Enclosed in Trinitarian Love

We’ve been doing a lot of heavy theological lifting so far this Lent, as we’ve been spending the season with Julian of Norwich. While her writings are spiritually rich, encouraging, and suffused in love, she also so often challenges us to shift our perspective and to think through difficult aspects of theology. And so today I’d like to take the foot off the pedal, and just bask in the light of two particularly beautiful passages on — you guessed it — God’s love. I’ll make a few comments after, but I’ll keep it short today. She writes:

I saw that God never began to love mankind; for just as mankind will be in endless bliss, fulfilling God’s joy with regard to his works, just so has that same mankind been known and loved in God’s prescience from without beginning in his righteous intent. And by the endless intent and assent and the full accord of all the Trinity, the mediator wanted to be the foundation and the head of this fair nature, out of whom we have all come, in whom we are all enclosed, into whom we shall all go, finding in him our full heaven in everlasting joy by the prescient purpose of all the blessed Trinity from without beginning. For before he made us he loved us, and when we were made we loved him; and this is made only of the natural substantial goodness of the Holy Spirit, mighty by reason of the might of the Father, wise in mind of the wisdom of the Son. And so is man’s soul made by God, and in the same moment joined to God. (Ch 53)*

And in the next chapter:

For the almighty truth of the Trinity is our Father, for he made us and keeps us in him. And the deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, in whom we are enclosed. And the high goodness of the Trinity is our Lord, and in him we are enclosed and he in us. We are enclosed in the Father, and we are enclosed in the Son, and we are enclosed in the Holy Spirit. And the Father is enclosed in us, the Son is enclosed in us, and the Holy Spirit is enclosed in us, almighty, all wisdom and all goodness, one God, one Lord. (Ch 54)

We are then, enclosed in the love of the Trinity. What I love about how she talks about the Trinity here is how much of a loving jumble it is. It is nothing other than a reflection, not born out of book study but out of her own experiences of God, of the divine perichoresis, that ancient metaphor comparing the movements of the persons of the Trinity to the interpenetrating movements of dancers in chorus lines. This incredible, beautiful, motion invites us to be a part of it. It embraces us, enfolds us and encloses us, even as we embrace, enfold, and enclose it within our own hearts and lives.

As I said, I don’t want to spend too much time commenting on these passages, so I’ll leave this post here and encourage you to reread them and take them to heart.


* Unless noted, all quotes are taken from the long text of Julian or Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love as translated and set in Julian of Norwich, Showings, translated by Edmund Colledge and James Walsh. The Classics of Western Spirituality. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1978.

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