A life-saving new world view - Thanks to St. Joan of Arc
St. Joan turned my glasses around.
"You know that I have taught you statutes and justices, as the Lord my God hath commanded me: so shall you do them in the land which you shall possess: And you shall observe, and fulfill them in practice. For this is your wisdom, and understanding in the sight of nations, that hearing all these precepts, they may say: Behold a wise and understanding people, a great nation." (Deuteronomy 4:5-6)
In one moment on July 17, 2006, my life changed unalterably, as if concealed binding chains suddenly fell freely from my hands to the floor. I was near my end both spiritually and physically. For a quarter of a century, I lived in spiritual, mental, and emotional bondage. After this moment, I was free and had new life infused in my soul and body.
This moment of freedom set me on a new course, one of discovery, whereby the search proved to be life itself. Every new understanding built on the previous ones and increased my spiritual strength, which had dissipated to near death prior to the moment. With the aid of Heaven, I began building a spiritual staircase out of the cold, dark cell wherein my soul had dwelled, and upward to something grand and life-affirming. It gave life as I climbed upward. I was not exactly sure where I was going, or toward what I was building. Something had happened; yet, I was not sure exactly what that Something was. What I did know at the time, however, was that I had to find out. The following day, I heard a retreat master utter the phrase, "Seek first the Kingdom," (Matthew 6:33) and knew immediately that this was my course.
I did know that it was the grace of God at work in me. I did know that this grace came through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I was praying to her before her statue when the moment occurred. She spoke to my heart through scripture that following day. By her command, I set about to seek first this Kingdom; for, I had a great fear that not to do so would return my soul to its former state. I felt compelled both in wonder and by fear; however, I knew that my life depended on seeking this Kingdom.
Seeking itself was nothing new for me. During my entire sojourn in darkness prior to that moment of freedom, I sought answers. Strikingly, on the Feast Day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux in 1984, the very substance of all answers to follow had been given to me. It was another moment, one to which I refer as the Great Event. The Great Event gave me an assurance of a Truth outside myself. In that moment, I came to believe, fully and completely, in Our Lord's Catholic Church and in His real and substantial Presence in the Eucharist. I knew that through this faith, I would find the answers I had been seeking. Yet, despite the certainty of my belief, I struggled painfully for decades.
I do not mean that I did not respond sincerely. I do not mean that I did not try. I exerted my will but continued to fall into deep spiritual crevices. I accumulated all the knowledge I could about this Kingdom. I studied it. I was erudite to some degree in it. Yet, I continued to fall into ever more frightening crevices. I failed to respond appropriately not as a matter of a lack of sincerity nor a lack of belief but due to a conditioned, backward methodology of understanding I had been taught from my youth. I saw reason as the foundation of truth. I believed but needed to prove this belief to be certain it was true. Reason determined truth in my conditioned model, not faith. The new certainty of faith given to me confronted my conditioned need for reasoned certainty.
Rather than climbing the lighted staircase of understanding given to me through faith, I tried to assemble the pieces in the darkness here below and build my own stairway of understanding. Philosophically speaking, rather than Plato's top-down ultra-realism, I relied on Aristotle's bottoms -up moderate realism. In so doing, I failed to see that I had it backwards. I simply needed to turn around the philosophical lens though which I saw the world and follow the pathway opened for me through Jesus Christ from above. From a natural reasoning point of view, Aristotle's logic is useful but only if subjugated under Plato's ultra-realism which the Apostles and early Church Fathers themselves adapted to interpret God's revelation. Aristotle's principle of non-contradiction and his syllogisms are essential to reasoning; however, the syllogism is only as good as are its premises. From Plato’s realism we get the framework for proper premises. In my new model, understanding starts with faith, not reason.
The stumbling stone was that I had the right belief in the Church but the wrong philosophical orientation to unlock and open the gateway of the Church’s wisdom leading to the Kingdom. I missed this point entirely for decades. Our philosophical orientation either helps, or detracts from, our understanding of and ability to respond to God's grace. The Kingdom I am seeking conforms perfectly to a universal idea in the mind of God. It went completely over my head all those years that the Great Event was not a call to seek Truth. Truth had been given to me. What I was called to do was obediently to follow that Truth to the Kingdom. Reason would be unconcealed along the way. This is “seeking first the Kingdom of God.” Knowing this and acting upon it is Wisdom.
We do not judge the truth of the Heavenly Kingdom by reasoning we construct on earth; we judge our reasoning on earth by what is revealed to us from the Kingdom. This is to live the prayer of the Our Father – “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
The Great Event on the Feast Day of St. Thérèse in 1984 led to the moment at the feet of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 2006. Only two years later, in October of 2008, both would result in the Platonic philosophical re-orientation I needed to clear my vision. I call this the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed. Dogma, doctrine, Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the magisterial teachings of the Church represent the boundaries of the trail, outside of which we risk falling into deep crevices.
While reading a poem about St. Joan of Arc by St. Thérèse, I was given the grace of this breakthrough. God's grace ran like a river through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse to my own. Thérèse passed on to me the great grace of devotion to Joan that was her own while she lived on this earth. Through this gift from Thérèse, St. Joan turned my entire viewpoint around.
Joan helped me see that what I needed was to let God explain His point of view. Through St. Joan of Arc, my philosophical orientation was radically altered. I turned to see the light of the Kingdom in the distance through the lens of Platonic ultra-realism, a gift of reasoning that I am convinced she herself obtained for me through her intercession. The rivers of grace flowed.
By reversing the lens through which I perceived the landscape, I could see the pathway before me by which to journey on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed along and over those rivers of grace with St. Joan and St. Thérèse as my heavenly sisters and patronesses. I came to seek God's point of view, to see the world through His eyes, as given to us through revelation. I let God develop my understanding through this revelation. In short, St. Joan turned my glasses around, and I began to desire the Heavenly Kingdom I now could see in the far distance.
 Wikipedia, “Credo Ut Intelligam.” Credo ut intelligam (alternatively spelled Credo ut intellegam) is Latin for "I believe so that I may understand" and is a maxim of Anselm of Canterbury (Proslogion, 1), which is based on a saying of Augustine of Hippo (crede ut intellegas, lit. "believe so that you may understand")
 Stein, Knowledge and Faith (The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 8), loc. 1614. Consequently Thomas rejects an independently existing world of objective ideas. He admits created “forms”: the essence-forms that have their being in things, and he admits ideas different from them as eternal types of things in the divine mind.
 Thérèse, The Poetry of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, 264–65. See “To Joan of Arc.”