Julian of Norwich was a contemplative anchoress in the fourteenth and fifteenth century. Her life consisted primarily of prayer and contemplation in the small cell attached to the church where she was called. When she was approaching her own death she received a series of visions that impressed upon her the powerful and overwhelming nature of God's furious love. After the visions she recovered and wrote down what she had seen so that others might learn from God's gift to her. Though she was a woman in a time when this should have excluded her from having significant influence in the theology and movement of the Church she wrote and distributed her visions so that the Church might hear what God had to say through her anyway. What follows are some selections from Julian's work Revelations of Divine Love.
"But in this I stood beholding things general, troublously and mourning, saying thus to our Lord in my meaning, with full great dread: Ah! good Lord, how might all be well, for the great hurt that is come, by sin, to the creature? And here I desired, as far as I durst, to have some more open declaring wherewith I might be eased in this matter.
And to this our blessed Lord answered full meekly and with full lovely cheer, and shewed that Adam’s sin was the most harm that ever was done, or ever shall be, to the world’s end; and also He shewed that this [sin] is openly known in all Holy Church on earth. Furthermore He taught that I should behold the glorious Satisfaction for this Amends-making is more pleasing to God and more worshipful, without comparison, than ever was the sin of Adam harmful. Then signifieth our blessed Lord thus in this teaching, that we should take heed to this: For since I have made well the most harm, then it is my will that thou know thereby that I shall make well all that is less."
"Full preciously our Lord keepeth us when it seemeth to us that we are near forsaken and cast away for our sin and because we have deserved it. And because of meekness that we get hereby, we are raised well-high in God’s sight by His grace, with so great contrition, and also compassion, and true longing to God. Then they be suddenly delivered from sin and from pain, and taken up to bliss, and made even high saints.
By contrition we are made clean, by compassion we are made ready, and by true longing toward God we are made worthy. These are three means, as I understand, whereby that all souls come to heaven: that is to say, that have been sinners in earth and shall be saved: for by these three medicines it behoveth that every soul be healed.Though the soul be healed, his wounds are seen afore God,—not as wounds but as worships. And so on the contrary-wise, as we be punished here with sorrow and penance, we shall be rewarded in heaven by the courteous love of our Lord God Almighty, who willeth that none that come there lose his travail in any degree. For He [be]holdeth sin as sorrow and pain to His lovers, to whom He assigneth no blame, for love.The meed that we shall receive shall not be little, but it shall be high, glorious, and worshipful. And so shall shame be turned to worship and more joy.
But our courteous Lord willeth not that His servants despair, for often nor for grievous falling: for our falling hindereth letteth not Him to love us.Peace and love are ever in us, being and working; but we be not alway in peace and in love. But He willeth that we take heed thus that He is Ground of all our whole life in love; and furthermore that He is our everlasting Keeper and mightily defendeth us against our enemies, that be full fell and fierce upon us;—and so much our need is the more for [that] we give them occasion by our falling."