38 Julian of Norwich: Revelations of Divine Love (Selections)

“Statue of Julian of Norwich,” Norwich Cathedral, by David Holgate FSDC, 2010. Wikimedia Commons.

Introduction

by Megan Lamontagne and Charlotte Shamooshaki

 

Revelations of Divine Love, written in the 14th century by an anchoress, Julian of Norwich, is remembered today as the first work in the English language written by a woman (“Middle Ages”). It details the visions she experienced while ill in bed (“Julian of Norwich”). There are two versions of the text: a “Short Text” and a “Long Text.” The “Short Text” was written soon after the visions, and the “Long Text” was composed twenty years later (“About Julian of Norwich”). The original manuscript does not exist anymore but survives instead through copied versions completed by scribes and preserved in private libraries until 1910 but only a single copy has survived to this day (“Julian of Norwich”).

 

Summary

Julian received the revelations (based on sixteen visions) on the 8th of May 1373; they reflect her understanding of a deep truth about the love of Christ and his sufferings, and the reason behind them. It is meant to open the reader’s eyes to his endless love, his compassion, and many reasons why one should trust in God (“About Julian of Norwich”).

According to the text, when she is thirty years old, Julian becomes gravely ill and waits for her death while having her eyes fixed on the crucifix above her bed. Her sight begins to fail, with shortness of breath, and she is certain that she is dying, when suddenly all her pain is taken away from her and she feels at ease. At that moment, she desires to suffer with Jesus. She sees Christ bleeding “as it were in the time of His Passion” (Norwich). She also sees Mary, and “the wisdom and the truth of her soul”. God shows her “His homely loving” and she understands that God is everything that is good for humanity. Nevertheless, she still wonders about the reasons as to why sin is allowed to exist, to which Jesus responds that in spite of sin, “all shall be well” (Norwich). She learns about the trinity and how everything is based on that. Julian then refers to Jesus as a kind, loving mother because “we have our Being of Him”. She also learns about the importance of being humble and meek. And in the end, God shows her the meaning and the reason behind everything (all that he did and will do for his children) is love (Norwich).

When Julian recovers from her illness, on the 13th of May, she starts writing about her visions in a short version, but after studying and meditating on the meaning of the visions, she writes the second draft—the “Long Version”—which consists of eighty-six chapters (“Julian of Norwich”).

 

Biography

Born in 1342, Julian of Norwich was a 14th-century mystic who lived as an anchorite in the church of Saint Julian. There is not any clear record of her death, but it is believed that it may have occurred in 1416. There is also no evidence that her name was actually Julian; it has been suggested that she was called “Julian” because of her association with the Julian Church. She is often depicted with a cat, as it was her only companion while confined to her cell (Bauer). Julian is also known as Juliana, “Dame Julian” or “Mother Julian”. She served as a counselor and adviser, and played an important part in her community, providing prayers, advice, and counsel to the people who sought her wisdom (including, quite famously, Margery Kempe).

 

Themes

Julian recounts her visions in the Short Text and in the Long Text; both texts embody similar literary themes of love, sacrifice and suffering, and the mysticism surrounding God’s identity (Norwich). Julian displays the power of love by explaining how she feels when she is united with the love of God. Themes of sacrifice and suffering often appear in religious texts and Julian of Norwich and her Revelations are no exception. Julian frequently refers to Jesus and his suffering and expresses how she herself wants to suffer with God. One of the most famous aspects of Julian’s Revelations is how she refers to Jesus as a mother (Norwich). The gender role reversal of God and association of Jesus to the divine feminine was revolutionary at the time.

 

Historical Background

Julian of Norwich lived in an era where the church played a central role in the lives of every English person, however, it would soon face a crisis as tensions between the church and state grew. The monarchies strove to increase their power over their respective lands while additionally trying to finance new land to expand. To help finance the feat of expansion, the monarchy began to tax the clergy, creating friction between the church and royal court (“Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich: A Study Guide for Adventists”). In response, the Church, which believed it should be spared from the additional tax, exercised extreme papal power by mandating every person be subject to the Roman pontiff (“Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich: A Study Guide for Adventists”). The 14th-century was filled with chaos and turmoil, all of which Julian lived through while she was experiencing her visions.


