of Norwich and the
Integration of Divine Parenthood
fourteenth-century mystic Julian of Norwich wrote her Revelations
of Divine Love or The Book of Shewings in order to
understand a series of fifteen visions she received in May 1371.
Her text explores the ways in which the spirit is revealed (and
hidden) by the flesh as well as the relationship and unification
of the body and soul. Rather than discuss this theological problem
in the traditional theological terms of body and soul, however,
Julian of Norwich chooses to use the metaphors of Father and
Mother to address the Christian's search for spiritual communion.
Julian's text uses metaphors of the human actions of mothering
and fathering, as well as metaphors involving material objects
(such as clothing and hazelnuts) as indicators and signs of
the spiritual life.
of Norwich's familial metaphors represent a Trinity that is
integrated and unified through divine parenthood. Not only is
the divine parenthood located within all elements of the Trinity,
the Trinity also reflects the full realization of the integration
of body and soul, and the elements of being that Julian names
"substance" and "sensualite." The familial
metaphor, for Julian, is a way to emphasize and reveal the ways
of divinity through the acts of the flesh. An important aspect
of Julian's visions is that the members of the metaphorical
spiritual family--mother, father, sister and brother--are realized
in all of the members of the Trinity. Julian uses family relationships
as the indicators of God's love.
upon the metaphors of the divine family, I will examine the
position of the father and the mother in Julian's familial Trinity.
Critics look at Julian as championing a particularly feminine
consciousness, but fail to see the development of the God-father
in conjunction with the God-mother. Jennifer Heimmel, in her
analysis of the mother-image in Julian's text, dismisses the
image of the God-father all together: "nowhere in the Revelations
is there any lengthy development of the male God portrait or
role to equal that of Julian's extended feminine image"
(81). I disagree with Heimmel's statement on the grounds that
Julian speaks of the Father as having certain parental qualities
distinct from that of the Jesus-mother. Julian represents the
God-father in her text as ever-present and giving, to name two
of His traits.
is the nature of the relationship between the Christ-mother
and God-father? Julian's visions are directly concerned with
Love. Her major theme is that "love was our Lords mening"
(3407). Julian metaphorizes love through parental actions and
bonds that are found in the physical world. The material act
of parenting is spiritualized in Jesus and God, who possess
parental traits such as breast-feeding, nurturing, mothering,
and fathering. The result of defining God's Love by basing it
on material acts circumscribes different concerns for spiritual
life. In other words, Christians may not understand the infinity
of God, but His presence can be recognized, felt, and enacted
in even the simplest acts of love performed by humanity.
to Julian's fifteen revelations is the interlocking, enclosed,
and enclosing nature of the familial Trinity. The interlocking
Trinity is the basis for her fluid family models and indicates
God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit's containment within one another
and within all Christians. Julian discusses the representation
of the Trinity's unity in Revelation 14. She begins by pointing
out that truth and wisdom produce delight in God. This delight
is love. "Treuth seith God, and wisedam beholdeth God;
and of these two comyth the thred, that is, an holy, marvelous
delyte in God which is love. Wher treuth and wisdam is, verily
there is love, verily commend of hem bothyn, and al of God makyn"
(1553-1556). Everything proceeds from God. All three of these
work, as well, within "man soule." For Julian all
Christians, all "creatures [...] hath the same properties
made" (1557-1558). Christians must understand that all
three propertiestruth, wisdom, and love--are working in
unison within God and are present within their own souls.
properties of the Trinity existing within the soul refer back
to Julian's enclosing metaphor of the hazelnut: God is father,
mother and spouse and is understood to metamorphose into various
representations of love that enclose not only Julian but all
Christians, and is in turn enclosed by all Christians. Enclosing
Love is called many things in Julian's text. For example, Julian
receives the vision of a hazelnut in the palm of her hand in
the beginning of her book. She receives the message that the
hazelnut is "all that is made" (152). She understands
that even though it is little, it receives all of God's love.
This image of the seed inside its shell evokes the figure of
the womb. Jesus as mother has a womb that "beclosid"
all Christians, as Julian sees in a later vision (2306). In
Julian's text the Trinity's properties blend--in other words
fatherhood, motherhood, and lordship blend--into the three aspects
of motherhood that are apparent to the senses: "kynde,"
"grace," and "werk." To be "beclosid"
means to be "enclosed," and we will see that one of
the first characteristics we have of the spiritual family as
represented by the Trinity is its enclosing nature.
