JULIAN OF NORWICH, HER SHOWING OF LOVE AND ITS CONTEXTS ©1997-2017 JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY  || JULIAN OF NORWICH || SHOWING OF LOVE || HER TEXTS || HER SELF || ABOUT HER TEXTS || BEFORE JULIAN || HER CONTEMPORARIES || AFTER JULIAN || JULIAN IN OUR TIME ||  ST BIRGITTA OF SWEDEN  ||  BIBLE AND WOMEN || EQUALLY IN GOD'S IMAGE  || MIRROR OF SAINTS || BENEDICTINISM|| THE CLOISTER || ITS SCRIPTORIUM || AMHERST MANUSCRIPT || PRAYER || CATALOGUE AND PORTFOLIO (HANDCRAFTS, BOOKS) || BOOK REVIEWS || BIBLIOGRAPHY ||


THE LADY JULIAN OF NORWICH

CANON A.E. BAKER


This essay was written in 1943, published in 1944, during World War II, when Julian's church had been bombed. Canon A.E. Baker wrote it in an apocalyptic time, in a Lent book for the Archbishop of Canterbury titled Prophets for a Day of Judgment, of which this is Chapter III, the others being on Jeremiah, St Augustine of Hippo and Dostoevsky. Eyre and Spottiswoode published the book with the emblem of a lion over a book whose pages state: 'BOOK/PRODUCTION/WAR ECONOMY/STANDARD,' and below that is repeated in smaller capitals, 'THIS BOOK IS PRODUCED IN COMPLETE CONFORMITY WITH THE AUTHORIZED ECONOMY STANDARDS.'

 

http://www.the-plunketts.freeserve.co.uk§ give fine pre- and post-war photograph albums of Norwich, in particular of St Julian's Church and Carrow Priory.


 

27th June, 1942: St Julian’s Church in King Street had almost everything excepting its north wall and porch completely annihilated by a high explosive bomb.
 
 


 


 
 

    I have found the dominant of my range and state -
       Love, O my God, to call Thee Love and Love.

                                     Gerard Manly Hopkins



hen we say that the Lady Julian was born in 1342 and finished her book in 1393 or later: that she was anchoress, i.e. a religious solitary: that she was the first Engish woman of letters, read to-day more than most pre-Reformation writers in our tongue: that she was a mystic in one of the two great periods of Christian mysticism that Western Europe has known; well, each of these statements presents her as the focus of a set of happenings and spiritual forces which we only begin to understand if we try to enter a world and a mind at once deceptively like and startlingly unlike our own.

In the fourteenth century western Europe was moving towards the end of an epoch, the culmination and dissociation of a culture, the decay and passing of a civilization: a civilization whose achievements were magnificent, but tragically insecure. Men's lives were passed in awe of the Church, whose authority had not been seriously questioned. For example, a king and his nobles went to confession, pale with terror, because Westminster Abbey had been desecrated by the murder of a man before the High Altar. The splendid failure of St Dominic and St Francis witnessed to the dire need for a reformation of the Church and a conversion of the world. Scholasticism, one of the supreme achievements of the Western mind, had related all human thought to theology in a synthesis so completely unified that no further progress in knowledge could take place except by a sort of dialectical revolt to the extreme specialization which is the modern ideal - each man knowing more and more about less and less. The close of the thirteenth century had, in the scepticism, infidelity, and irreligion of the practical world, provided a deadful foil for the achievements of theologians and saints. In the words of Dean Church, religion had been neither the guide nor check to society but only the consolation of its victims.

The devastating scandal of the Papal Schism - one Pope for Frenchmen and another for English and Germans - largely discredited the Church in the minds of thoughtful men; but the picture is not all shallow. The colleges of Oxford and Cambridge which Churchmen were founding, as well as the large and splendid churches built in all parts of the country in the fourteenth century, suggest that there is truth in the judgment that the common life was permeated by genuine religion, even though signs were already appearing of 'the break up of our mediaeval society and a period of anarchy and moral prostration.'

