My Life with St. Joan and St. Thérèse

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My Life with St. Joan and St. Thérèse

 My Life with St. Joan and St. Thérèse is my fifth book. Actually, it is a quick read, more of a booklet, representing the cliff-note version of my story. Here, I relate my conversion, consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the development of my devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse in a story format using a bit more folksy manner.

“The parking lot at the church mostly was empty when I arrived. There was no noon Mass at St. Peter’s at that time. The main sanctuary was locked; however, the side chapel was left open for Eucharistic adoration. The chapel had a small altar for morning Mass celebrations and a glass wall that looked out into the large, locked sanctuary where we could see the tabernacle on the far side with the little red candle lit, indicating that the Real Presence was there. Also in the chapel was a beautiful portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas. Just as you walked in and to your right was a beautiful statue of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the one to which Mrs. Birdsill had referred.

Walking from the parking lot and down the sidewalk toward the chapel door, I attempted to hide my rose, at least as much as possible. If Mrs. Birdsill were looking out the window next to the rectory door, she might see me with this rose in hand. Hopefully not. Hopefully, she was busy or otherwise distracted. I walked into the chapel. It was empty. Good.

Walking over to the statue of the Immaculate Conception I set the red rose at Our Lady’s feet. I said a prayer and told her that I loved her.

Walking out after adoring the Eucharist for 20 or so minutes, I wondered. I wondered if Mrs. Birdsill was watching. Do you think she knew?

Later that evening I sat in my reading chair with St. Thérèse’s book. On the stand by our doorway sat her statue and her relic we received from Fr. Haley.

“Like St. Agnes and St. Cecilia, I want to offer my neck to the executioner’s sword, and like Joan of Arc, murmur the name of Jesus at the burning stake.” (Day, 1997, p. 198) Thérèse was writing of her immense desire to sacrifice all, even her life, for her love of Jesus. She wanted to imitate the love and sacrifice of the saints.”

~ From Chapter 5

Here, I also discuss in more detail the influence my wife, Josey, had on me and my conversion to the faith and my devotion to Mary.

“Josey reached out to hand me something. She had a big smile on her face as she did so. It looked like a piece of jewelry, perhaps a necklace of some sort. She held a silver chain with black beads and a crucifix hanging from it. I did not know what it was but suspected that it was not jewelry given our venue at the moment.

We were in the “old” St. Peter’s church, the one that was “off on a side street.” The move to the new church was practically complete, but services and special events still were taking place in the old church. I was in the middle of our RCIA class schedule, classes that met every Monday night at the parish hall in the new Church on Quinn Street. Despite the very moving spiritual experiences coming out of my conversion on the Feast Day of St. Thérèse in October, I had yet to formally and publicly declare that I was joining the Catholic Church. My heart was converted. So was my head. But the actual will to make the final decision lagged. However, I certainly enjoyed attending these church events with my bride-to-be. For sure, I was feeling more comfortable.

I do not recall the specific activity that drew us there that afternoon. However, I do remember that there was a multitude of gift items for sale in the back of the sanctuary, all spread out on a variety of folding tables. They were selling Catholic books, pictures, and these jewelry looking things similar to the one Josey handed to me.

“Lovely. What is it?” I had a pleasantly perplexed look on my face.

“It’s a rosary. You need one of these,” was the reply.

“A what?”

~ From chapter 3

This booklet is an easy way for me to communicate my story and a quick way for those interested to catch a glimpse.

“I was standing and staring at this statue, however. I was, in fact, giving this particular object outside of a “church” some thought. I was not sure why.

“Who is that?” I asked Ms. Bowling who had appeared at my side.

“Ah, c’est Jeanne d’Arc!” (“It is Joan of Arc!”) she exclaimed.

Ms. Bowling quickly ran off to herd some of the others.

I continued to stare at the statue.

“Joan of Arc,” I thought to myself. The name was familiar, for sure. Yet, I really could not recall much that I had learned about her. I remembered something about burning at the stake. Yes. Did she not burn at the stake? The rest was a blank sheet. I would not have done well on a French history exam, even after my six weeks in Brittany.

I turned with a typical “whatever” shrug and walked at a clip to catch up with the group, not realizing that she, Joan of Arc, was the reason that the French defeated England at Orléans. She was the reason the French routed the English from the Loire Valley. She was the reason that the Dauphin, Charles VII, marched to Rheims to be crowned King of France, rather than run away. She was the reason that France kept her independent crown. She was the reason France would remain Catholic after the Protestant revolution. She was the reason France developed into the nation state we know today. That is who Joan of Arc was.

I did not realize the historical, religious, and spiritual significance in Western Civilization of the person whose image that curious statue represented. I also did not realize the historical, religious, and spiritual significance she would have in my personal life.

Joan of Arc had saved France’s life. I had no “earthly” idea at that time that she was going to save mine.”

 ~ From chapter 1

My Life with St. Joan and St. Thérèse  is available on Kindle (below)

My life with SJST Kindle cover