Julian discusses the Trinity and its integration in terms of
being "beclosid." Critics identify her use of "beclosid"
as part of her theme of enclosure. Critics such as Diane Krantz,
write that the use of this word emphasizes the Jesus as Mother
metaphor (62). Lichtman also sees Julian as emphasizing the
motherhood of God. She writes, "[...] in God's nature Julian
sees the balance of opposites, of motherhood-fatherhood"
(81). Rather than a balance of opposites, my argument is that
Julian sees that the Motherhood and Fatherhood of God are complements.
Because of her use of "beclosid" while referring to
God as clothing and the emphasis on the Trinity itself as "beclosid,"
rather than emphasizing only one of the parental metaphors,
Julian's use of enclosing metaphors indicates the intertwined
nature of the Triune parenting. In her discussion of her first
vision, in the fifth chapter, Julian writes that God shows her
a "ghostly sight of His homely loving. I saw that He is
to us everything that is good and comfortable for us. He is
our clothing, that for love wrappeth us, halsyth us, and all
becloseth us for tender love" (144-146). This idea of clothing
Christians is further connected to and manifested in her image
of Jesus' womb and refers to the hazelnut revealed to her in
the same vision. As God is the clothing the anchoress wears,
a familiar and domestic image, she is the body that God is wrapped
around. Julian also speaks of the Trinity as "beclosid,"
in other words, surrounding the Christian; they are to see themselves
in the spiritual center. As the body and clothing are skin-close,
Julian writes that she sees no difference between God and human
substance--"as it were al God" (2221).
is part of the everything that is God. Substance, for Julian,
is the part of being that is most closely aligned with God.
As theological critic Grace Jantzen points out,
our sensuality is not focused on God as the center of our
lives, then we are broken, fragmented, because our higher
self and lower self are out of tune [...]. As Julian presents
it, the task of spirituality, made possible by the incarnation
in which Christ fully united sensuality and substance, is
to follow him and find in him the reunification of our sensuality
with our substance and become whole again in God. (148)
Christians are God's children by His virtue, the anchoress,
and the anchoress in Him. The parent stands exterior to the
child-anchoress, but the child-anchoress also encloses the Divine
parent. In each Christian is the possibility of reuniting substance
and sensuality. Julian establishes that very substance in relation
to familial roles and how those roles surround us:
the almyty truth of the Trinite is our fader, for He made
us and kepith us in Him. And the depe wisdam of the Trinite
is our moder in whom we arn all beclosid. The hey goodness
of the Trinite is our lord, and in Him we arn beclosid, and
He in us. We arn beclosid in the Fadir, and we arn beclosid
in the Son, and we arn beclosid in the Holy Ghost; and the
Fader is beclosid in us, and the Son is beclosid in us and
the Holy Ghost is beclosid in us [...] This werkyng makith
that we arn Christs children. (2223-2237)
parental roles that the Trinity performs reflect the substance
that is from God. The roles of the family surround all Christians
and provide them with the opportunity to be "Christen in
living" (2237). Julian's emphasis on the enclosing-nature
of God begins early in her book as a simple metaphor of clothing,
and as her text progresses, she expands the clothing to cover
every Christian. The "beclosid"-ness is important
in the Trinitarian family for it gives Christians, as children,
the security of good life.
children of Christ would be lost without their God-clothing.
Because of the surrounding-nature of God "our feith is
a vertue that comith of our kind substance into our sensuals
soule be the Holy Ghost in which all our vertuys comith to us,
for without that no man may receive vertue" (2230-2232).
The familial nature of the Trinity is the ground of substance
and the opportunity for virtuewithout the Trinity working
together, without its "beclosid"-ness providing Christians
a salvific space, they would be unable to receive virtue, or
God's grace. In the next section, I will examine the role of
God the Father and his representation as the figure of the Trinity
who wants all Christians to be ushered to Him through Love.
and Her Text (III): The Father
Fatherhood of God is the most abstract of her metaphors, since
characteristics of God the Father are intertwined with aspects
of the Passion and Julian's idea of lordship. The fatherhood
of God, however, is dependent on the motherhood of God for the
full realization of the Trinity. In other words, the parts of
the Trinity each have distinct qualities, but it is only with
their integration that divinity is revealed. This is a point
to which Julian will return again and again.
medieval hagiography and literature, fathers (such as St. Joseph)
are represented as active - grieving over their children or
leading their families away from danger. Fathers are also characterized
as everymen, examples for humanity to avoid or follow. The Father
in Julian's text is represented as active in terms of His will.