Murders (the killer was often not brought to trial), famines, storms, unsafe and insanitary houses, combined to make life insecure. When Julian was six years old the Black Death of 1349 destroyed more than a third of the population. Corn rotted in the fields for lack of reapers, villages disappeared, never to be reinhabited, there was an acute shortage of food and goods, prices soared, the villeins demanded the right to sell their labour in the open market - they demanded freedom, in other words - and the crude and cruel attempts of the landowners to maintain the status quo intensified a dangerous situation. The inherited social order began to be felt as a grievance by the majority of common men. Piers Plowman and John Ball encouraged men to sing as they worked:

When Adam dalf, and Eve span
Who was then the Gentleman?

Then, suddenly, the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 took the upper class by surprise. Wat Tyler led the rebels on London 'to deliver the king from his enemies and theirs.' The lords were helpless, but King Richard II won the mob promising them pardon and freedom. Later the Lord Mayor murdered Wat Tyler, and the rising was over. Every promise made by the king was broken. The leaders of the people were ruthlessly executed, and the grants of freedom proved worth far less than the paper they were written on.

It was one of the most brilliant periods of English history, but the social fabric was breaking up. The contrast was merely absurd between Chaucer or Langland or Richard of Bordeaux and the half-savages by whom they were surrounded. He was not far wrong who described the fourteenth century as that 'futile, bloody, immoral century.'

It was against this background of civilization and savagery, or moral disintegration and class struggle and revolutionary social change, of war and pestilence and revolt, that the Lady Julian lived and prayed and saw her visions and wrote her bok. Norwich, where she was born, suffered more severely than most places from the Black Death. It was a prosperous city, and supplied an unusually large number to the levies of bowmen whom Edward III raised for his French war. It was those bowmen who provided the strong, disciplined, trained backbone of the Peqsants' Revolt, without which it could hardly have scared the nobles as it did. Julian had seen her visions, and was writing her book when London and the south-east of England were living in terror of the enormous forces that the French had collected to invade this island, and when Wat Tyler and John Ball asserted the freedom and equality of all Englishmen. She was still alive when Henry of Lancaster crushed in his crude fingers the frial lily that was Richard of Bordeaux - when it seemed as though the English people were forming the habit of unmaking kings. Some time after 1393 her book was finished, towards the close of a century through whose later decades, as Coulton has said, the world seemed to grow madder and madder,

What was her reaction to all this? It is significant, surely, that she became an anchoress, solitary nun. She lived alone in a tiny house built against the south-eastern wall of a little church at 'Conisford, outlying Norwich'. There were two windows to her room, one into the church, so that she might hear Mass daily, and see Christ's Body made, and adore Him, and take Comunion fifteen times a year. The other window looked upon the world, but lest she should be tempted to be a starer or gossip each window was shaded by a black curtain marked with a white cross. She never left the anchorage, but sometimes women, and perhaps men, would come to her window to recount their needs and ask her counsel. And 'her curate,' as she calls him, would hear her confession and - in what was believed to be the mortal sickness at the time of her visions - he gave her the last rites of the Church. In her old age (but we must remember that old age came much earlier then than now) she had two maids to attend her; one would go out to gather from the faithful the gifts by which they lived. Julian spent her time in prayer and fasting and meditation and spiritual reading and in writing - and perhaps in sewing vestments for the church. And particularly in prayer; and no one can doubt that the world needed the prayers of the saints at least as much in her day as at any time before or since.

