A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
Message from Vic Casad: Feb. 27, 2018
Notes from the Heartland
We are about a third of way through this Season of Lent. I am feeling somewhat compelled to write a Lenten meditation for myself. I am looking over my bookshelf. It is interesting how, when you peruse your library, each book your eye fixes upon has a personal history all its own. Some of my books are holdovers from seminary. Some came from my father’s library. Most I have picked up over the years and cover a variety of topics, with an inordinate number concerned with how to be an effective pastor. But I am looking for something else.
My eye spots a booklet I forgot I owned. It’s a handmade, photo-copied publication I picked up in Norwich, England, in 2012. It’s entitled Spiritual Legacies for the Twenty-first Century. I remember buying the booklet as a souvenir in the gift shop at the Church of St. Julian. It is a book of three lectures presented at a Conference at the Norwich Cathedral in April of 2012. The first lecture is called “Julian of Norwich — Spiritual Guide” by Sr. Elizabeth Ruth Obbard, CJN ( I looked up CJN). She’s a Carmelite solitary attached to Aylesford Priory in Kent, where she lives a life of prayer and solitude and from time to time gives lectures, leads spiritual retreats and writes books.
Julian of Norwich lived in the 14th century and is known for having written about a series of beatific visions she had as she was being administered Last Rites on her presumable death bed at the age of thirty. She survived her illness and wrote down her visions in a treatise called, Revelations of Divine Love. Her book was published around 1395, about the time Chaucer wrote his Canterbury Tales and is considered the first book in the English language known to have been written by a woman.
Julian was not a nun but a lay woman who chose the life of a contemplative and mystic. She became an anchoress, or female hermit, who lived in a small walled-in cell attached to St. Julian’s church. People would come often to her open window for spiritual guidance and comfort. No one knows her birth name; she’s called Julian because of her association with the church.
What stands out about Julian’s writing is how joyful they are in spite of her personal suffering and the turmoil going on in the world at the time. Here are some quotes from Revelations of Divine Love for your Lenten pondering:
Pray, even if you feel nothing, see nothing. For when you are dry, empty, sick or weak, at such a time is your prayer most pleasing to God, even though you may find little joy in it. This is true of all believing prayer.
He [Jesus] did not say, ‘You will never have a rough passage, you will never be over-strained, you will never feel uncomfortable,’ but he did say, ‘You will never be overcome.’
For we are so preciously loved by God that we cannot even comprehend it. No created being can ever know how much and how sweetly and tenderly God loves them. It is only with the help of his grace that we are able to persevere in spiritual contemplation with endless wonder at his high, surpassing, immeasurable love which our Lord in his goodness has for us.
The fullness of Joy is to behold God in everything.
God is our clothing that wraps, clasps, and encloses us so as to never leave us.
Between God and the soul there is no between.
And here is Julian of Norwich’s most famous quote:
All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.
And I pray it may be so with you.
In His Service and Yours,