God the Father is the central figure of the Trinity who wishes
to see Christians ushered into Love. However, it is the God-mother
who actively ushers Christians to Love. In Julian's text, God
the Father is not a figure of punishment, as in Old Testament
accounts of God. In Revelation Thirteen, Julian avoids the issue
of God's anger and questions of God's justice by addressing
the issue of sin.
Julian writes (agreeing with St. Augustine) is nothing, a thing
of no substance. Julian writes in Revelation Thirteen that she
receives knowledge of God's noble deeds, however "I saw
not synne, for I beleve it hath no manner of substance ne no
party of being, ne it might not be knowin, but by the peyne
that it cause of; and this peyneit is somethyn, as to
my syte, for a tyme, for it purgith and makyth us ti knowen
our selfe and askyn mercy" (950-953). Grace Jantzen writes
that Julian distinguishes nothing from the non-existent:
does not say that there is no sin; she says that sin is nothing.
She has explained that all things - all substances - flow
from the divine substance. Sin, however, does not come from
God, for sin is evil and God is all goodness. This means that
whatever sin is, and in whatever way it is to be understood,
it cannot be a substance (Jantzen 65).
suggests that sin is absence, sin is not made by God or does
not come from God. It is only recognizable for the pain it causes
in Christians. However, as God tells Julian, sin is "behovabil,"
or necessary, because, as Julian understands, the pain allows
Christians to recognize themselves (938). Julian insists that
the pain of sin is real, but it is the Christian's own pain,
not a pain from God. God, then, is not a judgmental or an angry
God, but one eager to see His spiritual children through into
Love. Despite the necessity of sin, God twice promises Julian
that "al shal be wel, and al shal be wel, and al manner
of thyng shal be wel" (938-939). If Christians recognize
that God does not "blame [...] me ne to non that shall
be safe" they can take comfort in God (958-959). Julian
breaks off from any further revelation from this vision, for
she sees a "hey privitye in God, which privity He shall
openly make knowen to us in Hevyn" (9961-9962). She is
unable to explain the full ramifications of this revelation
and what this means for why Christians suffer sin at all. This
final meaning to the revelation will be revealed to her fully
further denies that God can be angry. If God and His properties
exist in the Christians soul, sin cannot come from within. The
Christian life is rooted in love, and therefore:
may not be wroth. It were impossible. For this was shewid,
that our lif is all grounded and rotid in love, and without
love we may not levyn. And therefore to the soul that of His
special grace seyth so feforth of the hey, marvelous godenes
of God, and that we arn endlessly onyd to Hym in live, it
is the most impossible that may ben that God shuld be wreth.
For reth and frendship be two contraries. (1719-1724)
Baker writes that Julian's view of sin in Revelation Thirteen
fits with Augustine's view of sin, but without his judgmental
expectations: "The orthodox solution, definitively articulated
by Augustine of Hippo, attributed evil to the free will of creatures,
either angelic or human, who deliberately chose to disobey God.
Although Julian of Norwich refutes dualism with a definition
of evil similar to Augustine's, she also challenges the juridical
premises of orthodox theodicy" (64). In other words, for
Julian, God can be everything in one being, but he cannot damn
Christians and usher Christians toward love at the same time.
The Christian life is grounded in love, and this, too, Julian
will repeat again and again. The God-father is the force of
Love; the destructive aspect of God as represented in an Old
Testament juridical tradition does not exist in Julian's experience.
Julian more fully defines the fatherhood of God in Revelation
Nine, in which she discusses the pleasure Christ feels regarding
his sacrifice, the location of the fatherhood of God within
Christ, and a discussion of the Three Heavens.
Julian locates the Father within Christ. The Jesus-mother encloses
the God-father. In this way, Jesus, like the anchoress and the
Christian, reflects the enclosing of the Trinity within the
soul. Revelation Nine begins with Jesus asking if Julian is
"payde" or satisfied that he has suffered for her.
