Day four in my 6' x 6' office. Cloudy and cold outside, and I am very glad the spring glory has toned down so I can write my papers this week. Just 7 more days and my masters degree is 50% over.
I've had lovely company with the marvelous Julian of Norwich and her Revelations of Divine Love. I'm writing a paper about the fascinating things she says about courtesy - specifically the courtesy God shows to us and the courtesy that should direct our disposition toward him and each other.
Describing one of her revelations, she says:
"God also showed me that sin is not shameful to man, but his glory; for in this revelation my understanding was lifted up into heaven; and then there came truly into my mind David, Peter and Paul, THomas of India and the Magdalene - how they are famous in the Church on earth with their sins as their glory. And it is no shame to them that they have sinned, any more than it is in the bliss of heaven, for there the badge of their sin is changed into glory.
"Sin is the sharpest scourge that any chosen soul can be struck with; it is a scourge which lashes men and women so hard, and batters them and destroys them so completely in their own eyes, that they think they only deserve to sink down into hell...Although a man has the scars of healed wounds, when he appears before God they do not deface but ennoble him. As on the one hand sin is punished here with sorrow and suffering, on the other it shall be rewarded in heaven by the generous love of our Lord God almighty, who does not want the toils and troubles of any who come there to be wasted... And so all shame will be turned into glory and into greater joy." (ST, xvii)
Julian makes it clear that sin is only "rewarded" when the sinner has experienced contrition, confession, and some sort of penance.
Julian says this transformation of sins from blemishes to badges comes from God's kindness and his courtesy. His courtesy causes Him to humble himself to our level so he can relate closely to us. Courtesy allows Him to be familiar to Julian - familiar, lowly, humble, and meek. This is not a stuffy courtesy of stiff manners, but a courtesy that puts all others before self, removes shame and embarrassment, and seeks intimate relationship.
Isn't this the best that good manners have to offer? Good manners do not make people feel ashamed but put them at ease; do not make things stiff and impersonal but draw people closer and more intimate. The person who is self-conscious is literally self-conscious - conscious only of him or her self and not of the others around him. Self-forgetting is one of the most courteous things one can do. I like thinking of Christ in this way.