Works Cited

“Julian of Norwich.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, N.d. Web. 12 Jun 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_of_Norwich

“About Julian of Norwich.”  The Julian Centre, N.d. Web. 12 Jun 2019. juliancentre.org/about/about-julian-of-norwich.html

Bauer, M. (2019). Julian of Norwich. [online] YouTube. 12 Jun 2019. youtube.com/watch?v=vJEfvLVBtFs

“Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich: A Study Guide for Adventists.” Spectrum Magazine, 22 Aug. 2012, spectrummagazine.org/article/delcy-kuhlman/2012/08/22/revelations-divine-love-julian-norwich-study-guide-adventists.

Norwich, Julian. “Revelations of Divine Love (Selections).”An Open Companion for British Literature I, Pressbooks, 22 Jan. 2019, earlybritishlit.pressbooks.com/chapter/julian-of-norwich-revelations-of-divine-love-selections/.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does the author mean when she refers to Jesus as a “mother”?
  2. Why is there pain in this world, according to the messages Julian received?
  3. How do you interpret Julian’s most famous line, “all shall be well”?
  4. Why is “meekness” a virtue? What might be gained from humility?
  5. Do you think there is a reason why God chose a woman to see these visions?
  6. What was the significance of Jesus’ suffering for Julian? Why do the visions focus on the “Passion” of Christ?

Further Resources

  • A full audiobook recording of Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich. (Translated by Grace Warrack on Youtube)
  •  A short video with a summary and quotes for Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich.
  • A list of study questions that are helpful for a deeper understanding of Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich. (By Dr. L Kip Wheeler)
  • A list of additional multimedia resources about Julian of Norwich.


Reading: From Revelations of Divine Love

 

CHAPTER III [JULIAN’S BODILY SICKNESS AND THE WOUNDS OF CHRIST]

“I desired to suffer with Him”

And when I was thirty years old and a half, God sent me a bodily sickness, in which I lay three days and three nights; and on the fourth night I took all my rites of Holy Church, and weened not to have lived till day. And after this I languored forth  two days and two nights, and on the third night I weened oftentimes to have passed; and so weened they that were with me.

And being in youth as yet, I thought it great sorrow to die;—but for nothing that was in earth that meliked to live for, nor for no pain that I had fear of: for I[Pg 6] trusted in God of His mercy. But it was to have lived that I might have loved God better, and longer time, that I might have the more knowing and loving of God in bliss of Heaven. For methought all the time that I had lived here so little and so short in regard of that endless bliss,—I thought [it was as] nothing. Wherefore I thought: Good Lord, may my living no longer be to Thy worship. And I understood by my reason and by my feeling of my pains that I should die; and I assented fully with all the will of my heart to be at God’s will.

Thus I dured till day, and by then my body was dead from the middle downwards, as to my feeling. Then was I minded to be set upright, backward leaning, with help,—for to have more freedom of my heart to be at God’s will, and thinking on God while my life would last.

My Curate was sent for to be at my ending, and by that time when he came I had set my eyes, and might not speak. He set the Cross before my face and said: I have brought thee the Image of thy Maker and Saviour: look thereupon and comfort thee therewith.

Methought I was well [as it was], for my eyes were set uprightward unto Heaven, where I trusted to come by the mercy of God; but nevertheless I assented to set my eyes on the face of the Crucifix, if I might, and so I did. For methought I might longer dure to look even-forth than right up.

After this my sight began to fail, and it was all dark about me in the chamber, as if it had been night, save in the Image of the Cross whereon I beheld a common light; and I wist not how. All that was away from the Cross was of horror to me, as if it had been greatly occupied by the fiends.

After this the upper part of my body began to die, so far forth that scarcely I had any feeling;—with shortness of breath. And then I weened in sooth to have passed.

And in this [moment] suddenly all my pain was taken from me, and I was as whole (and specially in the upper part of my body) as ever I was afore.

I marvelled at this sudden change; for methought it was a privy working of God, and not of nature. And yet by the feeling of this ease I trusted never the more to live; nor was the feeling of this ease any full ease unto me: for methought I had liefer have been delivered from this world.

Then came suddenly to my mind that I should desire the second wound of our Lord’s gracious gift: that my body might be fulfilled with mind and feeling of His blessed Passion. For I would that His pains were my pains, with compassion and afterward longing to God. But in this I desired never bodily sight nor shewing of God, but compassion such as a kind soul might have with our Lord Jesus, that for love would be a mortal man: and therefore I desired to suffer with Him.

