Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich

Mystics (especially female mystics) are often dismissed as enthusiasts; they are not taken as seriously as academic theologians. But Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love is as theologically sophisticated as anything the Scholastics wrote in the late Middle Ages. Dame Julian’s visions lead her to comment on all of the great metaphysical questions (sin, Grace, predestination, salvation, etc). Unlike the Scholastics, however, Julian insists that many of these questions just cannot be answered and some should not even be asked. There is a lot of pain and suffering in this world, and all explanations are unsatisfactory, but God is love and mercy and Grace. Julian does not arrive at this conclusion from a position of comfort. She constantly fights against personal weakness, sin, self-doubt, pain, and fear. Despite everything she believes, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Revelation of Love is incarnational mysticism at its finest. Written in the lat 14th century, the showings are in the tradition of affective spirituality. The crucified is described in excruciating detail. This is the “Christ is wounded for you” atonement of Bernard of Clairvaux. Still, Julian insists that God never blames humans. God only loves. We separate ourselves from God, but God is always near. Many analogies from the created world are used to describe the Trinity. Julian shatters the myth that mysticism is only concerned with the “other world”.

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