France, outside of Jargeau, the Loire Valley, in June of 1429
Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, prepares her devoted troops to assault the English stronghold in Jargeau while on her campaign to win France back from English occupation. She will clear the way for the crowning of Charles VII in Reims as the legitimate King of France in obedience to the will of God as commanded by her voices from heaven. No less than St. Michael the Archangel communicated the earliest of these messages during her childhood.
Devoted Captain La Hire wishes to clear up the muddled heads of a few captains in Joan’s army, who, being soft, cowardly souls, were wishing against the Supreme Commander’s desire to avoid a direct confrontation with the powerful English army and were opting merely to sit and starve them out in a lengthy siege. Let us pause quietly for a moment and listen, and feel, and observe with the eyes of our soul, as La Hire explodes on his peers to tidy up the misunderstanding about who is Joan of Arc and exactly what the mission is and just how the landscape of war had changed. Take a seat by the side and watch attentively as he throws his helmet, crashing against the wall, maybe close by you, before he speaks.
Think – think – about the Church in today’s world and, conversely, the mighty strongholds that evil holds – think – about the battle we have before us to free souls from tyranny, and pray that God will send us a Joan of Arc. Listen to him now:
“There are some that never know how to change. Circumstances may change, but those people are never able to see that they have got to change too, to meet those circumstances. All that they know is the one beaten track that their fathers and grandfathers have followed and that they themselves have followed in their turn. If an earthquake come and rip the land to chaos, and that beaten track now lead over precipices and into morasses, those people can’t learn that they must strike out a new road – no; they will march stupidly along and follow the old one to death and perdition. Men, there’s a new state of things; and a surpassing military genius has perceived it with her clear eye. And a new road is required, and that same clear eye has noted where it must go, and has marked it out for us. The man does not live, never has lived, never will live, that can improve upon it! The old state of things was defeat, defeat, defeat – and by consequence we had troops with no dash, no heart, no hope. Would you assault stone walls with such? No – there was but one way, with that kind; sit down before a place and wait, wait – starve it out if you could. The new case is the very opposite; it is this: men all on fire with pluck and dash and vim and fury and energy – a restrained conflagration! What would you do with it? Hold it down and let it smoulder and perish and go out? What would Joan of Arc do with it? Turn it loose, by the Lord God of heaven and earth, and let it swallow up the foe in the whirlwind of its fires! Nothing shows the wisdom and splendor of her military genius like her instant comprehension of the size of the change which has come about, and her instant perception of the right and only right way to take advantage of it. With her is no sitting down or starving out; no dilly-dallying and fooling around; no lazying and loafing, and going to sleep; no, it is storm! storm! storm! And still storm! storm! storm! And forever storm! storm! storm! hunt the enemy to his hole, then turn her French hurricanes loose and carry him by storm! And that is my sort! Jargeau? What of Jargeau, with its battlements and towers, its devastating artillery, and its seven thousand picked veterans? Joan of Arc is to the fore, and by the splendor of God its fate is sealed!” (Twain 2007)
With that God-inspired leadership, Joan of Arc stormed Jargeau and put the enemy to flight. In all, Joan led what might be the most successful, and certainly the most charitable, military campaign in human history. In just seven weeks, and with minimal bloodshed, Our Lord led her to bring mercy on those countries and that continent by permanently crippling a seemingly endless century old war that had thus far claimed the lives of many and forced misery on many more.
She followed her victories of the lifting of the English siege in Orléans and the Loire Valley campaign with a miraculously bloodless march to Reims for the king’s coronation, during which the enemy surrendered one stronghold after another, without a fight, on the mere reputation of the Holy Warrior, the young seventeen-year-old country girl. Though eventually betrayed and burned at the stake, her efforts led eventually to France’s freedom and to a long kingship of Charles VII. Due to Joan’s heroism in following the call of Our Lord, Charles eventually would grow to be a more courageous man and king, a personal accomplishment for which he most truly had needed Joan’s antecedent victories, and, it appears, something that our Lord himself knew well beforehand. Most importantly, an obvious corollary though rarely emphasized, is the fact that all of this, including the end of the Hundred Years War, came about as the result of following the will of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ ended the Hundred Years War through the self-sacrificing cooperation of Joan of Arc.
Let us now reflect on our current state of affairs. Is there anything for which we should fight to defend, as Joan of Arc did in freeing the people of France from the English siege at Orléans? Perhaps the French in Joan’s time might have been more truly Christian if they simply had acquiesced in a spiritual-but-not-religious Eastern-oriented “oneness” with the English, or, alternatively, simply realized that dogmatic religion is slavery for the masses and allowed a foreign power to dominate them. Were they right to fight? Conversely, and in a more abstract and modern context, are we not under siege today when the world tells us that one must not believe anything, at least not believe it enough to defend it?
This is where we find the Christian religion and culture today, specifically that of the Mother Church of Christendom, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, bearer of the Sacred Traditions of the original Apostles. Now you might sense the nefarious intent, consciously spoken or not, of those who say that Christians, specifically Catholics, should keep their beliefs to themselves while a new, modern atheistic mind, oddly in alliance with both ancient Eastern spirituality and materialistic secularism, steamrolls over formerly Christian Western civilization. Should we Catholics, members of the institutional Church that built Western civilization, be silent? Or, should we storm the gates of hell to reclaim our land with the spirit and fury that drove Joan of Arc to storm Orléans and Jargeau?
May we bear this in mind as we see today our Holy Mother Church, the Roman Catholic Church, founded at a point in history by the Lord himself, founder of Western Civilization, under siege by the forces of the evil one who has sunk his claws deeply into Western culture and the mind of modern man. May we fight the good fight. May we raise the siege of darkness that ensnares the Church and the West. May we dance in the authentic freedom that is Catholic belief and culture!
St. Joan of Arc – pray for us!