Friday, 4 January 2013

Juliana of Norwich

Icon, "Juliana of Norwich", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Juliana (or Julian) of Norwich was an English mystic of the fourteenth century -- an author and visionary whose experiences were revealed in a book entitled: "Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love".  She was probably a Benedictine nun, living as a recluse in an anchorage of which traces still remain in the east part of the churchyard of St. Julian in Norwich. According to her book, this revelation was "shewed" to her in May, 1373, when she was 30 years old. These "Revelations", or "Shewings", are the most perfect example of later medieval mysticism in England.

Juliana described herself as a "simple creature unlettered" when she received them; but, in the years that intervened between the vision and the composition of the book, she evidently acquired some knowledge of theological phraseology and Christian philosophy, the latter probably derived from the anonymous author of the "Divine Cloud of Unknowing". The book is the record of twenty years' meditation upon that one experience; for, "when the shewing, which is given for a time, is passed and hid, then faith keepeth it by grace of the Holy Ghost unto our lives end". More than fifteen years later, she received "in ghostly understanding" the explanation, the key to all religious experience:
"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand ... I looked at it and thought: What can this be? I was given this answer: "It is everything which is..." [to read the remainder of this explanation, please go to   
Fridge magnet that I made for Christmas gift, 2009
The saying, "…All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well", which Julian claimed to be said to her by God Himself, reflects her theology. It is one of the most famous lines in Catholic theological writing, and is possibly one of the best-known phrases of the literature of her era The 20th-century poet T.S. Eliot incorporated this phrase, as well as Julian's "the ground of our beseeching" from the 14th Revelation, in his "Little Gidding", the fourth of his Four Quartets poems:
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive In the ground of our beseeching.
Julian is honored with a feast day on May 13 in the Roman Catholic Church.


My "Coming Home" Story

NOTE: Some portions of this story have been changed or combined or even partly fabricated in an effort to tell the story in a way that makes sense, provides anonymity for certain people and, particularly, to refrain from attempting to explain those events in the spiritual life which are simply unexplainable.

(continued from previous posting)

Sallie, 1969

 The next few days of my life were filled with so many confirmations of the rightness of my decision that I felt a though I was being led by the Spirit every step of the way. Everything I had thought I was giving up was quickly replaced by something new and appropriate – so much so that I did not even have time to be worried or fearful.

I needed to find a new place to live as I had been living with a group of Anglican women and while most of them were OK with my decision, there were some who were not. I quickly found a room in an old, Italian convent attached to one of the large Italian parishes. There was no one else living there at that time and I thought it might be a bit scary; however, once I discovered that the hallway outside my suite led directly to the Church choir loft with a clear view of the Tabernacle and its ever-burning candle, I no longer felt at all frightened! Night after night I was able to quietly enter the locked Church by way of that upstairs hallway and spend as much time in prayer as I wanted – often making a holy hour.

Then I needed a new job. Within a couple of days I heard that the Brothers of the Good Shepherd needed someone to look after their office duties and do a bit of payroll bookkeeping. I applied and was hired immediately. My salary was just enough to pay my rent and cover my basic expenses and I was invited by the Brothers to take my main meal of the day with them!

Finally, and most importantly, my priest friend was willing and able to arrange for me to meet him weekly for private instruction. This was fortunate since RCIA classes were already well underway for the year and I was hungering so much to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament that I wasn’t sure I could sanely wait another year before coming into the Church!

Actually, I had heard rumours (this was back in the mid-70s remember) that I could receive Holy Communion even if I wasn’t in the Church yet, but I had never really believed them. I immediately asked my priest friend about this as we started our sessions together. He very sternly told me that no matter what anyone told me, the teaching of the Church had not changed – that going up for Communion without being in union with the Body of Christ under the authority of the Magisterium was still a serious sin. So, I set my soul in patience and begin the time of preparation.

As the months passed...

(The concluding segment will be posted on the 8th of January, 2013. )


Suki quietly gazing...
I cannot recall whether or not I told you about the demise of the letter "S".

A few weeks ago the big letter fell off the wall when Suki was "patting" it.  Since this happened to be the middle of the night, this event frightened not only Suki but it also frightened me as the crashing sound awakened me from a deep sleep!  At that point, I said several unpleasant words and then announced my decision that the big letter was going in the closet for good!

Much to Suki's dismay that is exactly what happened to the letter "S".  It is now in the very back of the closet wedged tightly between two boxes.  All was quiet for the next few nights; however, last night the black bandit struck again!

Since the "S" is now immovable, Suki evidently decided that as she no longer had her big letter that she would have to improvise.  So, she decided that the two, free-hanging mirror panels near where I sleep would work just as well as the big letter had!  Oh joy, oh bliss!

It took me a long time to get to sleep last night due to this continuing cough.  Finally, I fell asleep but was suddenly rudely awakened by this loud, scraping noise.  At first I could simply not figure out what on earth the noise could be!  As I frantically searched the room in the dim light coming from the hallway, I finally saw this black shape (Suki), standing on her hind legs and moving her front paws rapidly on the glass surface of one of the mirrors.  I yelled and the noise stopped.  Suki slowly walked over to me, sat down and with that look on her face which she assumes when she wants something she meowed!  The meow said "I'm hungry.  Let's eat."  I looked over at the clock and saw the numbers click over to 4:30 a.m.  And so began my morning.

This cat is just too clever by far and, obviously, she has no fear of me!  Now I am trying to figure out a way to discourage her from this activity -- ever the optimist, aren't I?

Except for this silly cough, I am doing about the same.  On Sunday I will be taking down my Christmas decorations as that is Epiphany for Catholics and Christmas for the Orthodox.  On Monday I am praying that I will finally get a date for this next surgery.  My next posting will be on the 8th, God willing, and I hope to have good news to report.

Meanwhile, I think it is time for a quick nap (or maybe not so quick!) and then there are a number of emails to respond to.  I will be praying that the peace of the Lord will be with us all. 
Dear Juliana of Norwich, please pray for us.  Amen.

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