The author’s story
On how I became Catholic and devoted to Sts. Joan of Arc, Thérèse of Lisieux, and the French Monarchy
I could not have been raised in a more foreign land, culture, and political belief system from that which is stated in the topic of this essay. I hope to outline how it happened that I would be Catholic, strongly attached to Sts. Joan of Arc and Thérèse of Lisieux and a French Monarchist. I do not intend to do anything but explain how it came about. There will be no attempt to justify or defend my positions. In the most simplistic terms, this is a testimonial rather than an apologetic.
I was raised on the high plains in the small, isolated community of Guymon, Oklahoma in the far western regions of the state. Locals were taught, both directly and by cultural osmosis, the ideals of Protestant religion and Constitutional Republican politics. Protestantism was the unquestioned form of proper Christian religion, and the Republic was the unquestioned form of proper government. Protestantism represented freedom from the dogmatic, enslaving, institutional, monarchical Catholic Church that had something to do with some enigmatic, frightful era called the Dark Ages, and the Republic represented freedom from the dictatorial, monarchical European political systems associated with that same Dark Age Church. As a young man growing up in the rugged Oklahoma Panhandle, nothing could have made more sense.
I did well both academically and socially through high school and after graduation studied Economics at Princeton University. There I added an important third leg to my “stool” that represented my principles by which I would “step up” in the world, that being the principle of Capitalism. Now, the earthly trinity of Republicanism, Capitalism, and Protestantism was confirmed in my mind and soul. Republics were politically “free,” Capitalists were virtuously “rich,” and Protestants were “saved” (through their “freedom” from the Catholic Church, that Dark Ages thing.) It was all quite tidy - live free, die rich, and go to heaven.
After college I began my professional career working for the United States Steel Corporation. A few years later my father talked me into moving back to Guymon to help him with the family agricultural manufacturing business. Back home at the age twenty-four, something earth shattering happened. I became reacquainted with the woman who would be my wife. We dated for only a few months when I nervously dropped the “big question.”
In one important way, Josey was outside of the comfortable little world model I had built in my mind. She was firmly Catholic. My first experience with anything resembling Catholic dogma and monarchy occurred on the night I proposed. She said that she would marry me; though, she made it clear that she was Catholic, would always be Catholic, all of our children would have to be Catholic, and I would have to attend the Catholic Church with the family. Her statements were not positioned as discussion points nor was she asking for my opinion on the matter. It was the way things were going to be. Queen Isabelle of Spain could not have been more decisive or clear. The Protestant leg on my stool swiftly cracked, and I found myself planted in a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) class at the local Catholic Church the next month.
Soon, the seed of a magnificent Kingdom planted itself in my soul. It began when I heard the Hail Mary for the first time. I had never heard such a prayer before, but I knew that I liked the idea that one could pray to the Mother of God. Something about that seemed quite right, and it warmed my heart. I knew that something very good was contained within that prayer. I began praying to the Mother of God.
On the Feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux a couple of classes later, I experienced a profound conversion to the Church. I became unshakably convinced of the Church’s authenticity and claims. I realized that the Eucharist is truly and substantially the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. St. Thérèse of Lisieux brought about my conversion through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and I became (though I did not yet know it) Thérèse’s brother in spiritual blood through the fire of the Holy Spirit who arcs through time and space to work these miracles.
I was introduced to the Rosary and began praying it regularly. Through the Rosary, I decided that I would formerly enter the Catholic Church that next Easter. I did so, and shortly thereafter was given two books, “True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis de Montfort and “The Glories of Mary” by St. Alphonsus. I also came across and read, “The Story of Soul” by St. Thérèse, not realizing that I was then being introduced to my sister in Christ. I understood very little of what Thérèse was saying; I only knew that I liked it. What she was saying was beautiful. I just did not know what it really was that she was saying. Yet, all said, that was that, and I was happily a Catholic and had replaced that broken stool leg with a new one. However, it was like replacing a leg on a real piece of furniture. The new leg did not really match the other older ones. To be complete, I needed to replace the other two legs.
