Stage 1 – We discover that our life’s subjective circumstances are in relation to God’s objective divine order. This is an awakening from God and a test of our goodwill. As those of goodwill, we seek truth rather than what pleases us, and we accept the truth that our objective purpose from God is real even in light of our subjective day-to-day mundanities.
“I was born to do this” (St. Joan of Arc)
“I could not have been raised in a more distant land, culture, or political belief system from that which is stated in the topic of this essay. Even my religious beliefs of youth, though still Christian, were quite different from what they are now. I hope to outline in this essay, for any who might be interested, just how it has come about that I would be Catholic, be strongly attached to Sts. Joan of Arc and Thérèse of Lisieux, and be a Monarchist.” (My Story)
“As that last phrase rang through my mind, one of the legs on my stool swiftly cracked, and I found myself planted in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) class at the local Catholic Church the next month.” (My Story)
2 – Goodwill now stirs more efficaciously in our hearts as a response to God’s divine order working in our lives.
Question: What sort of help say you that this voice has brought you for the salvation of your soul?
Joan: It has taught me to conduct myself well, to go habitually to church…
Question: Have you some other sign that these voices are good spirits?
Joan: Saint Michael assured me of it before the voices came.
Question: How did you know it was Saint Michael?
Joan: I knew it by his speech and by the language of the Angels, and I believe firmly that they were Angels.
Question: How did you know that they were Angels?
Joan: I believed it quite quickly, and I had the will to believe it…
(Joan of Arc: By Herself and Her Witnesses, Régine Pernoud, Scarborough House, pp. 30-31)
“Within a mere couple of weeks, the seed of a magnificent Kingdom was planted in my soul. It began when I heard the Hail Mary for the first time. I had never heard such a prayer before, but I knew that I liked the idea that one could pray to the Mother of God. Something about that seemed quite right, and it warmed my heart.” (My Story)
3 – God’s loving response to our goodwill is a life changing encounter with Him and His Heavenly Kingdom.
“When I was thirteen years old, I had a voice from God to help me govern my conduct… the voice was sent to me by God, and, after I had thrice heard this voice, I knew that it was the voice of an angel. This voice has always guarded me well and I have always understood it clearly.” (Joan of Arc: By Herself and Her Witnesses, Régine Pernoud, Scarborough House, p. 30)
“A couple of classes later, on October 1, 1984, the Feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (though I had no clue who she was or what the day represented), I experienced a profound conversion to the Church. I did not decide to join her that day, but I became unshakably convinced of her authenticity and of her claims. About one second after that moment of enlightenment, I realized that the Eucharist is truly and substantially the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It all happened in about two seconds. Without me knowing even who she was, St. Thérèse of Lisieux brought about my conversion through the blessing and heart of Immaculate Mary, and I became (though I did not yet know it) Thérèse’s brother in spiritual blood through the fire of the Holy Spirit who arcs through time and space to work these miracles.” (My Story)
4 – God’s continues His loving response to our goodwill through the outflow of actual graces that leads us to a deeper conversion, forming the foundation for our journey through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in sanctifying grace toward our place in His divine order.
“She (Joan of Arc) was a good, God-fearing girl. When she was at church, sometimes she would have her hands clasped and her eyes raised and her face turned to the Crucifix and the Blessed Virgin.” (The Retrial of Joan of Arc, Régine Pernoud, Ignatius Press, p. 78)
“I was introduced to, and began praying, the Rosary regularly. Through that praying, I decided, in December of that year, 1984, that I would join the Catholic Church. I did so that next Easter of 1985, and shortly thereafter, I was given two books, True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort and The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus. I also came across and read, The Story of Soul by St. Thérèse, not realizing that I was then being introduced to my sister in Christ. I understood very little of what Thérèse was saying; I only knew that I liked it. What she was saying was beautiful. I just did not know what it really was that she was saying. Yet, all said, that was that, and I was happily a Catholic” (My Story)
5 – The journey toward this Kingdom necessarily takes us through the dark valley of loss, suffering, rejection, and betrayal. God breaks down our old self in order to replace it with the new. The new wine of sanctifying grace must be poured into new wineskins. God never abandons us during this time even if we feel He has. He always provides us with the Heavenly help we need. Our sufferings are part of God’s plan to purify us and bring us to our homeland in the Kingdom in fulfillment of His divine will.
“Joan was to be a prisoner for the remaining year of her life.” (Joan of Arc – Her Story, Régine Pernoud, St. Martin’s Press, p. 88)
“St. Thérèse of Lisieux was given the grace by our most worthy Mother in heaven to intercede on my behalf for all of those years. Despite my egregious misbehavior and misguided priorities, the faith always remained whole in me. Our Lord’s gift to me through the Immaculate Heart of Mary was this daughter of God to throw herself in front of me and to protect me during my ill-fated, self-driven sojourn into darkness.” (My Story)
6 – We are healed, or more accurately, resurrected, as God now pours the new wine of sanctifying grace into the new wineskins that are our crucified souls.
“It happened while I was attending a week long retreat in the Pocono Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania. On the first evening, I went to confession and then stepped before a statue of the most holy Virgin Mary in the beautiful sanctuary of the abandoned seminary where the retreat was being held. I was healed in that instant. I was healed through the loving cooperation of St. Thérèse’s spiritual sister, St. Joan of Arc.” (My Story)
7 – Life- is transformed in Hope through sanctifying grace. A powerful vision for life in the Kingdom of God “on earth as it is in Heaven” grounds us in a new world view.
“Under the influence of St. Joan of Arc, I began to write. It was she who gave me the courage to march forward in such a bold fashion. No one can shake this conviction from me, unless the grace of God is removed from me. This daughter of God has had a most profound influence on me… Religiously, spiritually, socially, economically, politically, and even physically, I had become something new. ” (My Story)