written permission of the author.
All text copyrighted © 2013-2018 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. No copying or reprints allowed without the express permission of the Author.