The teaching of the Trinitarian God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, through total consecration to the Virgin Mary, and in the friendship and sisterly care of Sts. Joan and Thérèse (here called The Dove and Rose devotion) is an inductive process wherein one is led by Mary’s most loving and grace filled maternal care, along with the saintly assistance of our heavenly sisters Joan and Thérèse, through a pedagogical series of uniquely personal, subjective experiences that bring one astonishingly into the objective Truth of the Catholic Church, herself historically instituted by Christ and the seed of the Kingdom of God on earth.
The two points making up the first pedagogical methodology of the Dove and Rose (St. Joan and St. Thérèse) devotion are:
“We are drawn into Faith through our intellect which, as St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, is drawn to Truth (God). We are drawn into Hope through our wills in the form of desire which, as the same saint tells us, is drawn to Happiness (God). We seek God to know (intellect) and love (will) Him.”
“With prayer, Faith is helped by daily spiritual reading and study such that we come to know God as He has revealed Himself. With prayer, Hope is helped by a persistent simplifying and quieting of our lives such that we grow to desire God as opposed to the things of this world. Prayer is more than simply our communication with heaven. It is the foundation of our relationship with heaven.”
The first pedagogical method of the Dove and Rose encompasses the two points referenced above, which can be taken as a part A and part B. These make for a most striking and beautiful starting point. St. Joan and St. Thérèse teach us (rather, through their loving intercession in union with Mary, the Holy Spirit teaches us) with great efficacy a most sublime truth. God finds His creation to be “very good” (Gen 1:31), and even more than that makes the human person “in our (the Trinity’s) own image and likeness.” (Gen 1:26) God loves us as His own in our human totality, body and soul, and will draw us to Himself in a manner that honors and dignifies the total person: intellectually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
The first lesson of the Dove and Rose is that God will lift us upward in grace through our “very good” intellect (seeking Truth) and free-will (seeking Happiness), yet will take us beyond our natural capacities through sanctifying grace to be re-integrated from the dis-integrating effects of sin as a complete human person worthy (through grace) of the Kingdom of God. Thus, despite our natural limitations and struggles with sinfulness, we nevertheless experience the majesty of belonging to a Kingdom that is “not of this world.” (Jn 18:36) We are told to “set your hearts on His Kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well.” (Mt 6:33) Seeking first the Kingdom, “not of this world,” integrates our whole being to include “these other things,” that is, to make us fully human. This is ennobling and astonishing. It should serve here as our first meditation.
Even more joyfully celebrated is the practical certainty that we can begin to move toward this Kingdom immediately, though it shall not be fully attained until death provided that we persevere in God’s grace to the end. (Mt 7:21, 10:22; Rev 13:5-10) We call this walking the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with Sts. Joan and Thérèse. Its affects are felt immediately though not in their fullness, for we move slowly in space and time from Potentiality to Act, from our Formal Cause through the Material and Efficient Causes to our Final Cause.
Obedient on this new journey to the teachings of Jesus Christ through His Holy Catholic Church in total consecration to Mary, and under the sisterly care of Sts. Joan and Thérèse, we begin to sense immediate relief to the disintegration of our lives we have formerly merited by our obstinate resistance to the Holy Spirit and by our foolish rejection of God’s commandments and of Christ’s saving grace. Repentance yields sanctifying grace and healing.
We are now obedient to the guideposts on the path that has, over the centuries before us, so successfully brought a host of saints into the heavenly Kingdom. (Rev 7:9-10) Aided by grace we freely and by choice move along the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with Sts. Joan and Thérèse under the motherly care of our Queen, the Virgin Mary, (Rev 12:1; Jn 19:26-27) through Faith. Our Faith is manifested as a search for Truth (and ultimately for the final Form of Faith which, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is Love) whereby we accept as our starting paradigm that God is to be trusted through Jesus Christ His only Son and specifically in Christ’s Holy Catholic Church founded by Him on the rock of Peter. (Mt 16:18) From that initial paradigm of faith moving with hope to its final Form of Love, we are certain of finding, through the use of both faith and reason ennobled by grace, the fullness of God’s revelation as we walk the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with Sts. Joan and Thérèse.
“Accordingly if we consider, in faith, the formal aspect of the object, it is nothing else than the First Truth. For the faith of which we are speaking, does not assent to anything, except because it is revealed by God.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; IIa IIae Q1:A1)
“Therefore charity is called the form of faith in so far as the act of faith is perfected and formed by charity.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; IIa IIae Q4:A3)
The above, then, should serve as our second meditation.
Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding, perseverance, piety, and fear of the Lord, we are re-integrating as complete and whole persons on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with our saintly sisters and our most glorious Queen, the Mother of God. The Faith that they are teaching us is by its very nature not seen; yet, it is imbued with true Reason.