 

CHAPTER IV [CHRIST’S PASSION AND INCARNATION]

“I saw … as it were in the time of His Passion…. And in the same Shewing suddenly the Trinity filled my heart with utmost joy”

In this [moment] suddenly I saw the red blood trickle down from under the Garland hot and freshly and right plenteously, as it were in the time of His Passion when the Garland of thorns was pressed on His blessed head who was both God and Man, the same that suffered thus for me. I conceived truly and mightily that it was Himself shewed it me, without any mean.

And in the same Shewing suddenly the Trinity fulfilled my heart most of joy. And so I understood it shall be in heaven without end to all that shall come there. For the Trinity is God: God is the Trinity; the Trinity is our Maker and Keeper, the Trinity is our everlasting love and everlasting joy and bliss, by our Lord Jesus Christ. And this was shewed in the First [Shewing] and in all: for where Jesus appeareth, the blessed Trinity is understood, as to my sight.

And I said: Benedicite Domine! This I said for reverence in my meaning, with mighty voice; and full greatly was astonied for wonder and marvel that I had, that He that is so reverend and dreadful will be so homely with a sinful creature living in wretched flesh.

This [Shewing] I took for the time of my temptation,—for methought by the sufferance of God I should be tempted of fiends ere I died. Through this sight of the blessed Passion, with the Godhead that I saw in mine understanding, I knew well that It was strength enough for me, yea, and for all creatures living, against all the fiends of hell and ghostly temptation.

In this [Shewing] He brought our blessed Lady to my understanding. I saw her ghostly, in bodily likeness: a simple maid and a meek, young of age and little waxen above a child, in the stature that she was when she conceived. Also God shewed in part the wisdom and the truth of her soul: wherein I understood the reverent beholding in which she beheld her God and Maker, marvelling with great reverence that He would be born of her that was a simple creature of His making. And this wisdom and truth: knowing the greatness of her Maker and the littleness of herself that was made,—caused her to say full meekly to Gabriel: Lo me, God’s handmaid! In this sight I understood soothly that she is more than all that God made beneath her in worthiness and grace; for above her is nothing that is made but the blessed [Manhood] of Christ, as to my sight.

 

CHAPTER V [ALL CREATION AS HAZELNUT]

“God, of Thy Goodness, give me Thyself;—only in Thee I have all”

In this same time our Lord shewed me a spiritual sight of His homely loving.

I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comfortable for us: He is our clothing that for love wrappeth us, claspeth us, and all encloseth us for tender love, that He may never leave us; being to us all-thing that is good, as to mine understanding.

Also in this He shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazel-nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with eye of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: it is all that is made. I marvelled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for little[ness]. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasteth, and ever shall [last] for that God loveth it. And so All-thing hath the Being by the love of God.

In this Little Thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the third, that God keepeth it. But what is to me verily the Maker, the Keeper, and the Lover,—I cannot tell; for till I am Substantially oned to Him, I may never have full rest nor very bliss: that is to say, till I be so fastened to Him, that there is right nought that is made betwixt my God and me.

It needeth us to have knowing of the littleness of creatures and to hold as nought all-thing that is made, for to love and have God that is unmade. For this is the cause why we be not all in ease of heart and soul: that we seek here rest in those things that are so little, wherein is no rest, and know not our God that is All-mighty, All-wise, All-good. For He is the Very Rest. God willeth to be known, and it pleaseth Him that we rest in Him; for all that is beneath Him sufficeth not us. And this is the cause why that no soul is rested till it is made nought as to all things that are made. When it is willingly made nought, for love, to have Him that is all, then is it able to receive spiritual rest.

Also our Lord God shewed that it is full great pleasance to Him that a helpless soul come to Him simply and plainly and homely. For this is the natural yearnings of the soul, by the touching of the Holy Ghost (as by the understanding that I have in this Shewing): God, of Thy Goodness, give me Thyself: for Thou art enough to me, and I may nothing ask that is less that may be full worship to Thee; and if I ask anything that is less, ever me wanteth,—but only in Thee I have all.

And these words are full lovely to the soul, and full near touch they the will of God and His Goodness. For His Goodness comprehendeth all His creatures and all His blessed works, and overpasseth without end. For He is the endlessness, and He hath made us only to Himself, and restored us by His blessed Passion, and keepeth us in His blessed love; and all this of His Goodness.

