Julian of Norwich: God is never angry

This extract from Revelations of Divine Love is chapter 49 from the fourteenth revelation. Here Julian discusses the impossibility of God ever being angry and how the soul can be united with God by finding peace within itself.

“It was astonishing to me and I considered it carefully in later years that during these revelations I was continually shown that our Lord God, as far as he himself is concerned, does not have to forgive because he is unable to be angry. It would be impossible for him! This was the revelation: that the whole of life is grounded and rooted in love and that without love we cannot live. So a soul that is given the special grace of gazing deeply into the sublime and marvellous goodness of God and sees that we are eternally united to him in love, finds that it is quite impossible for God to be angry. Anger and friendship are mutually exclusive. And he that weakens and destroys our anger and makes us humble and gentle, must himself surely need to be loving, humble and gentle and that is the direct opposite of anger.

I saw with absolute certainty that, where our Lord is, peace is the rule and there is no place for anger. I saw no anger of any kind in God, no matter how long I looked. Indeed, as I see it, if God were able to be angry for one second, we should have no life, abode or existence!

For just as we derive our existence from the endless Power of God, his endless Wisdom and endless Goodness, so are we preserved by the same qualities. Though we poor wretches experience conflict and strife within ourselves, we are still wholly enveloped in God’s humility, goodness and kindness. For I saw very clearly that our eternal friendship, our abode, our life and our existence is in God.

The same eternal goodness that preserves us, even when we sin, and prevents us from perishing, keeps trying to make peace of our anger and perverse failures. It makes us realise our own need with a true fear and gives us a strong desire to seek forgiveness and ask God to save us. Even though we are at present in misery, distress and grief, as a result of our blindness and infirmity, our own anger and perversity, we are still kept safe by the mercy of God and we do not perish.

But we are not yet in bliss, not yet saved and are not yet in eternal joy, nor wholly at peace or in love, until we are content with God and his actions and judgements, until we are in love and at peace with ourselves, with our fellow Christians and with all that God loves. That is what love is like and this is what God’s goodness does in us.

So I saw that God is our true peace and that he is our true Preserver when we ourselves are not at peace. He continually works to bring us to eternal peace. And so when, by the action of his mercy and grace, we have become humble and gentle, we are really safe. When the soul is really at peace with itself, it is immediately united to God because there can be no anger in God.”

Quoted from The English Mystics by Karen Armstrong, referencing the 1901 text by Grace Warrack.

Next extract: Nothing between God and the soul

Read the whole series here

Image: Mountain


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