When Julian answers in the affirmative, Jesus replies "If
thou art payde, I am payde; it is a joy, a blis, an endless
lekyng to me that ever suffrid I passion for the, and if I might
suffer more, I wold suffer more" (779-781). The giving
of Christ, the pleasure he takes in the salvation he gives to
Julian, gives her a "felyng" of "understondyng"
which lifts her up to heaven where she sees "thre Heavyns"
(781-782). Julian describes these three heavens as placed within
"the blissid manhode of Criste" (783). It is in the
first Heaven that she "saw in Christe the Fader is"
(786). Within the human image, the Trinity is set. The fatherhood
of God is the substance enclosed within the humanity and motherhood
of Christ, much like the anchorite's body within her enclosure.
is in the beginning of this vision that Julian sees the sacrifice
of Christ as an aspect of the fatherhood of God, of His giving
nature. The Fatherhood of God, though, is not "bodily lyknes"
(785). Instead, Fatherhood is found in His "properte"
and "werkyng" (786). Julian never defines this "properte"
or characteristic, though she does go on to discuss His "werkyng."
The working of God is, for Julian, found in the giving of His
gyveth mede to His son Jesus Christe. This geft and this mede
is so blissful to Jesus, that His Fader myth have goven Hym
no mede that might have lykyd Hym better, The first Hevyn--that
is the pleysing of the Fader--shewid to me as an Hevyn, and
it was ful blisfule, for He is ful plesed with al the dedes
that Jesus hath done aboute our salvation. (787-791)
first Heaven is the pleasure the Father takes in His Son's deed
of salvation for humankind. The deeds of the Father are those
of the Son and vice versa, since within Christ the Father is
located. This overlapping of familial roles indicates not only
the fluidity of the positions within the Trinity, but also indicates
the workings of fathering; the Father's giving, his pleasure
and pleasing, are a Heaven in and of themselves.
Three Heavens is another expression of the integrated Trinity.
The Second and Third Heavens receive only a scant description
in Julian's vision, but they are worth mentioning for the reaffirmation
of the interlocking nature of the Trinity. The joy, bliss, and
pleasure that Christ mentions earlier are revealed to Julian
as having further meaning. Julian understands that the joy or
pleasure of the Father is the first heaven, the bliss is the
worship of the Son, which is the Second Heaven, and the "endles
lykyng" is the Holy Spirit, which is the Third Heaven.
As Julian says, "the Fader is pleased, the Son is worshipped,
the Holy Ghost lykith" (825). The pleasure of the Father
and the Holy Spirit and the worship of the Son is the nature
of the Three Heavens. Similarly, the Father is located within
the Mother. The Mother, then, acts through the will of the Father
within her. Julian later writes that the Mother-God is the only
figure in the Trinity that Christians can see. God the Father
cannot be totally sensed by humanity. Christians do not see
God because, as Julian explains in the Parable of the Lord and
Servant, they do not recognize Him.
most complete discussion of the Fatherhood of God is within
her discussion of the parable of the lord and servant. She combines
fathering with lordship as an integrated social position revealing
the capacity of God's fathering; he is a giver, a comforter,
and an eternal presence. Her vision of the parable of the lord
and servant in Revelation Fourteen begins a few chapters earlier
as she discusses prayer. Julian's vision reveals to her the
nature of prayer and its conditions for fulfillment: "rytfulnes"
and "sekir troste" (1392). She writes that Christians
are not secure in their prayers because they do not feel that
God hears them. It is in this revelation that Julian understands
how God warrants his spiritual children's trust, "for it
is most impossible that we shuld besekyn mercy and grace and
not have it [. . .] Hymselfe hath ordeynid it to us from withoute
begynnng" (1405-1407). Before there was a beginning, then,
God ordained mercy and therefore Christians should trust in
her parable of the lord and servant, Julian uses physical sight
to move to ghostly sight. The parable is real for Julian because
she integrates two ways of seeing. As Julian writes, this parable
took her twenty years to understand. In many ways, the parable
of the lord and servant is Julian's attempt to understand the
relationship between the God-Father and humanity. She also connects
this parable to an explanation of why Christians suffer, something
that was not revealed to her in the earlier vision.
