Sisters of the Holy Cross » spirituality » Reflections on Blessed Julian of Norwich

Reflections on Blessed Julian of Norwich

posted in: spirituality

“You shall not be overcome”

By Sister Sarah Marie Schmitt, CSC

Blessed Julian of Norwich gravestone is located in England.
The gravestone of Blessed Julian of Norwich in Norwich, Norfolk, England, proclaims “Thou art enough to me.”

Blessed Julian of Norwich was a medieval mystic who lived through two episodes of the Black Death in the 14th century. Many close to her died and she nearly lost her own life, too. Julian’s well-known phrase, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well,” reverberates in a bone-deep way even now, nearly 800 years later. These words can comfort us as we, too, face serious global health challenges caused by the pandemic, as well as economic losses, systemic racism, and political divisions.

During those long days of uncertainty and fear, Julian embraced a deep trust in God’s faithfulness. We would do well today to remember, like her, that God is always faithful.

“God wishes to cure us of two kinds of sickness: impatience and despair,” Julian noted. Unfortunately, these sicknesses have endured through the centuries. If this time of pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we must diligently hold true to patience and hope.

Julian also wrote: “This is the medley of human life: faith and sorrow; insight and darkness; joy and agony; singing in counterpart through our days. But God wants us to know that through it all the Divine Presence is the melody that never changes.” What beautiful, encouraging words!

The following is a medley that begins with two stanzas of “All Shall Be Well,” a song by Shawn Kirchner based on Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love, and closes with a contemplation that also reflects her writings. Julian asked God why there should be evil and suffering in the world. God revealed to her: “It behooved that evil should be, but all shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.”

“In my love, you have your beginning.
“In weal and woe, you rest in my love.
“If you would know your Maker’s meaning,
“Know it well: My meaning is love.

“I did not say you will not be troubled,
“I did not say you will not be tried,
“I did not say you will not know sorrow,
“But I do say: You shall not be overcome.”

“I who made all things for love; By the same love keepeth them, and shall keep them without end. And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be exceedingly well.”

Sister Sarah, Schmidt, CSC, shared this reflection at a gathering of Holy Cross associates in Anderson, Indiana, in March 2021. The six participants then expressed how their lives and the world had changed since their last gathering. At the conclusion of the meeting, each person shared a word or phrase that was stirring their hearts. Out of those thoughts, they crafted this essence poem.

What is God calling us to do?
Prayerful contemplation,
Gratitude and Thanksgiving,
Fellowship and reaching out,
God First, there is hope,
Life-giving relationships.