“See, I guide all things to the end that I ordain them for, before time began”

I saw God in an instant of time, that is to say in my understanding, by which vision I saw that he is present in all things. I contemplated it carefully, seeing and recognizing through it that he does everything which is done. I marvelled at that vision with a gentle fear, and I thought: What is sin? For I saw truly that God does everything, however small it may be, and that nothing is done by chance, but all by God’s prescient wisdom. If it seem chance in man’s sight, our blindness and lack of prescience is the reason. For those things which are in God’s prescient wisdom since before time, which duly and to his glory he always guides to their best conclusion, as things come about, come suddenly upon us when we are ignorant; and so through our blindness and our lack of prescience we say that these things are by chance.

So I understood in this revelation of love, for I know well that in our Lord’s sight there is no chance; and therefore I was compelled to admit that everything which is done is well done, for our Lord God does everything. For at this time the work of creatures was not revealed, but the work of our Lord God in creatures; for he is at the centre of everything, and he does everything. And I was certain that he does no sin; and here I was certain that sin is no deed, for in all this sin was not shown to me. And I did not wish to go on wondering about this, but I contemplated our Lord and waited for what he would show. And thus the rightfulness of God’s dealing was shown to the soul, as well as could be in that time. Rightfulness has two fine qualities: It is right and it is full. And so are all the works of our Lord, and they lack no operation of mercy or of grace, for they are all rightful and nothing whatever is lacking in them.

This vision was revealed to my understanding, for our Lord wants to have the soul truly converted to contemplation of him and of all his works in general. For they are most good, and all his judgments are easy and sweet, bringing to great rest the soul which is converted from contemplating men’s blind judgments to the judgments, lovely and sweet, of our Lord God. For a man regards some deeds as well done and some as evil, and our Lord does not regard them so, for everything which exists in nature is of God’s creation, so that everything which is done has the property of being of God’s doing. For it is easy to understand that the best of deeds is well done; and the smallest of deeds which is done is as well done as the best and the greatest, and they all have the property and the order ordained for them as our Lord had ordained, without beginning, for no one does but he.

I saw most truly that he never changed his purpose in any kind of thing, nor ever will eternally. For there was nothing unknown to him in his just ordinance before time began, and therefore all things were set in order, before anything was made, aa it would endure eternally. And no kind of thing will fail in that respect, for has made everything totally good.

And therefore the blessed Trinity is always wholly pleased with all its works; and God revealed all this most blessedly, as though to say: See, I am God. See, I am in all things. See, I do all things. See, I never removed my hands from my works, nor ever shall without end. See, I guide all things to the end that I ordain them for, before time began, with the same power and wisdom and love with which I made them; how should anything be amiss? So was the soul examined, powerfully, wisely and lovingly, in this vision. Then I saw truly that I must agree, with great reverence and joy in God.

Dame Julian of Norwich

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3 Responses to “See, I guide all things to the end that I ordain them for, before time began”

  1. Andrew says:

    I don’t understand how Julian of Norwich’s hope that all will be well can be reconciled with her professed faith in the (Catholic) Church’s traditional teaching regarding hell and purgatory. LIke so many medieval mystics who express a similar hope while remaining faithful to the authority of the Church (Catherine of Sienna or Johannes Tauler etc.) she remains an enigma to me.


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      i am very slowly making my way through her Showings (two or three chapters a day). Perhaps I’ll have a better handle on the concern you raise in a couple of months.


  2. John H says:

    It was a dilemma which confronted Julian as well. Indeed, a large portion of the long text of the Showings consists of her attempts to understand and resolve the conflict between her universalist hope that all shall be well and the teachings of the medieval church on sin, hell and damnation.


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