This post is an excerpt from my book Seek First the Kingdom – The March of Hope. Click above for a paperback version. Click here for Kindle.
The Freedom Dance continues merrily on…
Imagine my astonishment
When the Queen announced
Through my saintly sister Thérèse
That Joan of Arc was to the fore…
The Dance of Freedom was to continue on
The trail of the Dogmatic Creed
Faith had not yet animated me
Joan of Arc was the chosen guide
On the path of the Dogmatic Creed next
No one can see the Kingdom
Without Hope that forms our desire
“Joan of Arc will lead you”
Spoke my saintly sister Thérèse
“To a new world view”
“Your actions belie your words of faith!”
“Joan of Arc acts
According to her faith”
“She is no practical non-believer!”
Saintly Thérèse smiled with eyes dancing
“Unlike her, brother,
You honor God only with lips!”
“You hope in yourself” Thérèse continued
“While whispering faith in God”
“You cannot see the Kingdom
With your old point of view”
“Joan of Arc will show you
The glorious new world view
That will animate you with love
And create the appropriate desire in you”
We climbed a mountain with Joan of Arc
She pointed to a panorama below
I heard the thunder of God clapping
Bringing rhythm and reason to creation
Joan of Arc, to whom we are so devoted
Smiled at us, while singing
“God created heaven and earth
Clapping one day, two days, three and more”
“While God was clapping, music was heard!”
Cried our Maid, whom Thérèse and I so enjoy
“One day, two days, three and more
Logical beauty, reason, and rhythm!”
“God created both Reason and Rhythm!”
She cried, “It all has a purpose!”
“The order of nature is reason and beauty”
“The mystery of rhythm is the artwork of God!”
My heart was leaping!
A lesson in Hope!
That God’s first words convey the wisdom
Of purpose and unity both!
Hushing noisy philosophers aside
With Joan of Arc as my guide
I watched the beauty unfold
I let God explain his point of view
I have always wished
That beauty had meaning
I had always missed the point
Of the creation story
Joan of Arc!
With my saintly sister Thérèse
Had brought me to my first juncture in Hope
The meaning of creation – my world view is changing!
I have the most remarkable claim to make to you in this book. On the heels of The Freedom Dance, the story conveyed in my previous book Journey to Christendom – The Freedom Dance where I spoke of the marvelous journey of conversion out of the Dark Forest of the revolutionary, rebellious, atheistic, and New Age modern mind with its associated culture of death and mental illness toward real freedom and life on the path of the Dogmatic Creed of Roman Catholicism, I have been led to a land of the highest value, a panoramic view that elevates one beyond joy, a place for which you would sell all you have to obtain, in fact, a destination that, if you truly grasp it, you will want to give your life to secure it.
I did not create this place, nor did I construct it through the philosophical musings of my own mind. It is objectively very real. I have been led to it through over twenty-four years of consecration to Mary, the Mother of God, and by my heavenly friends, particularly my devoted Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and the magnificent St. Joan of Arc. I received the promise of it during my conversion to Catholicism at the hands of the Virgin Mary in 1984.
The Freedom Dance led me from the smoke filled forest of anarchy in the modern world to the great walls of the castle that is the Catholic Church. Having now passed beyond the mighty gates of that castle, this journey has led me through beautiful, colorful, sunlit fields to a mountain top, and I simply must tell you what I see over its ridge and how it is that I came to see it. I must tell you about a kingdom over there, the ultimate destination of the journey hence, so to speak, on The Freedom Dance. Climbing this mountain, which is on that other side of the Catholic gateway, has been a purposeful march, something I call the “The March of Hope”, or, “The March of Joan of Arc” as I state above in the Introduction. This March is the story of what happened next, after I entered into the mystical and life-giving land of Catholicism and what has brought me to the place with such a magnificent view.
I am to be likened to a man, if you can imagine for a moment, who has followed the giant footsteps of several saintly souls destined by God to guide him on a path through a marvelous and beautiful land, to the top of a heavenly mountain, overlooking a magnificent vista of rivers, lakes, meadows, tall mountains distant, and deep echoing valleys between. The path of faith he follows obediently with them, as I pointed out in my previous book, is the Dogma of the Roman Catholic Church; the breathtaking kingdom in the distance is the mystical body of Christ, that is, the Kingdom of God. The footprints he leaps into, one by one, with his desire to reach the kingdom represent his hope. Those steps are the “March of Hope” about which I will speak in this book. This book will document in some rough manner the key junctures I have passed once inside the borders of Catholicism, those key milestones that have led me to this breathtaking view. If The Freedom Dance is the story of a journey from a dark forest to the giant gates at the castle walls of Catholicism, then the March of Hope is the story of the ensuing journey inside that land toward God’s Kingdom.
This man we are imagining now peers through the mist and into the sunlight showering down on the grassy plains below. Suddenly, astonishingly, he comes to an understanding of what it is that he sees; he turns to his saintly friends, the ones who have shown him the way, for he is incapable of finding it himself, and they smile at him; their eyes are dancing with life and happiness; in fact, their entire demeanor approaches that of joyous laughter. Below is the land where they have been leading him. Below is the treasure, the goal for which he began searching over two decades previously when The Freedom Dance on the trail of the Dogmatic Creed began. He was promised back then that he could go to this destination and enjoy its life; he was even given these lovely friends to guide him. Even still he has failed to stay close at times; he was, over the years, often found roaming the dark woods lost and alone, having taken his eyes off of the path to chase shamefully after the worldly sirens of the dark and thereby periodically releasing his grip from those heavenly hands taking hold of him. But with all of this in account, he is at last now standing there, looking at the next stage in the journey. And with what he is viewing and soaking in, the entire Freedom Dance becomes worth every single struggle, pain, loss, and cross to get there.
