The final points making up the fourth, and last, pedagogical methodology of the Dove and Rose (St. Joan and St. Thérèse) devotion are:
“We grow increasingly and lovingly in union of heart, soul, and mind with our sisters in Christ, St. Joan and St. Thérèse, and through this we sense ourselves being united with Christ in the very depths of Mary’s Immaculate heart. We further sense that this is our grace filled manifestation of True Devotion to Mary, prescribed to us by St. Louis de Montfort.”
“Our prayers begin to fill with loving lamentations for the salvation of souls and the reign of the Kingdom of God on earth “as it is in heaven.” Our awareness of our own sinfulness and nothingness grows more acute. We abhor our sins and the notion of trusting in ourselves. We despise the spirit of the world. We love all, including our enemies. We trust completely in the promises of God.”
“We seek only Jesus Christ and His Divine Mercy, to be burned up in the flames of love in His Sacred Heart. Through Him and in the Holy Spirit, we begin to cry, “Abba, Father.”
“God is all in all.”
The fourth and final pedagogical method of the Dove and Rose encompasses the four points referenced above, which can be taken nearly as a whole. Here, we are almost speechless. Our hearts are inflamed with love for not only the Divine but for all that is blessed and glorified by the Divine as well. The created order, including our most noble sisters in Christ, St. Joan and St. Thérèse, along with our blessed and holy mother Mary, all raise our minds and hearts upward toward God in His Trinitarian beauty. We come to understand that Love (God) is our final end and that Love itself encompasses the Law of God as re-phrased by Jesus Christ: to love God with all of your heart, your soul, and your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. (Mt 22:35-40)
Through our love for Sts. Joan and Thérèse, we are brought, by the preceding pedagogical methods, into the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary where we find Jesus Christ, true God and true man, the Second Person of the most Holy Trinity, enthroned in all of His glory as the only Savior of the human race. We realize, further, that it was His love that first drew us into this mystery. (I Jn 4:19) Because He loved us first, He revealed His bountiful gifts to us; we did not acquire them on our own. We realize that it is He Who has given us the Kingdom with our Queen, the Holy Virgin Mary, and our brothers and sisters in Christ through His love. We love Him knowing that He first loved us. We love Mary knowing that she first loved us. We love Sts. Joan and Thérèse knowing that they first loved us.
He took the gift and pulled its bow
And slowly opened it to show
A calendar to my surprise
From twenty years ago plus five
A date was marked in colors bold
With writing on that sheet so old
“Oh Yes! Dear brother, don’t you see?”
“I came to you, not you to me!”
That date, I looked a little more
October one of eighty-four
The day my life was saved, it said
It was the Feast of Saint Thérèse
(From Little Flowers and Fiery Towers)
A particular dynamic becomes operative now, and this dynamic is a key mystery of the final pedagogy. We find that love for God, and Him through His saints, brings out in us a natural, and even super-natural, desire to lower ourselves. We recognize the honor and dignity of our saintly sisters, not because of their own mere humanity in its sinfulness, but quite edifyingly because of the grace by which Jesus Christ has lifted them. They are “worthy,” having condignly merited their crowns in heaven through sanctifying grace.
“Man’s meritorious work may be considered in two ways: first, as it proceeds from free-will; secondly, as it proceeds from the grace of the Holy Ghost. If it is considered as regards the substance of the work, and inasmuch as it springs from the free-will, there can be no condignity because of the very great inequality. But there is congruity, on account of an equality of proportion: for it would seem congruous that, if a man does what he can, God should reward him according to the excellence of his power.”
“If, however, we speak of a meritorious work, inasmuch as it proceeds from the grace of the Holy Ghost moving us to life everlasting, it is meritorious of life everlasting condignly. For thus the value of its merit depends upon the power of the Holy Ghost moving us to life everlasting according to John 4:14: “Shall become in him a fount of water springing up into life everlasting.” And the worth of the work depends on the dignity of grace, whereby a man, being made a partaker of the Divine Nature, is adopted as a son of God, to whom the inheritance is due by right of adoption, according to Romans 8:17: “If sons, heirs also.”
(St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; Ia IIae Q114:A3)
This should serve as our first meditation on the fourth pedagogy.
Ironically to our nature wounded by original sin, yet with immense mystical joy, we are raised to more sublime heights by voluntarily lowering ourselves. We honor our saintly sisters, Joan and Thérèse, along with our most holy mother, Mary, because God, through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, has honored them Himself. To lower oneself in honor of one who is truly worthy, either by nature (such as Jesus Christ) or by redemptive grace (such as the saints) is to feel truly human. We now love humility. Humility is a fount of life for us. Together with the purity of our new, single-minded desire for God only, the Kingdom is now coming to us “on earth as it is in heaven.”
We realize that the Divine Order is one of mystically regal inequality, just as our Thérèse pointed out to us in her metaphor of the “book of nature” in the second pedagogy, whereby that inequality of unique individual gifts is integrated by one, unified Principle into a beautiful mystical landscape that glorifies the Holy Trinity. The violet yields to the rose; yet, the violet remains beautiful. The meadow yields to the towering snowcapped mountains; yet, the meadow remains elegant. Together, these various gifts of nature (which is our metaphor for the Kingdom) create a breathtaking panorama unified in the principle of the Trinitarian God. It is here, to this Kingdom, that our saintly sisters have brought us.
Across the cresting hills this dawn
Finds dreamy landscapes veiled by mist
Our Lady points through fields beyond
Amidst their haze a shadow sits
As sunlight breaks the shades turn true
The figure, clear, on horseback, too
Our Lady smiles, it’s Joan of Arc!
A saint to guide me to her heart
(From Little Flowers and Fiery Towers)
This should serve as our second meditation on the fourth pedagogy.
In a profound moment of clarity, our hearts are opened through these heavenly relationships as we come to understand that all of our neighbors, our brothers and sisters on this earth, and particularly those who are with us on the journey, are likewise worthy of our honor and love. St. Joan and St. Thérèse have taught us not only to love God and His Mother, Mary but to love our fellow man as well. By understanding the beauty of lowering ourselves in their honor (as they reflect the honor and glory of God), we now understand that as God loves each person on earth, we therefore are likewise dignified by lowering ourselves before our neighbor. No better example of this mysterious dignity can be found than in Jesus Christ Himself as He first washed the feet of His disciples and then gave His own life for them (and for all of humanity) on the Cross. Despite our sinfulness and no matter the egregious nature of our many offenses, Jesus Christ nonetheless found us “worthy” enough in His love to bend down, wash our feet, and to then sacrifice His life for us.
We then walk down the street with an entirely new point of view. It is an element of that new point of view shown to us by St. Joan and St. Thérèse in the March of Hope. Our neighbor is loved by God and is held by God to be of such dignity and value that He washed this person’s feet and died for them. We are, if we are allowing St. Joan and St. Thérèse to teach us through these pedagogical methods, learning to not only worship God through His Eucharistic real presence and in total consecration to the Virgin Mary, but we are learning to lower ourselves before our neighbor in honor of God’s love for them. We lovingly and befittingly lower ourselves in honor of St. Joan and St. Thérèse in the same manner, for in them we come to see what God intends for our neighbor. Can we, at this point, do anything but to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves? In this manner, in the manner of our Testament for Love, we dance on in joy toward the Kingdom as pilgrims. This serves as the third meditation on the fourth pedagogy and our final meditation of the four pedagogies.