Patricia A. Merlo, M.P.M.

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Wondering how to pray during these unprecedented times?

Julian of Norwich, a Mystic for the 21st Century

“All shall be well. … You yourself shall see that all manner
of things shall be well” – Julian of Norwich.


While mystics are found in all faith traditions, the writings of Julian of Norwich seem particularly well-suited to the upheavals and anxieties that characterize our own “new normal”.  

Who was Julian of Norwich? Although very few little is known about Julian’s personal life, much is known about the divine revelations that she received on May 13, 1373.  These 16 revelations, centered in the Passion and death of Jesus, led Julian to make a radical choice: to enclose herself in a cell attached to the church of St. Julian in Norwich, England where she spent the rest of her life in prayer and reflection. Over a period of 20 years, the Lord Himself showed Julian the meaning of His extraordinary Revelations of Divine Love.  
 
How does her life relate to ours?
Julian of Norwich’s life coincided with repeated outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague (Black Death), widespread famine, streams of refugees fleeing the ravages of the Hundred Years War, and scandals that tore apart the Christian church. Yet, in stark contrast to those dark times, Julian assured all “fellow believers” that, even within their trials and tribulations, “each is intimately known and loved by God”, and that, indeed, “all shall be well.”  Furthermore, Julian insisted that the 16 revelations “are intended not only for her, but for all.” Her writings transcend the centuries, and provide anew the wisdom, comfort, and healing we will need as we face these painful new realities.
 

Why haven’t I heard of her before? Overlooked for many centuries, Julian’s writings gained well-deserved prominence during the past 40 years. As an author, Julian is recognized as the first woman to write a book in the English language and, as a mystic, Julian’s theological insights are regarded as both orthodox and strikingly original.

If you’d like to learn more about “Julian of Norwich – Mystic for Our Times”, please feel welcome to watch any of the presentations I made in 2019.  The six videos are available on my website (pattymerlo.com).

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New: Videos of Julian of Norwich Presentation

This is a series of six videos on the life of Julian of Norwich.

01. What is Grace (11:21)
The 1st video addresses Julian’s desire to experience the Passion of Christ as though she herself had been present, a heartfelt prayer she defined as “a grace”.

 

02. Julian’s 14th Century England (21:53)
The 2nd video presents an overview of her life in 14th century England which included three outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague, famine, devastating political and economic upheavals, and scandals that tore apart the Christian Church.

 

03 The Themes of Julian’s First Revelation (23:39)
04 Julian’s First Revelation (34.15)

The 3rd and 4th videos focus on the first of her 16 Revelations of Divine Love and reveal the basis for her well-known assurance that “all shall be well”.

 

05 Julian’s Parable of the Master and the Servant (28:28)
06 Parable of the Master and the Servant - Concluded (27:30)

The 5th and 6th videos discuss her parable of the Lord and the Servant, and her own confrontation with a loving God—a God without wrath or blame—in the face of tremendous suffering.

If you don’t have time to watch all the videos (it’s surprising how busy we can be while shut up in our homes!), videos 3 and 4 introduce her major insights and revelations and could be a good place to start.

Handouts to use with the videos:

  1. del Mastro_Revel of Divine  Love_65-68.pdf
  2. Master  Servant_delMastro_138-143.pdf
  3. Julians Way_Bradley 223-225.pdf
  4. Interpreting Scripture - 7  Methods.pdf
  5. What Julian of Norwich can Teach  Us About Prayer -_Meninger.pdf

 

What others say about Julian of Norwich

Thomas Merton:  “Julian is, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful of all Christian voices. She gets greater and greater in my eyes as I get older... I think Julian of Norwich is, with Newman, the greatest English theologian”

Pope Benedict XVI: “Even in periods of tribulation, God does not cease to inspire figures such as Julian of Norwich to recall people to peace, love, and joy.” (General Audience, December 1, 2010)

Richard Rohr: “Julian of Norwich is my favorite mystic.”

William Meninger “No matter what our circumstances, God is with us and he loves us.” (Julian of Norwich, p. 63)

M.L. del Mastro “Anyone engaged in the day-to-day struggles of the human journey from becoming to being, from self-centeredness to God-centeredness, from earth to heaven, from life to death to Life will find in Julian much to think about, much to pray with, and much to comfort him/her, despite the differences in life’s circumstances.”
(M.L. del Mastro, translator of
The Revelation of Divine Love: the Sixteen Showings Made to Julian of Norwich)

Pope Benedict XVI:   The Catholic Church “cites the words of Julian of Norwich to answer an argument that never ceases to be a provocation: If God is supremely good and wise, why do evil and suffering of innocents exist? . . .The saints give an answer that opens our hearts to trust and to hope: in the mysterious designs of Providence, God can draw a greater good even from evil. …Yes, God’s promises are ever greater than our expectations. And, if we present to God, to His immense love, the purest and deepest desires of our heart, we shall never be disappointed. ‘And all will be well. All manner of things shall be well’: this is the final message that Julian of Norwich transmits to us and that I am proposing to you today.” (General Audience, December 1, 2010)  

 

Page last updated 4/1/2020      

©2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 Patty Merlo