Skip to comments.A Curious Saint (St Julian of Norwich) [Meditation/Devotional]
Posted on 08/11/2010 1:52:46 PM PDT by xzins
...Consider this statement of her desires in A.D. 1373: "I wanted to have every kind of pain, bodily and spiritual, which I should have if I died, every fear and temptation from devils, and every other kind of pain except the departure of the spirit." Reading a line like this, I can't help think that if Julian were a member of my church, I would encourage her to see a counselor.
"For contemporary readers," Frykholm notes, "Julian's declaration that at a young age she 'desired a bodily sickness' coupled with her depictions of Christ bleeding on the cross are off-putting and impenetrable." Why does this woman whose counsel sounds gentle and wise seem so obsessed with suffering? Yet this is the same woman whose expansive vision of God's mercy we find so appealing.
Contemplating a crucifix that began to drip blood onto what she thought would be her deathbed, Julian saw and later wrote about a vision of God that was revolutionary to the church authorities of her dayindeed, to many church leaders in our own time. ...Moved by the all-encompassing love of the Christ she saw, Julian asked about the hell and purgatory she had heard about from her priest. Christ showed her nothing. But this did not make her a universalist. It scared her to death. ...The teachings of the church were like a ceilinged room, Julian concluded, while her vision of God waslike Godas broad and vast as the sky. She could no more leave the church than a person can live without a home, exposed to the elements. But her visionsher knowledge of the sky, so to speakcould help her better understand life inside the church. The wide-open air left room for mystery even while the church offered her a home.
(Excerpt) Read more at christianitytoday.com ...
Ping to the article
How would anyone know if she really had a vision of God?
Context helps. Look here on page 178 at the bottom of the first paragraph: http://books.google.com/books?id=IPCwHOwX_BgC&pg=PA178&lpg=PA178&dq=julian+of+norwich+I+wanted+to+have+every+kind+of+pain,+bodily+and+spiritual,+which+I+should+have+if+I+died,+every+fear+and&source=bl&ots=Bavozcv6SD&sig=XdWj62cbrHPqFjCBjIq_w2P_cTs&hl=en&ei=ig1jTLz4O8L78AaprczWCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false
She definitely sounds like a solid believer to me...in a time when the culture, the understanding of creation, the length and difficulty of life, and the ability to be pious were so much different than the culture in which we live.
I’m a Methodist vlad, but I have a higher view of saints than do some of my brethren.
This thread is an invitation to meditation and not an invitation to conflict.
I wouldn’t mind this graduated Christian praying for me. After all, “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses...”
Nicely done xzins!
In light of my post to vladimir in #4, would you please label this thread (meditational/devotional) but leave it in general discussion?
I really don’t want it to be an opportunity for conflict
Pray for the thread.
Here’s a page with links to the texts of Julian of Norwich’s revelations (as well as to articles about her:
Saint Julian isn’t the first or the last to have this idea that suffering is a good thing for its own sake. While persons who believe this may be well-meaning, I don’t think this idea is biblically supported. Although Jesus did not directly address this topic, (IMO) he does seem to indicate that we shouldn’t be going out of our way to add more trouble to our lives than what comes about naturally from what we’re supposed to be doing. He told his disciples in Matthew 6:32: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” That last sentence (IMO) means that each day brings enough troubles of its own, so why needlessly and artificially add to the troubles and suffering?
Oops, it’s Matthew 6:34.
“After all, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses...”
And in this he [Christ] showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, and to my understanding it was round as any ball. I looked upon it and thought: What may this be? And I was answered generally this way: It is all that is made. I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might fall into nothing because of its littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and always shall, for God loves it; and so all things have being through the love of God.
That’s a fair-minded interpretation.
I would look at it more as “don’t worry about tomorrow; there’s enough to worry about today.”
If I were to find a person who found great purpose in his suffering, I’d go to the Apostle Paul who would humbly present lists of all that he had suffered for Christ SO THAT the churches would be edified.
What a neat story! All of creation, even a hazelnut, shows the glory of the Creator.
Then to pray with fasting. It seems something has to be deprived in one sense to touch the Supernatural but to still stay in the natural. Their is a balance of suffering for the travail of birthing of souls. You can look at the apostles up to the modern day there is the constant history of suffering. It will be until His will be done. These wealth and prosperity charlatans go against this tradition of Saints. But in the end every tear will be wiped as promised in our Bibles. Praise Jesus Help us to endure to the end. Amen
We all do it more or less.
But, especially we who are or were in the “helping professions” encounter people who seem to have an amazing portion of suffering in their lives. We often shuffle the saddest cases out of public view, but what shall we as bearers of the Word say to them? What shall we think?
I say this tentatively, as sharing a thought, a fancy, among brethren:
Lately it has seemed inescapable to me that some must be called to suffer — not to seek suffering but to bear the large portion of suffering that has been dealt to them and to ‘offer it up’ (as we papists are notorious for saying.)
How else to explain a child born with a wasting muscular disease who will probably not live to see 30? Not that God inflicted the suffering, necessarily, but that making one’s life and one’s pain an offering is the only evangelical alternative.
I'm almost hesitant to bring this up since I recall it only vaguely from high school -- I don't know what status it has theologically or who said it: that Christ did not have to die on the Cross, a criminal's death, utterly painful and humiliating, to save us. By this "theory" (if that's what it is), the Incarnation would have been enough. But the overflowing generosity and love of God doesn't settle for "enough" -- it goes for abundance!
I do know that when I've been going through the greatest physical pain, I've also felt closest to God -- and this holds even for far lesser things like self-denial during Lent.
Well, for that matter, how does anyone know there's a God? Many people apparently don't.
Beyond that, my own criterion is whether what she writes is consonant with my own knowledge and experience of God (not to say identical, but harmonious), and it is.
I guess that’s what all of us like, agreement with our own beliefs.
But does that make it valid?
Amazingly, we have a sort of religious debate here without any rancor, and you and xzins have both made excellent points. Fasting does raise the question on whether self-induced suffering is something to be sought after. But fasting, as you mentioned, is a type of self-denial rather than an active means to induce pain. I am not able to recollect any instance in the scriptures where the righteous actually inflict physical pain upon themselves, but many instances where, for a righteous cause, they endure pain inflicted by others. Jesus certainly allowed the nails to be driven into his hands, as he could have easily called upon a legion of angels at any moment to overcome his tormentors, but I don’t see this as self-inflicted suffering even though it was self-permitted. Also, the suffering on the cross had an underlying purpose, as it was a means to bring salvation to a world of sinners. In a similar, if infinitely lesser example, someone undergoing a painful recovery after an operation to donate a kidney to a loved one is enduring a self-permitted type of suffering, but the suffering is for an underlying purpose, and is not done simply for the sake of the suffering.
"Jesus certainly allowed the nails to be driven into his hands, as he could have easily called upon a legion of angels at any moment to overcome his tormentors, but I dont see this as self-inflicted suffering even though it was self-permitted. "
Not to ridicule. Just to point out what you just said. Remember not only was he the victim like the Lamb of the Old Testament but the High Priest offering the victim. So he is offering the pain and suffering as a God can with the resources of a Deity. Which is through the people who did it to him. It's more complex than it seems.