Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And All Shall Be Well

Bl. Julian of Norwich and Her Beloved Cat


To Think About...
Bl. Julian of Norwich was a 14th century English mystic and anchoress who, in 1373, voluntarily confined herself to a cell — or "anchorhold" — attached to a Norwich (England) parish. In that cell, in the sole company of her beloved cat with whom she is most often depicted, she devoted herself to prayer and contemplation for the needs of the Church, the citizens of Norwich, and for the whole world. 

In or around the year 1393, Bl. Julian of Norwich wrote a text called "Revelations of Divine Love," which elaborated on her understanding of the sixteen mystical visions ("showings") of Christ's Passion revealed to her in the throes of her own near-fatal illness twenty years earlier. This body of work captures Bl. Julian's meditations on God's inexhaustible love and mercy, the complexities of human suffering, and our Creator's trustworthy loving care. It represents the aggregate of her intense life of prayer, which was lived in union with God in the most intimate and mysterious ways. 

We can well imagine, however, the occasional loneliness that may have arisen from her vow never to leave her anchorhold. While she acted as a spiritual advisor to many people from behind the curtained window of her cell, we may surmise that it was her own dear animal companion that provided the blessings of tangible love and tactile comfort throughout the years spent in prayer and contemplation.

Perhaps her nameless yet famous cat was also her daily partner in prayer, one whose God-given nature was, likewise, both mystical and earthly. It may also have been this human-animal bond that helped to "anchor" Bl. Julian, the mystic, in the goodness and joy of the natural world.

One of the most often quoted revelations given to us by Bl. Julian of Norwich, which she received from the LORD as she anchored the Light during one of the darkest periods in world history, is this:

All things shall be well.
You shall see for yourself that all manner 
of things shall be well. 
 --L.T. Chapter 27 
 
Do you believe in God's ultimate Goodness? Do you believe that all manner of things shall be well?


For Further Reflection...
In many ways, Bl Julian was the Eternal Optimist…are you prone to paralyzing bouts of doubt and discouragement? Or are you able to move forward amid the darkness, “anchoring” the Light of Christ in your soul and in the world? To do so requires sacred trust in God’s unfailing love for you. Whatever the desire of your heart, if you believe it – you can receive it!
We may speculate that Bl. Julian’s beloved cat was attracted to the peace and confidence that radiated from her human companion. When you quiet yourself and your busy schedule to pray, is it any wonder that’s also the time when your animal companions tend to gather around you…to lie at your feet or to stretch out beside you, or to watch your lips move in prayer with a sense of quiet fascination?  They instinctively seem to know that you are somehow “different” or “transformed;” your peace in times of trouble is their refuge and delight.

More Words of Encouragement from Bl. Julian of Norwich... 

These words:
You will not be overcome
were said very insistently
and strongly [by Jesus],
for certainty and strength
against every tribulation
which may come.
He did not say:
You will not be troubled,
You will not be belaboured,
You will not be disquieted;
But he said:
You will not be overcome.
S.T. Chapter 22
(From Divine Revelation of Love)
 



3 comments:

  1. The image in this post was created and painted by me for a colleague who introduced me to Lady Julian.

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  2. I have so many friends and family that love their pets,but don't how that could tie into their faith. I look forward to sharing your blog with everyone I know who would be enlightened by it. Including myself ;)

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