Good Zeal

All Shall Be Made Well

cemetery crucifixMany people are familiar with the frequently quoted phrase “all shall be well” but do not know the source or context of the quote. The phrase dates back to 14th century Norwich, England. A female anchorite (a permanently enclosed hermit) attached to the church of St. Julian wrote these words in her text called Shewings, or Revelations of Divine Love. She was the first woman to compose a work in vernacular Middle English rather than in Latin, which was the language of the formally educated. Her text describes sixteen revelations (shewings) that she experienced following an unexplainable, nearly fatal illness.

Having experienced as a child the first wave of the bubonic plague that swept through England in 1348-50 and several forms of social, political and church-related upheavals, the anchoress, now known as Julian of Norwich, questioned God as to the meaning of all this sin and suffering. In chapter 27, she is told: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” For thirteen more chapters, Julian continues to inquire as to the meaning of all forms of sin and suffering. Finally, Julian comes to know that the meaning behind all things is Divine Love.

The takeaway from Julian’s message to all Christian is that “all shall be well” because the God of infinite love will make it so. The sufferings endured in the present moment, no matter how intense or senseless it may be or seem to us, has a place in God’s divine plan. Our suffering is an opportunity for God to care for us all the more tenderly and diligently and fully.

In the current pandemic situation with the COVID19 virus running rampant all over the world and disrupting all sense of normalcy, Julian’s words are strikingly appropriate. God’s love never abandons us. Christ suffers with us in our own suffering. And, as we are united with Christ in his suffering, we also shall be made whole and well at the proper time. God desires this for us and indeed will make it so.

We are invited to meditate on an image from Julian, to see all of creation as the size of a hazelnut in the palm of God’s hand. God holds it in being because God loves it. No matter how big this crisis may seem to us, it is a very little thing in comparison to God’s love and grace. As God told St. Paul, His grace is sufficient for us. Whatever God provides will be enough. We have only to trust and do the best we can with what we are given. We take whatever precautions we can, but it is love and compassion for one another that will carry us through this time. Blessings on all. All shall be made well.

By Sister Therese Haydel

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