To read Julian’s Revelations in order, which is far better, begin at the Introduction.
Cher occurs frequently in Julian’s following chapters (see intro below in bold). Although it comes from Old French, Latin and Greek words for face it developed a wealth of meanings in her time including face, expression, regard, attitude towards, concern, countenance, etc. and I have used appropriate translations to suit. Our present day cheers! when clinking glasses, and our similar greetings and goodbye (cheerio) come from its sense of unspoken feelings conveyed in eye to eye, or face to face contact.
A couple of centuries after Julian wrote her book, Ben Jonson published a poem ‘To Celia’, perhaps better known as Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes which beautifully, though almost certainly coincidentally, expresses not only this but also the interwoven nature of awe, doubt and love which she presents in this and later chapters.
Drink to me only with thine eyes
And I will pledge with mine.
Or leave a kiss within the cup
And I’ll not ask for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove’s nectar sip,
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much hon’ring thee
As giving it a hope that there
It could not withered be;
But thou thereon did’st only breathe,
And sent’st it back to me,
Since when it grows and smells, I swear
Not of itself, but thee.
Benjamin Jonson 1616
Chapter 71 LXXI
INTRO … Jesus will our soules be in glad cher to Hym, for His cher is to us mery and lovely; and how He shewith to us three manner cher, of passion, compassion, and blisfull cher.
The blissful, lovely face our Lord turns to our souls
is glad, merry and sweet,
holding us, living forever in love-longing,
wanting our souls to turn gladly to Him as His reward.
And so I hope, in His grace,
He draws the outer face to the inner one,
and shall do so more and more,
making us one with Him and with each other
in the true lasting joy that is Jesus.
I understand three expressions of our Lord.
First, the expression of passion He showed
while He was here in this life, dying.
Though this is a mournful and pitiful sight,
yet it shines and pleases, for He is God.
Second, the expression of pity, regret, compassion,
which He shows with strong care
to all His lovers in need of His mercy.
Third, His blissful expression as it shall be forever;
most often shown, and longest continued.
So in the time of our pain and our woe
He shows His face of passion and His cross,
His own blessed virtue helping us endure.
When we sin He shows us His expression
of regret and pity, holding us strongly,
defending against all our enemies.
These two are His common face turned to us,
mingled in this life with the third –
His blissful face, seen here partly,
as it shall fully be in Heaven.
And that comes by the gracious touch,
the sweet light of the spiritual life
which keeps us secure in faith, hope, and charity,
with contrition, devotion, contemplation,
and all manner of true solace and sweet comforts.
Our Lord God’s blissful expressions
work in us by grace.
Synne in the chosen soulis is dedly for a time, but thei be not ded in the syght of God; and how we have here matter of joy and moneing, and that for our blindhede and weyte of flesh; and of the most comfortable chere of God; and why these shewings were made.
But now I must tell how I saw deadly sin
in creatures that shall not die for sin,
but live endlessly in the joy of God.
I saw God never holds contrary things as one,
and the most contrary are highest bliss
and deepest pain.
The highest bliss will be seeing Him
in clarity of eternal life,
seeing Him truly, feeling Him sweetly,
having all this perfectly, in fulness of joy.
Our Lord’s blissful face was shown in pity,
I saw sin is the most contrary;
as long as we mix with any part of sin,
we shall never clearly see our Lord’s blissful face;
the more horrible and grievous our sins are,
the deeper we are kept from this blissful sight.
We seem in peril of death, in part of hell,
dead at that time to all sight of our blissful life
for the sorrow and pain that sin is to us.
But in all this I truly saw
we are not dead in God’s sight,
nor does He ever leave us,
but He shall never have His full bliss in us
until, seeing His fair blissful face truly,
we have our full bliss in Him.
For we are ordained so in our kinship,
and we are brought there by grace.
Thus I saw how the time that sin is deadly
in the blessed creatures of eternal life, is short.
And always, the more clearly the soul sees
this blissful expression by loving grace,
the more it longs to see it fully.
Though our Lord God dwells in us, here with us,
fully embracing and enclosing us
in tender love, that He may never leave us,
nearer us than tongue may tell or heart know,
yet may we ever moan, weep and long for Him,
’til we see Him clearly in the light of His face.
