“I saw … as it were in the time of His Passion…. And in the same Shewing suddenly the Trinity filled my heart with utmost joy”
In this [moment] suddenly I saw the red blood trickle down from under the Garland hot and freshly and right plenteously, as it were in the time of His Passion when the Garland of thorns was pressed on His blessed head who was both God and Man, the same that suffered thus for me. I conceived truly and mightily that it was Himself shewed it me, without any mean.
And in the same Shewing suddenly the Trinity fulfilled my heart most of joy. And so I understood it shall be in heaven without end to all that shall come there. For the Trinity is God: God is the Trinity; the Trinity is our Maker and Keeper, the Trinity is our everlasting love and everlasting joy and bliss, by our Lord Jesus Christ. And this was shewed in the First [Shewing] and in all: for where Jesus appeareth, the blessed Trinity is understood, as to my sight.
And I said: Benedicite Domine! This I said for reverence in my meaning, with mighty voice; and full greatly was astonied for wonder and marvel that I had, that He that is so reverend and dreadful will be so homely with a sinful creature living in wretched flesh.
This [Shewing] I took for the time of my temptation,—for methought by the sufferance of God I should be tempted of fiends ere I died. Through this sight of the blessed Passion, with the Godhead that I saw in mine understanding, I knew well that It was strength enough for me, yea, and for all creatures living, against all the fiends of hell and ghostly temptation.
In this [Shewing] He brought our blessed Lady to my understanding. I saw her ghostly, in bodily likeness: a simple maid and a meek, young of age and little waxen above a child, in the stature that she was when she conceived. Also God shewed in part the wisdom and the truth of her soul: wherein I understood the reverent beholding in which she beheld her God and Maker, marvelling with great reverence that He would be born of her that was a simple creature of His making. And this wisdom and truth: knowing the greatness of her Maker and the littleness of herself that was made,—caused her to say full meekly to Gabriel: Lo me, God’s handmaid!In this sight I understood soothly that she is more than all that God made beneath her in worthiness and grace; for above her is nothing that is made but the blessed [Manhood] of Christ, as to my sight.
“God, of Thy Goodness, give me Thyself;—only in Thee I have all”
In this same time our Lord shewed me a spiritual sight of His homely loving.
I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comfortable for us: He is our clothing that for love wrappeth us, claspeth us, and all encloseth us for tender love, that He may never leave us; being to us all-thing that is good, as to mine understanding.
Also in this He shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazel-nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with eye of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: it is all that is made. I marvelled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for little[ness]. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasteth, and ever shall [last] for that God loveth it. And so All-thing hath the Being by the love of God.
In this Little Thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the third, that God keepeth it. But what is to me verily the Maker, the Keeper, and the Lover,—I cannot tell; for till I am Substantially oned to Him, I may never have full rest nor very bliss: that is to say, till I be so fastened to Him, that there is right nought that is made betwixt my God and me.
It needeth us to have knowing of the littleness of creatures and to hold as nought all-thing that is made, for to love and have God that is unmade. For this is the cause why we be not all in ease of heart and soul: that we seek here rest in those things that are so little, wherein is no rest, and know not our God that is All-mighty, All-wise, All-good. For He is the Very Rest. God willeth to be known, and it pleaseth Him that we rest in Him; for all that is beneath Him sufficeth not us. And this is the cause why that no soul is rested till it is made nought as to all things that are made. When it is willingly made nought, for love, to have Him that is all, then is it able to receive spiritual rest.
Also our Lord God shewed that it is full great pleasance to Him that a helpless soul come to Him simply and plainly and homely. For this is the natural yearnings of the soul, by the touching of the Holy Ghost (as by the understanding that I have in this Shewing): God, of Thy Goodness, give me Thyself: for Thou art enough to me, and I may nothing ask that is less that may be full worship to Thee; and if I ask anything that is less, ever me wanteth,—but only in Thee I have all.
And these words are full lovely to the soul, and full near touch they the will of God and His Goodness. For His Goodness comprehendeth all His creatures and all His blessed works, and overpasseth without end. For He is the endlessness, and He hath made us only to Himself, and restored us by His blessed Passion, and keepeth us in His blessed love; and all this of His Goodness.
“The Goodness of God is the highest prayer, and it cometh down to the lowest part of our need”
This Shewing was made to learn our soul wisely to cleave to the Goodness of God.
And in that time the custom of our praying was brought to mind: how we use for lack of understanding and knowing of Love, to take many means [whereby to beseech Him].