The immediate outcome of my newfound joy in the huge castle of the Catholic Church was, of all things, suffering and worldly failure. This remarkable feature was not what I had expected, given that I still cherished the leg labeled “Capitalism” (rich) under my stool of life’s principles by which to live. The family business failed under my leadership. This was the first major failure I had experienced in life, and it would take me most of my adult life to recover. I would run from this failure for the next sixteen years. Yet, strikingly, this obtuse relationship between the spirit and the world would reveal itself repeatedly. Three times, I have had notable, life giving experiences with the Virgin Mary, and each time I lost my employment within a short period of time afterwards. Over the years, I learned that the true message is, “seek first the Kingdom of God” and do not trust in your own ingenuity and power. Our Lady has purposely, and repeatedly, left me at key moments in life with no other option than that of abandoning myself to her.
My new bride and I packed up our belongings to move to New Haven, Connecticut where I would attend the Yale School of Organization and Management in an attempt to recover my sense of self-worth and resurrect my career. In purely earthly terms, it worked. After graduation, I was hired by the elite New York City-based executive consulting firm of Booz Allen and Hamilton. That would begin the very long run away from my failure in Guymon to an imaginary vision of success, wealth, and power, which in turn would prove to me, and to others back home, that I was not a failure. Despite the early stages of Thérèse’s spiritual guidance in my life, I had not yet abandoned the other legs of my famous “stool” by which I would “ascend” to greatness in the world. I would be Catholic, worldly, rich, and powerful.
During those years of running, hiding, and trying to prove my worth to the world after my devastating failure in Guymon, my faith in Jesus Christ, in His Eucharist, in His Church, in His most glorious Mother, and in my love for St. Thérèse, never waned. I was not on the path of goodness, but goodness had planted herself in my heart. That seed was the Kingdom of God.
To this latter point, my love for my newly discovered saintly sister, who had been a Carmelite nun in Lisieux, France, led Josey and I to seek out the Secular Order of the Discalced Carmelites in Oklahoma City. We joined a group at St. Joseph’s Monastery in Piedmont. While we ultimately did not make our final vows (mostly due to my insistence on being rich and powerful in the world, which super-ceded all other principles), those periods of study and prayer with the Sisters had a lasting impact on me.
I also owe my life to one other magnificent saint. After years of self-generated nonsense, whereby my dear sister Thérèse covered me like a blanket, the Lord allowed that I should fall flat and nearly die. I was broken spiritually, mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically. This punishment was a most just and loving act by Our Savior, for I was truly living a most disgraceful existence, having been absorbed into the world.
Close to complete break-down, even physical death, the moment arrived. Our Lady and St. Thérèse, by the gracious charity of Jesus Christ, interceded that I might be put right. On July 17, 2006, my world was so profoundly altered that I have since become a new creation; I began the journey of being who I truly am. The chains of hell fell from me that day. The seed that planted itself in my soul on the Feast Day of St. Thérèse in the year of my conversion fell and died. New life began to grow.
It happened while I was attending a week-long retreat in the Pocono Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania. On the first evening, I went to confession and then stepped before a statue of the most holy Virgin Mary in the beautiful sanctuary of the abandoned seminary where the retreat was being held. I was healed in that instant. I was healed through the loving cooperation of St. Thérèse’s spiritual sister, St. Joan of Arc.
The astonishing fact is that Our Lady granted that I be restored to the path of my destiny by the magnificent co-patronesses of France. Our Lady let me know that she was the channel of the Holy Spirit in my life and that St. Joan and St. Thérèse were my consecrated sisters in Christ, who, by the grace given in the Holy Spirit which derives from the infinite merits of Jesus Christ our Lord, were to lead me on my journey to the Kingdom. This was the will of Jesus Christ in the divine order.
