We have developed the general and detailed models for Royaume France as well as discussed the steps for and phenomenology of devotion to St. Joan of Arc inherent in these models. Here, we wish to give guidelines for this journey on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed to the mystical Kingdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Catholic and Royal France. In doing this we are developing the steps to be taken by anyone called by Jesus Christ and Our Lady the Virgin Mary to devotion to the combined hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse. We will follow the models as we do so.
The Foundation for the Journey on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with St. Joan and St. Thérèse
Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus
Devotion to the combined hearts of St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux is Catholic. In this sense, the term “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus,” that is, “outside the Church there is no salvation,” is an objective truth and necessity. The journey on the Trail to the Kingdom with our saintly sisters relies completely and without exception on Catholic teaching for the mind, Catholic prayer for the heart, and most importantly, Catholic liturgy, preferably the Traditional Latin Mass, with the sacraments for the bread of life to nourish us on our way. Therefore, we take as true that “outside the Church there is no salvation,” which means that outside the Church we will lose our way on this journey and never arrive at the Kingdom. We will let the theologians debate the doctrinal praxis. We obediently confirm the traditions and doctrines of the authoritative Catholic Church that we cannot be saved outside the Church.
There is no freedom of religion; for, God has revealed to us how He desires to be adored and worshipped. Perhaps if He had not done so, we might be free to worship God based on our own personal understanding of Him. However, that is not the case, objectively and historically. There is only sinful license to disobey God through the misuse of our free will. Jesus did not set us “free” to worship as we please. He set us free through the “obedience of faith.”
Finally, all that we integrate originating from outside the walls of the Catholic Church, such as Greek philosophy, we do so in accord with the Church Fathers, the saints, and the magisterial teaching of the Church. We are open-minded about everything, and we see all things new, but only as they are revealed through the lens of Catholicism.
This journey with our saintly sisters is substantively actualized through Catholic prayer in a state of sanctifying grace and nurtured through the sacraments, notably Confession and the Mass. Royaume France relies on vocal prayer, mental prayer, and prayers of the heart. These prayers are the substance of The Dove and Rose devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse, which itself has vocal prayers and meditative reflections intended to inflame one’s heart with love for our two saints, for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and ultimately for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Trinity.
Importantly, our journey through prayer is a living out of the Our Father that “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
The Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary
Royaume France is the outcome of total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to Eucharistic adoration, “to Jesus through Mary.” There can be no exception to this. The path to the Kingdom with Joan and Therèse journeys through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Any other path is a diabolical obfuscation of the truth. We go to Jesus through Mary.
Making the Journey
Our use of the term “spirituality” is based on that of Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), and it begins our journey. Edith Stein described spirituality using the example of seeing a mountain gradually appear on a horizon. At first we simply note that “something is over there.” Then we ask, “What is it?” The journey to discover “what is it?” we call “spirituality.”
In my own life, the “something is over there” moment came when I first heard the prayer of the Hail Mary as an adult. I had never before heard that prayer; yet, I knew immediately that something true, beautiful, and good was contained in it. The truth, beauty, and goodness of the Hail Mary gave me the desire to know “what is it?” That softening of my heart, the calling forth of goodwill in my heart (my Augustinian Platonic nature), sent me on my journey. My “spirituality” began then and there in terms of my relationship with Joan, Thérèse, Our Lady, and Our Lord.
For Edith Stein, the “something is over there” moment happened when she read St. Teresa of Avila’s biography. She declared her “what is it?” desire by announcing upon finishing it that “This is truth.” Her “spirituality” and journey into Catholicism began then and there.
Our life-long journey to “what is it?” is one encompassing both modern phenomenology, with Edith Stein as our saintly interpreter, and Greek philosophy, with St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas as our saintly interpreters. We “believe in order to understand” as Augustine Christianized Plato, and we rely on Thomas to help us understand the boundaries of our belief as he Christianized Aristotle. The Kingdom “reaches down only to draw us upward” in the Platonic, ultra-real sense while Thomist Aristotelianism defines the boundaries and guardrails of the pathway upward. This is summed up in the Royaume France model as Potency and Act and reflected by the series of books in the model image. Each book reflects a stage of my own Potency and Act in moving toward the Kingdom (note: moving “toward,” rather than moving “to.” We will only arrive “to” when we pass into eternity and only by the grace of God if we persevere to the end).
We need maps, markers, and boundaries on our spiritual journey to keep us safe. As noted above, this journey is Catholic. There is no other way to salvation; therefore, we seek no “truths” contrary to the Faith. This is our theological base, and it provides the framework within which we make our phenomenological inductions and deductions as the divine light passes to us through the combined hearts of Joan and Thérèse by decree of the Virgin Mary, the Queen of us all. Traditional Catholic theology gives us firm ground upon which to walk. It is the “map” by which we know the way to turn at each fork in the pathway.
As we go forth with St. Joan and St. Thérèse along the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed (the trail being our metaphor for our Catholic theology guiding our way under the conditions of “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus”), we have experiences. We sense this and have an intuition about that. Our prayers of the mind and heart speak to us meditatively and contemplatively. We begin to sense that God is directing our path, and we begin to “see” in our mind’s-eye the Kingdom before us. This is our interface with Phenomenology, that is, seeking the objective nature of these experiences and attempting to “know them as they truly are.” What do they mean, and how do they fit together?
Here, Edith Stein becomes our indispensable philosophical mentor. As a saint, we trust our minds to her care. We allow ourselves “to be bested” by another so as to “trace within ourselves” the path they followed. In my case, I was “bested” by Joan of Arc, whom I chose to follow in order to see the world as she sees it. I wanted to trace within myself the path she took. It was then and there that I discovered the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed to the Kingdom.
We now sense the fullness of what has been laid out before us “objectively as it really is.” We become who it is that we truly are. Our phenomenological experiences are reconciled with our Catholic theology and its medieval scholasticism. We “are” and it “is.” We have been living the prayer of the Our Father to bring this Kingdom “on earth as it is in Heaven.” We are united heart, mind, and soul with the Kingdom Blessed of St. Joan and St. Thérèse.
The “Divine Glance”
The journey above is energized and actualized through a series of “divine glances” as Edith Stein describes them. They are moments of “unreflective certainty” about what is true and which are given to us by God as a divine light. They are characterized in the model image by St. Mary Magdalene, who received the “divine touch” of Our Lord on her forehead, a precursor to our “divine glance,” and which touch no doubt inspired her to live out the rest of her life in contemplation on the shores of what we know today as southern France.
Without the divine glance, that is, the actual and efficacious grace inspiring us, we have no power to make the journey. May each of you be open to that divine glance God has for you.