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The kindred spirituality of St. Joan and St. Thérèse
St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux are to my own spirituality what wet is to water, or light is to the day.
St. Joan and St. Thérèse together, in that very special kindred spirituality of theirs, have been defined by Our Lord and Our Lady as absolutely essential for me on my journey through the majestic, mystical world of the Catholic Church.
St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux are to my own spirituality what wet is to water, or light is to the day. My entire journey out of the Dark Forest of despair and happily into the sunlight on the narrow but magnificent pathway of the Dogmatic Creed was faithfully led and energized by these two “saintly sisters.”
Through Sts. Joan and Thérèse, my heart has become an altar in the center of Mary’s Immaculate Heart where her own love for Jesus burns as a truly acceptable sacrifice to the Father. That sacrifice is Personified in the Real and Substantial Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, given to us through the Mass, which is the drama of our Lord’s one redemptive sacrifice re-presented each day, and is the highest form of prayer we can offer. None of this takes place of myself alone. All of my troubles are rooted in my concupiscence toward sin. All goodness is rooted in the merits of Christ flowing through Mary’s heart and, for me, through my blessed sisters, Joan and Thérèse. My objective is to be nothing, that is, crucified, so that this Kingdom may be my only abode.
My first major encounter with them was on October 1, 1984, the Feast Day of St. Thérèse, the day I received a miracle of grace that ultimately led to my conversion to the Catholic Church. I later received another miracle of grace at the feet of Mary and through the intercession of St. Joan of Arc on July 17, 2006, the day of the year we celebrate Joan accomplishing her earthly mission of bringing Charles VII into Reims for his coronation in 1429. The chains of hell dropped from me that day.
It was through the desire and command of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, that I should have the comfort and sisterly care of these two celestial guides while I press forward to my ultimate resting place in St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. This path necessarily makes its way through our valley of tears in this world and up the awful and painful hill that is our own mystical Calvary, where we must confront ourselves in the suffering of redemptive anguish with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the Cross. What mystery! What grace to be led to the saving Cross of Christ through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in the friendship of these two marvelous saints!
Of course, St. Joan and St. Thérèse themselves represent a subjective “actual grace” (as distinct from sanctifying grace) I received. Our Lord and Our Lady may be calling you to join them as well, or, alternatively, you may have other saintly friends waiting to assist you! We Catholics are well aware that, objectively speaking, Jesus alone by His nature is necessary to our goal of attaining heaven. He alone is the Mediator with the Father. Yet, Mary is necessary (the saints will confirm), not by her purely human nature, but by the singular and unimaginable grace from the Father to be the noble, holy Mother of Our God!
And most happily for us, as Jesus looks to paint the fields, meadows, rivers, and mountains of heaven in a most astonishing array of colors, He has a plan that brings each of us individually to our destiny in that beautiful landscape, a plan which itself is grounded in the broader, objective reality of Himself by nature and Mary by grace. We are immersed in spectacular variety through our individual journeys while being grounded in the unified simplicity that is the Kingship of Christ.
Furthermore, as I have sought the fulfillment of my individual calling from God to consecrate myself completely to Mary as prescribed by St. Louis de Montfort, I have discovered His plan for me that Joan and Thérèse would be Our Lady’s willing cooperators! Can one ask for more? What love!
Through Sts. Joan and Thérèse, I have received guidance, protection, and sisterly care as we walk, dance, and run along the Catholic trail of the Dogmatic Creed, as I like to call it. The final destination is a magnificent Kingdom, promised to us though we must remain as mere pilgrims journeying toward it in this life, and which is the new heavenly paradise that is the Immaculate Heart of Mary, where Jesus sits enthroned as the Son of God, God Himself, and the only Savior of the human race.
This is why I have such affection for these two. This is why, despite the sorrows and heartaches that make up each one of our individual roads to glory that can come only by way of the obedience of faith and the new life in the Spirit through sanctifying grace, I choose to honor them as my life’s mission in rightful subjection to Mary, to please her Immaculate Heart, to dry her tears, and to proclaim the glory of Jesus her Son! This mission, for me anyway, leads to the fulfillment of the vision of True and Perfect Devotion to Mary, which is the solid and true path to Jesus Christ!
There is no way for us to understand the mind of God. How was I to know that Thérèse would pray for me? How was I to know that she even cared? Yet, when I was crushed by darkness, a simple cry from a simple nun already in her glory pierced the heavens. Somewhere in the darkness I heard my name. When I picked up her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul,” I had no idea who she was or what a Carmel was. The journey began with that cry I heard while lost in that Dark Forest. I have come to know her through that Story. I am a miserable sinner; yet, I try to do what she tells me. I clumsily stumble around trying to follow her lead. It’s hard to explain what a spiritual sister is.
And on that other great day of July 17, 2006, when I sat seemingly alone on my own hill called Calvary, in such pain that I felt I could not go on, I heard my name called again. This time it was from a heavenly warrior, and the chains of hell dropped from me. Just as with Thérèse earlier in my life, I did not know that this warrior cared. But she did. She is in heaven with Thérèse. Like I said above, it’s hard to describe spiritual kinship. But I found my sisters, or, rather, they found me. As they did, Jesus and Mary smiled as I danced to freedom.