MJTDC with St. Joan and St. Thérèse – Purgation through Hope

MJTDC Mont St Michel (1) with site and MJTDC

This is part of a series.

We now cross an important threshold on our journey with St. Joan and St. Thérèse through their combined spirituality and viewed through the lens of Carmelite spirituality. We have passed through inspiring meadows, crossed quaint bridges over rushing streams, admired the beautiful majestic mountains in the distance, and kept the beauty of the entire landscape, complete with its divine order, clearly in perspective. Crossing from the meadows where the work of our intellect in Faith took form, and now through the pristine fields of our memory in Hope, our saintly sisters have carefully guided us in safety on our way and pursued us when we go astray, as we are sometimes captivated by the illusions inside the Dark Forest due to our soul’s imperfections and predilection to pride.

Having been instructed to “not know” what “is known,” since we are brought to union with God through Faith and not through the discursive discourses held in our finite intellects (for though these might come from God, they are not God as St. John of the Cross reminds us), we now find that in order to reach our destination, which is the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary where Christ reigns in all of his glory, we must purge our memory of all imaginative props as well. Just as St. John warns us not to desire to know everything through our intellect as we might then lose the merit of faith, we are likewise warned not to idolize our imaginative apprehensions, no matter how inspiring:

“Because one can only hope for what one does not possess, hope will be the more perfect the less one possesses.” (The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

Our saintly sisters Joan and Thérèse gently remind us of the simplicity that characterizes the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed toward the center of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. God unites himself to us through our purification in Faith, Hope, and Love, the three theological virtues, not through images and sublime thoughts. The images and sublime thoughts are merely aids for those of us who are weak and imperfect enough to need them. We must not turn back to the fleshpots of Egypt, so to speak, and we should remind ourselves that God gives us many graces particularly because we are so inclined to do so. Let us be humbled by that knowledge.

MJTDC 1789

To move forward on the Trail with Sts. Joan and Thérèse is do develop a profound sense of simplicity, humility, and complete satisfaction only in what Our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded for us through his Church on earth. Being human in our substance, which is to be both body and soul, we of course still rely on our natural senses in the course of our daily existence. However, at this segment on the Journey, we are now perceptive to the purpose behind what our memory holds for us in terms of apprehensions. Their purpose is simply for drawing us closer to God through Love. We guard against allowing these apprehensions to attract us in and of themselves once again, where we will end up chasing them like butterflies into the Dark Forest due to our pride and imperfections.

“She may only fix her eye on and preserve the feelings of love of God that are caused within her. Only for this one purpose may one recall a certain image or apprehension that called forth love: in order to move the spirit to love anew.” (The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

We must learn to be tranquil on our Journey:

“It is best ‘to learn to silence and quiet the faculties of the soul so that God may speak to her.’ Then ‘a river of peace will descend on her… and… in this peace, God will remove all the misgivings, suspicions, disturbances, and darknesses which awakened in her the fear that she is already lost or is near to being lost.’ 

All confusion and disturbance in the soul is caused by the contents of the memory.”

(The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

MJTDC France Sacred Heart 2

Perhaps the best way for me to communicate this part of the Journey on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with St. Joan and St. Thérèse is through a two part poem I wrote years ago:

The fields of Christendom (Part 1)

Thérèse came up the hill
To join me as I mused
While looking out and beyond
To the land of Christendom
Over the bridge I had spotted below

My saintly sister sat next to me
In the grass while shading her eyes
“It’s beautiful over there,” I softly spoke
Remaining still so as to not disturb my view
“What is the magic, the mystery, of that land?”

“Order,” whispered Thérèse with authority
While looking out herself, “Divine Order “
“The minerals serve the plants
The plants serve the animals
The animals serve mankind”

“God,” she continued, “is served by mankind”
“Do you remember, when we first met?”
She surprised me. How could I forget?
That day I stumbled out of the Dark Forest
The day she called my name

“I found you lost in a land of dis-order!” she smiled
“But there, over there, where you gaze
The pathways, the villages, and flowing rivers
Make one wonderful, unified landscape
For the Almighty Divine Pleasure!”

I could see that waters ran fresh and deep
Everything was far richer in being
Than any place else I had seen
Certainly far richer than the dark and smoke-filled
Forest of confused order from where I had come

But, something yet amazed me
And that something was this
Many a time I’d heard someone proclaim
An order for things, a way to create
But none looked as rich as this…

Oh, some looked much better
Than the land where I had then stood
But others were awful and made everyone feel bad
Those who proclaimed that kind always seemed angry
And would make everyone pretend that things were pretty…

Thérèse interrupted my wandering thoughts
“How can the many particulars create
One view of such delight?” she queried
Yes, that is what mystified me
That is, just how this mixture was so right

“Many can only be ordered by One”
She answered her own question
“A higher unity must arrange the many particulars
To create such beauty and harmony
It is for this that we freely follow the will of the One”

“The order of God is that the lower
Should be enriched by the superior
The will of God being that those inferior
are helped by those above them
Thus Lord Christ’s merits glorify Him”

We sat for a while as I continued to look
At the beauty of creation when in the right hands
I glanced at Thérèse and thought of Joan of Arc too
My saintly and sisterly guides always seemed full of life
I looked down at myself, so different from that…

I wanted to ask more
But she motioned, time to go
The trail of the Dogmatic Creed
Awaited us, as we gathered our things
And headed down to cross that bridge I had found

The fields of Christendom (Part 2)

After crossing many fields
Covered with flowers and grazing animals
We carefully crossed a rapid creek
Where on the far side, we sat to dry our feet
Thérèse spoke, looking back over the flowing water

“Pay heed, dear brother, to Joan of Arc
She’s sent to guide you over the highest of mountain tops
To the very heart of the Mother of God
By the very command of the King of Kings
But this gift from Jesus to you – requires suffering!”

I myself stared into the swirling pools
Not even cognizant of that at which I looked
I did not care to ponder much on Thérèse’s words
Though I knew them to be true
But perhaps in my case there would be an exception…

“What is a sacrifice?” she turned to look directly in my eyes
“But to offer what is of value
And the greater the value, the greater the offering
Do not our scriptures say that there is no love greater
Than to give one’s life for another?”

Now this was making me quite uncomfortable
All this talk of suffering and death
But it was quite interestingly different from the talk
I heard in the Dark Forest of despair
That is, that we must not die, we must evolve to gods

“To give one’s life for Jesus
When He gave His for us
Is our true act of love
To serve for no reward
Save loving Christ the King!”

I looked at Joan of Arc, as we stood to move along
The mystery of her life no longer locked away
Her soul and that of Thérèse, both given to God in love
By sacrificing all for Him
Asking, neither one, for anything save union with Jesus

We started forward again, in peaceful silence
My feet were dry, and I felt well rested
I had never spoken a word, and this was good
For looking up ahead I could see majestic mountains
With snow and treacherous passes

My spirit’s desire, the Heart of Mary
For the glory of Christ the Savior
Lay beyond those heavenly peaks
And so, it was good not to speak
For I would need to be silent while guided over there

Are you a member of the French Catholic Diaspora? Find out here!

Atavist image reign of Immaculate Heart