Saturday, 27 February 2010

God longs for us

Julian of Norwich speaks in Chapter 31 of Revelations of Divine Love of God's longing for us to be happy with him:

"...As certainly as God has the attribute of deep concern and pity so he has the attribute of longing and thirst. (And by virtue of this longing within Christ we in turn long for him: without it no soul comes to heaven.) This quality of longing and thirst comes from God's eternal goodness, just as pity does. Though longing and pity are different, spiritual thirst comes from them both together. It is a deep desire which continues as long as we are in need, drawing us up into his eternal happiness. All this was revealed in the Revelation of his compassion and it will cease on Judgement Day."

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Crosses We Carry

From Julian of Norwich:

"I could now understand why our Lord rejoices with pity and compassion over the tribulation of his servants. In order to bring his loved ones to his eternal happiness God lays on each one something for which he himself does not blame them but which causes them to be blamed, despised, scorned, mocked and rejected in the world. This he does to prevent their being harmed by the empty pomp and pride of this wretched life, and to prepare them to enter into heaven, into endless happiness. For our Lord Christ says, 'I will completely break you form your empty passions and your vicious pride, and then I will gather you together and make you gentle and humble, pure and holy through your union with me.'"

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Christ's joy in Mary

From Julian of Norwich today:

"When our good Lord had revealed this and asked, 'Would you like to see her?' I answered, 'Yes, good Lord, thank you very much. Yes, good Lord, if it is your will.' I had prayed for this frequently, expecting to see her in person, but it never happened. But through these words Jesus gave me a spiritual vision of her. When I saw her before she had been lowly and simple. Now he revealed her exalted, noble, and glorious, more pleasing to him than all other creatures. He wants everyone to know this, so that all who take delight in him should take delight in her, and delight in the joy that he receives from her and she from him.

To help us understand more clearly, he gave this illustration: a man who loves another person above all others will want everyone else to love and enjoy that person whom he loves so much.

...Our Lord showed me nothing special, except our Lady St Mary herself, whom he revealed three times: first, when she was pregnant; second, in grief under the cross; and third, as she is now, filled with delight, praise and joy."

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Trinity's Pleasure

Fom Julian of Norwich today:

"It is Jesus' will that we should take careful note of the happiness of the blessed Trinity over our salvation and, as I have already said, that we should desire to receive the same spiritual happiness, by his grace. I mean that as far as is possible on this earth our enjoyment of our salvation should be similar to the joy which Christ has in our salvation.

The whole Trinity was involved in the Passion of Christ, imparting abundant virtues to us and overflowing grace, by him; but only the Virgin's Son suffered, and this made all the blessed Trinity rejoice for ever. All this was revealed to me in these words: 'Are you pleased?' and later, 'If you are, then so am I.' It was as if Christ had said: 'This is all the joy and delight I want. All I ask for all my sufferings is that I may please you.'

And in this he brought to my mind the character of a glad giver. The one who gives gladly pays little attention to what he is giving. His entire prupose and desire is to please and to satisfy the one whom he is offering the gift. If the recipient accepts the gift gladly and gratefully, then the kind giver counts all the expense and hard work as nothing. The joy and delight that comes from pleasing and satisfying the one whom he loves is reward enough. This was revealed to me absolutely clearly."

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Suffering Christ

Sorry for the lateness of today's post - we've had a nice evening with the Bishop who is up at Oscott and I forgot to post something beforehand...

Here is a passage in which Julian of Norwich reflects on her vision of the suffering Christ:

"This vision of Christ's pains filled me with anguish. For though I was fully aware that he suffered only once, it seemed that he wanted to show it to me and fill my mind with it, as indeed I had requested. And all the time I saw Christ's sufferings, his was the only pain I felt. Then I thought, 'Little did I realise what the pain was that I had been asking for,' and fool that I am I immediately regretted my request, thinking, 'If I had known what it was, I would have thought twice about asking for it.' For it seemed to me that the pain I now felt passed way beyond physical death. I thought, 'Can there be any pain like this?' The answer came into my mind: 'There is the pain of hell - that is another pain again, for there is despair in that.' But of all the pains that lead to salvation, the greatest pain of all is to see the one you love suffer. How could there be any greater pain than the pain of seeing him who is all my life, all my bliss, all my joy, suffer in such a way? In absolute truth, I felt that I loved Christ so much more than I loved myself that no suffering I could ever endure would equal the sorrow I felt when I saw him in pain."

