Monday, May 9, 2011

Julian of Norwich and Divine Wisdom

The Order of Julian community celebrates the feast of Julian of Norwich today, since yesterday the 3rd Sunday in Easter took preeminence. Today's first Office reading from Wisdom (7:21-26) speaks of Personified Wisdom, "the fashioner of all things" and Teacher extraordinaire. Julian, in Chapter 58 of the Revelations of Divine Love, presents a sort of theological framework for understanding the Risen Christ/God the Son in the role of Wisdom, interestingly couched in largely feminine terms. Probably not by accident, since the Greek Sophia = Wisdom is a feminine noun. "...the Second Person of the Trinity", says Julian, "is our Mother in human nature in our essential creation. In Him we are grounded and rooted, and he is our Mother in mercy by taking on our fleshliness...

The Wisdom of Solomon describes the qualities and characteristics of Personified Wisdom, many of which have a kind of feminine flavor:
* intelligent
* holy
* unique
* manifold
* subtle
* mobile
* clear
* unpolluted
* distinct
* invulnerable
* loving the good
* keen
* irresistible
* beneficent
* humane
* steadfast
* sure
* free from anxiety
* all-powerful
* overseeing all
* penetrating through all spirits
* more mobile than any motion
* a breath of the power of God
* a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty
* a reflection of eternal light
* a spotless mirror of the working of God

Julian continues: " our Father, God Almighty, we have our being; and in our Mother of mercy we have our redeeming and restoring, in whom our parts are one-ed and all made complete man; and by the repaying and giving in grace of the Holy Spirit, we are fulfilled.

And our essence is in our Father, God Almighty,
and our essence is in our Mother, God all Wisdom,
and our essence is in our Lord the Holy Spirit, God all Goodness,
for our essence is total in each Person of the Trinity, which is One God."

The essence of Blessed Julian's Revelations is that she comes to understand the nature of God through the divine Wisdom and Love which she sees embodied in Jesus the Christ. Julian "reads" as her revelatory text the message of love which is revealed in the suffering body of Jesus on the Cross, as well as in his subsequent being raised up and glorified. In her serious illness, mentioned at the beginning of the Revelations, Julian had longed for "a more true consciousness of the Passion of Christ." Her seeing wasn't just visual. It was something she did with her entire being: body, mind and spirit. In the same way that the practice of lectio divina = sacred/divine reading utilizes Scripture to wash over our souls so frequently and deeply that it begins to guide and direct how we think, speak and act, so does the Paschal Mystery operate for Julian in absorbing the "all Wisdom" which is our essence. This manner of "seeing" in Julian's Revelations is meant to convey how her and our learning of Christ's message of love and trust, Christ's Wisdom, not merely with our mind, but with our whole being, might help her and us, her "even Christians", to live continually in God's Presence.

Sergei Bulgakov goes even step further in saying: "The Church in the world [which is you and me] is Sophia in process of becoming...God created the world only that He might deify it and himself become all in all to it...The Church is the Body of Christ in virtue of his Incarnation: it is the universal human nature of the second Adam, created Wisdom, inseparably and unconfusedly united in him with his divine nature, that divine Wisdom which is 'the fullness of him that fills all in all'..."

I think Mother Julian would've liked that!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree
What a kind and good soul you are. Much warmth to you.