Our Falling Does Not Stop His Loving Us

From Revelations of Divine Love, 39 (ca. 1390)

Sin is the sharpest scourge that any elect soul can be flogged with. It is the scourge which so reduces a man or woman and makes him so loathsome in his own sight that it is not long before he sinks down to hell until the touch of the Holy Spirit forces him to contrition, and turns his bitterness to the hope of God’s mercy. Then he begins to heal his wounds, and to rouse his soul as it turns to the life of Holy Church. The Holy Spirit leads him on to confession, so that he deliberately reveals his sins in all their nakedness and reality, and admits with great sorrow and shame that he has befouled the fair image of God. Then for all his sins he performs penance and imposed by his confession according to the doctrine of Holy Church, and by the teachings of the Holy Spirit.

This is one of the humble things that greatly pleases God. Physical illness that is sent by him is another. Others are those humiliations and griefs caused by outside influences, or by the rejection and contempt of the world, by the various kinds of difficulty and temptation a person may find himself in, whether they be physical or spiritual.

Dear, indeed, does our Lord hold on to us when it seems to us that we are nearly forsaken and cast away because of our sin — and deservedly so. Because of the humility we acquire this way we are exalted in the sight of God by his grace, and know a very deep contrition and compassion and a genuine longing for God. Then suddenly we are delivered from sin and pain, and raised to blessedness, and even made great saints!

Our courteous Lord does not want his servants to despair even if they fall frequently and grievously. Our falling does not stop his loving us. Peace and love are always at work in us, but we are not always in peace and love. But he wants us in this way to realize that he is the foundation of the whole of our life in love, and furthermore that he is our eternal protector, and mighty defender against our enemies who are so fierce and wicked. And, alas, our deed is all the greater since we give them every opportunity by our failures.

Julian of Norwich (1343-ca. 1417) is the name commonly given to an English anchoress attached for decades to Norwich’s Church of St. Julian, where many visited her for spiritual counsel. She experienced a series of visions of Christ’s Passion in 1373, and recounted them, with extensive theological commentary, in The Revelations of Divine Love, the first book written in English by a woman. She is commemorated on May 8 on the calendars of several Anglican churches.


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