Monthly Archives: February 2016

Intimate & Powerful English

“At church, the liturgy was recited in Latin, and in the marketplace, many of the merchants spoke French. But together, arm in arm, avoiding puddles, Julian and her mother spoke English. English was a more carnal language than French or Latin, a language of the earth and of the body. Because it came from the countryside and from the people, some thought it impoverished and inadequate for expressing abstract thought. . . . For Julian, English was primarily the language of home. With the currents of Danish, Anglo-Saxon, Frisian, French, and Latin, this homespun English had never been formalized into a language of power. It had no set spellings or grammatical certainties. It was a language in use for practical purposes, constantly adapted to individual needs and contexts. . . . In other words, English was the language of the ‘lowly and simple things.’ For Julian, these limits eventually became a gift; in English she found a language that could exude both intimacy and power, a language in which the rules were not so well established that they couldn’t be broken” (Amy Frykholm, Julian of Norwich: A Contemplative Biography, 12-13).


“Until recently most western nations saw themselves as a continuation of medieval Christendom — that is as social and political entities with corporate Christian commitments and ideals for living that, at least in intention, were controlled and shaped by Scripture. But now this ideal is being displaced by that of the secular state — a community that is officially without any religion or ideology save that of maximizing freedom for citizens to pursue as individuals whatever interests, religious or otherwise, they happen to have. . . . When God’s values are ignored, and the only community ideal is permissiveness, where will moral capital come from once the Christian legacy is spent?” (J.I. Packer, Keeping the Ten Commandments, 120 & 121).

Contentment & Absolute Trust

“Scripture presents contentment as a spiritual secret. It is one dimension of happiness, which is itself the fruit of a relationship. . . . Knowing the love of Christ is the one and only source from which true contentment ever flows. . . . The God whose fatherhood is perfect can be trusted absolutely to care for us on a day-to-day basis. So to realize that while planning is a duty and worry is a sin, because God is in charge, and to face all circumstances with an attitude of ‘praise God anyway’ is a second secret of the contended life” (J.I. Packer, Keeping the Ten Commandments, 103 & 104

Thou Shalt Not Covet

“In the tenth commandment, ‘you shall not covet,’ God’s searchlight moves from actions to attitudes, from motions to motives, from forbidden deeds to forbidden desire. . . . In Colossians 3:5 Paul calls coveting ‘idolatry’ because the things coveted become your god, controlling your life” (J.I. Packer, Keeping the Ten Commandments, 101).


Bearing Whose Image?

“Lying is part of Satan’s image, not God’s, and we should not wonder that ‘everyone who loves and practices falsehood’ should thereby exclude himself from God’s city (Revelation 22:15; cf. 21:27). There is no godliness without truthfulness” (J.I. Packer, Keeping the Ten Commandments, 97).

Family Love Is Our Great Need Here

“But what we must realize is that God, who is himself a father — the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of all Christians through him — cares about families enormously. Family life, with its built-in responsibilities for both parents and children, is part of his purpose for all, and the way we behave as children and parents is a prime  test of both our humanity and our godliness. Love — the caring love of parents who respect their children and want to see them mature and the grateful love of children who respect their parents and want to see them content — is our great need here” (J.I. Packer, Keeping the Ten Commandments, 73).

Three Desires

“Though Julian learned from the church and saw it as her mother, she also came to want something more, something ‘beyond the common use of prayer.’ In this way, she was not an ordinary child, and as her faith formed, it contained a seed of longing for a closer vision, a deeper understanding, only — she later wrote — if it was within God’s will. During her youth, Julian developed what she called in her writings ‘three desires.’ These desires are strange to modern understanding, but they would not have been extraordinary in her own day when life often centered around devotion to the church and ordinary piety contained hints of the mystical.”

“Her first desire was to have a ‘minde’ of Christ’s passion — a sensual recollection of what it would have been like to be with Christ while he suffered on the cross. The second desire was a ‘bodily sickness’ in which she would draw as close as possible to death’s door without passing through it. The third desire was perhaps the most sophisticated of the three. She desired three ‘wounds,’ an idea that she picked up from hearing the story of St. Cecilia in church. She called the three wounds ‘contrition, compassion, and longing for God'”  (Amy Frykholm, Julian of Norwich: A Contemplative Biography, 8-9).

Frykholm’s endnote explaining “minde” from the second chapter of A Revelation of Love: “Translators have translated minde as recollection or memory, but we also need to include mindfulness and feeling in our understanding of the word’s meaning” (125).