And so we come to her book. It is called a Revelation of love that Jesus Christ, our endless bliss, made in sixteen shewings or revelations particular. She tells us that as a young woman she had in prayer longed earnestly for two things. First, that she might have all the experience of a mortal illness - its loneliness, its weakness, its fear, so that she would feel in her very bones, as we say, that she was nothing, and there is nothing but God Himself and her trust in Him. And she also longed that she might behold His sufferings, and enter into them, as though she were one of His friends present with the Blessed Virgin on Calvary. And then, when she was thirty years old, on May 8, 1373, her prayers were answered. She was on the point of death and the last rites of the Church were administered to her. She was certain she was going to die. 'I assented fully with all the will of my heart to be at God's will.' When the priest came to be at her ending she was no longer able to speak. He set the cross before her face and said: 'I have brought the image of thy Maker and Saviour. Look thereupon and comfort thee therewith.' She set her eyes on the face of the crucifix. Her sight began to fail, It was dark as night save in the image of the Cross. The lower part of her body was quite dead, and much of the rest. Her breath came short.

And as she looked on the face of the Crucified she saw the red blood trickle from under the Crown of Thorns, hot and fresh and plenteous, as when the thorns were pressed on His blessed head who was both God and Man and suffered thus for her. The great drops of blood fell down from under the Garland like pellets. And when they came to the brows, then they vanished, notwithstanding, the bleeding continued till many things were seen and understood. This showing was quick and life-like, and horrifying and dreadful, sweet and lovely.

Two of the things she understood are worth repeating. God showed her a little thing, the size of an hazel nut, in the palm of her hand; and it was as round as a ball. She thought: 'What may this be?' And it was answered generally thus: It is all that is made. She marvelled how it might last, for it seemed it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And she was answered in her understanding: It lasteth, and ever shall, for that God loveth it. And so All-thing hath the Being by the love of God. 'Well I wot,' she says, 'that heaven and earth and all that is made is great and large, fair and good; but the cause why it showed so little to my sight was for that I saw it in the presence of Him that is the Maker of all things.'

The other thing she umderstood in this first showing was this. She wished that all her fellow Christians might see and know what she saw. For God showed it to her in order that we might all have the comfort of it. 'Because of the showing I am not good, but if I love God the better: and inasmuch as ye love God the better, it is more to you than to me . . . for I am certain that there be many that never had showing not sight but of the common teaching of Holy Church, that love God better than I.'

Then as she gazed continually on the face of the Crucified she saw something of His suffering: despite, spitting, and sullying, and buffeting, and many languorous pains, more than she could tell, and often changing of colour. At one time she saw half His face overgone with dry blood, and then the other half: a figure and likeness of our foul deed's shame that our fair bright blessed Lord bare for our sins.

Then, in her understanding, she saw God in a Point - by which she understood that God is in all things. To a modern reader that seems a little odd, to say the least of it. In a later chapter she speaks of 'the blessed Point from which nature came: that is, God.' Miss Grace Warrack has a valuable note on this. Dante had used the word in this sense - il punto, the point. In the Paradise he speaks of a point which rayed forth light so keen that it would close any eye that it shone on: the centre of nine circles of fire - each a host of angels burning with enkindled love. And from that point doth hang heaven and all nature. The Lady Julian's explanation is: 'I saw truly that God doeth all-thing, be it never so little. And nothing is done by hap or adventure, but all things by the fore-seeing wisdom of God. Wherefore it must be granted that all thing that is done, it is well done: for our Lord God doeth all. For in this time the working of creatures was not shown but the working of our Lord God in the creatures: for He is the Mid-point of all thing, and all he doeth.'