 

CHAPTER VII [CHRIST AS HOMELY AND COURTEOUS]

“The Shewing is not other than of faith, nor less nor more”

And [it was] to learn us this, as to mine understanding, [that] our Lord God shewed our Lady Saint Mary in the same time: that is to say, the high Wisdom and Truth she had in beholding of her Maker so great, so holy, so mighty, and so good. This greatness and this nobleness of the beholding of God fulfilled her with reverent dread, and withal she saw herself so little and so low, so simple and so poor, in regard of her Lord God, that this reverent dread fulfilled her with meekness. And thus, by this ground [of meekness] she was fulfilled with grace and with all manner of virtues, and overpasseth all creatures.

In all the time that He shewed this that I have told now in spiritual sight, I saw the bodily sight lasting of the plenteous bleeding of the Head. The great drops of blood fell down from under the Garland like pellots, seeming as it had come out of the veins; and in the coming out they were brown-red, for the blood was full[Pg 16] thick; and in the spreading-abroad they were bright-red; and when they came to the brows, then they vanished; notwithstanding, the bleeding continued till many things were seen and understood. The fairness and the lifelikeness is like nothing but the same; the plenteousness is like to the drops of water that fall off the eaves after a great shower of rain, that fall so thick that no man may number them with bodily wit; and for the roundness, they were like to the scale of herring, in the spreading on the forehead. These three came to my mind in the time: pellots, for roundness, in the coming out of the blood; the scale of herring, in the spreading in the forehead, for roundness; the drops off eaves, for the plenteousness innumerable.

This Shewing was quick and life-like, and horrifying and dreadful, sweet and lovely. And of all the sight it was most comfort to me that our God and Lord that is so reverend and dreadful, is so homely and courteous: and this most fulfilled me with comfort and assuredness of soul.

And to the understanding of this He shewed this open example:—

It is the most worship that a solemn King or a great Lord may do a poor servant if he will be homely with him, and specially if he sheweth it himself, of a full true meaning, and with a glad cheer, both privately and in company. Then thinketh this poor creature thus: And what might this noble Lord do of more worship and joy to me than to shew me that am so simple this marvellous homeliness? Soothly it is more joy and pleasance to me than [if] he gave me great gifts and were himself strange in manner.

This bodily example was shewed so highly that man’s heart might be ravished and almost forgetting itself for joy of the great homeliness. Thus it fareth with our Lord Jesus and with us. For verily it is the most joy that may be, as to my sight, that He that is highest and mightiest, noblest and worthiest, is lowest and meekest, homeliest and most courteous: and truly and verily this marvellous joy shall be shewn us all when we see Him.

And this willeth our Lord that we seek for and trust to, joy and delight in, comforting us and solacing us, as we may with His grace and with His help, unto the time that we see it verily. For the most fulness of joy that we shall have, as to my sight, is the marvellous courtesy and homeliness of our Father, that is our Maker, in our Lord Jesus Christ that is our Brother and our Saviour.

But this marvellous homeliness may no man fully see in this time of life, save he have it of special shewing of our Lord, or of great plenty of grace inwardly given of the Holy Ghost. But faith and belief with charity deserveth the meed: and so it is had, by grace; for in faith, with hope and charity, our life is grounded. The Shewing, made to whom that God will, plainly teacheth the same, opened and declared, with many privy points belonging to our Faith which be worshipful to know. And when the Shewing which is given in a time is passed and hid, then the faith keepeth [it] by grace of the Holy Ghost unto our life’s end. And thus through the Shewing it is not other than of faith, nor less nor more; as it may be seen in our Lord’s teaching in the same matter, by that time that it shall come to the end.

 

CHAPTER XXVII [SIN IS FITTING]

Often I wondered why by the great foreseeing wisdom of God the beginning of sin was not hindered: for then, methought, all should have been well.” “Sin is behovable—[playeth a needful part]—; but all shall be well”

After this the Lord brought to my mind the longing that I had to Him afore. And I saw that nothing letted me but sin. And so I looked, generally, upon us all, and methought: If sin had not been, we should all have been clean and like to our Lord, as He made us.

And thus, in my folly, afore this time often I wondered why by the great foreseeing wisdom of God the beginning of sin was not letted: for then, methought, all should have been well. This stirring [of mind] was much to be forsaken, but nevertheless mourning and sorrow I made therefor, without reason and discretion.

But Jesus, who in this Vision informed me of all that is needful to me, answered by this word and said: It behoved that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

In this naked word sin, our Lord brought to my mind, generally, all that is not good, and the shameful despite and the utter noughting that He bare for us in this life, and His dying; and all the pains and passions of all His creatures, ghostly and bodily; (for we be all partly noughted, and we shall be noughted following our Master, Jesus, till we be full purged, that is to say, till we be fully noughted of our deadly flesh and of all our inward affections which are not very good;) and the beholding of this, with all pains that ever were or ever shall be,—and with all these I understand the Passion of Christ for most pain, and overpassing. All this was shewed in a touch and quickly passed over into comfort: for our good Lord would not that the soul were affeared of this terrible sight.