Then saw I truly that it is more worship to God, and more very delight, that we faithfully pray to Himself of His Goodness and cleave thereunto by His Grace, with true understanding, and steadfast by love, than if we took all the means that heart can think. For if we took all these means, it is too little, and not full worship to God: but in His Goodness is all the whole, and there faileth right nought.
For this, as I shall tell, came to my mind in the same time: We pray to God for [the sake of] His holy flesh and His precious blood, His holy Passion, His dearworthy death and wounds: and all the blessed kindness, the endless life that we have of all this, is His Goodness. And we pray Him for [the sake of] His sweet Mother’s love that Him bare; and all the help we have of her is of His Goodness. And we pray by His holy Cross that he died on, and all the virtue and the help that we have of the Cross, it is of His Goodness. And on the same wise, all the help that we have of special saints and all the blessed Company of Heaven, the dearworthy love and endless friendship that we have of them, it is of His Goodness. For God of His Goodness hath ordained means to help us, full fair and many: of which the chief and principal mean is the blessed nature that He took of the Maid, with all the means that go afore and come after which belong to our redemption and to endless salvation. Wherefore it pleaseth Him that we seek Him and worship through means, understanding that He is the Goodness of all.
For the Goodness of God is the highest prayer, and it cometh down to the lowest part of our need. It quickeneth our soul and bringeth it on life, and maketh it for to waxen in grace and virtue. It is nearest in nature; and readiest in grace: for it is the same grace that the soul seeketh, and ever shall seek till we know verily that He hath us all in Himself enclosed.
For He hath no despite of that He hath made, nor hath He any disdain to serve us at the simplest office that to our body belongeth in nature, for love of the soul that He hath made to His own likeness.
For as the body is clad in the cloth, and the flesh in the skin, and the bones in the flesh, and the heart in the whole, so are we, soul and body, clad in the Goodness of God, and enclosed. Yea, and more homely: for all these may waste and wear away, but the Goodness of God is ever whole; and more near to us, without any likeness; for truly our Lover desireth that our soul cleave to Him with all its might, and that we be ever-more cleaving to His Goodness. For of all things that heart may think, this pleaseth most God, and soonest speedeth [the soul].
For our soul is so specially loved of Him that is highest, that it overpasseth the knowing of all creatures: that is to say, there is no creature that is made that may [fully] know how much and how sweetly and how tenderly our Maker loveth us. And therefore we may with grace and His help stand in spiritual beholding, with everlasting marvel of this high, overpassing, inestimable Love that Almighty God hath to us of His Goodness. And therefore we may ask of our Lover with reverence all that we will.
For our natural Will is to have God, and the Good Will of God is to have us; and we may never cease from willing nor from longing till we have Him in fullness of joy: and then may we no more desire.
For He willeth that we be occupied in knowing and loving till the time that we shall be fulfilled in Heaven; and therefore was this lesson of Love shewed, with all that followeth, as ye shall see. For the strength and the Ground of all was shewed in the First Sight. For[Pg 15] of all things the beholding and the loving of the Maker maketh the soul to seem less in his own sight, and most filleth him with reverent dread and true meekness; with plenty of charity to his even-Christians.
“The Shewing is not other than of faith, nor less nor more”
And [it was] to learn us this, as to mine understanding, [that] our Lord God shewed our Lady Saint Mary in the same time: that is to say, the high Wisdom and Truth she had in beholding of her Maker so great, so holy, so mighty, and so good. This greatness and this nobleness of the beholding of God fulfilled her with reverent dread, and withal she saw herself so little and so low, so simple and so poor, in regard of her Lord God, that this reverent dread fulfilled her with meekness. And thus, by this ground [of meekness] she was fulfilled with grace and with all manner of virtues, and overpasseth all creatures.
In all the time that He shewed this that I have told now in spiritual sight, I saw the bodily sight lasting of the plenteous bleeding of the Head. The great drops of blood fell down from under the Garland like pellots, seeming as it had come out of the veins; and in the coming out they were brown-red, for the blood was full thick; and in the spreading-abroad they were bright-red; and when they came to the brows, then they vanished; notwithstanding, the bleeding continued till many things were seen and understood. The fairness and the lifelikeness is like nothing but the same; the plenteousness is like to the drops of water that fall off the eaves after a great shower of rain, that fall so thick that no man may number them with bodily wit; and for the roundness, they were like to the scale of herring, in the spreading on the forehead. These three came to my mind in the time: pellots, for roundness, in the coming out of the blood; the scale of herring, in the spreading in the forehead, for roundness; the drops off eaves, for the plenteousness innumerable.
