Julian: Seeing Christ’s Love Through Mary

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 — Week of Proper 14, Year Two

Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer)

EITHER, the readings for Wednesday of Proper 14, p. 979

Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning) 119:121-144 (evening)

Judges 13:15-24

Acts 6:1-15

John 4:1-26

OR, the readings for St. Mary the Virgin, p. 999

Morning Prayer:

Psalms 113, 115

1 Samuel 2:1-10

John 2:1-12

Evening Prayer:

Psalms 45 or 138, 149;

Jeremiah 31:1-14 or Zechariah 2:10-13

John 19:23-27 or Acts 1:6-14

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Dame Julian of Norwich (died c.1416) has a lovely revelation of the experience of God’s love for all humanity revealed through Christ’s particular love for Mary. Christ asks Julian, “Can you see in her how greatly you are loved?” In Mary, Julian can see the virtues that she can learn for herself.

Julian has three spiritual sights of Mary, the first “when she was big with child, the second sorrowing under the cross, and the third as she is now, delightful, glorious, and rejoicing.” Since Mary serves as a symbol for the church and for all humanity under God’s love, one might see these three visions as three states of the human situation and experience — our blessed potential for bearing God’s incarnation into the world; our sorrow and suffering; our joyful exaltation within the love and presence of God.

Here is a portion of Julian’s delightful “Revelation”:

With the same cheerful joy our good Lord looked down to his right and thereby brought to mind the place where our Lady was standing during his passion. “Do you want to see her?” he said, saying in effect, “I know quite well you want to see my blessed Mother, for, after myself, she is the greatest joy I can show you, and most like me and worthy of me. Of all my creation, she is the most desirable sight.” And because of his great, wonderful, unique love for this sweet maiden, his blessed Mother our Lady Saint Mary, he showed her to be rejoicing greatly. This is the meaning of the sweet words. It was as if he were saying, “Do you want to see how I love her, so that you can rejoice with me in my love for her, and hers for me?”

Here — to understand this word further — our Lord God is speaking to all who are going to be saved, as it were to all humankind in the person of one individual. He is saying, “Can you see in her how greatly you are loved? For love of you made her so exalted, so noble, so worthy. This pleases me, and I want it to please you too.” For after himself she is the most blessed of all sights.

But, for all that, I am not expected to want to see her physically present here on earth, but rather to see the virtues of her blessed soul, her truth, her wisdom, her charity, so that I can learn to know myself, and reverently fear my God.

When our good Lord had showed me this and said, “Do you want to see her?” I answered, “Yes, good Lord, thank you very much. Yes, good Lord, if it is your will.” I prayed this often, and I thought I was going to see her in person. But I did not see her in this way. Jesus, in that word, gave me a spiritual sight of her. Just as I had seen her before, lowly and unaffected, so now he showed her, exalted, noble, glorious, and pleasing to him above all creation.

He wills it to be known that all who delight in him should delight in her too, with the same pleasure he has in her, and she in him. To help understand it better he gave this example. If you love one particular thing above everything else, you will try to make everyone else love and like what it is you love so greatly. When Jesus said, “Do you want to see her?” I thought is was the nicest word about her that he could possibly have said, together with the spiritual revelation that he gave me of her. Except in the case of our Lady, Saint Mary, our Lord showed me no one specially — and her he showed three times. The first occasion was when she was big with child, the second sorrowing under the cross, and the third as she is now, delightful, glorious, and rejoicing.”

(Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, 25; ET by Clifton Walters, London, 1966, pp. 101-2; quoted by Robert Atwell, Celebrating the Saints, Canterbury, 2010, p. 472)

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