Sunday, February 22, 2009

All shall be well

When I learned that I was going on our Province's Lenten Retreat at St. Dorothy's Rest, and that we would be reading the Showings of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich, I felt inspired to bring this great English mystic "home" to our parish as well.

Hence, the Parish Lenten Reading I have selected for this year is A 40-Day Journey with Julian of Norwich, edited and arranged by Lisa Dahill. This book consists of material from Julian's Showings, as well as passages of scripture to meditate upon and prayers to be said, for each day [of Lent].

I really look forward to going on our Retreat, and hearing what Canon David Rodier has to say on Julian of Norwich. I think I might know a couple of reasons why she was selected for us to read at this time. She recieved her revelations of Divine Love while looking at the crucifix. Thus, the focal point of Showings of Divine Love is our Lord's Passion, and that is great for us to mediate on during these weeks leading up to Easter. There is another reason it is appropriate to read Julian right now, and that is that she lived, as we do, during a time of social upheaval, plague, war, economic recession, and...(you guessed it!)...climate change. Northern Europe had a spell of very cold winters and very short, rainy Summers in the mid-1300's. This devastated the agrarian economy, caused widespread malnuitrition, and paved the way for the Black Death, which subsequently destroyed anywhere from 30%-60% of the population of Europe.

Given these grim statistics, it is amazing that our Lord's revelations to Julian consisted of such words of hope and comfort for her, for her contemporaries: the revelations can basically be summarized as "Behold, how much I love you", and "All shall be well".

Here is a brief statement from Julian's Showings, a passage made famous by T. S. Elliot in his Four Quartets. I think it is a 'Showing' if you will, of the deep Love of the Most Holy Trinity, and that it is much needed in a society which is wracked with sickness, division and anxiety:
All shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well.

9 Comments:

Blogger Continuing Home said...

I picked up a copy this evening. (Sorry I didn't stay until your anticipated arrival, but I was not feeling too well.)

I am looking forward to reading this.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Death Bredon said...

How was your adventure in unreformed English spirituality?

9:28 PM  
Blogger Anglican Parish Priest said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Anglican Parish Priest said...

Aha, I would rather say "pre-reformation" myself. The test of a true Christian mystic is whether his or her mysticism conforms to the common faith, OR whether it is "something new" and therefore some sort of departure. So far, it seems to me that Julian of Norwich's "showings of divine love", and her commentary upon them, demonstrate a mind that is very much steeped in the Christian tradition, and formed by Holy Scripture. That's a relief to me. I'm always looking for a fellow traveler.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Death Bredon said...

Thanks for your report. I think no less an authority than Martin Thornton would agree!

I too am relieved, as it seems that St. Dorothy's Retreat topics are usually pre-Reformed if not outright Counter-Reformed.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Anglican Parish Priest said...

One point that needs to be made is that Lady Julian writes "all shall be well" not as some sort of spiritual prozac, or "I'm ok - you're ok"; rather, this message is "for all those who will be saved". She sounds at times almost predestinarian, albeit not Calvinist, obviously. I hope that makes sense.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Death Bredon said...

I believe that the prevailing, theology in the West at her time was that God unconditionally predestines to life, but not perdition. (Calvin just "restored" the Augustinian doublet.) Of course, this is all innovative, schismatic nonsense -- the consensus of the Fathers, continuously held only in the Christian East, is that predestination is conditioned on our response to grace. Thankfully, Formulary Anglicans re-introduced synergistic soteriology to the British Isles.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

Found your blog and will happily look in from time to time. All the best to you, your family and the community around you.
Rev Doug Kirkpatrick (South Africa; Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist; Parish of Letaba, Limpopo Province, Tzaneen)

7:50 AM  
Blogger Anglican Parish Priest said...

It's great to have your visits to this blog, and your comments. Thanks!

8:53 AM  

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