Sunday, July 24, 2011

Julian's wisdom

For some reason, I happen to have Julian of Norwich on my mind this morning. Here are two quotations for your reflection:

Pray inwardly, even if you do not enjoy it. It does good, though you feel nothing. Yes, even though you think you are doing nothing.
If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.

Both of these obseverations call attention to two of the most pernicious mistakes in the spiritual life. The first is giving too much validity to feelings. Many people will say, "Well, if I don't feel what I'm praying, what's the point?" Fortunately, I had a classically trained spiritual director in my formative years who made it clear to me that feelings were largely irrelevant.

The second mistake actually gives rise to very great suffering and that is the idea that if we believe the correct things and behave in the correct way that our lives will turn out all right --- that nothing bad will ever happen to us. Technically, that is known as the "just world theory" and it is not the gospel.

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