This making of God directly responsible for every existence and every event raises the problem of evil in a very acute form. 'I beheld and considered,' says Julian, 'seeing and knowing in sight, with a soft dread, and thought: What is sin? . . . And I was certain He doeth no sin.' A common declaration of the mystics is that evil is nothing - non-existence - just the absence of reality, which is perfectly good. 'And here I saw,' she says, 'that sin is no deed: for in all this was not sin shewed. . . . And God meant: See! I am God: see! I am in all thing: see! I do all thing: see! I lift never mine hands off my works, nor ever shall, without end: see! I lead all thing to the end I ordained it to from without beginning, by the same Might, Wisdom and Love whereby I made it. How should anything be amiss?' Often she wondered why by the great foreseeing wisdom of God the beginning of sin was not hindered: 'for then, methought, all should have been well. . . But Jesus answered it behoved that there should be sin, but al shal be well and al manner of thing shal be well. But I saw not sin, she said, 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 the cause of. And this pain, it is something for a time; for it purgeth, and maketh us to know ourselves and to ask mercy. Julian says that our pain shall be turned to praise and glory by virtue of Christ's passion. . . . And if we see truly that our sin deserveth it, yet His love excuseth us, and of His great courtesy He doeth away all our blame, and behldeth us with ruth and pity as children innocent andunoathful.' She was convinced that it was revealed to her that just as the blissful Trinity made all things of nought, right so the same blessed Trinity shall make all well that is not well. Here she saw a clear contradiction of the Church's teaching. One point of our Faith, she said, is that many creatures shall be condemned: sinful angels, heathen men, all Jews, except the few who have been converted, men that have received Christendom and live un-Christian lives, and so die out of charity: all these shall be condemned to hell without end, as Julian says that Holy Church taught her to believe. And so it seemed to her impossible that all manner of things should be well, as our Lord showed her. And she had no answer but this: That which is impossible to thee is not impossible to me.

She saw Christ dying. His face was dry and blodless. Then it changed colour, as the flesh turned more deeply dead. His suffering showed most specially in HIs blessed face: but all His body turned out of fair life-like colour, with dry longing. For that same time our Lord and blessed Saviour died upon the Rood, it was a dry hard wind, and wondrous cold: and all the precious blood drained out of the sweet body. It seemed as if He were seven nights dying, at the point of outpassing away, suffering the long pain. 'Ah! hard and grievous was His pain.'

The which Showing of Christ's pain filled her full of pain. She thought: Is any pain like this? And she was answered in her reason: Hell is another pain: for there is despair. But of all pains that lead to salvation this is the most pain, to see thy Love suffer, Hw might any pain be more to me, she asks, than to see Him suffer that is all my life, all my bliss, and all my joy? Then said Jesus, our kind Lord: 'It is a joy, a bliss, an endless satisfying to me that ever I suffered for thee: and if I might suffer more, I would suffer more. And here saw I the love that made Him suffer passeth as far all His pain as Heaven is above earth. A glad giver taketh but little heed of the thing that He giveth, but all his desire and all his intent is to please him and solace him to whom he giveth it.'

'It is a wonderful property of God,' she says, 'that He is ever the same.' And she interprets this to mean that in God there can be no wrath. He always loves those who shall be saved. He keeps us when we think we are near foresaken and cast away our sin and because we have deserved it. Our courteous Lord willeth not that His servants despair for often nor for grievous falling, for our falling hindereth not His love for us. Although we are sinners our Lord is never wrath; it is against the property of His Might to be wrath, and against the property of His Wisdom, and against the property of His Goodness. God is the Goodness that may not be wrath, for He is naught but Goodness. She saw no wrath but on man's part, and that He forgiveth in us. For wrath is nothing else but a frowardness and contrariness to peace and love. And it cometh of failing either of might or wisdom or of goodness. Elsewhere she says that if God might be wrath for an instant we should never have life nor place nor being. To the soul that of His special grace seeth so far into the high marvellous goodness of God, and seeth that we are endlessly united to Him in love, it is the most impossible thing that may be that God should be wrath. For wrath and friendship are two contraries. For He that wasteth and destroyeth our wrath and makes us meek and mild - it behoveth needs to be that He Himself be ever one in love, meek and mild; which is contrary to wrath. Julian makes this last point elsewhere in slightly different words. Christ Himself, she says, is the ground of all the laws of Christian men, and He taught us to do good against ill. Here may we see that He Himself is this charity, and doeth to us as He teacheth us to do, He it is that doeth good against evil. His mercy and goodness are to slacken our wrath.

