|My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me,
from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;‘Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver – let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’
Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near and there is no-one to help.
|This vision from Julian of Norwich roots the awe-inspiring and bloody vision of Christ’s crucifixion in the everyday, or at least the everyday that Mother Julian knew in fourteenth century Norwich.For her, the drops of Christ’s blood look like pellets, herring scales and raindrops falling from a gutter-less thatched roof. She describes Jesus as ‘courteous’ (a word that evokes medieval sensibilities) and as our ‘brother’ as well as being our ‘saviour’. In her vision we are invited to relate to Christ in our everyday lives and in doing so we understand that Christ’s suffering is not a remote, historical event intended for other people. Rather, it is for us, now, today and for all times.The great drops fell down from under the crown of thorns like pellets, as though they had come out of the veins; and as they came out they were dark red, for the blood was very thick; and as it spread it was bright red; and when it reached the brows it vanished, and yet the bleeding continued until many things were seen and understood. The beauty and vividness of the blood are like nothing but itself. It is as plentiful as the drops of water which fall from the eaves after a heavy shower of rain, drops which fall so thickly that no human mind can number them. As for the roundness of the drops, they were like herring scales as they spread on the forehead…This vision was alive and vivid, horrifying and awe-inspiring, sweet and lovely. And what comforted me most in the vision was that our God and Lord, who is so holy and awe-inspiring, is also so familiar and courteous. And this was what gave me most happiness and the strongest sense of spiritual safety…
[I]t seems to me that it is the greatest possible joy that he who is highest and mightiest, noblest and worthiest, is also the lowest and humblest, the most kind and friendly. And truly and certainly this marvellous joy will be made known to all of us when we see him. And this is what our Lord wants us to long for and believe, to rejoice and take pleasure in, to receive comfort and support from, as much as we can, until the time when we can see it for ourselves; for it seems to me that the greatest fullness of joy that we shall have is the marvellous courtesy and intimacy of the Father who made us, through our Lord Jesus Christ who is our brother and saviour.
Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love,
The Long Text, ch.7
|Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.
|P R A Y E R F O R G O O D F R I D A Y
|Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
St. Matthew’s, Westminster, an Anglo-Catholic citadel in London – between Westminster Abbey & Westminster Cathedral (R.C.) – is one of the most impressive of London’s Churches. As an Inclusive Anglican Church community. St. Matthews welcomes all and sundry to its colourful liturgical worship – complete with both male and female clergy – in an incomparable setting.
The posting of the record of one of the Visions of the English Mystic, Dame Julian of Norwich, gives evidence of her deep understanding of the ministry of Christ to all people – regardless of their situation in life. Her experience of Jesus as both brother and Saviour, helps us to understand the profound humanity at God’s disposal – in the Person and life of Jesus Christ, God’s Divine Son.
This makes the death and resurrection of Jesus so much more meaningful – especially to those who look to Jesus as available to us in the sacramental life of the Church. The gender of St. Julian was no barrier to her closeness to Christ. May our gender never be a source of separation from one another in Christ.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand