Monday, June 20, 2011

Julian of Norwich- Third Showing

This post is part of my meditative reading through Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Divine Love during my renewal leave.

In the third showing, Julian is shown a concept directly instead of arriving at it through a particular image God is showing her. This showing concerns God's omnipotence, and she claims that God is the first cause of all things and that nothing happens outside of God's will. Julian says that anything that seems to us to be an accident or outside of God's will only seems so because "our blindness and lack of foreseeing".

I can't get on board with this particular assertion, as beautiful a description of God's infinite power and goodness as it is. Perhaps it was easier for Julian to avoid the plethora of questions this assertion raises about God's character because she was cloistered in a cell beside a church for much of her life.

I wonder, though, if the priest of that parish would be able to say such a thing so easily, having sat with the sick and the dying, consoling parents whose children died senselessly, and trying to reconcile the goodness of God with a world full of suffering. Then again, maybe the priest would have said the exact same thing. I don't really know how the common fourteenth century priest handled questions of theodicy. Any scholars of medieval theology care to enlighten me? (I know theodicy didn't exist as a theological category at the time, but the question still has to have occurred to people)

In the introduction, del Mastro said that each showing built upon the previous one, so I'm trying to make sense of how this relates to the first two showings of Jesus' passion. Perhaps this is her way of working out why God would will such pain and suffering to happen to his own son in the larger context of suffering and evil in the world. Or perhaps it will make more sense in the next showings.

No comments: