Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

May 13, 2009

Feast of Blessed Julian of Norwich

Today is the feast of my "blogging patroness," Blessed Julian of Norwich. Agatha asked me to write a little bit about why I chose her to guide my writing.

To begin, there are many saints and blesseds whom I love dearly and hope to emulate. My Confirmation saint, St. Maria Goretti, has seen me through so many experiences in which my purity (in many different dimensions) has needed protection. As I have mentioned before, St. Catherine of Siena has moved me to trust in God's providence. But I met Blessed Julian of Norwich at a crucial time in my life when I desperately needed to know why I had felt abandoned by God.  She has continued to play an instrumental role in my early adulthood, and so I thought that she might be of some help to me as I figure out what it means to love as a young woman in the modern world, as she herself had to discern the meaning of many life experiences.  

During my senior year of college I experienced a very profound spiritual drought. I would not call it a "dark night" like that of St. John of the Cross or the many saints who have endured something like it. But my experience mimicked on a small scale the feeling of abandonment by God, and there were many nights where I went to the chapel on our campus and literally wrestled with both God and the devil at the same time.

It was during this period that I was taking an elective on Christian Mysticism with an absolutely brilliant professor (actually an Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism and so also had a family!). During this class I met Blessed Julian, one of the most renowned writers of medieval England.  Over the course of several decades, Julian was given many "shewings," or revelations.  In her own bodily suffering, she learned the meaning of Christ's suffering, as she had visions and experiences of Him explaining it to her.  This passage of hers has been a constant source of comfort to me when I ask God the inevitable question: Why? 

And from the time that [the vision] was shown, I desired often to know what our Lord's meaning was. And fifteen years and more afterward I was answered in my spiritual understanding, thus: 'Would you know your Lord's meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who showed it to you? Love. What did he show you? Love. Why did he show it? For love. Keep yourself therein and you shall know and understand more in the same. But you shall never know nor understand any other thing, forever.'
Thus I was taught that love was our Lord's meaning. And I saw quite clearly in this and in all, that before God made us, he loved us, which love was never slaked nor ever shall be. And in this love he has done all his work, and in this love he has made all things profitable to us. And in this love our life is everlasting. In our creation we had a beginning. But the love wherein he made us was in him with no beginning. And all this shall be seen in God without end ...

Love.  That is the answer to all of my questions.  So, thank you, Julian.  I really hope to name a daughter after you one day.  And, in any event, who doesn't like to hear, "All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well"? 


Edith Magdalene said...

Julian fascinates me....any clue why she is the patroness of cats??

Southernbelle said...

Thank you so much for this blog--I dearly love Blessed Julian for so many reasons I cannot list them all! (And I didn't know she was patroness of cats--yet another reason to love her--I am a cat-lover too! *big smile*)

As a convert to Catholicism I regret to say that I have never received the sacrament of confirmation. I would so love to have Julian as my confirmnation name, would that be acceptable as she has never officially been canonized (or even beatified, which I will NEVER understand)!?

NOTE TO EDITH MAGDALENE: Not sure why she is patroness of cats, but I have read that as an anchoress secluded in her little cell, her only "regular" companion was her little pet cat--so seemingly she loved cats and maybe this is why???

God bless! :-)

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