Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Morning Thoughts on Soteriology

"After this, our Lord reminded me of the longing I had for him, and I saw that nothing kept me from him but sin, and I saw that this is so with all of us. And I thought that if sin had never existed, we should all have been pure and like himself, as God made us; and so I had often wondered before now in my folly why, in his great foreseeing wisdom, God had not prevented the beginning of sin; for then, I thought, all would have been well. I ought certainly to have abandoned these thoughts, but nevertheless I grieved and sorrowed over the question with no reason or judgment. But Jesus, who in this vision informed me of all that I needed to know, answered with this assurance: 'Sin is befitting, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.'

"With this bare word 'sin' our Lord brought to my mind the whole extent of all that is not good, adn the shameful scorn adn the utter humiliation that he bore for us in this life, and his dying, and all the pains and suffering of all his creatures, both in body and in spirit--for we are all to some extent brought to nothing and shall be brought to nothing as our master Jesus was, until we are finally purged: that is to say until our mortal flesh is brought completely to nothing, and all those of our inward feelings which are not truly good....

"But I did not see sin; for I believe it has no sort of substance nor portion of being, nor could it be recognized were it not for the suffering which it causes. And this suffering seems to me to be something transient, for it purges us and makes us know ourselves and pray for mercy; for the Passion of our Lord supports us against all this, and this is his blessed will. And because of the tender love which our good Lord feels for all who shall be saved, he supports us willingly and sweetly, meaning this: 'It is true that sin is the cause of all this suffering, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.' These words were said very tenderly, with no suggestion that I or anyone who will be saved was being blamed. It would therefore be very strange to blame or wonder at God because of my sin, since he does not blame me for sinning.

"And thus our good Lord answered all the questions and doubts I could put forward, saying most comfortingly, 'I may make all things well. I can make all things well and I will make all things well and I shall make all things well; and you shall see for yourself that all manner of things shall be well.

"And I wondered greatly as this revelation, and considered our faith, wondering as follows: our faith is grounded in God's word, and it is part of our faith that we should believe that God's word will be kept in all things; and one point of our faith is that many shall be damned--like the angels who fell out of heaven from pride, who are now fiends, and men on earth who die outside the faith of Holy Church, that is, those who are heathens, and also any man who has received Christianity and lives an unChristian life and so dies excluded from the love of God. Holy Church teaches me to belive that all these shall be condemned everlastingly to hell. And given all this, I thought it impossible that all manner of things should be well, as our Lord revealed at this time. And I received no other answer in showing from our Lord God but this: 'What is impossible to you is not impossible to me. I shall keep my word in all thing and I shall make all things well.'

"...the more anxious we are to discover [God's] secret knowledge about this or anything else, the further we shall be from knowing it...."

From chapters 27, 29, 32, and 33, Reflections of Divine Love, Julian of Norwich.

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