Life, Love, and Light
Over the years, Julian of Norwich received an additional illumination about three characteristics of God, which were shown in all the revelations: life, love, and light. By life, she understood God’s “marvelous homeliness” or intimacy in the very ground of our being; by love, God’s “gentle courtesy” and unceasing care for souls; and by light, God’s “eternal being,” which never changes in its attitude toward us. She also marveled at the fact that our faculty of reason functions within God and that it “is the highest gift that we have received, and it is grounded in nature.” She further realized that, in addition to the gift of reason, we have been given the most precious gift of faith:
Our faith is a light, naturally coming from our endless day that is our father, God; in which light our mother, Christ, and our good lord, the holy ghost, lead us in this mortal life. . . . And at the end of woe, suddenly our eye shall be opened, and in clearness of sight our light shall be full, which light is God our maker, father and holy ghost in Christ Jesus our savior. Thus I saw and understood that our faith is our light in our night, which light is God, our endless day.
For Julian, the deep source of both our faith and our light is none other than divine love, which continually pours itself out to us in the exact measure that we need, and that we can bear to receive, at any given moment. This pure, spiritual love that flows to us from God, which Julian calls “charity,” keeps us firm in our faith and in hope; and faith and hope lead to ever greater charity. This charity is never a selfish love, which would seek its own good. On the contrary, charity loves God, and loves itself in God, and loves all that God loves, solely for the sake of God. Echoing St. Paul, Julian concludes: “And at the end alle shalle be charity.”
At this sacred season of Christmas, when we are yearning for light to break into the darkness and desolation of our world, let us reflect on Julian’s words. Let us take heart that our faith IS the light of divine presence in our souls; that our hope IS the promise that “all shall be well”; and that our love IS the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Let us rejoice that though we may seem to walk in darkness, by God’s grace, we are filled with life, love, and light. May this realization flood us with joy this Christmas when Christ our Light is born!
I wish you all a most blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!
PLEASE NOTE: The excerpts above are from "An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich" (InterVarsity Academic Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. This article may not be copied or reprinted without the express 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.