Today, the 8th of May, is Julian’s Feast Day, the day she received her Revelations of Divine Love! Let us rejoice that Christ chose to show his sufferings on the cross as well as his transcendent joy and bliss to her in such a visceral way, with words of wisdom and comfort that echo through the ages. And let us give thanks that in spite of persecutions and the burning of books after her death, both Julian’s Short and Long Texts were spared, and copied, and so bequeathed to us for our own time. I think if Julian were to say anything to us on her special day, it would be this:
And thus I understood that any man or woman who willingly chooses God in this lifetime for love, he may be seker (certain) that he is loved without end, with endless love that works in him that grace [of choosing God]. For he [God] wills we recollect this trustfully, that we are as seker in hope of the bliss of heaven while we are here as we shall be in sekernesse (certainty) when we are there. And ever the more pleasure and joy that we take in this sekernesse, with reverence and humility, the more it delights him.
No matter how many trials and sufferings we may have to bear; no matter how dark and dangerous the world situation may look; no matter how little we understand who we really are and why this or that is happening in our lives; and no matter how long we may have to wait for Christ to reveal himself to us, we must never give up certain hope of the bliss of divine union that awaits us! We must hope and trust “mightily” that Christ is always at work in us, and in those we love, and in the world situations; hope and trust that “alle shalle be wele” because God is pure goodness and love; hope and trust that even though we may be distressed or tempted (and often fail), we are never less loved by God; hope and trust that we may be as “certain in hope of bliss in heaven while we are here as we shall be certain when we are there.” As Christ said to Julian: “Thou shalt not be overcome.” And she wasn’t.
Happy Feast Day, dear Julian, from all those who love you! Please pray for us!
PLEASE NOTE: Excerpts above are from Julian's Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich (Orbis Books, 2013), Copyright © 2013 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. This article may not be copied or reprinted without the express permission of the author.
These revelations were shown to a simple creature that could [read] no letter the year of our Lord 1373, the eighth day of May . . .
Thus Julian begins the account of her astounding Revelations of our Lord on the 8th of May, 1373. Today is Julian’s Feast Day, when we recall her long and difficult life and her inspired Revelations – both of which I have written about in Julian’s Gospel. What do her Sixteen Revelations really mean? Julian asked that same question:
And from the time that it was shown, I desired oftentimes to know what was our lord’s meaning. And fifteen years after and more, I was answered in ghostly understanding, saying thus: “What, wouldest thou know thy lord’s meaning in this thing [the whole revelation]? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who shewed it to thee? Love. What shewed he to thee? Love. Wherefore shewed he it to thee? For love. Hold thee therein, thou shalt know more of the same. But thou shalt never know therein other without end.” Thus was I taught that love is our lord’s meaning.
Julian understood that all her Revelations were about God’s unconditional, eternal, abiding, indwelling, and (we might dare to say) utterly outrageous love for each and every one of us. Julian eventually understood this divine love as a Mother’s love that conceives, carries, gives birth in blood and water, suckles, nurtures, teaches, guides, protects, disciplines (when we are in need of it), comforts, and forgives over and over again – a Mother’s love that will never give up on us.
During Julian’s eleven hours of seeing Christ on the cross – suffering, thirsting, dying and finally in transfigured glory – Julian attests repeatedly that she never saw Christ angry, wrathful, or condemnatory. Only loving. She had watched him suffer horrendously for our sins, yet she felt no blame, only Christ’s thirst for our love. At times, she found this divine love quite overwhelming, almost unbelievable (as we also do). She had been taught that God would only forgive her after she was sorry for her sins and had done the prescribed penances. Christ showed her that it was his love that brings forth the very desire in our hearts to pray, to seek forgiveness and healing, to ask for some special grace. All Christ asks in return is her (and our) loving response.
Some have been fortunate in life to be loved unconditionally from the moment of birth. Others have no idea of what such a love might mean. It’s a love almost beyond belief. We cannot comprehend it could be so. We cannot “think” ourselves into believing it. We can only leap into it, as a child leaps into its mother’s arms. We can only trust our whole heart to it, as true lovers trust one other. We can only abandon ourselves to it and dare to assume this unconditional love in all our thoughts and attitudes about God, and in all the joys and sorrows of our lives. It takes a long time to get used to being loved that much.
But gradually, we begin to experience it, become surprised by it, accept it, and thrive in it. We feel ourselves being bathed and healed and renewed constantly within this all-embracing love. We fall into love with God and, as Julian tells us, we will never have to “come out” of this love. It is our true birthright, our “homely home.”
All of Julian’s Revelations on this very day, 641 years ago, were about love in many different forms. Her entire gospel is “a lesson of love,” a lesson we will continue to learn for all eternity: how much we are LOVED!
Happy Feast Day, Julian – and may you bless us all abundantly in love!
All text copyrighted © 2013-2018 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. No copying or reprints allowed without the express permission of the Author.