Of the Christian mystics with whose writings I am acquainted not one is more Christian than Julian. But what meaning do I put into the word 'Christian'? Julian has a thorough-going, unshakable belief in God's indomitable, undiscriminating love. And she holds to it even when the Church's teaching, as she understands it, seems to qualify or deny it. She does not say that the Church's teaching is wrong, but she holds to what she sees. It is the heart of her religion that Christ's undiscriminating love binds all men into an unbreakable unity. 'It is God's will,' she says, 'that I should see myself bound to Him in love because of all that He has done for me. And thus should every soul think of Him. That is to say, the charity of God maketh in us such a unity that, when it is truly seen no man can part himself from other.' And in an earlier place she wrote: 'And then I saw that each natural compassion that man hath on his fellow Christian with charity, it is Christ in him.'

The root of Lady Julian's mysticism appears in the eighth showing. 'I wist well,' she said, 'that while I beheld in the Cross I was surely safe; therefore I would not assent to put my soul in peril: for away from the Cross was no sureness, for frightening of fiends. Then had I a proffer in my reason, as if it had been friendly said to me: look up to heaven to His Father. And then saw I well, that there was nothing betwixt the Cross and Heaven that might have harmed me. I answered inwardly with all the might of my soul, and said: Nay, I may not: for Thou art my heaven. . . . For I would liever have been in that pain till Doomsday than to come to heaven otherwise than by Him. . . Thus was I learned to choose Jesus to my Heaven, whom I saw only in pain at that time: meliked no other Heaven than Jesus, which shall be my bliss when I come there.'

The aim of all mystics is to be 'oned' with God. Many have sought Him by emptying themselves of everything that is not God. Mr. R.E. Hughes, Reader in Chinese Philosophy and Religion at Oxford, has spoken of the technique of levitating oneself into reality by mystical mind-emptying. They have turned from all sense-experience, have hushed all memory, either of their own experience or of that common human experience which we call history, have stilled every desire, all fear and every other emotion, and then, the self turned in upon its empty self is one with the ground of all being. Mr Aldous Huxley has said that in the highest stages of orison all ideas and images, even ideas and images connected with the life of Christ, must be put aside, as distractions standing in the way of perfect union. It will be remembered that Plotinus speaks of 'the flight of the alone to the Alone.' And Father Joseph (Mr Huxley's Grey Eminence) said that the mystic was like a ship on 'the open sea of denudation.' Mysticism seeks its goal, that is to say, by withdrawing  from the world - whose duties are, for the Christian, the symbol of God's will as its happenings are the sacrament of His providence - by deliberate and callous aloofness from its obligations and a wilful blindness to its opportunities, in order to be, in the worst and most literal sense of the word, 'unworldly,' and by abstraction from all that is special and particular in any positive, historical religion, being in intention non-Christian and becoming in fact subhuman.  This arrogant Mysticismus is vain of a spirituality that dare not be incarnate or even immanent in the struggle and vulgarity of this mortal life. It is profoundly significant, a horrid denial of all that is most human or truly personal, that the climax of the mystic way is sought and found in 'ecstasy.' Karl Barth rightly regards this mysticism that descends through Pseudo-Dionysius and Plotinus from Buddhism and the Upanishads as nothing but 'esoteric atheism.' Mr Huxley, who has strong sympathies with it, has described the object it claims to reach as 'imageless godhead.'

The mysticism, however, which has a rightful claim to a place in the Christian tradition (and nothing which is not essentially Christian has any relation with the Lady Julian) glories in that profound anthropomorphism which recognizes the ultimate revelation and the final Act of God in that particular human Life which triumphed in the defeat that sin inflicted, and redeemed this so unspiritual world by suffering and death. The 'obsessive, hallucinatory preoccupation with the sufferings of Calvary' which Mr Huxley so politely dismisses as a divagation from authentic mysticism is, there is no need to say, of a the very essence of the Lady Julian's message to her time and to all the centuries. The first of these gifts which, as a young woman Julian had desired of God, was that she might 'have mind' of His Passion. She had 'some feeling' in the Passion of Christ, but yet she desired more by the grace of God. She desired a bodily sight wherein she might have more knowledge of the bodily pains of our Saviour and of the compassion of our Lady and of all His true lovers that saw, that time, His pains. 'For I would be one of them that suffer with Him.' The object of this prayer was that after the revelation she would have the more true mind in the Passion of Christ.