This Shewing was quick and life-like, and horrifying and dreadful, sweet and lovely. And of all the sight it was most comfort to me that our God and Lord that is so reverend and dreadful, is so homely and courteous: and this most fulfilled me with comfort and assuredness of soul.
And to the understanding of this He shewed this open example:—
It is the most worship that a solemn King or a great Lord may do a poor servant if he will be homely with him, and specially if he sheweth it himself, of a full true meaning, and with a glad cheer, both privately and in company. Then thinketh this poor creature thus: And what might this noble Lord do of more worship and joy to me than to shew me that am so simple this marvellous homeliness? Soothly it is more joy and pleasance to me than [if] he gave me great gifts and were himself strange in manner.
This bodily example was shewed so highly that man’s heart might be ravished and almost forgetting itself for joy of the great homeliness. Thus it fareth with our Lord Jesus and with us. For verily it is the most joy that may be, as to my sight, that He that is highest and mightiest, noblest and worthiest, is lowest and meekest, homeliest and most courteous: and truly and verily this marvellous joy shall be shewn us all when we see Him.
And this willeth our Lord that we seek for and trust to, joy and delight in, comforting us and solacing us, as we may with His grace and with His help, unto the time that we see it verily. For the most fulness of joy that we shall have, as to my sight, is the marvellous courtesy and homeliness of our Father, that is our Maker, in our Lord Jesus Christ that is our Brother and our Saviour.
But this marvellous homeliness may no man fully see in this time of life, save he have it of special shewing of our Lord, or of great plenty of grace inwardly given of the Holy Ghost. But faith and belief with charity deserveth the meed: and so it is had, by grace; for in faith, with hope and charity, our life is grounded. The Shewing, made to whom that God will, plainly teacheth the same, opened and declared, with many privy points belonging to our Faith which be worshipful to know. And when the Shewing which is given in a time is passed and hid, then the faith keepeth [it] by grace of the Holy Ghost unto our life’s end. And thus through the Shewing it is not other than of faith, nor less nor more; as it may be seen in our Lord’s teaching in the same matter, by that time that it shall come to the end.
“In all this I was greatly stirred in charity to my fellow-Christians that they might see and know the same that I saw”
And as long as I saw this sight of the plenteous bleeding of the Head I might never cease from these words: Benedicite Domine!
In which Shewing I understood six things:—The first is, the tokens of the blessed Passion and the plenteous shedding of His precious blood. The second is, the Maiden that is His dearworthy Mother. The third is, the blissful Godhead that ever was, is, and ever shall be: Almighty, All-Wisdom, All-Love. The fourth is, all-thing that He hath made.—For well I wot that heaven and earth and all that is made is great and large, fair and good; but the cause why it shewed so little to my sight was for that I saw it in the presence of Him that is the Maker of all things: for to a soul that seeth the Maker of all, all that is made seemeth full little.—The fifth is: He that made all things for love, by the same love keepeth them, and shall keep them without end. The sixth is, that God is all that is good, as to my sight, and the goodness that each thing hath, it is He.
And all these our Lord shewed me in the first Sight, with time and space to behold it. And the bodily sight stinted, but the spiritual sight dwelled in mine understanding, and I abode with reverent dread, joying in that I saw. And I desired, as I durst, to see more, if it were His will, or else [to see for] longer time the same.
In all this I was greatly stirred in charity to mine even-Christians, that they might see and know the same that I saw: for I would it were comfort to them. For all this Sight was shewed [with] general [regard]. Then said I to them that were about me: It is to-day Doomsday with me. And this I said for that I thought to have died. (For that day that a man dieth, he is judged as shall be without end, as to mine understanding.) This I said for that I would they might love God the better, for to make them to have in mind that this life is short, as they might see in example. For in all this time I weened to have died; and that was marvel to me, and troublous partly: for methought this Vision was shewed for them that should live. And that which I say of me, I say in the person of all mine even-Christians: for I am taught in the Spiritual Shewing of our Lord God that He meaneth so. And therefore I pray you all for God’s sake, and counsel you for your own profit, that ye leave the beholding of a poor creature that it was shewed to, and mightily, wisely, and meekly behold God that of His courteous love and endless goodness would shew it generally, in comfort of us all. For it is God’s will that ye take it with great joy and pleasance, as if Jesus had shewed it to you all.