Over the years, the other two legs of my aforementioned stool cracked as well. Under the influence of St. Joan of Arc, I began to write. She gave me the courage to march forward in such a bold fashion. This daughter of God had a most profound influence on me. I can say with certainty that through St. Joan, I became more medieval in my mindset with regard to politics, culture, and religion. Initially I thought that this might be simply due to her historical context. I was to learn otherwise. This mindset transcended time and space. It had not so much to do with “medieval” versus “modern” as it did, the “Kingdom of God” versus the “Kingdom of Satan.” St. Joan was not instructing me on how things were back in her time. She was instructing me on how to view things in my own time.
Through a type of pedagogy of French Catholic Royal spirituality inspired by St. Joan, I became convinced that the Monarchy represented the Kingdom of God “on earth as it is in Heaven” much more efficaciously than did the “will of the people” in a democratic, constitutional Republic. I also became convinced that medieval distributism, by keeping capital closer to the local villages, provided a much more efficacious safeguard from the totalitarian state than did capitalism as we know it in the modern world. The other two legs of my stool snapped. In fact, all three legs - Protestantism, Republicanism, and Capitalism - had disappeared. In their place stood Catholicism, Monarchy, and Distributism. I had been given an entirely new stool, or more properly, an entirely new worldview. Religiously, spiritually, socially, economically, politically, and even physically, I had become something new.
It all began with that precious moment when St. Thérèse of Lisieux, through the Heart of Mary, kneeled before the throne of God on my behalf. It flowered into new life when St. Joan of Arc joined her through the Heart of Mary at that throne. The co-patronesses of France love me, and I love them. They saved my life.
The Kingdom of France
Could there be any doubt, then, as to why I have such great affection for the ancient Kingdom of France? I do not mean affection for the dreadful Republic, which elevates “the will of the people” over the “will of God,” but for the Kingdom of France as represented through her Monarchy over the centuries. I have a relationship in spirit with “Mystical France.” How could I not love the blessed land of my two saintly sisters who watch over me? To be part of a family or community, one tends to love the same things and to feel repugnance for the same things. One becomes united in heart, mind, and soul with those others in the family.
I could repeat here the numerous signs I have been given throughout my life that point to my destiny as a spiritual son in the mystical Kingdom of France. I could tell how I first encountered St. Joan while visiting the island fortress of Mont-St Michel as a teenager. Rather than re-write all of it, let me simply quote the following from one of my manuscripts:
“In summary, I did have that encounter with Joan of Arc as a teenager, while visiting the French countryside of my ancestors where she and Thérèse both lived and died. I was converted to the Church many years later on the Feast Day of St. Thérèse. The first and most powerful spiritual influence on me after conversion was from another French saint of the same region, St. Louis de Montfort. Years later, as I was dying from a terrible illness of body and soul, St. Joan interceded in my life again to demonstrate her own sisterly concern, Mary’s maternal care, and the power of the Cross of Christ. This led to a life restructured through consecration to Mary at the Cathedral of St. Louis the King, and the discovery later that I had been consecrated to St. Joan as well, as my mission in life, the moment she intervened to bring me the healing grace of God. You might agree that this is all very French, indeed, very French for a fellow from the high plains of Oklahoma.”
I love the Kingdom of France, as I know it through the eyes and spirituality of my saintly sisters. I love the Kingdom of God for which the ancient Kingdom of France is an earthly type, however imperfect. I love the divine aristocracy and Monarchy that is the divine order of God. I love Jesus Christ the King, Holy Mary the glorious Queen, and the honorable regal saints, especially St. Joan and St. Thérèse.
I quote with delight a prophetic announcement by Our Lady to her Son Jesus Christ as related by the nineteenth century stigmatist Marie-Julie Jahenny:
“My beloved Son, I have adopted France as my daughter, I have always protected it. It was the lily of my heart.”
Let us hold the fleur-du-lys close to our hearts knowing that this pleases Our Lady, the Virgin Mary.
“To Jesus through Mary in the friendship and sisterly care of Sts. Joan and Thérèse.” Amen so be it.
Finally, I will repeat here, the confirmation phrase used at Joan’s posthumous trial of rehabilitation as her witnesses, one by one, affirmed the saint’s holiness and goodness:
“And so it was and that is the truth.”
This serves as a testimony. What I am saying is true.