Lady Julian's mysticism - her 'oneing' with God - is, then primarily a matter of conviction rather than of experience. It does not come, to any considerable extent, within the range of psychology, which has played such devastating havoc with the neo-Platonic type of mysticism, but is the concern of theology. It is based on the teaching that was 'shewed' her in these revelations.

As we have seen, she teaches that God does everything that is done, and makes everything that is made. 'God is all that is good, and the goodness that al thing hath, it is He.' And elsewhere she says: 'All that is good our Lord doeth, and that which is evil our Lord suffereth.' Man's Soul is made of nought: that is to say, it is made, but of nought that is made. So human nature is rightly 'oned' to its Maker, and therefore there is nothing between God and man's soul. 'I believe and understand the ministration of angels, as clerks tell us,' she says, 'but it was not showed me. For Himself is nearest and meetest, highest and lowest, and doeth all.' God is nearer to the soul than it is to itself, for He is the very Ground of its being. 'By the endless assent of the full accord of all the Trinity, the Mid-Person (i.e. Christ) willed to be Ground and head of this fair nature of man: out of Whom we be all come, in Whom we be all enclosed, into Whom we shall all wend.' Later she says: 'Our substance is in God: that is to say, that God is God, and our substance is a creature in God.' It is easier for us to know God, she teaches, than to know our own soul. But it is also true that we shall never arrive at a full knowledge of God until we first know our own soul clearly.

Christ dwell in the soul, and the soul in Christ. 'It is His good pleasure,' she says, 'to reign in our Understanding blissfully, and sit in our Soul restfully, and to dwell in our Soul endlessly, us all working unto Him . . . the place that Jesus taketh in our Soul He shall never remove it, without end. . . . For in us is His homeliest home and His endless woning (dwelling) . . . our Lord God dwelleth in us and is here with us, and is more near to us than tongue can tell or heart can think.' But, as we have seen, although there is no being between God and man's soul, it is a fact that man falls into sin. But as God's love and power keep a man both in weal and in woe, so He keeps him in love even when he sins. '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.' There is no conflict between God's merciful love and His anger, but rather between His love and our anger. For no more than His love is broken to ourself and our 'even-Christians': 'But that we endlessly hate the sin and endlessly love the soul, as God loveth it.' Although it is obviously true that no man sins without his own consent - the citadel falls because there is a traitor within who yields it up to the enemy - it is also true,as St Paul teaches, that I do that which I allow not, and I do not what I would . . . the good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do. That also was revealed to Lady Julian. 'I saw and understood full surely,' she says, 'that in every soul that shall be saved there is a Godly Will that never assented to sin, nor ever shall . . . for that same human nature that heaven shall be filled with behoveth needs, of God's rightfulness so to have been knit and oned to Him, that therein was kept a Substance which might never, nor should, be parted from Him.'

God's grace will bring it about that man's lot will be more blessed as a result of his sin and repentance than it would have been if he had not fallen. Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance. Julian saw that the worst thing that ever happened, or could happen, was Adam's sin, but that the glorious Satisfaction is more pleasing to God and more 'worshipful' than Adam's sin was harmful. God said: 'Since I have made well the most harm, then it is my will that thou know hereby that I shall make well all that is less.' He allows us to fall! But in this blessed love we are kept by His Might and Wisdom, so that by mercy and grace we are raised to manifold more joys. 'By contrition we are made clean, by compassion we are made ready, and by true longing toward God we are made worthy . . . .' And elsewhere she records that God said that it falls to Him to give to the penitent sinner a gift that is better for him, and more worshipful, than his own wholeness would have been - or else, surely, He would do him no grace. God who loves us allows us to fall into sin that we may learn our weakness and helplessness without Him, and turn to him. She speaks of a 'holy courteous dread of our Lord, to which meekness is united: that is, that a creature seeth the Lord marvellous great, and itself marvellous little . . . and this showeth He to make us love Him and nought dread but Him.'

