One of the great sufferings we experience when we depart any place is that of our attachments for those things we enjoyed there. For St. John of the Cross, our point of departure on our journey to union with God, that to which I refer metaphorically as my Journey on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with St. Joan and St. Thérèse, must be the renunciation of the desire for all things of this world in order to make room for God.
“The saint calls the point of departure or the first segment the dark night of the senses. What is actually entailed here is the mortification of joy in the desire for all things.” (The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
Preparing me for the Journey entailed a very difficult twenty year period. For twenty years, I was unable to detach myself sufficiently from love for worldly pleasure, things, and others’ respect. This led me to a point of such desperation that I finally cried out to the Mother of God in a spirit of complete surrender. I was worn-down and dying from the weight of my sins and my inordinate desires for the things of this world.
“That the domination of desires is truly darkness in the soul is demonstrated in full: the appetites weary and torment the soul, darken, besmirch and weaken her, rob her of the Spirit of God because she turns away from him by her surrender to the animal spirit.” (The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
My cry was heard, and Our Lady mediated the graces I needed from the Holy Spirit to reject the world and all of its empty promises, at least in spirit if not always in action. Therein was the dilemma of integrity. However, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, my soul was transformed in grace to begin this journey, however imperfectly.
“On the other hand, something entirely new is begun when the Dark Night starts. The entirely comfortable being – at – home in the world, the satiety of pleasures that it offers, the demand for these pleasures and the matter – of – course consent to these demands – all of this that human nature considers bright daily life – all of this is darkness in God’s eyes and incompatible with the divine light. It has to be totally uprooted if room for God is to be made in the soul.” (The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
However, one must do more than simply reject the world; one must replace that love for the world with love for God and the things of God. In other words, one must “seek first the kingdom” of God over the things of the world. One does not simply turn away from desire for the world (an act we call repentance); one turns toward desire for God (something we call Hope).
“Everything with which the Spirit naturally occupies itself must be taken from it. It must be educated to know God and to rejoice only in him. First of all, this is achieved by offering to the natural faculties something that attracts them more powerfully and satisfies them more than what they naturally know and enjoy.” (The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
It was for this purpose that Our Lady, after instructing me to “seek first the kingdom,” opened my heart through grace obtained by her mediation to a great love for and devotion to St. Joan of Arc. With St. Thérèse, her natural ally in Heaven, St. Joan ushered in by God’s divine providence the presence in my soul of a real and substantive Kingdom. Not surprisingly, given the care and influence of my two saintly sisters, Joan and Thérèse, both secondary co-patronesses of France, that Kingdom reflected the mystical Kingdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Catholic France. It was the light coming from this Kingdom that so attracted me as I turned away from my love for the world and toward the Kingdom of God. This light was unmistakably the light of the combined spirituality of St. Joan and St. Thérèse, clearly Carmelite, definitely active in Hope, and decidedly traditional and French in character. I called this light of the combined spirituality of St. Joan and St. Thérèse, “the most beautiful color in the Heavens.”
My heart, mind, and soul became transformed in Hope through this mystical light, something I call the March of Hope with St. Joan of Arc and reflected in my poem on the same:
The March of Hope, Part 1
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!
My world view was certainly changing as the result of my March of Hope with St. Joan of Arc and in the sisterly care of St. Thérèse. I turned from the world only to be captivated by the Kingdom of God that I perceived spiritually through the “most beautiful color in the Heavens” as the Mystical Kingdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Catholic France. This Kingdom is the new substance of my heart, a heart created anew through Mary’s intercession and that of St. Joan and St. Thérèse.
“What ever the spirit has elaborated through this or the other manner of operating will be its permanent possession. This knowledge and love have become a very part of the spirit’s being, somewhat resembling the relationship to a person with whom one has lived a long time and whom one trusts intimately.” (The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)