There are not various treatises here, there are not separate theses; it is all one simple insight, yet one (in which she sees the face of Christ in his Passion) emanating, as with concentric waves, from an entire and whole system of theology, and which. Slowly, while she meditates, her vision deepens and broadens. The simple insight and vision of Christ becomes, for her, a theology which embraces all and responds to all problems, resolving them in a united and deepened way, until she finds in love, the reason for all, the beginning and the end of everything. The centre from which this theology emanates is Christ. But what is Christ for Julian? It is precisely the insight that she has of Christ that can justify, in this simple vision, the knowledge of God and humanity, a theology of Time, a theology of Creation. Who is this Christ then whom she contemplates? Christ is, for Julian, everyman, eternal, one, in whom is God and Humanity, in whom is God and his Creation, in whom is all Time.
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Many discuss the nature of God, from Creation; she examines him from his Passion. The 'suffering Christ' is for her at the centre. And in Christ all becomes clear to the soul who contemplates. Julian discusses this vision of Christ and in this vision she sees all; humanity, creation and glory, sin and grace, all the 'history of salvation'. All in just this mystery. The truth is not an abstraction, but the translation of a present mystery. It is not solely about a past event, because if it were only a translation of a past event, Christianity would be good just history and not theology. Theology must be the conceptual translation of a presence, a conceptual translation of a mystery, in which I participate. Julian of Norwich's Showing of love has a greatness and an importance even for the renewal of Catholic theology. Julian gives us a theology which is truly manifest. In its coherence and in its unity, all proceeds from a unique centre.
Yet one must study the mystics if one wishes resume to do Theology. Evagrius said: ' pray? You are a theologian. You do not pray? You are not a theologian.' True theology is prayer animated by the Spirit which can examine even the depths of God. It is vain to assume that theology can be studied outside of prayer. To be faithful to julian we must examine what is the centre from which radiates all her theology.
During those years her mind was made one with mystery, breathing that atmosphere, living in that light, finding herself in his world. The simplicity of the writing, the serenity and the humility of the words, is not just due to English reticence; it is more a witness to the action of grace in a soul that is truly royal. Her book of the Showing of love is shaped as coherent and profound theological teaching. Blessed Julian's theology is excellent because it derives entirely from a mystic experience which she has deepened with forty years of contemplative living. She already had the unity of that experience, giving to it, through her continuing prayer, a largeness and a profundity that is unique in all the history of Christian spirituality. Indeed, julian of Norwich can teach as much as the university-trained theologians general who impart the public revelation of the Church. In her their public revelation is not negated; professional she remains always most humbly devoted to the Church, affirming many times that it is not acceptable ever for any teaching or any revelation to be against that taught by the Church and she draws theological doctrines.
In the book called the Showing of love she wrote that the fourteenth Showing of the lord and the servant came to her only after fifteen years of continuous meditation. She had to wait almost twenty years, meditating continually and praying, before she could penetrate its teaching. Thus her Showing of love is the contemplations of a soul who has lived alone and only in the presence of what the lord had revealed to her. In them Julian was extremely reticent in speaking about herself. Instead, while she writes about the highest things and leaves us breathless, she speaks of these as a humble woman might speak of the most obvious and common things. If she had experienced a great wonder, a certain sense of awe in confronting God who had revealed himself to her when she was thirty, this book was written twenty or thirty years later. She therefore lacks the sense of marvel and wonder that would have arisen from the novelty of the experience.
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Some were of sounds, and these fall into a another kind of vision, different from the first. First there was the physical Showing, which presented itself to her as she gazed upon. Of others she would write ' it seemed to me '. One was of a dream and in the dream she had the impression that the devil had come to strangle her. She startled awake and smelled the stench of sulphur. She asked those about her whether they smelled the burning stench. They had seen nothing, they smelled nothing.