Penitence leads to prayer, and the end of prayer is to be oned to God. That is the plain, gracious, Christian meaning of what has been called her mysticism. 'Prayer is a witness that the soul willeth as God willeth. Our courteous Lord of His grace sheweth Himself to our soul . . . all the cause wherefor we pray, it is oned with the sight and beholding of Him to whom we pray. . . . When we of His special grace plainly behold Him, seeing none other needs, then we follow Him and He draweth us unto Him by love . . . then we can do no more but behold Him, enjoying, with an high, mighty desire to be all oned unto Him, centred on His dwelling, and enjoy in His loving and delight in His goodness . . . and then shall we come into our Lord, our Self clearly knowing, and God fully having; and we shall endlessly be all had in God: Him verily seeing and fully feeling, Him spiritually hearing, and Him delectably in-breathing, and Him sweetly drinking. And then shall we see God face to face, homely and fully. The creature that is made shall see and endlessly behold God which is the Maker, For there may no man see God and live after, that is the say, in this deadly life. But when He of His special grace will show Himself here, He strengtheneth the creature above itself, and He measureth the shewing after His own will, as it is profitable for the time.'

This use of the activities of the body, even of smelling and drinking, to describe not only the soul's experience of God, but also the reality of its relation to Him, is typical of Julian's vivid and concrete style. Elsewhere, for example, she says that as the body is clad in the cloth, and the flesh in the skin and bones in the flesh, and the heart in 'the bouke' (the bulk, the thorax) so are we, soul and body, clad in the goodness of God, and enclosed. 'For truly our Lord desireth that our soul cleave to Him with all its might.' Flee to our Lord, she says, and we shall be comforted, touch we Him and we shall be made clean, cleave we to Him and we shall be 'sekir' (sure; c.f. Scots, siccar) and safe from all manner of peril.'

The insistence on the unity between God and man's soul is, indeed, the framework of all Julian's teaching. That, she says, was revealed in the first Shewing, and in the last she saw that the Blissful Trinity, our Maker, in Christ Jesus our Saviour, endlessly dwelleth in our soul. The major theme of her book is that there is nothing that separates God from the soul. Our good Lord the Holy Ghost, she says, is endless life dwelling in our soul. And elsewhere she says that God made man's soul to be His own City and His dwelling-place; which is most pleasing to Him of all His works. All mankind that shall be saved . . . is the Manhood of Christ: for He is the Head and we be His members. He is with us in our soul, endless dwelling. That same Kind that Heaven shall be filled with (i.e. human nature) behoveth needs of God's rightfulness so to have been knit and oned to Him that therein was kept a Substance which might never, nor should, be parted from Him. . . There may nor shall be right nought atwixt God and man's soul. 'Highly ought we to rejoice that God dwelleth in our soul, and much more highly ought we to rejoice that our soul dwelleth in God.' And the practical religious outcome of this doctrine is that God wills that we shall give Him all our 'attending,' learning His lores, keeping His laws, desiring that all be done that He doeth, truly trusting in Him. 'For soothly I saw that our substance is in God.'

She looked out from her anchorage window in the little Norwich churchyard on a world in which many things men had thought eternal were going up in smoke. And she was not afraid. There was absolutely no place in her religion for the fear of the devil, for our good Lord showed her that by His blissful Passion the devil is overcome. The Fiend has the same malice now as before the Incarnation, and he travaileth as sore; but 'all souls of salvation' escape him. The victory is complete; God triumphs over his malice and unmight; his might is all locked into God's hand. And at the sight of the Fiend's helplessness she laughed mightily for pleasure, in spite of her pain, and she wished that all her 'even-Christians' had seen what she saw, so that they might laugh with her. But she did not see Christ laugh.

