The Le Royaume Program outlines the five phases of walking the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with St. Joan and St. Thérese. Each phase is associated with one or more of my books which were written in the same chronology. Here we add one more important component, that is, the methodology of making the journey through each phase. The objective behind developing the methodology is to assist those who might walk this Trail with our saintly sisters, Joan and Thérèse. We explain the methodology as a way of following them, of understanding the dynamics underlying each phase, and of actively engaging and cooperating with God’s grace in reaching the “Kingdom Blessed of St. Joan and St. Thérèse.” This means to reach the Kingdom of God, and our symbolism provides a clue as to how this method works.
The methodological foundation:
The Kingdom Blessed of St. Joan and St. Thérèse is a phenomenological understanding of the Kingdom of God. It is symbolic while at the same time objectively real. Seeking the Kingdom of St. Joan and St. Thérèse, we are seeking the Kingdom of God; however, we also are seeking the very objective manifestation of God’s Kingdom through the subjective spirituality of their combined hearts. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), herself a phenomenologist when she converted from Judaism to Catholicism, struggled with the need to find a methodological bridge between modern philosophical thought as represented by her phenomenology and the centuries-old scholasticism of St. Thomas Aquinas. Therefore, we rely on Edith Stein to guide us, and we ask her to pray for and assist us.
“As a phenomenologist she knew that everything objective must be accessed appropriately so that it can show itself as what it is.” ~ Edith Stein. Introduction to Potency and Act (The Collected Works of Edith Stein) (Kindle Locations 207-208). Kindle Edition.
And this is our aim as well, that is, to allow God appropriately to show us his objective Kingdom for what it is. We do this through the analogical method favored by both Aquinas and Stein, as well as by the symbolic theology of Dionysius, which Edith Stein covers extensively in Knowledge and Faith.
“We must be content to point out how symbolic theology should be interpreted as a way to know God, and that now seems to have been fairly settled: symbolic theology is speaking about God in images taken from the world of sense.” ~ Stein, Edith. Knowledge and Faith (The Collected Works of Edith Stein, vol. 8) . ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.
There we sense the shadow of Edith Stein’s bridge, which is the connection between the need to know something as it is and the gift of symbolic theology revealing to us actually, though incompletely, what that is. This is the “Kingdom Blessed of St. Joan and St. Thérèse.” It is symbolic of something objectively real, while also being phenomenologically real through the hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse.
The Method defined:
Edith Stein puts before us the basic dialectic that forms our method.
“Philosophical understanding is different. The philosopher must not only be able to see and show the fact that someone else went about it in such and such a way; his insight must not only extend to the connections between the other’s grounds [Grund] and consequences. The philosopher must also grasp why his predecessor went about it like this. He must get down into the grounds themselves and grasp them. And this means that the grounds must grip him and best him in the sense that he decides to accept them and retraces within himself the path the other followed from grounds to conclusions, perhaps even going beyond him. Or else he must best the grounds; I mean, he must decide to get free of them and take another path.” ~ Edith Stein. Potency and Act (The Collected Works of Edith Stein) (Kindle Locations 425-429). Kindle Edition.
With her keen philosophical insight, Edith Stein explains that in order to understand we must engage in a form of dialectic. We must accept the premises of our object, ours here being St. Joan of Arc, and we must accept them dogmatically in order truly to free ourselves that we might “retrace” her path in ourselves. Our dogmatism, which is Phase 1 of the program, is the means by which we open our minds. We submit to being “bested” by Joan’s philosophy. Without being dogmatically bested, we merely are skeptics with an opinion and therefore not free to retrace Joan’s path with her. We will contemplate it but never act on it. We also might refer in this matter to being obedient. Having accepted our saintly sister’s premises and remaining dogmatically obedient, then, and only then, are we walking with her to her destination and being “bested” by her. Dogmatism for the sake of knowing the other is the first key to reaching the Kingdom.
“Retracing within ourselves the path the other followed” after being dogmatically bested implies the willing acceptance of a new point of view for the sake of the other. Our love for St. Joan, our union of hearts, moves us to see as she sees and to believe what she believes. This is Phase 2 of the program as we retrace within ourselves her way on the March of Hope with Joan of Arc.
To truly understand the heart of St. Joan of Arc we must “get down into the grounds themselves and grasp them.” This requires knowing the substance of these grounds, the first truths and unproven premises. Here we allow St. Joan and St. Thérèse to lead us by the heart into understanding. We must believe as they believe before we will understand as they understand. Here we are in devotion to the Dove and Rose, St. Joan and St. Thérèse.
Being led by the heart in the previous method, now we must follow “from grounds to conclusions.” Here we begin the symbolic architecture of the Kingdom to which Joan and Thérèse lead us. It is Le Royaume, the “Kingdom Blessed of St. Joan and St. Thérèse.” Symbolism as “speaking about God in images taken from the world of sense,” forms the structure by which we will derive our understanding. Only after following the hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse do we begin to see the Kingdom that “should be interpreted as a way to know God.” The Kingdom is real, as is the Kingdom in the hearts of our saintly sisters. Through symbolic theology we have the methodological bridge from the phenomenology of our Trail to the centuries-old thinking of the Church, which is the fount of first truths believed by Joan of Arc.
“Going beyond,” we venture forth into the world with a newly created heart, to which we refer as the Royal Heart. The fruits of our journey leave no room for “getting free” of Joan’s grounds and “taking another path.” Our heart and mind both are reconciled. Through the dialectical journey, we accept Joan’s grounds as our own, which come from Our Lord and Our Lady through the Church.