Chapter 1 – Heaven and Hope

Seek First

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
Stretched further…
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!

MJTDC Mont St Michel

I will make the most remarkable claim 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 my marvelous journey of conversion out of the Dark Forest of revolutionary philosophies toward true freedom on the path of the Dogmatic Creed of Roman Catholicism, I found myself in a land of highest value with a panoramic view that elevates one beyond joy, a place for which you would sell all you have that you might own it, in fact, a destination that, if you truly grasp it, you will want to give even your life to secure it.

I did not subjectively create this place through the philosophical musings of my own mind. It is objectively very real. Over three decades of consecration to Mary the Mother of God led me to it along with the support of my heavenly friends Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Joan of Arc. I received its promise through 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. Passing beyond the mighty gates of that castle, this journey ushered 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 The Freedom Dance. “The March of Hope”, or, “The March of Joan of Arc” is the purposeful march up the mountain to the castle overlooking the kingdom. This March is the story of what happened next, after I entered into the mystical, life-giving land of Catholicism that brought me to the place with such a magnificent view.

I am like a man, if you can imagine for a moment, who 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.  The path he follows obediently with them 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, 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 passed once inside the borders of Catholicism, those key milestones that 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.

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This man we imagine now peers through the mist and into the sunlight showering down on the grassy plains. Suddenly, astonishingly, he comes to an understanding of what it is that he sees. He turns to his saintly friends; their eyes are dancing with life and happiness. Below is the land where they are leading him. Below is the treasure, the goal for which he searched across two previous decades on The Freedom Dance along the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed. This is that which they promised him. He now stands there contemplating the next stage of the journey. Based on 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 suddenly spot our man crashing through the brushy forest to greet you, and, breathlessly, he points toward the great land, panting and gasping for air, exclaiming, “You must see this! I found the land that we seek. Yet, if you still prefer to follow your own path rather than that of the Dogmatic Creed, then I must bid you farewell and best wishes. For, I will seek no other land than that to which the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed leads me. I will seek after no other treasure, no other food than that which I find on the Trail. I am here to tell you that the land we seek is over that mountain, and I will give my life to reach it!”

That represents me. My point in this book is to tell everyone what I discovered next coming from The Freedom Dance, the promise set before my heart. I am here to tell you what it is that I now desire and where that desire leads me. I am here to speak of Catholic Hope. 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 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, now sees what it is for which he is prepared to sacrifice his life. For, true fulfillment and joy come not in understanding how to live; they come through seeking that for which we would die. That for which we would die is that in which we truly hope.

We see this principle clearly in our everyday life. We hold to all sorts of beautiful sounding beliefs and philosophies in our intellect while governing our lives by objectives that are incongruent with those beliefs. We 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 modern humankind acts this way. 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 animates us insufficiently; our desires remain in this world and in ourselves even if our minds reach for God.

We gradually kill ourselves for something every day. We hope in one thing or another even if this hope is not articulated or entirely conscience. We give 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, sleep little, and eat poorly because we must advance in our careers. Despite our faith in God, we are placing our hope in what this career advancement will bring us. We crave the fulfillment of God’s promised 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 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 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 no longer are practical atheists who speak only intellectually of a belief in God. We now act with integrity to our beliefs; the acts of our free will are consistent with our faith. We become joyful and are at peace. Our hearts hope in what God desires for us. We approach paradise. We begin to desire heaven.

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Saint Joan of Arc 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 imbues the atmosphere where The Freedom Dance leads. Along with my spiritual sister St. Thérèse, Joan of Arc and my other heaven-sent companions are pointing me to the paradise that all of humankind seeks.

However, I caution you. What I will not do as I describe this next phase of my journey is to conform the teachings of the Catholic Church to your own subjective standards. There will be no attempt to make Catholicism “ok” for your existing path. I will not attempt to speak small of the saints to avoid troubling Protestant readers. I will not gush forth with religious relativism or congratulate each world religion for being an equally good path to God so as appease those of non-Christian belief. On the contrary, I will speak of why it is that I am so star struck and edified by the complete dogmatic spiritual path of Catholicism with every saint, creed, Pope, and sacrament in it. The religion or philosophy of your choosing will not bring you to this kingdom. You will find that it is a very Catholic place. However, whatever your religious and philosophical predilection, I want to tell you about The March of Hope.