parable begins with the lord looking upon his servant "ful
lovely"and the servant returning that look "reverently,
redy to don hos lords will" (1801-1802). The respect and
the love the two have for each other makes the fall of the servant
even more tragic. The lord sends the servant to do "his
will" and the servant
only he goeth, but suddenly he stirtith and rynnith in grete
haste for love [...] and anon her fallith in a slade and takith
ful grete sore. And than he gronith and monith and waylith
and writhith, but he ne may risen ne helpyn himself be no
manner wey. (1803-1807)
never explains how the servant has such a sudden change of fortune,
but she writes that even though his lord is so near he cannot
look upon his "loving face" (1809). The servant cannot
rise or look; he can only wallow in his own woe. The servant
then endures seven "grete peynes": sore bruising,
heaviness of body, feebleness, blindness in reason, inability
to rise, solitude, and lastly, discomfort. The servant falls,
and Julian understands only one reason for that fall: the servant's
"good will and his grete desire" (1824). For his service,
the lord is right pleased and he says:
lo my lovid servant, what harme and disese he hath takeyn
in my service for my love, ya, and for his good will; it is
not skyl that I reward hem his affray and drede, his hurte
and his mayme and al his wo? And not only this, but fallith
it not to me to gevyn a geft that be better to hym and more
woshipfull than his own hole shuld have ben? And ell me thykyth
I ded hym no grace. (1833-1838)
explains the entirety of this vision in this way: "The
lord that sate solemnly in rest and in peace, I understond that
he is God. The servant that stode aforn the lord, I understode
that it was shewid for Adam, that is to seye, on man was shewid
that tyme and his fallyng, to maken thereby understonden how
God beholdith a man and his falling"(1877-1880). Adam,
who represents all humanity, is not in total despair, however.
Julian goes on to say that God is pleased about the will of
humanity, though in Adam's feebleness he is "lettid and
blyndyd of the knowing of this will" (1884-1885). The absence
of the knowledge of the will of God is the greatest misery for
humanity. God, the Father, is always there--in his Fatherhood
he is ever-present and giving. Whether Adam knows or understands,
God is waiting for him to look in His face and be unburdened
of his ignorance.
describes the Father's face as he looks at his servant. The
loving look of God is a mixture of pity and bliss:
joy and bliss passith as fer reuth and pite as Hevyn is aboven
the erth. The pitee was erthly, and the blis was hevenly.
The ruth in the pite of the Fadir was of the falling of Adam,
which is his most lovid creatur. The joy and bliss was of
his dere wirthy Son, which is evyn with the Fadir. (1904-1907)
look is indicative of the overlapping presence of God in heaven
and on earth. The pity is a sign of His earthly presence. The
bliss is his knowledge of the Christians' salvation. That salvation
is wrapped up in the gift of Christ who is the sign of God's
pity on earth. Christ, then, is a sign of the salvation of God,
and an indicator of the bliss that is to come. The Father/fathering,
in Julian's work, is one of constant presence and of giving.
Again and again, Julian returns to the fathering role as a giver
of salvation (eternal life); this complements even further the
mothering role of God as a creator (of eternal life). Julian
concludes her discussion of the parable of the lord and servant
by revealing why the servant cannot see God, the Father: "Man
is blindid in this life and therefore we may not sen our Fader,
God, as he is. And what tyme that He of His goodness wil shewin
Hym to man, He shewith Him homley as man" (1911-1913).
God, the Father, is best understood as revealed in Christ, in
flesh. And, Julian's vision continues to emphasize the unity
of the Trinity in everything. The parable of the lord and servant
provides another perspective on that unifying principle:
the servant is comprehended the Second Person in the Trinitee,
and in the servant is comprehended Adam, that is to sey, al
man. And therefore when I sey the Son, it menyth the
Godhede which is even with the Fadir; and when I sey the servant,
it menyth Christs manhood which is rythful Adam. Be the nerehede
of the servant is understode the Son, and be the stondyng
on the left side is understood Adam. The lord is the Fadir,
God; the servant is the Son, Christ Jesus; the Holy Ghost
is even love which is in both of them. Whan Adam fell, God
Adam fell fro life to deth into the slade of this wretchid
world, and after that into Hell. Gods Son fell with Adam into
the slade of the Maydens wombe which was the fairest dawter
of Adam and therefore to excuse Adam from blame in Hevyn and
in erth, and mytly he fetched Him out of Hell. (1970-1983)
is only through the descent that humanity sees a glimpse of
the Father or any sign of Fatherhood. When the Father is the
Son (and the Mother), bliss and joy is the result. Only through
the separation, the descent of Christ in human flesh, do their
roles become effable. Christ, Julian writes, had to be separated
from the Father because he is the gift of salvation; God, the
Father, is the great giver. But, it is also to be understood
that Christ in the flesh is Adam and should be understood as
the servant - within the boundaries of Heaven they are "even."
