I have written extensively on the subject of empathic devotion to St. Joan of Arc. Our Lord and Our Lady have transformed my life through this uniquely powerful relationship. The Holy Spirit has willed to provide the sanctifying grace I need in hierarchical fashion, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and then through St. Joan. I have been fascinated for over a decade as to the process and mode of this grace. It feels as though I am called to think it through for whatever mysterious purpose that thinking out, that modeling of the grace, serves the Kingdom of God.
The key aid has been Edith Stein, known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Here is why. The point of great importance in the model for which I seek is the interface between our natural philosophy and God’s supernatural grace. This seems to be my primordial point of focused interest. I contemplate the zero-point between philosophy and grace. Where does our natural philosophical orientation meet grace, thus subsuming the former into the latter for our transformation into a member of the Kingdom? How are our minds transformed in congruous participation with the heart? As a philosopher saint, Edith Stein has proven invaluable in this endeavor.
Stein was a pre-conversion phenomenologist who, post-conversion, reconciled phenomenology with the scholasticism of the Church. The result has been a treasury of knowledge for my cause. Edith Stein integrated modern philosophical thought with the ancient tradition of the Church. She is modern without being a modernist, a spiritual talent sorely needed in contemporary society.
Her description of the philosopher’s need to engage a mentor, even across time and space, by studying their thinking from “grounds to conclusions” overwhelmed me as being most appropriate for understanding my own devotion to Joan, my mentor, and an introduction to Edith’s philosophy on empathy. It was my first reflection on empathy from Edith Stein’s perspective and the beginning of my articulation of “empathic devotion.” I began to realize that it was empathy, in the Steinian sense, that I felt with Joan of Arc, the very empathy Edith wrote upon extensively and described above.
The integration of Edith’s own model of empathy to ours, from the Holy Spirit’s voluntary Divine Glance of Grace, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to our empathic devotion to Joan, led me to the following proposition on the issue of the zero-point between our natural philosophy and supernatural grace, that is, about the point where they meet. Repentance is that zero-point. Repentance makes us willing to listen, to follow another from “grounds to conclusions.” Without repentance Joan inspires us naturally in our own lives as we seek our own way, but we are not transformed supernaturally in sanctifying grace to see as Joan sees. By repentance we enter Joan’s life empathically in grace, allowing her to teach and guide us with the aid of the Holy Spirit and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
For those who would ask how to prepare oneself to be transformed through devotion to St. Joan, I would say true repentance, an empathic willingness to see the world as Joan sees it, and the act of surrendering all to Divine Providence through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
This is the substance of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness that is our aim in inspiring others to seek a repentant, dogmatic confession of Catholic faith.