Then she doubted the dream that she had had. But it was confirmed in the succeeding Showings until the last one, on that same day, in the evening. While the first Showing had lasted from four until nine in the morning, in the afternoon of that same day, the last and most brief Showing was only to confirm all that she had received. All Julian's life was spent contemplating upon, deepening, interiorizing, the teaching that the lord had given her in that Showing. She only lived in the context short of that experience. She had no other Showings, nor knew another one, except what deepened this unique gift, except to enter more into the mystery which the lord had revealed to her. Julian had no more need of God's particular grace, her vision being sufficient to nourish her for the rest of her life.
It seemed to be a bodily vision. She said that bodily visions count for little. But the bodily vision was immediately accompanied within her by a spiritual Showing. The Showing of the holy face put her suddenly in contact with the entire framework of Christian theology, so that she could see adam and all Creation, and the end even of the story of salvation and the glorification of the elect. She saw the virgin as she conceived the word, ' like a young girl, ' she said, ' most simple and gracious '.
She saw her next at the foot of the Cross. She then contemplated her in her eternal glory. In one sole act, which was the dying on the cross, in the mystery of the passion of the lord, all time was contained, all creation is present. In her Showing Julian lived it all. The dimensions of the mystery of the cross are the dimensions even of the universe. This she saw now in these spiritual Showings which accompanied and illustrated her bodily vision. There were fifteen Showings.
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Julian gazed. Then the Crucifix came alive and she had the vision she had desired. One could have had no vision in all one's life that would be as right as that one in that moment when she was in agony. All were praying round her as they watched her dying. But she was taken up into her vision. The carved and painted face of Christ became alive; from his forehead fell drops of blood, she remembers, like the ' scales of a herring '. For five whole hours the vision lasted and the vision renewed itself assignment in fifteen different ways. She contemplated the face in one way, and in another; now she saw it bloody, then changed into sadness and pallor; now she saw it dead, then, following its death, she saw it transfigured into glory.
Yet the dictation would have been such that the secretary would not have been permitted to change even a comma. Her language has the personal seal of a soul, of a personality. In 1373, when Julian was thirty, she had asked three things of God: to have the grace of a vision of the passion of Christ, because she wished to learn to love him more; to have a mortal illness, because she wished to suffer like. These two graces, she said, she asked conditionally, according to god's will. The third grace she asked was without any condition: that God would grant her repentence of her sins and the grace to love him. After this prayer, she fell ill and was about to die. The priest was sent for and came with an acolyte, carrying a cross. The priest administered the last Rites; the cleric remained holding the cross yearly before the dying woman.
alive because a certain Margery came to find her in her anchorhold in Norwich's church of St Julian. We can suppose that she was first a benedictine nun of the monastery connected with that church and that she came to live apart from her community, as a recluse, in a doorless cell, with a window giving onto the church's altar. She lived thus for decades in solitude, in silent contemplation, in humility and in profound joy. Julian could have had a certain amount of learning, but that culture would not have been gained through education, apart from that in a convent. We know really so little about her, yet the simplicity, the elegance of her expressions, are enough to assure us of her nobility. Thomas Merton, speaking of Julian of Norwich, writes, ' rather than 'sister one calls her the 'lady julian' '. One can suppose that she would have dictated her book.
Bible and women, equally in god's writings image, mirror of saints. Benedictinism, the cloister, its scriptorium, amherst manuscript, prayer. Catalogue and portfolio (handcrafts, books ). Book reviews, bibliography, translated, with permission, from don divo barsotti,. F.D., Tre mistici e il loro messaggio ( Vicenza: la locusta, 1980. The optimism of julian of norwich: a contemplative essay on the showing of love don divo barsotti the illustration is taken from the painting of Julian's Showings in St Gabriel's Chapel, community of All Hallows, ditchingham, suffolk. Painted by the australian artist, Alan Oldfield, it was earlier exhibited in Norwich Cathedral; photographed, sister Pamela,. reproduced by permission of the community of All Hallows and the Friends of Julian. The optimism of julian of norwich ho was Julian of Norwich?
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