Learn from sinfulness Blessed Juliana of Norwich

Your Faith
May, 2014

Feast Day: May 13

The word “sin” can be defined as “to miss the mark.” In this sense, sin connotes our failure to live in harmony with that for which we are created – eternal life in communion with the Trinity.

Blessed Juliana of Norwich (1342–1416) was a Benedictine English mystic. Very little is known of her life except for her writings, which may explain why she has never been formally beatified.

She was 30 when her life changed dramatically. She fell seriously ill and experienced a series of intense visions of Jesus Christ. These visions ended when she recovered from her illness, and she immediately wrote about them in Revelations of Divine Love. It is there that she wrote some of her most famous words regarding the love of God – “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”

The subject of sin figured prominently in these writings. Blessed Juliana believed that sin was necessary because it can bring us to a greater self-knowledge. Critical to her understanding of sin was her belief that we learn from failing. The pain caused by sin is an earthly reminder of the pain of the Passion of Christ. As people suffer as Christ did, they grow closer to him by their experiences.    

In other words, sin actually can lead us to eternal life – provided we see it as failure and learn from it. For Juliana, this recognition of sin as failure and our resolution to learn from it were essential.