Thursday, December 2, 2021

God is Nearer to Us Than Our Own Soul

Julian of Norwich is a fairly well known Christian mystic while also being a shadow figure. Her birth date is not certain but placed between 1342 and 1343 and her death occurred after 1416. Not much is known of her childhood, but speculation has it that her parents may have died in one of England's many plagues explaining her attachment to images of God as mother.  Julian brings that feminist voice to the Christian Church that greatly softens the harshness present in so much of the theology of the Roman Catholic catechisms and the "accepted" doctrines of male dominated Church councils

Julian was able to exercise this alternative theological voice largely because she was an anchoress. An anchorite or anchoress was a special order of mystic whose "strings tied to the Catholic Church" were mostly removed since by becoming an anchoress, a bishop would perform a funeral rite basically declaring the person dead.  The person was then given a small cell in which to live that was usually attached to a wall of the church/cathedral building.  From that point forward they were more closely akin to hermits than members of a monastic order.

The idea that set Julian's theology apart in her time was the imagery that God/Jesus were mothers with great love for her children. Much of Julian's relationship with God arose from her recurring visions.  In them God is so near to us and knows us to be so perfect that we simply have to wait for our maturity to be realized under Mother's watchful eye.  Once our spirits reach maturity there is no room remaining for sin to dwell. One of her more well known phrases is: "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."  

The concept of positive motherly love encircling us all is one that our times need as a counter to the increasing divisiveness, hostility, and the widespread death and misery connected to the Covid-19 pandemic.  It is one that today's church should be bringing as an Advent incarnational message of the living Christ.

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