Joan of Arc and staying the course
We all know Joan of Arc. She was a 15th Century French woman who came to lead an army to many victories in spite of being a woman. She had visions where saints appeared to her, and God advised her on courses of action that would benefit King Charles II of France. Joan has been portrayed as a heroic figure who was able to influence kings and noblemen during a time when women were thought to be inconsequential. Though this is all true, Joan’s story is not quite the heroic tale that many of us have heard.
As is often the case, Joan was born to a regular family in a regular town in Burgundy, France. She was known to be a faithful girl and played with the other girls in her town as a child. Much like the Virgin Mary, Joan began to have visitations and visions at about the age of thirteen. Yet unlike common tales of her life, Joan did not seek out her notoriety and did not set out to be a revolutionary. She wrestled with God’s call to action, and it took her three years to finally act on what she knew to be true. She was doubted repeatedly in her claims and was continually abandoned by the people who had benefited from her insights. Guided by the Holy Spirit, she was able to maintain her integrity and did not succumb to pressure to change her testimony even under torture.
Joan’s heroics on the battlefield were no match for the heroism she displayed under scrutiny. Though she did not ask to be God’s messenger, she never doubted that it was He who sent her. She was brave enough to walk the path that God laid out for her without apology and without wavering. How often do I shy away from what God wants from me because it’s awkward and inconvenient? How often do I downplay the Good News of my faith to make it more palatable for the people I am with? How often do I rely on my own words and thoughts instead of allowing the Lord to guide me through?
I often think about how the history books would have changed if Joan would have ignored God. She could easily have decided that her visions were a metaphor and that she had no business getting involved in the messy politics of her time. She could have thrown in the towel when things got hard went back home with the consolation that at least she tried. But Joan persisted.
She inspires me to stay the course even when it gets rough. She inspires me to recognize that God uses even the most unlikely of people to further His Plan. She reminds me to meditate on the idea that even I am called to serve as the hands and feet of Christ on Earth, whether I want to or feel capable of the task before me. And she reminds me that my path will not be easy because when we work with God, it never is. But when we walk with the Holy Spirit, we can be confident in each footstep and find peace and joy in the work we do.
St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!
Joan, spirited steward of garden and field
Remind me to hold the treasure
of my given home in deep gratitude.
Joan, faithful youth
Who knew dear Saints Catherine and Margaret
and champion Archangel Michael,
Lead me in the ways of prayer and
obedience to discern God’s will.
Joan, simple maid
Protect me from the fear that
I am unworthy of God’s holy plan for me.
Enable me to use all of my gifts to serve God’s people.
Joan, protector of a beloved nation
Fortify my courage to seek justice,
to employ mercy,
to bring comfort to the poor and needy.
Defend me from evil and the hatred of others.
Joan, honorable martyr
Teach me to trust in the Lord;
to live this one life that I have
as I believe in living it for the Kingdom.
Saint Joan of Arc
Pray for me,
that I may bear all unavoidable sacrifice
and suffering in love
as a way of sharing Christ’s humility;
that I may live in God’s grace
and return to God from whom I came.
- Mary Sue Callan-Farley
Elizabeth Kos is still a Catholic woman in progress and continues to learn as much as she can about her faith from the classroom as well as people she meets. Please keep her in your prayers!