You might see now why it is that I moved slowly through the initial steps on the March of Hope. There is so much room for misunderstanding and confusion. If we are not careful, these misunderstandings can lead us away from our glorious pathway to the Kingdom and back into the Dark Forest of the Revolution. This spiritual Revolution gradually influenced our philosophies, religious attitudes, and culture over the past five hundred years beginning with the Protestant Revolution against the Christian Faith in the sixteenth century, to the “Enlightenment” and French Revolution of the eighteenth century, to the atheistic communism of the twentieth century, and, finally, to the radical secular atheism of the current century. The chief aim of the Revolution is, and always has been, the destruction of the Catholic Church, the one institution founded personally by Christ and the very one he promised Hell would never defeat. (Matthew 16: 18-19 and Matthew 28:20)
Now that we understand the role of the saints in our Christian faith, particularly the role of Mary, Mother of God, we are free to move swiftly forward to one of my most significant relationships in the family of God.
I renewed my consecration to the Virgin Mary after my healing and restoration to sanity as described in Journey to Christendom – The Freedom Dance and ran down the path of the Dogmatic Creed of Roman Catholicism with my long time spiritual sister, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. St. Thérèse always was at my side, calling me out from the Dark Forest and leading me down the happy path of the Dogmatic Creed. I came to understand her role in my life as the one who “did good on earth after going to heaven.” (Day 1951) She is a life-long companion.
In the summer of 2007, I once more read St. Thérèse’s autobiography. I knew that Joan of Arc was a major figure in Thérèse’s life. I paid attention to Joan of Arc because of Thérèse’s devotion to her. As I read through the book again, something about her devotion to the great fifteenth century heroine of France made an even deeper impression on my heart.
Exactly one year after re-reading Thérèse’s book, I made a visit to the inspirational Icon of Our Lady of the Sign, Ark of Mercy at the Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Chicago. You will recall from Journey to Christendom that this church and icon are very significant landmarks in my spiritual journey. I was there that particular evening to do what Our Lady always asked me to do, which is to pray in adoration before the Eucharist.
Contemplating in adoration, I had a mental image of me sitting in the church building with the domed top absent. The church was open to the deep mystical night air. In that night air I heard drums, the drums one would hear perhaps in an old medieval military march. Hell was retreating. The March of Hope was approaching. Joan of Arc was to the fore.
Afterwards, as I continued to make my weekly pilgrimages to the Icon of Our Lady where I could bask in the divine light that is Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, I began tiring somewhat of approaching Our Lord and Our Lady with prayers that consisted of multiple desires and specific requests. I no longer wanted to keep my relationship with Jesus and Mary on the basis of what I might “get” from the relationship. I simply wanted to abandon myself to Jesus through Mary. Love is simple; I made it complicated. I know and continue to walk in the assurance that from all eternity, Jesus had no other plan in mind for me than to be united with the heart of Mary. I say this as an absolute truth for which I would give my life to defend. I knew it back in 1984 when I converted to the Church, and I still know this to be true. I began to pray in those terms. I told the Lord that I had only one prayer and one request, that there was only one thing in the entire universe I really cared about. It was neither wealth, nor prestige, nor even spiritual gifts. I am happy with the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has given to me, but, as I told the Lord, I would give them all up in a second for the one request I had in my heart. That one request was that he complete his project in me of True Devotion to Mary, in other words, to grant me the grace to be united completely to the heart of Mary in order to be united completely to him.
My prayer to Jesus was that I did not desire to approach him directly or alone, that is, without assistance and on my own; I wanted to complete his plan for my life, which was to go to him through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This was Jesus’ own plan for me. He gave me the joy associated with my relationship to Mary, and it was he himself who desired this path for me.
Soon after, I felt inspired to make a small video about Joan of Arc, whereby I shared a poem written by St. Thérèse in honor of Joan. Thérèse’s devotion to Joan of Arc made a very deep impression on my heart. I wanted to share with the world this wonderful sentiment from Thérèse to Joan. I placed the video on YouTube.
