Thursday, 8 May 2008

Julian's Day

Today is the commemoration of St Julian of Norwich, Anchorite and Spiritual author. I wonder why? (Apart from it being the anniversary of the day she received her visions). She didn't do much, really. A 30-ish widow, she took herself off into a cell in St Julian's Church just off Norwich city centre and prayed. Fair enough. She had a series of 16 visions mainly about the Trinity and the Passion of Christ. Aged 50, she wrote up her 20 years worth of reflection and meditation on them. Commendable enough in itself, but a publishing contract is hardly cause for beatification. Especially if it's vanity publishing.

The content is the key. She homed in on the merciful love of God and her view that evil was no more than an aberration of human will which served to reveal more fully the merciful love of God. Her language was homely and in places striking.

I suppose my "Why beatify?" question reflects some of my dis-ease with the content. Or at least its emphasis. In spite of the cuddly style, it's still very much 14th century 'concetrate on our depravity to see how wonderful God is' spirituality. A lot on the passion but not really enough on the resurrection. A lot of Christian focus in spirituality is still on the Cross and Passion and really doesn't move beyond that on to the Resurrection. Most joint ecumenical Holy Week services have a big bash on Good Friday (Procession of Witness, 3 hours etc) and a few gathering early on Easter morning to cheep 'Thine be the Glory' in the nearest public park. In Lent we have weekly Stations of the Cross. And then conk out devotionally after Easter.

Last night, we had a change at St Wotsit's. We had a devotion called Stations of the Resurrection. 14 candles, not crosses. following the Risen Christ from the earthquake afterthe death, to Paul's conversion. Well received. The change of emphasis was quite refreshing. Must do it again next Eastertide.

And having been so anti Mother Julian, it's only fair to quote some of her most stirring words:

"God revealed that in all things, as truly as god is our Father, God is our Mother. God is the power and goodness of fatherhood; God is the wiasdom and loving kindness of motherhood. God desired Christ to be our mother, our brother and our Saviour, for God knows us now and loved us before time began. In nature, Jesus is our true mother by our first creation and in grace by taking our created nature. All the love of offering and sacrifice of beloved motherhood are in Christ our Beloved. For in Jesus we have this godly will, both in nature and in grace."

Worth keeping her festival for that alone.


  1. Be careful about taking on females of spiritual greatness. You never win.

  2. Wise words indeed, O guru!