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The Phenomenology of St. Joan and St. Thérèse with St. Mary Magdalene in France
This image of Mary Magdalene in France emerged through the combined hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse.
The phenomenology of the French Royal Hearts of St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux has been a life-long spiritual journey. It began with my conversion to the Catholic Church on the Feast Day of St. Thérèse in 1984. Twenty-four years later this phenomenology intellectually opened the castle gates to a magnificent Kingdom by a Thérèsian “divine glance” through the heart of St. Joan of Arc. This divine glance, or “unreflected certainty,” a complementary term I borrowed from St. Edith Stein (Potency and Act, Kindle location 483), developed into a more comprehensive contemplative expression I call Royaume France, or a holy expression of Jehannian-Thérèsian French Catholic spirituality. What emerged over this period was a French Catholic Royal life-model. In phenomenological terms the model was “the appearance of something appearing” through my devotion to Joan and Thérèse:
“Royaume France is a Jehannian-Thérèsian inspired profession of faith in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the phenomenology of a story emerging, a story of how St. Mary Magdalene established a royal line for France in the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the shores of Provence. Through her contemplative life on the shores of modern-day France, Mary Magdalene established a royal diaspora through time and space devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the form of France that is a Magdalene lily of Mary’s heart.”
~ Walter Emerson, Royaume France
The story emerged through a descriptive hermeneutical phenomenological process. I wrote habitually over the years as the image of a magnificent Kingdom appeared contemplatively behind my devotion to St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The Kingdom was of France with St. Mary Magdalene’s figure standing on the shores of Provence where her shrine resides to this day. In the flow of her life, Mary Magdalene was royal in both earthly and spiritual terms, being of noble lineage in Bethany, grieving at the foot of the Cross, and receiving the resurrected Lord at the tomb. As Henri Lacordaire, OP so eloquently explains:
“Bethany is no more, but Jesus Christ has given to Magdalene the house she lost, and the one and the other, the Master and the Disciple, the God who was loved and the woman who loved, live together at St. Maximin, as in other times they lived on the sides of the Mount of Olives. Marseilles is the Jerusalem of this new Bethany, and France is the greater and more faithful Judea.”
I say France; because it was she that inherited Provence, and with her St. Magdalene.
~ Henri Lacordaire, OP, Life of Mary Magdalene
This image of Mary Magdalene in France emerged through the combined hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse. Like a Cézanne painting, the French royal hearts of Joan and Thérèse became the palette from which the Holy Spirit painted the Magdalene on the shores of Provence in my contemplations, as the foundress of the House that she lost, referred to in the Royaume France phenomenology as the House of New Bethany.
The combined hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse are likewise the colorful palette by which the Holy Spirit paints New Bethany across our own hearts. The phenomenology of the French royal hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse yields an image of the Magdalene on the shores of our own spirituality. It is something that compels, inspires, and enlightens us. In the manner that Edith Stein describes below, New Bethany lies at the bottom of the flow of our life.
“Something exists [dasein] that "lies at the bottom" of the flow of our life, something that bears our living; I mean, a substance. I cannot not catch sight of this something directly. That it is, as well as what it is like and what it is, makes itself known to me in what I am immediately certain of and in what, at the moment this something appears behind it, stands there evincing, effecting, activating this something.”
~ Edith Stein. Potency and Act (The Collected Works of Edith Stein) (Kindle Locations 564-566). Kindle Edition.
St. Joan and St. Thérèse led me along this spiritual path on what I call the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed. The discovery of the Kingdom of Catholic and Royal France in the distance toward which we journey is a holy expression revealed in the light of their phenomenology. The Kingdom itself is a form in the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. St. Mary Magdalene is the foundress of the holy royal line constituting the Kingdom.