But I saw not sin: for I believe it hath no manner of substance nor no part of being, nor could it be known but by the pain it is cause of.

And thus pain, it is something, as to my sight, for a time; for it purgeth, and maketh us to know ourselves and to ask mercy. For the Passion of our Lord is comfort to us against all this, and so is His blessed will. And for the tender love that our good Lord hath to all that shall be saved, He comforteth readily and sweetly, signifying thus: It is sooth  that sin is cause of all this pain; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner [of] thing shall be well.

These words were said full tenderly, showing no manner of blame to me nor to any that shall be saved. Then were it a great unkindness to blame or wonder on God for my sin, since He blameth not me for sin.

And in these words I saw a marvellous high mystery hid in God, which mystery He shall openly make known to us in Heaven: in which knowing we shall verily see the cause why He suffered sin to come. In which sight we shall endlessly joy in our Lord God.

 

CHAPTER LVIII [JESUS AS MOTHER]

“All our life is in three: ‘Nature, Mercy, Grace.’ The high Might of the Trinity is our Father, and the deep Wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, and the great Love of the Trinity is our Lord”

God, the blessed Trinity, which is everlasting Being, right as He is endless from without beginning, right so it was in His purpose endless, to make Mankind. Which fair Kind first was prepared to His own Son, the Second Person. And when He would, by full accord of all the Trinity, He made us all at once; and in our making He knit us and oned us to Himself: by which oneing we are kept as clear and as noble as we were made. By the virtue of the same precious oneing, we love our Maker and seek Him, praise Him and thank Him, and endlessly enjoy Him. And this is the work which is wrought continually in every soul that shall be saved: which is the Godly Will aforesaid. And thus in our making, God, Almighty, is our Nature’s Father; and God, All-Wisdom, is our Nature’s Mother; with the Love and the Goodness of the Holy Ghost: which is all one God, one Lord. And in the knitting and the oneing He is our Very, True Spouse, and we His loved Wife, His Fair Maiden: with which Wife He is never displeased. For He saith: I love thee and thou lovest me, and our love shall never be disparted in two.

I beheld the working of all the blessed Trinity: in which beholding I saw and understood these three properties: the property of the Fatherhood, the property of the Motherhood, and the property of the Lordhood, in one God. In our Father Almighty we have our keeping and our bliss as anent our natural Substance, which is to us by our making, without beginning. And in the Second Person in skill and wisdom we have our keeping as anent our Sense-soul: our restoring and our[Pg 145] saving; for He is our Mother, Brother, and Saviour. And in our good Lord, the Holy Ghost, we have our rewarding and our meed-giving for our living and our travail, and endless overpassing of all that we desire, in His marvellous courtesy, of His high plenteous grace.

For all our life is in three: in the first we have our Being, in the second we have our Increasing, and in the third we have our Fulfilling: the first is Nature, the second is Mercy, and the third is Grace.

For the first, I understood that the high Might of the Trinity is our Father, and the deep Wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, and the great Love of the Trinity is our Lord: and all this have we in Nature and in the making of our Substance.

And furthermore I saw that the Second Person, which is our Mother as anent the Substance, that same dearworthy Person is become our Mother as anent the Sense-soul. For we are double by God’s making: that is to say, Substantial and Sensual. Our Substance is the higher part, which we have in our Father, God Almighty; and the Second Person of the Trinity is our Mother in Nature, in making of our Substance: in whom we are grounded and rooted. And He is our Mother in Mercy, in taking of our Sense-part. And thus our Mother is to us in diverse manners working: in whom our parts are kept undisparted. For in our Mother Christ we profit and increase, and in Mercy He reformeth us and restoreth, and, by the virtue of His Passion and His Death and Uprising, oneth us to our Substance. Thus worketh our Mother in Mercy to all His children which are to Him yielding and obedient.

And Grace worketh with Mercy, and specially in two properties, as it was shewed: which working belongeth to the Third Person, the Holy Ghost. He worketh rewarding and giving. Rewarding is a large giving-of-truth that the Lord doeth to him that hath travailed; and giving is a courteous working which He doeth freely of Grace, fulfilling and overpassing all that is deserved of creatures.

