Revelations of Divine Love – Revelation Seven

We had a great discussion last week. For this week’s discussion of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love (Short Text), please read pages 11-14 (§§8-9). This reading includes Revelations 2-7. Please read these pages slowly and contemplatively. Allow Julian to draw you into her world and her visions.

Revelation Seven: Spiritual Oscillations (pp.13-14, §9)

Revelation Six ended with Julian’s vision of the heavenly bliss of the saints emanating from Christ’s gratitude.  Revelation Seven begins with Jesus revealing to Julian “a supreme spiritual delight in my soul.” She was filled with everlasting certainty, without any fear, and was at peace, ease, and rest. Christ revealed to her that peace that passes all understanding. Phil. 4:7.

Soon, however, her mood turned. She felt depressed, weary of herself, disgusted with her life, and lost the patience to continue living. She knew she still possessed faith, hope, and love, but even of these virtues, she felt very little.

Immediately, her peace and bliss returned, only to disappear again. This happened, she writes, about twenty times. She oscillated between St. Paul’s statement that “Nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ” and St. Peter’s exclamation “Lord, save me, I perish.” Rom. 8:39; Matt. 8:27, 14:30. [Julian quotes Scripture. Medieval women also knew the bible.]

She understands this lesson as teaching her that it is necessary for everyone to feel both comforted and abandoned. She writes “God wants us to know that he keeps us equally safe in joy and in sorrow, and loves us as much in sorrow as in joy.” God’s very real presence in our lives is unaffected by how we are feeling. She ends this Revelation with the insight that “bliss lasts forever, and pain passes and will come to nothing.”

Lessons for Us:

Of all of Julian’s Revelations, this one is the most personal and important to me. We all have those moments when God seems almost absent so that we, like the Psalmist, will cry out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Ps. 22:1. Our feelings, however, are not indicative of reality. For whatever reason, our perception that God has abandoned us leads us astray. Julian reminds us, like the Psalmist, that “Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  Ps. 30:6. For in Christ, it is always Easter morning, therefore, the sense of God’s absence will always pass because it is only a temporary and mistaken understanding.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is chicken potato casserole. Meditative discussions at 6:45. Compline at 8. Please bring a friend!

Therefore it is not God’s will that we should be influenced by feelings of pain to sorrow and grieve over them, but quickly pass beyond them and hold on to the endless joy that is God almighty, who loves and safeguards us.
Seventh Revelation, Short Text, § 9

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