In her Sixteenth Revelation, Julian has a spiritual vision of the Lord sitting in her soul in peace and rest, in fullest glory and honor.
The place that Jesus takes in our soul he shall never leave it without end, as to my sight, for in us is his homeliest home and his endless wonning [dwelling, home]. . . This was a delectable sight and a restful shewing that is without end. And the beholding of this while we are here, it is very pleasant o God, and a very great benefit to us. And the soul that thus beholds, makes itself like to him that it is beheld, and oneth it [becomes one with it] in rest and in peace by his grace. And this was a singular joy and bliss to me that I saw him sit, for the sekernesse of sitting shewed endless dwelling.
Julian takes great comfort in this final Revelation that God dwells in her soul. And she is certain that God wants us all to take the same comfort through the practice of “beholding.”
This type of contemplative prayer (waiting on God, in stillness, without asking for anything) gives God great pleasure and the soul great profit. Such silent prayer forms the soul into a truer image and likeness of the very One who is being contemplated.
Julian is especially delighted that she saw the Lord seated
in her soul (rather than standing or moving), because sitting symbolizes the familiar rest one takes at home, in complete contentment, peace and love. God is not going anywhere. It is we who rush about, too busy with our lives and too distracted by our sufferings to take time to experience his inward presence. He thirsts for us to “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Ps 46:10). And if we come to him with our labors and our
heavy burdens, he promises to give us true rest (Mt 11:28). Julian rejoices that God’s true dwelling is forever in the soul. As Christ said to his disciples: “the kingdom of God is among you” (Lk 17:21).
And he [Christ] gave me knowing truthfully that it was he who
shewed me all before . . . “Know it now well, it was no raving that thou saw today. But take it and believe it, and keep thee therein, and comfort thee therewith, and trust thee thereto, and thou shalt not be overcome.”
Julian is given confirmation, not through audible sound but in
the depths of contemplative silence, that what she had experienced in her Revelations was no "raving," as she had temporarily feared, and certainly not "madness." Julian receives this tender reassurance with immense gratitude. She declares that these last words Christ spoke in her heart were said to teach her absolute certainty that all the Revelations had come directly from himself, and that she should accept, believe, and hold onto them with her life. She was also instructed to take comfort in them during times of temptation and suffering, and in moments of darkness to trust all that she had seen in the light.
And just as in the first word that our good lord revealed, meaning his blessed passion—“Herewith is the fiend overcome”—just so he said in the last word with very true sekernesse, meaning us all: “Thou shalt not be overcome.” And all this learning and this true comfort, it is general for all my evencristens, as it is before said, and such is God’s will.
These words of reassurance are not for Julian only; they are to be applied generally for all who read and take her Revelations to heart. If we reflect on them, trust in them, and learn to take comfort in them, we will not be overcome by temptations to doubt, or to despair. Julian is very insistent about this. She reiterates that these words, “Thou shalt not be overcome,” were said by Christ most fiercely and passionately, to give us “sekernesse and comfort against all tribulation that may come."
"Thou Shalt Not Be Overcome"
He did not say, “Thou shalt not be tempested [tormented], thou
shalt not be travailed [wearied], thou shalt not be diseased [distressed],” but he said, “Thou shalt not be overcome.” God wills that we take heed of this word, and that we be ever mighty in seker trust, in wele and woe. For he loves us and likes [delights in] us, and so he wills that we love him and like him and mightily trust in him, and alle shalle be wele.
Julian clarifies that the Revelations of God’s love, mercy, grace,
and protection will not prevent us from suffering what we must
endure as a result of our personal and communal sin, and because of our imperfections. The shewings will not stop disappointment, betrayal, failure, illness, aging, tragic accidents, untimely deaths. These are the common lot of humanity. Nor do the Revelations ever guarantee that our spiritual lives will proceed smoothly, that our relationships will be without conflict, that everything we strive for will be accomplished. Nor are these words of Christ meant to belittle the depths of our private agonies. But they are meant to reassure us that, no matter how tormented or desperate we may become, we will not be overcome by the darkness of evil.
God wants us to rely on his care in good times and bad, in success and in failure, in joy and sorrow. He is our Mother who loves us simply because he loves us, not because of what we do or fail to do. God likes being in our lives. He enjoys dwelling within our souls as in his homeliest home. He wants
nothing more than that we love him, and really, really like him, and always trust in him. If we do, “alle shalle be wele,” even though we cannot imagine how.
PLEASE NOTE: Quotations above are from Chapter Twenty-four of Julian's Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2013, 2014), Copyright © 2013 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. This article may not be copied or reprinted without the written permission of the author.
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All text copyrighted © 2013-2018 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. No copying or reprints allowed without the express permission of the Author.