“Faith implies assent of the intellect to that which is believed. Now the intellect assents to a thing in two ways. First to being moved to assent by its very object, which is known either by itself (as in the case of first principles, which are held by the habit of understanding), or through something else already known (as in the case of conclusions which are held by the habit of science). Secondly, the intellect assents to something, not through being sufficiently moved to this assent by its proper object, but through an act of choice, whereby it turns voluntarily to one side rather than to another: and if this be accompanied by doubt and fear of the opposite side, there will be opinion, while if there be certainty and no fear of the other side, there will be faith.
Now those things are said to be seen which, of themselves, move the intellect or the senses to knowledge of them. Wherefore it is evident that neither faith nor opinion can be of things seen either by the senses or by the intellect.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; IIa IIae Q 1:A4)
The result is that we feel a sense of intellectual, spiritual, and emotional integrity. It is not uncommon to think of this in terms of healing. We “see” the Kingdom of God toward which St. Joan and St. Thérèse point not with our senses, for Reason itself reveals that it cannot be seen such, but we see the Kingdom with the eyes of our Faith, which is the reward God gives to us for willfully trusting Him and making this choice with our intellect. (Heb 11:6)
Once this Kingdom is “seen” there is a moment of magnificence which can only be inadequately described as synchronizing with the eternal. To use the more poetic language of the Dove and Rose meditations, we describe this magnificence shown to us by the Holy Spirit through the intercession of our saintly sisters as “the most beautiful color in the heavens.” “St. Joan and St. Thérèse, together they are the most beautiful color in the heavens.” It is in this view of the Kingdom through their loving, prayerful assistance that this proclamation cries forth from our soul.
Once we see “the color” that shines so beautifully from the Kingdom, all things of the earth become as nothing and no longer have value to us. St. Joan and St. Thérèse have shown us something inexplicably grand. It is beyond description except ever so metaphorically in poetic prose. We know that the treasures of the Kingdom are everything we desire. Just as the light of the sun serves to vanquish the faint glow of the stars, so does this Kingdom shown to us by our saintly sisters extinguish the superficial attractions of the world. We begin to shed ourselves of earthly attachments as man would shed filthy clothing for a clean cloak, and we seek the joy of becoming as mere sojourners and mendicants walking the Trail in freedom with our heavenly helpers. (Mt 10:9-10) We now sense that we are mere pilgrims on earth. We are beginning to desire heaven. This should serve as our third meditation.
With this new and unyielding desire burning joyfully in our hearts, we find ourselves passing through the great gates of the castle walls of the Church and into a mystical land whereby we seek to place each step into the footprint of one who went before us. Our steps become bold and purposeful. Our journey becomes The March of Hope with St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux whereby the Holy Spirit through the Immaculate Heart of Mary directs the desires of our heart (Hope) to God’s goodness.
“The hope of which we speak now attains God by leaning on His help in order to obtain the hoped for good. For we should hope from Him for nothing less than Himself, since His goodness, whereby He imparts good things to his creature, is no less than His Essence. Therefore the proper and principle object of hope is eternal happiness.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; IIa IIae Q17:A2)
Thus, we are prepared and emboldened by St. Joan and St. Thérèse through our willful act of faith and newly directed desires, to now contemplate in prayer a new world view. That new world view is God’s point of view. We hush the noisy philosophers of the world aside to listen to God explain His point of view. Our prayer is a relationship whereby we desire to know God and therefore to understand how He sees things. Sacred scripture opens up to us with new meaning. The object of our hope becomes God, and God responds by imparting His goodness to us. We are moving now, walking the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed in faith with a determination and single mindedness that makes this journey the Freedom Dance on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed and the March of Hope that together seek God as both Truth for our intellect and Happiness for our heart. This should serve as our fourth meditation.
Our single mindedness is an expression of the grace of newly found purity, though that purity is painfully incomplete and unfinished in us. We sense with great certainty that we must be simple in spirit and pure of heart and mind in order to safely reach our destination with our saintly sisters, Joan and Thérèse, and with our most holy mother Mary, to the Kingdom where Jesus Christ sits enthroned as true God, true man, and the only Savior of the human race. There He alone intercedes for us as our High Priest with the Father in the Holy Spirit. (Heb 7:26-27)
We begin to simplify our lives, remove the noise, and sit quietly in prayer. Our televisions and other forms of frivolous, worldly entertainment are seen as great distractions and even deadly snares on our journey. We sense the smoke of the evil one in the spirit of the world, and we despise that spirit, for it is our primordial enemy and the enemy of the Kingdom. We despise our own sins and worldliness. We sense the beginnings of a new and glorious castle home (re: St. Teresa of Avila) forming on the mystical mountaintops (re: St. John of the Cross) of our hearts. We yearn for that heavenly place of quiet and contemplation. We desire heaven, and to Hades with the world. This should serve as our fifth and final meditation on the first pedagogy.