This descent, or as Julian later writes, Christ's putting on
of Adam's "kirtle" excuses humanity from blame, or
underlines the unity of the Trinity, but her explanation of
that unity is based on parental roles in which everyone sits
equally within one another. This is significant since this is
the basis of her discussion of the mothering of God. She is
able to explore the ramifications of the Christ-mother by laying
a foundation in the unified Trinity. The Father-God has saved
humanity through his gift. His fatherly role is represented
as an omni-present giver and lover. As said before, this Father-God
is not wrathful - for Julian this is impossible. Rather, the
Father exists as a reminder of blissful unification and endless
Text (IV): The Mother
situates the mother metaphor within the integrated Trinity.
In Julian's Shewings, God's acts are intimately connected to
mothering itself. Even though Julian locates the qualities of
motherhood within Christ, her metaphors rest on the understanding
of the referent, motherhood, in order to present a transcendent,
spiritual mothering. Patricia Vinje writes that the theme of
Jesus as Mother is not used by Julian alone; however, "Julian's
development of the theme is more theological than these (Anselm,
for example) early English authors" (100). As we will see,
Julian champions the power of motherhood as that which is all-powerful
and all-containing. An understanding of the qualities of Christ
as Mother begins in Julian's text with a discussion of "sensualite."
Revelation Fourteen continues, Julian discusses how Christians
know God better than they can know their own souls. Julian writes
that God sits in a "worshipfull cyte." It is "our
sensualite, in which he is inclosid; and our kindly substance
is beclosid in Jesus with the blissid soule of Christe sitting
in rest in the Godhede" (2304-2306). We have already discussed
the idea of substance, which is the part of being that comes
from God. It is the sensuality of Christians, though, that may
be out of focus with their substance. It is only Christ, Julian
writes, who has perfectly joined substance and sensuality. Julian
sees this joining, however, most clearly, in the motherhood
aspects of God.
"sensualite" of being is the result of the soul joining
with the body. Sensuality is the part of being that is unaligned
with the substance. Sensuality is more than flesh; Julian seems
to indicate that "sensualite" is part of humanity
that is connected to flesh, but also closer to substance. Through
the "vertue of Crists passion" (2314-2315) sensuality
and substance will be reintegrated. Substance is located in
and comes from all three members of the Trinity; however, sensuality
is only found in Jesus. Julian writes that Christians have difficulty
in understanding their souls because they must learn to seek
the soul, "wher it is, and that is in God" (2292).
Christians can be led to this understanding of the placement
of the soul through the Holy Spirit, "He is mene that kepith
the substance and the sensualite to God" (2296).
soul is the city in which God sits; as Julian unfolds this aspect
of her vision, she highlights the enclosure of God. The sensuality
is the relationship between the body and the soul: "it
is knit to our body, in which knitting we arn made sensual"
(2338-2339). As Lichtman writes, "For Julian the body is
first a means to deepened spiritual experience of a transformative
character and second, in its transformed, ensouled state, a
principle of sensualyte in which God is present"
is this same sensuality, however, that leads Christians to misunderstand
the soul's unity in God. God will "restore and fulfill"
that understanding. Since humanity does not understand the soul
completely, God sent Christ to give an example of the "knitted"
manner in which body and soul exist: "For in that ilk tyme
that God knitted Him to our body in the Maydens womb, He toke
our sensual soule; in which taking, He us al haveyng beclosid
in Him, he onyd it to our substance, in which onyng He was perfect
man. For Christe, having knit in Him ilk man that shall be savid,
is perfit man" (2366-2370). In Mary's womb, God created
perfect man - Christ was perfectly joined in substance and sensuality.
Julian expands that womb to include any person who will come
to be saved: "Thus our Lady is our Moder in whome we are
all beclosid and of hir borne in Christe, for she that is moder
of our Savior, is moder of all that shall be savid in our Savior.