Thus in our Father, God Almighty, we have our being; and in our Mother of Mercy we have our reforming and restoring: in whom our Parts are oned and all made perfect Man; and by [reward]-yielding and giving in Grace of the Holy Ghost, we are fulfilled.

And our Substance is [in] our Father, God Almighty, and our Substance is [in] our Mother, God, All-wisdom; and our Substance is in our Lord the Holy Ghost, God All-goodness. For our Substance is whole in each Person of the Trinity, which is one God. And our Sense-soul is only in the Second Person Christ Jesus; in whom is the Father and the Holy Ghost: and in Him and by Him we are mightily taken out of Hell, and out of the wretchedness in Earth worshipfully brought up into Heaven and blissfully oned to our Substance: increased in riches and in nobleness by all the virtues of Christ, and by the grace and working of the Holy Ghost.

 

CHAPTER LIX [JESUS AS MOTHER, CONT.]

“Jesus Christ that doeth Good against evil is our Very Mother: we have our Being of Him where the Ground of Motherhood beginneth,—with all the sweet Keeping by Love, that endlessly followeth.”

And all this bliss we have by Mercy and Grace: which manner of bliss we might never have had nor known but if that property of Goodness which is God had been contraried: whereby we have this bliss. For wickedness hath been suffered to rise contrary to the Goodness, and the Goodness of Mercy and Grace contraried against the wickedness and turned all to goodness and to worship, to all these that shall be saved. For it is the property in God which doeth good against evil. Thus Jesus Christ that doeth good against evil is our Very Mother: we have our Being of Him,—where the Ground of Motherhood beginneth,—with all the sweet Keeping of Love that endlessly followeth. As verily as God is our Father, so verily God is our Mother; and that shewed He in all, and especially in these sweet words where He saith: I it am. That is to say, I it am, the Might and the Goodness of the Fatherhood; I it am, the Wisdom of the Motherhood; I it am, the Light and the Grace that is all blessed Love: I it am, the Trinity, I it am, the Unity: I am the sovereign Goodness of all manner of things. I am that maketh thee to love: I am that maketh thee to long: I it am, the endless fulfilling of all true desires.

For there the soul is highest, noblest, and worthiest,[Pg 148] where it is lowest, meekest, and mildest: and [out] of this Substantial Ground we have all our virtues in our Sense-part by gift of Nature, by helping and speeding of Mercy and Grace: without the which we may not profit.

Our high Father, God Almighty, which is Being, He knew and loved us from afore any time: of which knowing, in His marvellous deep charity and the foreseeing counsel of all the blessed Trinity, He willed that the Second Person should become our Mother. Our Father [willeth], our Mother worketh, our good Lord the Holy Ghost confirmeth: and therefore it belongeth to us to love our God in whom we have our being: Him reverently thanking and praising for our making, mightily praying to our Mother for mercy and pity, and to our Lord the Holy Ghost for help and grace.

For in these three is all our life: Nature, Mercy, Grace: whereof we have meekness and mildness; patience and pity; and hating of sin and of wickedness,—for it belongeth properly to virtue to hate sin and wickedness. And thus is Jesus our Very Mother in Nature [by virtue] of our first making; and He is our Very Mother in Grace, by taking our nature made. All the fair working, and all the sweet natural office of dearworthy Motherhood is impropriated to the Second Person: for in Him we have this Godly Will whole and safe without end, both in Nature and in Grace, of His own proper Goodness. I understood three manners of beholding of Motherhood in God: the first is grounded in our Nature’s making; the second is taking of our nature,—and there beginneth the Motherhood of Grace; the third is Motherhood of working,—and therein is a forthspreading by the same Grace, of length and breadth and height and of deepness without end. And all is one Love.

 

CHAPTER LX [JESUS AS MOTHER, CONT.]

“The Kind, loving, Mother”

But now behoveth to say a little more of this forthspreading, as I understand in the meaning of our Lord: how that we be brought again by the Motherhood of Mercy and Grace into our Nature’s place, where that we were made by the Motherhood of Nature-Love: which kindly-love, it never leaveth us.

Our Kind Mother, our Gracious Mother, for that He would all wholly become our Mother in all things, He took the Ground of His Works full low and full mildly in the Maiden’s womb. (And that He shewed in the First [Shewing] where He brought that meek Maid afore the eye of mine understanding in the simple stature as she was when she conceived.) That is to say: our high God is sovereign Wisdom of all: in this low place He arrayed and dight Him full ready in our poor flesh, Himself to do the service and the office of Motherhood in all things.