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Devil's Sorrow

Today's excerpt from Revelations of Divine Love:

"Our Lord showed that it is his Passion which overcomes the devil, and that the devil is as malicious now as ever he was before the incarnation. However hard he works, he continually sees all souls escape him to God's glory saved by the power of Christ's precious Passion. This is the devil's sorrow and shameful horror, for everything which God permits him to do turns to joy for us and rebounds on him in disgrace and pain. And his sorrow is just as great when God allows him to work as when he doesn't, because he can never do all the evil he wants to do, for God has the devil's power locked in his control.

But as I see it, there is no anger in God. For our dear Lord always works for his own glory and the good of those who are going to be saved. With his power and justice he opposes the malice and malignity of the damned who busily scheme and machinate against him. I saw our Lord scorn the devil's malice, and reduce his empty power to nothing; and he wants us to do the same. When I saw this I burst out laughing and that made everyone around me laugh too and their laughter gave me great pleasure..."

Saturday, 20 February 2010

'Seeking is open to everyone'

Here is today's excerpt from Julian of Norwich, reflecting on her second vision of Christ's passion:

"This vision shows us that there are two activities: one is seeking, the other is seeing. Seeking is open to everyone. It is something that everyone can do, with the grace of God, and everyone ought to have guidance and teaching about it from Holy Church.

As we seek God it is his will that we do three things: first, that by his grace we apply ourselves seriously to the task of seeking him and not in a lethargic way, not weighed down by unnecessary heaviness and usleless depression. Second, that to the end of our lives we resolutely wait for him, out of love for him, without grumbling or pulling against him, for this life is so short anyway. Third, that we trust him utterly out of complete faith in him. For he wants us to know that he will appear unexpectedly, bringing perfect happiness to all who love him.

For he works in secret and yet wants to be perceived. He will come back suddenly. And he wants to be trusted, for he is such a gracious and loving friend. Praise him!"

Friday, 19 February 2010

Lenten Spiritual Reading

We are reviving the resolution we had last Lent of including each day on the blog an excerpt from our Lenten spiritual reading. Last year the seminary community read St Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life. This year we are reading, as Simon has already pointed out, Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love. I hope some of you find it helpful to follow our our reading of it here! This is the excerpt for today, written by Julian as a reflection upon seeing a vision of Our Lord crowned with thorns:

"We are able to pray to God because of his holy incarnation, his precious blood, his holy Passion, his beloved death and wounds. And all our holy kinship with him, the eternal life that is the result of this, springs from his goodness. We pray to him because of the love of his sweet mother who bore him, and all the help that she gives us from his goodness. We pray by his holy cross on which he died, and all the help and strength that that cross gives us, comes from his goodness. In the same way, all the help that we have from special saints and all the holy company of heaven, the dear love, the holy and never-failing friendship that they give us, all stem from God's goodness. For God in his goodness has chosen many wonderful ways to help us to approach him. But the principle way is the holy nature which he took from the virgin Mary, with all the resulting means of grace which are part of out redemption and endless salvation. So it pleases him that we should seek him and praise him in these ways, knowing that he is the goodness behind it all.

To focus on the goodness of God is the highest form of prayer, and God's goodness comes down to meet us at our most basic need. It gives life to the soul and makes it live and grow in grace and virtue. God's goodness is closest to our human nature, and the most ready to bring us grace. It is that same grace which we seek now and will always seek until we know for certain that our God had completely enfolded us in himself."

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Short Video of Life at Oscott Seminary

Click on the link above for a short video produced by the Birmingham vocations office about life in Oscott. It's been quite well put together I think, and provides parts of conversations with several seminarians, as well as film clips of liturgy and community activities which take place on a day to day basis. (Look out for the Fishers of Men hat-tip after the words, 'We live in a world that is very noisy...')

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I longed to suffer with him...

This year's Lenten reading at Oscott reminds us East Anglian seminarians of home. The whole house this season are reading Mother Julian's Revelations of Divine Love.

We don't know much about Mother Julian of Norwich, except that Julian wasn't her real name, and she probably wasn't a mother, neither in the physical sense nor the monastic sense. She was an anchoress (a type of hermit), who lived near the Church of St Julian (hence her name) in Norwich, at the end of the 14th Century.

The only other thing we know about her is that her intimate love with God caused her great suffering, in which she rejoiced, because the Lord had revealed his love for her. She was famous among her contemporaries, and served as a spiritual director to many, including Margery Kempe (the famous chronicler). Later in life, she recorded these divine revelations in a book which may even have been the first book in English written by a woman. She remained 'undiscovered' until the 20th Century, and a devotion to this holy hermit quickly developed, serving, as she intended, to lead people to taste God's love.