Now imagine that you are also traveling, and you suddenly spot our man crashing through the brushy and forested land to greet you, and, breathlessly, he points toward the great land, panting and gasping for air, and he exclaims to you, “You must see this! I have been shown the land that we seek, the land of milk and honey, the land where life is what we hope for, where the answer to all of mankind’s problems are to be found! Wars would stop, the hungry would be fed, justice ruled by peace and mercy would envelop the spirits and souls of humankind if they were to venture there! Yet, if you prefer still to follow your own paths with your own man-made philosophies, if you choose to desire your own will to that of the Dogmatic Creed, then I must bid you farewell and best well wishes. For, I will seek no other land than that which the trail of the Dogmatic Creed has led me. I will seek after no other treasure, no other food than that on which I have been fed. But I am here to tell you that the land we seek, that is paradise here as far as we can know it, with the promise of paradise after, is over that mountain, and I shall give my life to reach it!”
That is what I am doing in this book. I am telling everyone who cares to read this little writing what I have discovered next coming from The Freedom Dance, the promise that has been set before my heart and spirit. I am here to tell you what it is that I have come to desire and where that desire has led me. I am here to speak of Catholic Hope. And this hope has come to be more than I ever imagined; it is paradise. I want to tell you what it is and where to find it, the exact thing about which I speak. I am panting and pointing, a man who previously in life had spent far more time lost in the woods than in the sunlight, a man who had not a clue what he was doing, but a man who, by following in the fellowship of his heavenly helpers has seen what it is for which he is now prepared to sacrifice his life. For, true fulfillment and joy come not in understanding how to live; they come from seeking that for which we would die. Because that for which we would die is that in which we truly hope.
We see this principle clearly in our everyday life. We can hold to all sorts of beautiful sounding beliefs and philosophies in our intellect while governing our lives by objectives that are incongruent with our beliefs. We can say that we believe God exists, yet act very concretely as if he does not. This is called practical atheism, and the vast majority of humankind act this way in our modern world. We claim that God is number one in our lives, but we work ourselves into a frenzy trying to make ourselves into gods. We might have faith in God, but we hope in ourselves. Thus, we live frustrated lives of desperation and wearisome worry in complete incongruity to our beliefs. In other words, our faith has not animated us sufficiently; our desires remain in this world and in ourselves even if our minds reach for God.
We are killing ourselves for something every day. We do hope in one thing or another even if this hope is not articulated or even entirely conscience. We are giving our life to something at all times. There is always something, somebody, some cause for which we spend our energy and health, indeed, even if it practically kills us. We work late, get little sleep, and eat poorly, even though this is terribly unhealthy, because we must advance in our careers. Despite our faith in God, we are placing our hope in what this career advancement will bring to us. We crave the promises of God’s peace while anxiously salivating over the newest model luxury car in pure envy of our neighbor. Despite our faith in God, we hope in what that car can bring to us.
What happens when we align our hope with our faith? What happens when we have faith in God and place our hope in what he can bring to us? What happens when we not only have faith in God, but we also hope in God? When we are willing to kill ourselves seeking after God’s objectives, then we are hoping in God. When we are ready to die for God’s purpose, then we are living in God’s hope. We have stopped being practical atheists who speak only intellectually of a belief in God. We are beginning to act with integrity to our beliefs; the acts of our free will are consistent with our faith. We are becoming joyful and at peace. Our hearts are hoping in what God desires for us. We are approaching paradise. We begin to desire heaven.
The astounding saint Joan of Arc, to whom I am so devoted, and who is my leader on this next phase of the journey, the March of Hope, has taught me through her own life and cruel death that while I have much for which to live, I have even more for which to die. This is the awe-inspiring hope about which I speak, the hope that is the place where The Freedom Dance leads. With my ever devoted sister St. Thérèse, Joan of Arc and the other heaven sent companions are pointing me to the paradise that all of mankind seeks.
What I will not do here, as I describe this next phase of my journey, is to conform for you the teachings of the Catholic Church so as to make them more acceptable to you. There will be no attempt to make Catholicism “ok” for the path you are already on. I will not attempt to speak small of the saints, particularly of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, so as to not trouble the Protestant readers. I will not gush forth with religious relativism, congratulating each world religion for being an equally good path to God so as to not stall with those of non-Christian belief, no, I am going to speak of why it is that I am so star struck and edified by the complete and dogmatic spiritual path of Catholicism with every saint, creed, Pope, and sacrament in it!
Conversely, and using a more negative paradigm for making my point, I am going to tell you why it is that even with evil unfortunately operating and intruding upon this great land, while keeping others away, cannot make me leave. For, even with evil making sorties into the land, to leave would prevent me from reaching the land of Catholic Hope, this place for which I will sacrifice my life. No, it cannot be reached through any religion or philosophy of your choosing. You will find that it is a very Catholic place. But whatever your religious and philosophical predilection, I want to tell you about this March of Hope.