More than five hundred years before Rudolf Otto she saw and stated what he described in the word 'numinous.' We are to love God, she says, and to dread nothing but Him. The soul that is assured that all the might of our Enemy is taken into our Friend's hand will not dread but Him that he loveth. 'All other dread he setteth among passions and bodily sickness and imaginations.' There are four kinds of dread, Julian teaches. First, there is the fear that cometh through sudden weakness. Then there is the fear of pain and death and spiritual enemies, that awakens man from the sleep of sin to seek comfort and mercy of God, and helps us to contrition by the blessed touching of the Holy Ghost. Thirdly, there is the dread which draws to despair because it doubts the Goodness of God. And there is reverent dread, than which no other dread fully pleaseth God.

Love and Dread are brethren, and they are rooted in us by the Goodness of our Maker, and they shall never be taken from us without end. . . . It belongeth to the Lordship and the Fatherhood to be dreaded, as it belongeth to the Goodness to be loved; and it belongeth to us that are His servants and His children to dread Him for Lordship and Fatherhood, as it belongeth to us to love Him for Godness. . . . That dread that maketh us hastily to flee from all that is not good and fall into our Lord's breast, as the Child into the Mother's bosom, with all our intent and with all our mind, knowing our feebleness and our great need, knowing His everlasting goodness and His blisful love, only seeking to Him for salvation, cleaving to Him with sure trust; that dread . . . is natural, gracious, good and true. . . . As good as God is, so great He is, and as much as it belongeth to His goodness to be loved, so much it belongeth to His greatness to be dreaded. For this reverent dread is the fair courtesy that is in Heaven afore God's face. And as much as He shall then be known and loved overpassing that He is now, in so much He shall be dreaded overpassing that He is now.

She looks out on the end of the world with no false hopes. 'God's servants, Holy Church,' she says, 'shall be shaken in sorrow and anguish, tribulation in this world, as men shake a cloth in the wind.' She has little to say of the wickedness of wicked men, of the world which lieth in the evil one. 'For the beholding of other men's sins, it maketh as it were a thick mist afore the eyes of the soul, and we cannot, for the time, see the fairness of God, but as we may behold them with contrition with him, with compassion on him, and with holy desire to God for him. For without this it harmeth and tempestet and hindereth the soul that beholdeth them.' And in another place she says that she was taught that she should see her own sins and not those of others except it might be for comfort and help of her 'even-Chrsitian.' What did it all mean? She herself asked that question. From that time that it was showed, she says, I desired oftentimes to learn 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? 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.

Which Jesus mot grant us. Amen.
From an old engraving of St Julian's Church with its tower as it was was before WWII's bombing.


Canon Albert E. Baker then cites the two editions then extant that he has used, those of Grace Warrack and of George Tyrrell.

JULIAN OF NORWICH, HER SHOWING OF LOVE AND ITS CONTEXTS ©1997-2017 JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY  || JULIAN OF NORWICH || SHOWING OF LOVE || HER TEXTS || HER SELF || ABOUT HER TEXTS || BEFORE JULIAN || HER CONTEMPORARIES || AFTER JULIAN || JULIAN IN OUR TIME ||  ST BIRGITTA OF SWEDEN  ||  BIBLE AND WOMEN || EQUALLY IN GOD'S IMAGE  || MIRROR OF SAINTS || BENEDICTINISM|| THE CLOISTER || ITS SCRIPTORIUM || AMHERST MANUSCRIPT || PRAYER || CATALOGUE AND PORTFOLIO (HANDCRAFTS, BOOKS) || BOOK REVIEWS || BIBLIOGRAPHY ||