"The Pool of God"

Jessica Powers wrote of Mary: “There was nothing in the Virgin’s soul that belonged to the Virgin—no word, no thought, no image, no intent/ She was a pure, transparent pool reflecting/ God, only God…God was her sky and she who mirrored Him/ became His firmament.”

Mary’s glory is often seen as a matter of glorious privileges…stupendous prenatal purity, sinlessness, divine election and all the rest. And perhaps all this is true.

But as Julian saw it, this purity was, at bottom, a matter of unflinching honesty, an absolute appreciation of and acceptance of her creatureliness and the greatness of God, the “wisdom and truth of her soul” that had an unobstructed view of reality—“the greatness of her maker and the littleness of her created self”—that caused her to say very humbly to Gabriel, “Behold me here, the handmaid of the Lord.” Julian adds that the reverent awe of this contemplation of God filled Mary with humility. Hence there was vast space for pondering these things in her heart, but no room for the words, thoughts, images, or intentions of an anxiety that would have sprung from a distorted estimation of herself.

 On account of all this, Mary “is greater in worthiness and grace than everything which God created below her” and “was filled with grace and with every kind of virtue, and she surpasses all created beings.” And yet also on account of, not despite this, she is also a template of the holiness the disciples are called to, the exemplar, with Jesus, of that unflinching honesty that sees all things in proper perspective.

How to get there? We are, as Powers put it, “dry earth or stubborn sod.” We will avoid, by the most religious means and phrases, any real encounter with or admission of this absolute contingency and poverty of our being, the fundamental dependency on God that Jesus embodied and which both he and Julian presented in the image of a child. Safer far just to admire the Blessed Virgin and call it a day.

But Julian concludes that this admiration—which she found in herself as the desire to see Mary—is insufficient, and that she herself was taught to consider instead “the virtues of her blessed soul: her truth, her wisdom, her love, through which I may learn to know myself and reverently fear my God.” This knowledge of oneself and reverent fear of God is precisely what Julian saw in the Virgin’s soul. After Mary, it is the way of all the saints, to become—without ever noticing it oneself—“water that lost the semblances of water/ and was a sky like God.”

 "The Pool of God" is the title of Jessica Power's poem quoted herein.

Recent Issues

February 2024

January 2024

December 2023

November 2023

October 2023

July 2023

May 2023

January 2023

December 2022

October 2022

September 2022

July 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

January 2022

December 2021

November 2021

October 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

February 2021

January 2021

December 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

January 2019

December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

December 2016

November 2016

October 2016

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015