January 6, 2012 A.D.
Why is Joan of Arc important for our time? She prefigures the time of Our Lady in Medjugorje. Joan of Arc was called by God to save the nation of France from England.
France, in what was known as the 100-Year War, was reduced to only a few square blocks and the Dauphen (France’s future king), had given up. France was over. Joan was only a young, simple peasant girl—yet, God used her to rally up a beaten-down, divided, and undisciplined army and a people who had given up hope that France could be saved. Through her strength of character, her unyielding conviction that she was on a mission from God, through the victories that surrounded her and through her goodness and holiness—she converted an entire nation, leading them back to prayer, back to faith in God, and back to the will to fight for their God, their families and their nation.
Our Lady is doing that today, not just for France, but for the whole world. We can see in Joan of Arc, a prefigurement of the Woman who has come to do battle with the dragon as foretold in Revelation chapter 12. The weavings of God, through time, connecting dates and people, are always awe-inspiring. It is a beautiful grace for Joan of Arc’s 600th birthday, today, January 6, 2012, to fall at the beginning of what promises to be an important year of the apparitions of Our Lady of Medjugorje. What a gift that God gives to us to have “The Maid of Orleans” accompany us on this part of our journey with Our Lady. All Medjugorje followers should know the story of Joan of Arc and take her as a patron saint for the work they do in spreading Our Lady’s messages to the world. Our Lady says:
July 25, 2002
St. Joan of Arc, pray for us.
From an essay written by Mark Twain:
“In Joan of Arc at the age of sixteen there was no promise of a romance. She lived in a dull little village on the frontiers of civilization: she had been nowhere and had seen nothing; she knew none but simple shepherd fold; she had never seen a person of note; she hardly knew what a soldier looked like; she had never ridden a horse, nor had a warlike weapon in her hand; she could neither read nor write: she could spin and sew; she knew her catechism and her prayers and the fabulous histories of the saints, and this was all her learning. That was Joan at sixteen. What did she know of law? of evidence? of courts? of the attorney’s trade? of legal procedure? Nothing. Less than nothing. Thus exhaustively equipped with ignorance, she went before the court at Toul to contest a false charge of breach of promise of marriage; she conducted her cause herself, without any one’s help or advice or any one’s friendly sympathy, and won it. She called no witnesses of her own, but vanquished the prosecution by using with deadly effectiveness its own testimony. ..”
“The Trials ended with her condemnation. But as she had conceded nothing, confessed nothing, this was victory for her, defeat for Cauchon. But his evil resources were not yet exhausted. She was persuaded to agree to sign a paper of slight import, then by treachery a paper was substituted which contained a recantation and a detailed confession of everything which had been charged against her during the Trials and denied and repudiated by her persistently during the three months; and this false paper she ignorantly signed. This was a victory for Cauchon. He followed it eagerly and pitilessly up by at once setting a trap for her which she could not escape. When she realized this she gave up the long struggle, denounced the treason which had been practiced against her, repudiated the false confession, reasserted the truth of the testimony which she had given in the Trials, and went to her martyrdom with the peace of God in her tired heart, and on her lips endearing words and loving prayers for the cur she had crowned and the nation of ingrates she had saved.
“When the fires rose about her and she begged for a cross for her dying lips to kiss, it was not a friend but an enemy, not a Frenchman but an alien, not a comrade in arms but an English soldier, that answered that pathetic prayer. He broke a stick across his knee, bound the pieces together in the form of the symbol she so loved, and gave it her; and his gentle deed is not forgotten, nor will be.”
President Sarkozy, President of France, made an appearance this morning, January 6, 2012, in Domremy, France, the city where Joan of Arc was born, and spoke in honor of St. Joan of Arc, saying she is a symbol of unity for both believers and nonbelievers. Many celebrations are being planned by the laity in France throughout the year to celebrate the life of Joan of Arc.
It is amazing that the house where Joan of Arc was born still stands in Domremy, France. At age 13 ½ , this young peasant girl who had never traveled outside of her own village was called by God to carry out a mission that even the bravest, most experienced and skilled warrior would have found a daunting task. She was the youngest of any commander in the history of the world to lead a nation’s army. Though history revisionists have ignored and denied God’s power behind Joan of Arc’s actions and accomplishments, her bravery and holiness, especially at her martyrdom at the age of 18, continue to inspire Christians in every generation.
St. Joan of Arc came from a poor family, but not a needy one. She was taught to be virtuous, she knew her catechism and she often was found in prayer in the village church even at a young age. Her family, parish and village life laid the foundation by which God could call this child and she would obey Him, even to the point of death. In prison, abandoned, forsakened, and unjustly doomed to die a heretic’s death she longed only to return to her home and this fireplace, to return to the simple life she had loved.
The king was skeptical of Joan of Arc’s claims that she was sent from God. He evaded her as long as he could, but with determination she eventually found him. He decided to test her, and placed another man on the throne to masquerade as the king while he, himself, hid amongst the crowd. Though Joan had never before seen the Dauphin, as she approached the throne, walking between two columns of people on either side of her, she looked to the side and saw a beam of light coming down. She followed the light, instead of moving forward towards the throne, which led her to a man dressed in common clothes. He was visibly shocked when Joan knelt before him and honored him as the Dauphin, the future King of France. He knew that there was no possibility that she could have known his true identity without divine grace. This was one of the signs that led the Dauphin to believe Joan’s story. On the way to this providential meeting, Joan of Arc heard Mass in this church in L’ile Bouchard on her way to see the Dauphin in Chinon. The church is still standing and can be visited.
This is the actual doorway that Joan of Arc walked through in the church in L’ile Bourchard. When Joan of Arc came to this church, little did she know that an ambush had been arranged to intercept her journey to the Dauphin, with a plot to kill her. After the Mass had ended, she decided to change the course that she would be traveling and that decision saved her life–a providential sign of God’s protection over His chosen one. It is a sad reality that these holy places are available for the faithful to visit, to meditate upon the lives of saints who spilled their blood for their homeland—and yet only just a handful of people in France have any reverence for these places. They are all but forgotten. And yet, for one who knows the history, who knows what life Joan of Arc lived, the sufferings and the glory, it is thrilling to find oneself stepping on the same stones that she once walked upon. Her presence is still felt in these buildings that witnessed the passing of Joan of Arc on her way to fulfill the Will of God.
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