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Holy Realism, Catholic Hope, St. Joan and St. Thérèse
An “inner receptivity of the soul.”
The key to Catholic Hope is Holy Realism. “For, true fulfillment and joy come not in understanding how to live; they come through seeking that for which we would die. That for which we would die is that in which we truly hope” (From my manuscript, Seek First the Kingdom – The March of Hope). That for which we would die must be mind-independent Catholic truth; otherwise, we do not Hope virtuously in the Kingdom of God, we hope basely in ourselves and the Kingdom of Man. To “get out of ourselves,” and into the Kingdom of God, we need Holy Realism.
In her reflection on St. John of the Cross, Edith Stein teaches us that “one can only hope for what one does not possess, hope will be the more perfect the less one possesses.” She explains the meaning of Holy Realism through the lens of the Carmelite mystic’s writings.
“This is holy realism: the original inner receptivity of the soul reborn in the Holy Spirit. Whatever the soul encounters is received in an appropriate manner and with corresponding depth, and finds in the soul a living, mobile, docile energy that allows itself to be easily and joyfully led and molded by that which it has received, unhampered by any mistaken inhibitions and rigidity. Such realism, when it leads a holy soul to accept the truths of faith, becomes the science of the saints. If the mystery of the cross becomes its inner form, it turns into a science of the cross.”
Holy Realism is the key to unlocking the mysteries of the Kingdom of God “on earth as it is in Heaven” which is itself a statement of Holy Realism from the lips of Our Lord.
This was the same “inner receptivity of the soul” I received from St. Joan of Arc on my journey along The Trail of the Dogmatic Creed:
Joan of Arc was the chosen guide
On the path of the Dogmatic Creed next
No one can see the Kingdom
Without Hope that forms our desire
“Joan of Arc will lead you”
Spoke my saintly sister Thérèse
“To a new world view”
“Your actions belie your words of faith!”
“Joan of Arc acts
According to her faith”
“She is no practical non-believer!”
Saintly Thérèse smiled with eyes dancing
“Unlike her, brother,
You honor God only with lips!”
“You hope in yourself” Thérèse continued
“While whispering faith in God”
“You cannot see the Kingdom
With your old point of view”
“Joan of Arc will show you
The glorious new world view
That will animate you with love
And create the appropriate desire in you”
(Seek First the Kingdom, op.cit.)
The “glorious new world view” leading to a powerful, life-changing “appropriate desire” was the shared Holy Realism of St. Joan of Arc. It was a radical new dimension that led me to accept the truths of the faith and became a science of spiritual growth. It was like I formerly held a lens to my eye reversed such that everything was blurred and then St. Joan turned it over that I could see with vivid distinction.
Turning the lens over allowed St. Joan of Arc to lead me into truth by plan of the divine will and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces. Flipping the lens over through Holy Realism gave me the clear new world view enabling my will to march forward and through that act of will to be taught through the intellect under St. Joan’s care and guidance.
Holy Realism gave me “hope for what I did not possess.” It gave me a vision of “that for which I would die” rather than seeking simply to “understand how to live.” That movement of the will then subjected the intellect “to be easily and joyfully led and molded by that which it has received, unhampered by any mistaken inhibitions and rigidity.” (Stein, op.cit.)
The result was my own Thérèsian child-like trust in God.
“Holy realism has a certain affinity with the realism of the child who receives and responds to impressions with unimpaired vigor and vitality, and with uninhibited simplicity.”
 Stein, The Science of the Cross (The Collected Works of Edith Stein Vol. 6)., 100.
 Stein, 40.
 Stein, 40.