And our Savior is our very Moder in whome we be endlesly borne
and never shall come out of Him. Plenteously and fully and swetely
was this shewid" (2371-2375). As Patricia Vinje writes,
here is an instance where holy motherhood contains all Christians.
Mary is the only Christian to have fully realized the holiness
within her. If all Christians were to realize the divinity within
them, they would be children of (and realize their enclosure
by) Christ and Mary (152).
Julian, then, Christians have two mothers: Mary, who includes
all Christians in her womb as perfect when they are saved, and
Christ, who includes all Christians in his womb but never gives
birth to them; they are born without birth in Christ's womb.
This is how Julian's audience must understand beclosidness:
a birth that does not leave the safety of the divine womb. Julian
also sees Christ as sitting inside all Christians. He never
allows any separation from Him for He has experienced the most
painful separation given to Christians by the Father. The concept
of Jesus as mother also deflects God the Father's previous juridical
interpretation; as Brant Pelphrey points out, the Christ Mother
is significant because,
challenges the whole juridical approach to salvation which
has appeared in the West--looking upon the human relationship
to God in impersonal, legalistic terms of justice, righteousness,
repentance and so on; and points again to an older tradition
of the soft but personal relationship of a mother for her
children, or a lover for his beloved. (85)
motherhood of Christ is the "life-giving aspect of God's
surrounding presence." To expand the metaphor even further,
Julian writes that Christ is two mothers himself. He is the
Second Person of the Trinity, who is "the Moder substantial"
and "the Moder sensual" (2412-2413). Christians are
double in God's making, for they have both substance and sensuality.
The motherhoods of Christ, however, are perfectly joined. Through
His mothering qualities, Christ provides Christians with the
power to increase their spiritual life, and the ability to reform
and restore their souls. In the act of the Passion, the Christ-Mother
joins the Christian's sensuality to their substance. Because
of this Mother-work, all of "His children [...] arn to
Him buxom and obedient" (2420-2422). Through her recognizable
action of joining sensuality to substance, the Mother-Christ
garners obedience from His fellow Christians. It is in the Father
that Christians are saved, but it is the Mother who reforms
and restores Christians to perfect unity. The substance becomes
"whole in ilke person of the Trinite which is on God"
(2432). Christians are completed by their enclosure in the familial
Trinity; the self is completed by the substance's existence
within each member of the unified Trinity. This joining, Julian
writes, is bliss.
in his charity gave Christians the Mother-Christ--the Father
"wylleth" and the Mother "werkyth" (2642).
It is in the working of the Mother, Julian points out, that
Christians come the closest to understanding the Love of God.
Julian understands that within the Motherhood of Christ there
is grace and it is within that grace that there are three manners
of Motherhood: "The first is groundid of oure kinde makeyng.
The second is taken of our kinde, and there begynnth the Moderhede
of grace. The thrid is Moderhede of werkyng, and therin is a
forthspreadyng, be the same grace of length, and bredth, and
of heyth, and depenes withouten end--al His own luf" (2475-2478).
Much like the Trinity in its entirety, the Motherhood of Christ
exists as a unified whole but with three attributes. Mother-Christ
begins with the grounding of being, then exists as a state of
grace, and finally works to spread the grace through Love. As
Diane Krantz writes on the matter of "kynde" or "kinde,"
"since one meaning of kynd' is nature, her words
suggest that Jesus assumes the natural properties of motherhood,
but also that He gives these qualities great value in the divine
economy, because they partake of His nature which is everlasting.
In his mothering role, Jesus serves as an eternal vessel, a
fixed container" (18). The Mother-Christ is so huge, so
vast, that the Love is without end.
then goes on to explain the third aspect of the gracious Motherhood;
how Jesus "forthspreds" grace:
that we be bowte agen be the Moderhede of mercy and grace
into our kindly stede, wher that we were made be the Moderhede
of kind love; which kind love, it never levyth us. Our kynde
Moder, our gracious Moder--for He wold al Holy become our
Moder in al thing--He toke the ground of His werke full low
and ful myldely in the maydens womb (2480-2484).
wholeness of our being, the proper joining of our substance
and sensuality is contingent, then, on the acts of the Father
and Mother--and like the Father, the Mother's love is never
gone. The difference between the Father and Mother is the level
of revelation. The Father wills and is present, but it is the
Mother who works for our substance, who is willing to join that
substance and who loves eternally. The "Moders service
is nerest, redyesy, and sekirest, for it is most of trueth.