Quickly, I received numerous complementary videos and supporting recommendations regarding Joan of Arc. Overnight, so to speak, Joan began to fill my life. There was a powerful sense in my soul that Joan was calling out for me just as Thérèse had done so many years before. I had an even greater and growing sense that the Mother of God wanted me to know, follow, and devote myself to this magnificent saint. Something deep in my soul spoke that Joan was the one to lead me into the heart of Mary which would be the answer to my prayer previously mentioned. This journey would continue with my faithful sister Thérèse at my side.
Interestingly, I later learned from a family genealogy that our family descends from the same province in Normandy where the English burned Joan of Arc at the stake. Something not only in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven but in the realm of time and space drew me to the heart of this great saint.
Our Lord chose Joan of Arc from all eternity to guide me into the land of the new Eden, into the new land of paradise that is the heart of Mary who is the new Eve destined from all time to crush the proud devil underfoot. (Genesis 3:14-15) Thérèse won life on my behalf through Christ and always will walk with me as my sister, teaching me to pray and guiding me on my way. Joan of Arc is my designated guide into the great land of the heavenly kingdom that is the heart of Mary where Jesus Christ reigns in all his glory.
Recall the contemplative scene we previously imagined. As the morning mist rises and the dew melts in this scene, I perceive more of that landscape. Through the rising mist, I see a figure on horseback with a banner, a powerful and holy soul, strong and virtuous, who waits to ride with me down the hillside, across distant meadows, through shallow creeks, and, with the wind at our backs, into the heart of Mary to meet Jesus Christ.
How great is the family of God. This is the way of the Cross; it is the way of denial and contempt for this world out of love for the crucified Jesus. To lose the world is to gain the heavenly kingdom in the heart of Mary. No wonder St. Ignatius of Antioch joyfully ran into the lions’ den to be destroyed in the name of Jesus. This is the final resting place at the end of the path of the Dogmatic Creed. It is the Kingdom of Heaven.
St. Joan of Arc is the one chosen to take me on this important part of my life’s journey. She represents the instrument in God’s hands to complete Jesus’ project in my life. She is the answer to my prayer that I earnestly put before the Lord to unite me to the heart of Mary, an epic journey of twenty-five years.
The mist rose after so many years, and I see the landscape. My saintly guide Joan of Arc is ready, by the command of the King and Queen of heaven, to ride with me into the paradise that is Mary’s heart, this being the completion of Our Lord’s project in me. I want to ride swiftly, head low over the mane, leaping over creeks, crossing rivers deep and fresh, and galloping with joyful fury to the Kingdom! I want to live in the heart of Mary for love of Jesus Christ. I want to go home.
I also came to understand that it was St. Joan of Arc’s intercession, in union with the Virgin Mary’s desire to bring me out of the Dark Forest of chaos and despair, that brought me the great victory over the powers of darkness that special evening of July, 17, 2006 in that lonely chapel in the Pocono mountains.
In the last chapter, I told you that I found the events in my life concerning St. Joan of Arc to be remarkably similar to St. Thérèse’s influence. Mary was the channel of grace bringing me to conversion and the understanding that the Eucharist was the very Body and Blood of her son. Thérèse was the daughter of God designated from all eternity to cooperate in that conversion.
Coming out of the Dark Forest of sin, rebellion, and chaos through the hands of Mary, I saw the shadow of yet another great saint in the rising mist that represents my ever-brighter view of the landscape that is the Kingdom of God, another saint chosen from all eternity to assist me on my journey in cooperation with Jesus, Mary and Thérèse. St. Joan of Arc cooperated with God and Mary to break the chains that drove me to insanity and almost to the point of death. Joan of Arc is an instrument in the hands of Jesus and Mary to help me fly like the wind into the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to complete Jesus’ project of True Devotion to Mary in me.
Joan of Arc is a saintly friend, sister, and leader who makes me feel noble though I am a man of no power, prestige, or wealth. Jesus’ spirit through the heart of Mary projects itself into this relationship such that I have the courage to March against all odds; I have the courage to storm the gates of hell itself.
Jesus Christ has a will and plan for us designed from all eternity. He promised that if we seek first the Kingdom of God, we will receive all that and more. He promised us that if we give up everything here for love of him, he will give us a hundredfold in return. Let us seek first the Father’s Kingdom, and we know that he will give us all the friends, brothers, and sisters we need in return, both in this life and in the next.