In that precious blissful sight no woe may last,
nor any goodness fail,
and in this I saw both joy and sadness.
Joy – for our Lord, our Maker, is so near us
and in us, and we in Him,
securely kept by His great goodness.
Sadness – for our spiritual eye is so blind,
we are borne down by our deadly flesh,
by the darkness of sin,
so we cannot clearly see the light
of our Lord God’s fair, blissful face.
No, in this darkness we can scarce believe,
scarce know, His great love, nor our safe keeping;
nor ever cease our moaning nor our weeping.
Our weeping is not all tears poured from our eyes,
but longing for more spiritual understanding.
Our soul’s desire, from its kindred with God,
is so great, so unmeasurable,
that if given for solace and comfort
with all the grandeur of Heaven and earth
that God ever made, but we saw none
of His fair blissful countenance,
we should not cease our moaning or spiritual weeping,
that is to say, our painful longing,
until we truly see His fair blissful face.
And if we were in all the pain
that heart can think and tongue may tell,
but could see his faire blissful face,
all that pain could not grieve us;
for that blissful sight is the end of all pain
to a loving soul, fulfilling all joy and bliss.
That He showed in the high, marvellous words
where He said,
I AM that is highest; I AM that is lowest; I AM that is all.
We need three ways of knowing:
First, is that we know our Lord God.
Second, that we know what we are to Him
by our kindred nature and grace.
Third that we know ourself meekly
concerning our sin and feebleness.
I understand that all the showings were made for these three.
Seventy- third chapter LXXIII
These Revelations were shewid three wises. And of two gostly sekenes, of which God will we amend us, remembring His passion, knowing also He is al love; for He will we have sekirnes and liking in love, not takyng onskilfull hevyness for our synnes past.
All our Lord God’s blessed teaching
was shown three ways: by bodily sight,
by words formed in my mind,
and by spiritual sight.
For the bodily sight, I have said as I saw,
as truly as I can;
for the words, I have said them as I heard them,
as our Lord showed them to me.
For the spiritual sight, I have said something,
but can never fully tell it;
therefore of this sight I am stirred to say more,
as God will give me grace.
God showed two forms of sickness that we have:
impatience or sloth in bearing travail and pains;
and despair or doubtful fear, as I shall say later.
He did show sin generally, with all that involves,
but in particular He showed just these two,
as these two most trouble and upset us,
and of which He wishes us to be amended.
I speak of men and women that hate sin,
love God, and set themselves to do His will,
but spiritual blindness, and bodily heaviness,
incline us greatly to these faults,
and so it is God’s will they be known,
so we shall refuse them as we do other sins.
To fully help this our Lord meekly showed
His patience in His hard passion, and the joy,
the delight, He has in that passion for love.
And this He showed as an example
that we should gladly, wisely bear our pains
which is greatly pleasing to Him,
endless profit to us.
Our pains trouble us through lack of love.
Though the three persons in the Trinity are equal,
the soul is most understood in love.
Yes, and He wishes, in all things,
that our vision and delight is love.
Yet we are most blind to this knowledge:
some believe God is almighty, and may do all things,
and that He is all wisdom, and can do all things;
but to believe He is all love, and will do all things,
there we stop.
As I see it this, unknowing hinders most God’s lovers,
For when we begin to hate sin,
and mend ourselves by Holy Church’s ordinance,
yet there dwells a dread that hinders us
from beholding ourself, and of our past sins,
and some of us for our everyday sins.
For we neither hold to our covenants,
nor the cleanness our Lord set us in,
and often fall in such wretchedness
that is shameful to see.
Looking on this makes us so sorry, so heavy
we can scarcely find any comfort.
We sometimes take this sorrow for meekness,
but it is a foul blindness and a weakness.
We cannot despise it like other sins,
for it is from our enemy, and untrue.
Of all the blissful Trinity’s properties,
God wishes us to have most confidence,
and most delight, in love;
love makes might and wisdom gentle to us.
Our courteous God forgives repented sin,
but wants us to forgive our own sin
of this dull heaviness and doubtful fear.