“If I look singularly to myself, I am right nought”
Because of the Shewing I am not good but if I love God the better: and in as much as ye love God the better, it is more to you than to me. I say not this to them that be wise, for they wot it well; but I say it to you that be simple, for ease and comfort: for we are all one in comfort. For truly it was not shewed me that God loved me better than the least soul that is in grace; for I am certain that there be many that never had Shewing nor sight but of the common teaching of Holy Church, that love God better than I. For if I look singularly to myself, I am right nought; but in [the] general [Body] I am, I hope, in oneness of charity with all mine even-Christians.
For in this oneness standeth the life of all mankind that shall be saved. For God is all that is good, as to my sight, and God hath made all that is made, and God loveth all that He hath made: and he that loveth generally all his even-Christians for God, he loveth all that is. For in mankind that shall be saved is comprehended all: that is to say, all that is made and the Maker of all. For in man is God, and God is in all. And I hope by the grace of God he that beholdeth it thus shall be truly taught and mightily comforted, if he needeth comfort.
I speak of them that shall be saved, for in this time God shewed me none other. But in all things I believe as Holy Church believeth, preacheth, and teacheth. For[Pg 21] the Faith of Holy Church, the which I had aforehand understood and, as I hope, by the grace of God earnestly kept in use and custom, stood continually in my sight: [I] willing and meaning never to receive anything that might be contrary thereunto. And with this intent I beheld the Shewing with all my diligence: for in all this blessed Shewing I beheld it as one in God’s meaning.
All this was shewed by three [ways]: that is to say, by bodily sight, and by word formed in mine understanding, and by spiritual sight. But the spiritual sight I cannot nor may not shew it as openly nor as fully as I would. But I trust in our Lord God Almighty that He shall of His goodness, and for your love, make you to take it more spiritually and more sweetly than I can or may tell it.
- intermediary—thing or person. See vi., xix., xxxv., lv. ↵
- Either: In this sight—Shewing—of her; or In this her sight,—insight—beholding (vii., xliv., lxv.). See Rev. xi. ch. xxv., “For our Lord shewed me nothing in special but our Lady Saint Mary; and her He shewed three times.” The first shewing is here (a sight referred to in ch. vii. and elsewhere); the second, in ch. xviii.; the third, in ch. xxv. ↵
- This word is in S. de Cressy’s edition. ↵
- MS. “ghostly,” and so, generally, throughout the MS. ↵
- “Becloseth,” and so generally. ↵
- i.e. in essence united. ↵
- “to nowtyn.” ↵
- “nowtid of.” de Cressy: “naughted (emptied).” ↵
- surpasseth. ↵
- MS. “To make many menys.” So in Letter 385 of The Paston Letters, 1422-1509 A.D.—”Our Soverayn Lord hath wonne the feld, & uppon the Munday next after Palmesunday, he was resseved in York with gret solempnyte & processyons. And the Mair & Comons of the said cite mad ther menys to have grace be [by] Lord Montagu & Lord Barenars, which be for the Kyngs coming in to the said cite, which graunted hem [them] grace.” Letter 472 (from Margaret Paston).—”Your ryth wele willers have kounselyd me that I xuld kownsell you to maken other menys than ye have made, to other folks, that wold spede your matyrs better than they have done thatt ye have spoken to therof” (ed. by James Gairdner, vol i.). See ch. iv. p. 8. ↵
- i.e. trustingly. ↵
- bond as of relationship. ↵
- “the bouke” = the bulk, the thorax. ↵
- “witten.” ↵
- or, as in S. de Cressy, “immeasurable.” The word, however, looks like “oninestimable” with the “on” blotted or erased. ↵
- “kindly.” ↵
- “to his even cristen”—fellow-Christians (“even” = equal). Hamlet, Act v. Sc. i. “great folk … more than their even Christian.” ↵
- i.e. seen at the same time as, or in comparison with. See the note to ch. iv. p. 9. ↵
- “it is kept, and shall be.” ↵
- “God is althing that is gode, as to my sight, and the godenes that al thing hath, it is he.” ↵
- i.e. ceased. ↵
- “deemed.” ↵
- “a wretch.” ↵
- “sey” = say or tell. ↵
- i.e. The teaching of the Faith and the teaching of the special Shewing were both from God and were seen to be at one. ↵