• Sarah Raad


“With a glad countenance our good Lord looked into His Side and beheld with joy.” (Julian of Norwich).

Statue of Dame Julian (David Holgate)

An anchoress is a religious person who chooses to live in seclusion from the world – generally inside a single cell – so that they can better focus their attentions on God and the various mysteries of the faith – and so that they can live a life of prayer.

I have recently stumbled across the story of a renowned Catholic mystic, the English woman, Julian of Norwich, who is also known as Juliana of Norwich. Julian was an anchoress who lived in England in the 14th century. During her lifetime, England (and Europe) was decimated by the Bubonic Plague, which was also known as the Black Death.

The Bubonic Plague was a bacterial infection of the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, which was usually transmitted to humans by fleas that had bitten rodents infected with the bacteria. During Julian’s lifetime, in the four years between 1347 and 1351, it is estimated that over 25 million people died of the Bubonic Plague. Julian herself became incredibly sick when she was thirty years old, and – believing that she would soon die – received a series of visions of the Passion of Christ. Julian recovered from her illness and later wrote two accounts about it, the first a shorter version than the second. Julian’s work is the earliest English writing attributed to a woman of which we have a record…

And Julian wrote, “With a glad countenance our good Lord looked into His Side and beheld with joy. And as He looked, I, in my understanding, was led through His Wound into His Side. There within, He showed me a fair and delightful place, large enough for all mankind to rest in peace and love… And as I gazed, He showed me His blessed Heart riven in two. In His sweet enjoyment He showed to my understanding the blessed Godhead strengthening the poor soul to understand the endless love of God that has neither beginning nor end… Jesus can lead us simply into His blessed Breast through His open Side, and show us there, as it were, the Godhead and the joys of Heaven, with an inner certainty of endless bliss.”

And I have been reflecting of this JOY of my Beloved in showing Julian His wounded Side… You see, His suffering was not diminished by His joy, and yet, His joy is evidence of the Divine Power at work…

You see, Christ suffered for us to redeem us, but also to set an example for us. And just as my Beloved did not go to Calvary bemoaning His Cross, neither should I bemoan my Cross. My Beloved USED His Cross – carrying it JOYFULLY – for LOVE of me… And I have been reflecting on that today. Because it occurs to me that there is great joy to be found in accepting my cross…

After all, what could be more joyful than accepting the Holy Will of God, who is ALL THINGS GOOD AND JUST AND KIND? And to do this magnificent thing, all I need to do is to follow the example of my Beloved, and – with a GLAD COUNTENANCE – take up my cross and bear my wounds… With a glad countenance…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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