The Mother’s service is nearest, readiest, and surest: [nearest, for it is most of nature; readiest, for it is most of love; and surest] for it is most of truth. This office none might, nor could, nor ever should do to the full, but He alone. We know that all our mothers’ bearing is [bearing of] us to pain and to dying: and what is this but that our Very Mother, Jesus, He—All-Love—beareth us to joy and to endless living?—blessed may He be! Thus He sustaineth us within Himself in love; and travailed, unto the full time that He would suffer the sharpest throes and the most grievous pains that ever were or ever shall be; and died at the last. And when He had finished, and so borne us to bliss, yet might not all this make full content to His marvellous love; and that sheweth He in these high overpassing words of love: If I might suffer more, I would suffer more.

He might no more die, but He would not stint of working: wherefore then it behoveth Him to feed us; for the dearworthy love of Motherhood hath made Him debtor to us. The mother may give her child suck of her milk, but our precious Mother, Jesus, He may feed us with Himself, and doeth it, full courteously and full tenderly, with the Blessed Sacrament that is precious food of my life; and with all the sweet Sacraments He sustaineth us full mercifully and graciously. And so meant He in this blessed word where that He said: It is I that Holy Church preacheth thee and teacheth thee. That is to say: All the health and life of Sacraments, all the virtue and grace of my Word, all the Goodness that is ordained in Holy Church for thee, it is I. The Mother may lay the child tenderly to her breast, but our tender Mother, Jesus, He may homely lead us into His blessed breast, by His sweet open side, and shew therein part of the Godhead and the joys of Heaven, with spiritual sureness of endless bliss. And that shewed He in the Tenth [Shewing], giving the same understanding in this sweet word where He saith: Lo! how I loved thee; looking unto [the Wound in] His side, rejoicing.

This fair lovely word Mother, it is so sweet and so close in Nature of itself that it may not verily be said of none but of Him; and to her that is very Mother of Him and of all. To the property of Motherhood belongeth natural love, wisdom, and knowing; and it is good: for though it be so that our bodily forthbringing be but little, low, and simple in regard of our spiritual forthbringing, yet it is He that doeth it in the creatures by whom that it is done. The Kindly, loving Mother that witteth and knoweth the need of her child, she keepeth it full tenderly, as the nature and condition of Motherhood will. And as it waxeth in age, she changeth her working, but not her love. And when it is waxen of more age, she suffereth that it be beaten in breaking down of vices, to make the child receive virtues and graces. This working, with all that be fair and good, our Lord doeth it in them by whom it is done: thus He is our Mother in Nature by the working of Grace in the lower part for love of the higher part. And He willeth that we know this: for He will have all our love fastened to Him. And in this I saw that all our duty that we owe, by God’s bidding, to Fatherhood and Motherhood, for [reason of] God’s Fatherhood and Motherhood is fulfilled in true loving of God; which blessed love Christ worketh in us. And this was shewed in all [the Revelations] and especially in the high plenteous words where He saith: It is I that thou lovest.

 

CHAPTER LXI [JESUS AS MOTHER, CONT.]

“By the assay of this falling we shall have an high marvellous knowing of Love in God, without end. For strong and marvellous is that love which may not, nor will not, be broken for trespass”

And in our spiritual forthbringing He useth more tenderness of keeping, without any likeness: by as much as our soul is of more price in His sight. He kindleth our understanding, He directeth our ways, He easeth our conscience, He comforteth our soul, He lighteneth our heart, and giveth us, in part, knowing and believing in His blissful Godhead, with gracious mind in His sweet Manhood and His blessed Passion, with reverent marvelling in His high, overpassing Goodness; and maketh us to love all that He loveth, for His love, and to be well-pleased with Him and all His works. And when we fall, hastily He raiseth us by His lovely calling and gracious touching. And when we be[Pg 153] thus strengthened by His sweet working, then we with all our will choose Him, by His sweet grace, to be His servants and His lovers lastingly without end.