This office ne myth ne couthe ne never non don to the full but
He alone. We wetyn that all our Moders beryng is us to peyne
and to deyeng. And what is that but our very Moder Jesus? He,
al love, beryth us to joye and to endless lyvng"(2489-2493).
The Mother is closest to Christians, because she has put on
their sensuality. She is the most readily available to Christian
her use of biological mothering as the referent in her Christ-mother
metaphor, Julian differentiates between biological and spiritual
motherhood. All biological mothers bear their children to a
fate of death; in other words, humans are born to die - it is
Jesus, however, who places Christians back in the womb of everlasting
birth through grace. It is only in His Motherhood that Christians
do not die. Julian goes on to reveal how Jesus's actions are
based in motherhood, but his capability is much greater. Even
though humans are fed by a mothers' nutritious milk, Christ
gives Christians "Himselfe, and doith full curtesly and
full tenderly with the blissid sacrament that is pretious fode
of very life" (2501-2503). A mother may bring a child to
her breast for comfort and food, but Jesus is feeding His children
with his actual body. Jesus can also take Christians back into
his body: "He may homely leden us into his blissid brest
be His swete open side and shewyn therin party of the Godhede
and the joyes of Hevyn with ghostly sekirness of endless bliss"
(2509-2511). Again Julian returns to the enclosing nature of
Christ's bodyhis womb encloses the soul in eternal life.
Julian writes, should only be used for Jesus and the one
that bore him - the Mothers to all Christians. Julian explains
that the properties of Motherhood are "kinde love, wisdam,
and knowing and it is good" (2516-2517). Julian also explains
the relationship between Christ-Mother and Soul-Child is characterized
by meekness and virtue:
and swete is our hevenly Moder in the syte of our soule; precious
and lovely arn the gracious children in the syte of our hevinly
moder, with myldhede and mekeness and all the fair virtues
that long to children in kynde. For kindly the Child disperith
not of the Moder love; kindly the Child presumith not of the
selfe; kindly the Child lovith the Moder, and ilke on the
other. These arn the fair virtues, with all other that ben
like, wherewith our hevenly Moder is served and plesyd. (2645-2651)
Mother-Child bond is based not only on love but on the virtues,
such as humility, that serve and please the Mother. As God the
Father is pleased through the salvific actions of the Son/Mother,
the Mother is pleased by the love shown to Him. The children
who come out of Christ in likeness, shall be brought back to
Him by His Motherly grace (2660). Jesus is the supreme mother
because Julian understands that the appeal to "the lower
parte for love of heyer parte, and He will that we knowe it"
(2525-2526). Jesus appeals to Christian sensuality so that the
soul may take part in the bliss offered to it. It is through
the Christ-mother, then, that Christians are raised up, in life,
to understand a higher bliss that is only hinted at in the un-seeable
parenthood of the Trinity is unified by the Christian's "trew
loving of God" (2529). When God is loved honestly, then
the circle is closed and unity ensured. Julian writes that this
is what it means when God says "I it am" (2430). In
the being of God, in the relationship of sensuality and substance,
God is the Father and Mother. Julian explains how all the familial
positions exist in one God: "And thus I saw that God enjoyeth
that he is our fader, God enjoyeth that he is our moder, and
God enjoyeth that He is our very spouse, and our soule is his
lovid wife. And Christe enjoyeth that He is our broder and Jesis
enjoyeth that He is our Savior" (2074-2077). God is the
father, mother, and spouse. Christ is the brother and Savior.
The soul is God's spouse. The everything of God, the fulfillment
of all familial roles, is found in the loving example of those
Parents. The Father wills and gives, the Mother works and loves--the
parental roles depend on each other to provide for the salvation
of the child (the complete soul). As Diane Krantz writes, "in
the nature of God, in the seed of God, in the womb of God, in
that compassion which is part of the masculine and feminine
natures of God, in this Mothering and Fathering, we have life
and being" (124). Without this kind of integrated parenting,
the offer of the salvific womb and the ever-present look, Christians
would be condemned and would never come close to identifying
the substance and the sensuality, or what may be called a completed
self. Through the working of grace, or the Mother, Christians
receive salvation. What God's children do not fully understand
is that they are always within the Trinity and the Trinity is
always within them.
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