There are many ways of how people can interpret the idea of suffering and the essence of human beings in terms of Christ’s impact on life. Though the ideas of Julian of Norwich are not the most popular in the world, they are frequently discussed in terms of religion and theology. Her writing Revelations of Divine Love is one of the oldest texts that describe the power of Christ on a human life. In this paper, the interpretation of Christ’s sufferings and the understanding of a human being from the ideas offered by Julian of Norwich will be discussed to explain the power of human suffering and the necessity to understand why people are eager to accept the idea of physical suffering in order to gain understanding of a Holy Spirit.
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One of the most powerful aspects of Julian of Norwich is the attention to a human being not only as a body with a number of needs and demands. A human being is a powerful unity of a body and a soul that helps to understand the purpose of life. At the same time, a human being should not be interpreted as a meaningful combination of the body and soul. Julian of Norwich explains that a human being may pass through a reunification process with a divine in order to grasp the essence of life and get the required portion of revelation.
The blessed revelation helps to realize that people, who “choose to occupy themselves with earthly business and are always pursuing worldly success have nothing here of God” (Julian of Norwich, Spearing, and Spearing 8). People, who fail to achieve revelation, are not able to rest in this world and enjoy the beauty of the world offered by God. Anyway, the blessed revelation is the result of sufferings that gain the form of three graces defined by Julian of Norwich: vivid perception of Christ’s Passion, bodily sickness, and three wounds that are “the wound of contrition, the wound of compassion and the wound of an earnest longing for God” (Julian of Norwich, Spearing, and Spearing 4).
Julian’s personal understanding of God’s suffering is connected with the possibility to provide people with hope. She shares her dialogue with God and his explanations of sufferings: “Are you well pleased that I suffered for you?… If you are pleased… I am pleased. It is a joy and a delight and an endless happiness to me that I ever endured suffering for you, for if I could suffer more, I would suffer” (Julian of Norwich, Spearing, and Spearing 18). Julian explains that as soon as she understood the power of these words, she got a chance to reach the heavens that were open to all people.
From a theological point of view, Julian explained sin as a necessary aspect of a human life because it helps to develop self-knowledge and the possibility to accept God in a human life. Her theology is based on the ability to understand and enjoy God’s love and compassion. It is not an easy task that people can cope with. Still, its completion is possible, and sufferings turn out to be one of the possible ways to achieve success and blessing.
In general, the ideas offered by Julian of Norwich are powerful and unusual. Physical sufferings are not always understood by people properly. She tries to explain that there is nothing bad or terrible in such sufferings in case they help to achieve the greatest good on the earth.
Julian of Norwich, Spearing, A.C., and Spearing, Elizabeth. Revelations of Divine Love. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1998.