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Marguerite Porete - The Mirror of Simple Souls - Other Stuff

the book
other stuff

Julian of Norwich was a cloistered nun in 14th century England. When Julian was about 30, the Lord gave her a series of visions, which became the book 'Showings'.

An anchorite in those days, dedicated their life to prayer. They were given a funeral - because they had 'died' to the world - and shut up in a house/hermitage to spend the rest of their life in prayer and meditation. In Julian's case, they built her a house with one wall shared with the cathedral, and put a window in so she could attend the services. She had a small garden, but she depended mostly on the townspeople for her daily needs. There are records of people willing money to her for her support.

This was the time of the black death. Some people estimate that 30 percent of the population in all of Europe died. This was a time of corruption in the church. It was also the time of the inquisition; so religious were very aware about their public theology. There was a huge underground traffic amongst monasteries in spiritual literature. A large part of the religious were involved in copying and studying books. This is how heretical works by Meister Eckhart and Marguerite Porette survived. Julian carefully seeds her commentary with allegiance to the 'Holy Church' - no doubt for the thought police.
At the time, it was very unusual for women to know how to read. But Julian seems to have been fluent in Latin and English. And well read besides. Mayhap she was a scribe.

Julian wrote two versions of 'Showings'.A short version immediately after the event, and a longer version after 30 years of reflection.

Julian saw everything through the eyes of Love. She saw how the Lord turned suffering and pain into blessing. Instead of 'Showings', her book might as well have been titled 'All Shall Be Well'.

Here are some of her thoughts in my words.

The Lord Himself is the ground from which our prayer flows. Through prayer, our will is united to the will of the Lord. The end result of our prayer is to be united and like to our Lord in all things. So how can His prayers not come to pass? Only my lack of trust in Him can hinder my prayer.

When I am resting in the Lord, I can trust that He will work everything according to the good pleasure of His will. I do not need to pray.

Love is the prime mover. Love has created everything, and sustains everything. Sin and evil have no substance and are overwhelmed by Love. Everything the devil (she calls him the 'fiend') does is to his sorrow and turns to joy for us.

There is no shame in sin. Sin is a scourge, meant to break my old nature. The Holy Spirit turns the bitterness of sin to contrition, confession, and to joy in the Mercy of the Lord. All shame will be turned to honour.

I would rather choose the pain of the whole world than sin.

I can have no love or rest until I consider every created thing as nothing. I can have no love or rest until there is no created thing between me and Him.

My will is so completely the Lord's will, that I do not wish to know anything He does not reveal to me. If I wish to know anything concerning those I love, I fall away from the Lord and put a barrier between me and Him.

All of God's children are (as it were) one soul, bound together by His Love.

If we stay in His Love, we can regard all pain, woe, and unrest as nothing. He delivers us by the strength of His Love.

If I contemplate Jesus - I become united and oned with Him.

We are oppressed by impatience and despair because of our ignorance of His Love.

As long a I love sin, I am in pain exceeding all pain. If I love God and hate sin, all shall be well.