Few people have called today's Christians back to the witness of the "devotional masters" more enthusiastically and consistently than Richard Foster. Author of the classic Celebration of Discipline, Foster has consistently brought us into contact with the "riches old and new" of 2,000 years of Christian spirituality. Here, Foster tells how he learned deep lessons on Christian virtues from three very different but equally "devoted" Christians.

Juliana of Norwich: Enfolded Love

I was teaching a university class in which we were reading the writings of many of the great Christians: Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas a Kempis, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, and more. For one particular session I innocently assigned Juliana's The Revelations of Divine Love, thinking only that it was appropriate for us to read this first book written by a woman in English. When we gathered the next week, however, I found students in an uproar. We had discussed many great writings with intelligence, reason, even good humor. But this was different. Everyone was speaking, debating, even shouting. Some loved the book, others hated it, but all were passionately engaged.

As I sought to referee the discussion, I searched for a reason for this turn of events. How could a book whose only concern is the love of God cause such intensity? It espouses no political or social agenda. It embraces no questionable doctrine. It was, I thought, an unlikely book to cause controversy.

The Revelations of Divine Love (sometimes titled simply Showings) is the mature reflection upon 16 visions that were given to Juliana on May 8, 1373 when she was 30 years of age. Our classroom controversy centered around her passionate language of ...

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