Throughout this part, you will find poetic and essay type expressions describing how God has shown me that He loves me and how He has given me the grace to, in turn, fall in love with Him. His love to me has been expressed as a call to His Kingdom with a desire to seek others for this purpose. I am chosen only as a lowly vagabond, an exiled missionary, who serves by seeking out for Our Lord those greater souls whom He wishes to ennoble. Had Our Lord desired a great soul for this work, He would have chosen someone else. My life’s testimony is that this is true.
To emphasize this point, I note with joy that by consecrating myself to the Virgin Mary according to the method of St. Louis de Montfort, I have thus ceded to her any benefit, spiritual or temporal, that may possibly accrue to me should my poor efforts yield anything pleasing to Jesus. I am free, then, to work for no other reason than that of charity, for I have nothing to gain for myself, only the Glories of Mary and of Jesus through her. Having therefore asked her to cover my numerous faults and weaknesses with her own maternal charity and having voluntarily ceded any merits and satisfactions to her own desires and for her honor, I am pleased to entrust myself to Our Lady’s will that she may do with me as she pleases. With this joyful freedom, I then present to you my work.
The manner in which Our Lord has brought about this happiness is through an unmerited yet majestic spiritual relationship with His creation, His family, and, through those social and familial relationships, with His own Self Who is both Trinity and One. The Second Person of this Trinity is Jesus Christ Who is the Savior of the human race, having destroyed death through His Crucifixion and subsequent very real Resurrection to eternal life. He is alive, as are the members of this family.
The key social and familial relationships with which He has enriched my life and given me the desire to will His own Goodness and to accept my mission are those of our saintly sisters Joan of Arc and Thérèse of Lisieux and, by journeying with them, that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who is the Mother of God. This is all absolutely and objectively true.
The End to which this journey leads, that is, to the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is where Jesus Christ is enthroned in all of His glory. That center is the mystical garden of paradise exalted in God’s Divine Love!
According to both Sts. Paul and Thomas Aquinas, Love, i.e. God, is the First Principle of the theological virtues of Faith and Hope and therefore the End toward which these virtues lead us. St. Thomas goes on to tell us that the intellect is moved by the principle of truth (Faith) and the will by the principle of desire for happiness with God (Hope). What Joan and Thérèse have demonstrated to me on the journey along what I call the Trail of Dogmatic Creed is that Love is therefore the supreme act of both our intellect and will and is most exalted by the complete oblation of ourselves to the Love of God. Surrender to God has its principle in mutual, sacrificial love between God and us. In other words, our supreme act on this earth is that of dying on the Cross for love of Jesus Christ and of the entire Blessed Trinity through Him. Only with that first authentic principle of Love firmly established can we then truly love our neighbor.
What I have just described to you is the impact of Catholicism on my life. It is magnificent. It is alive. It is the depository, by Christ’s own authority, of the way that leads to this eternal Kingdom where these powerful and loving relationships reach their fulfillment.
Every person has the opportunity to fall in love with God. As for me, I am less than others in my spiritual life, and there is no merit in my call. The only thing of which I can think that would explain why I have what is here to share is simply the fact that I responded. I proclaimed, “Yes!” and began the journey.
Furthermore, the reason I then come to share this all with others is because it is an objective reality. That means that others should know about it. If one is led to the finest soil for growing food or to the rivers holding the freshest waters for bringing forth life, then that person is obligated to share this with others as an act of fraternal charity. Conversely, if this were all just a subjective experience not grounded in an objective reality, there would be nothing to share, for I would then be influencing others to follow my own self-created path, and no one should want to follow or be influenced by that.
Should you choose to engage yourself in what is here, you will obviously find an array of devotional expressions pertaining to those great saints mentioned above, Joan of Arc and Thérèse of Lisieux! These two have a true spiritual kinship that I celebrate in my books, essays, and poetry. They have both had a tremendous influence on my life and are specific relationships given to me from Jesus through Mary’s heart. Through their sisterly care, I have come to experience the beauty that is the trail of the Dogmatic Creed through Roman Catholicism. I have been led through the meadows and over the creeks on a magnificent pathway toward a Kingdom where the saints lead us to Mary, and where she then leads us all to the very Heart of Our Savior!
Let me now explain this all to you. I will start with the vision and mission.
To bring joy and victory to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the glory of Jesus her Son through a renewal in the Church and the world that reflects the unique, kindred spirituality of Sts. Joan of Arc and Thérèse of Lisieux.
To fulfill this vision through a personal journey on the trail of the Dogmatic Creed with Sts. Joan and Thérèse toward the Kingdom of God in the mystical garden of paradise that is the Immaculate Heart of Mary, where Jesus Christ sits enthroned as Son of God, God Himself, and Savior of the human race.
To then propagate devotion to Sts. Joan of Arc and Thérèse of Lisieux for the renewal of the Church and the world, particularly through their wondrous kindred spirituality and in total consecration to the Virgin Mary.
This devotion to Sts. Joan and Thérèse is animated by and has as its proximate end, the True and Perfect Devotion to Mary as prescribed by St. Louis de Montfort. The absolute end is union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the fullness of His Catholic Church with her sacraments and life-giving, authoritative Dogma. Our holy and blessed Mother Mary will lead us nowhere else but to the very heart of her Son. And Mary is singularly the safest and surest way to accomplish that. To Jesus through Mary in the friendship and sisterly care of Sts. Joan and Thérèse. Amen, so be it.
“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 has been 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. I am very far from that objective due to my pride and fixation with self.
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 I have 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 is itself 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 myself the fulfillment of my own, 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 still have my original copy, and I am reading it again. 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.
The wonders Our Lord has planned for us are astonishing.
Amen, so be it! Thank you Joan and Thérèse!