And after this He suffereth some of us to fall more hard and more grievously than ever we did afore, as us thinketh. And then ween we (who be not all wise) that all were nought that we have begun. But this is not so. For it needeth us to fall, and it needeth us to see it. For if we never fell, we should not know how feeble and how wretched we are of our self, and also we should not fully know that marvellous love of our Maker. For we shall see verily in heaven, without end, that we have grievously sinned in this life, and notwithstanding this, we shall see that we were never hurt in His love, we were never the less of price in His sight. And by the assay of this falling we shall have an high, marvellous knowing of love in God, without end. For strong and marvellous is that love which may not, nor will not, be broken for trespass. And this is one understanding of [our] profit. Another is the lowness and meekness that we shall get by the sight of our falling: for thereby we shall highly be raised in heaven; to which raising we might never have come without that meekness. And therefore it needeth us to see it; and if we see it not, though we fell it should not profit us. And commonly, first we fall and later we see it: and both of the Mercy of God.

The mother may suffer the child to fall sometimes, and to be hurt in diverse manners for its own profit, but she may never suffer that any manner of peril come to the child, for love. And though our earthly mother may suffer her child to perish, our heavenly Mother, Jesus, may not suffer us that are His children to perish: for He is All-mighty, All-wisdom, and All-love; and so is none but He,—blessed may He be!

But oftentimes when our falling and our wretchedness is shewed us, we are so sore adread, and so greatly ashamed of our self, that scarcely we find where we may hold us. But then willeth not our courteous Mother that we flee away, for Him were nothing lother. But He willeth then that we use the condition of a child: for when it is hurt, or adread, it runneth hastily to the mother for help, with all its might. So willeth He that we do, as a meek child saying thus: My kind Mother, my Gracious Mother, my dearworthy Mother, have mercy on me: I have made myself foul and unlike to Thee, and I nor may nor can amend it but with thine help and grace. And if we feel us not then eased forthwith, be we sure that He useth the condition of a wise mother. For if He see that it be more profit to us to mourn and to weep, He suffereth it, with ruth and pity, unto the best time, for love. And He willeth then that we use the property of a child, that evermore of nature trusteth to the love of the mother in weal and in woe.

And He willeth that we take us mightily to the Faith of Holy Church and find there our dearworthy Mother, in solace of true Understanding, with all the blessed Common. For one single person may oftentimes be broken, as it seemeth to himself, but the whole Body of Holy Church was never broken, nor never shall be, without end. And therefore a sure thing it is, a good and a gracious, to will meekly and mightily to be fastened and oned to our Mother, Holy Church, that is,[Pg 155] Christ Jesus. For the food of mercy that is His dearworthy blood and precious water is plenteous to make us fair and clean; the blessed wounds of our Saviour be open and enjoy to heal us; the sweet, gracious hands of our Mother be ready and diligently about us. For He in all this working useth the office of a kind nurse that hath nought else to do but to give heed about the salvation of her child.

It is His office to save us: it is His worship to do [for] us, and it is His will [that] we know it: for He willeth that we love Him sweetly and trust in Him meekly and mightily. And this shewed He in these gracious words: I keep thee full surely.

 

CHAPTER LXXXVI [JESUS AS MOTHER, CONT.]

“Love was our Lord’s Meaning”

This book is begun by God’s gift and His grace, but it is not yet performed, as to my sight.

For Charity pray we all; [together] with God’s working, thanking, trusting, enjoying. For thus will our good Lord be prayed to, as by the understanding that I took of all His own meaning and of the sweet words where He saith full merrily: I am the Ground of thy beseeching. For truly I saw and understood in our Lord’s meaning that He shewed it for that He willeth to have it known more than it is: in which knowing He will give us grace to love to Him and cleave to Him. For He beholdeth His heavenly treasure with so great love on earth that He willeth to give us more light and solace in heavenly joy, in drawing to Him of our hearts, for sorrow and darkness which we are in.

And from that time that it was shewed I desired oftentimes to lear what was our Lord’s meaning. And fifteen years after, and more, I was answered in ghostly understanding, saying thus: Wouldst thou learn thy Lord’s meaning in this thing? Learn it well: Love was His meaning. Who shewed it thee? Love. What shewed He thee? Love. Wherefore shewed it He? For Love. Hold thee therein and thou shalt learn and know more in the same. But thou shalt never know nor learn therein other thing without end. Thus was I learned that Love was our Lord’s meaning.

And I saw full surely that ere God made us He loved us; which love was never slacked, nor ever shall be. And in this love He hath done all His works; and in this love He hath made all things profitable to us; and in this love our life is everlasting. In our making we had beginning; but the love wherein He made us was in Him from without beginning: in which love we have our beginning. And all this shall we see in God, without end.


Source Text:

Julian. Revelations of Divine Love, trans. by Grace Warrack, Methuen and Company, 1901, is licensed under no known copyright.

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