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St. Joan of Arc

Lived: (1412-1431) | Feast Day: Saturday, May 30, 2015

Burned at the stake as a heretic after a politically-motivated trial, Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.

Born of a fairly well-to-do peasant couple in Domremy-Greux (southeast of Paris), Joan was only 12 when she experienced a vision and heard voices that she later identified as Sts. Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch.

During the Hundred Years War, she led French troops against the English and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. This enabled Charles VII to be crowned as king in Reims in 1429. Captured near Compiegne the following year, she was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft. Professors at the University of Paris supported Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvis, the judge at her trial; Cardinal Henry Beaufort of Winchester, England, participated in the questioning of Joan in prison. In the end, she was condemned for wearing men’s clothes. The English resented France’s military success–to which Joan contributed.

On this day in 1431, she was burned at the stake in Rouen, and her ashes were scattered in the Seine River. A second Church trial 25 years later nullified the earlier verdict, which was reached under political pressure.

Remembered by most people for her military exploits, Joan had a great love for the sacraments, which strengthened her compassion toward the poor. Popular devotion to her increased greatly in 19th-century France and later among French soldiers during World War I. Theologian George Tavard writes that her life “offers a perfect example of the conjunction of contemplation and action” because her spiritual insight is that there should be a “unity of heaven and earth.”

Joan of Arc has been the subject of many books, plays, operas, and movies.

Comment:
“Joan of Arc is like a shooting star across the landscape of French and English history, amid the stories of the Church’s saints and into our consciousness. Women identify with her; men admire her courage. She challenges us in fundamental ways. Despite the fact that more than 500 years have passed since she lived, her issues of mysticism, calling, identity, trust and betrayal, conflict and focus are our issues still.” (Joan of Arc: God’s Warrior, by Barbara Beckwith)

Quote:

As she was being burned at the stake, Joan called on Jesus.

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Audition For Sainthood

…if he was fire then oh! she must be wood. —Leonard Cohen, “Joan of Arc”

Stirred by high notes from a flute—
soaring in descant: the harmony of a woodwind
in contrast to deep melodic praise
from the orchestra’s string section:
violin, cello, lovely viola.

A loud cymbal-crash stimulates, punctuates:
metal dinging out each measure like the glottal
stop in the word “forgotten.”
Drum-beat ignites my smolder. Brass
emotes into outright desire. The conductor

attracts me, but he may not be holy.
He might blur my vision, lead me astray.
The room fills with smoke and fire.
I offer uplifted hands, eyes that shift to the rafters,
looking for God, before I close them in praise.

Joan is a martyr. Joan is a Saint. Joan
sings soprano with an angel choir, and oh, how
the Lord and my soul cry out that I may be overcome
like Joan. I shudder selfishly, as the conductor
lowers his wand. Can I give myself up

to be wholly undone, body emptied
in this holy place where a single flute
first sparked my lust for sainthood?  Can I be
burned free from dross, which must be consumed,
if not by music then by fire?

published in Kakalak 2014

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You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all.  —St. Therese of Lisieux

Gospel Mk 11:11-26

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area.
He looked around at everything and, since it was already late,
went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.
Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf,
he went over to see if he could find anything on it.
When he reached it he found nothing but leaves;
it was not the time for figs.
And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!”
And his disciples heard it.

They came to Jerusalem,
and on entering the temple area
he began to drive out those selling and buying there.
He overturned the tables of the money changers
and the seats of those who were selling doves.
He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area.
Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written:

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples?
But you have made it a den of thieves.”

The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it
and were seeking a way to put him to death,
yet they feared him
because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching.
When evening came, they went out of the city.

Early in the morning, as they were walking along,
they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look!
The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God.
Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’
and does not doubt in his heart
but believes that what he says will happen,
it shall be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer,
believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.
When you stand to pray,
forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance,
so that your heavenly Father may in turn
forgive you your transgressions.”

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Jesus Is Pure of Heart – from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey

Jesus, the Beloved of God, has a pure heart.  Having a pure heart means willing one thing.  Jesus wanted only to do the will of his heavenly Father.  Whatever Jesus did or said, he did and said it as the obedient Son of God:  “What I say is what the Father has taught me; he who sent me is with me, and has not left me to myself, for I always do what pleases him”  (John 8:28-29).   There are no divisions in Jesus’ heart, no double motives or secret intentions.  In Jesus there is complete inner unity because of his complete unity with God.

Becoming like Jesus is growing into purity of heart.  That purity is what gave Jesus and will give us true spiritual vision.

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When you go to Jesus, you’re not going to a God who only knows heaven; instead, you’re placing your hurting heart into pierced hands that understand both the pain of suffering and the glory of redemption.

-from Ask The Bible Geek

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When we go through pain it is easy to feel abandoned or forgotten, but suffering doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us, He does. Even Jesus suffered, and He was completely without sin.

-from Ask The Bible Geek

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Reading 1 Sir 35:1-12

To keep the law is a great oblation,
and he who observes the
commandments sacrifices a peace offering.
In works of charity one offers fine flour,
and when he gives alms he presents his sacrifice of praise.
To refrain from evil pleases the LORD,
and to avoid injustice is an atonement.
Appear not before the LORD empty-handed,
for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts.
The just one’s offering enriches the altar
and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High.
The just one’s sacrifice is most pleasing,
nor will it ever be forgotten.
In a generous spirit pay homage to the LORD,
be not sparing of freewill gifts.
With each contribution show a cheerful countenance,
and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy.
Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
generously, according to your means.

For the LORD is one who always repays,
and he will give back to you sevenfold.
But offer no bribes, these he does not accept!
Trust not in sacrifice of the fruits of extortion.
For he is a God of justice,
who knows no favorites.

Responsorial Psalm PS 50:5-6, 7-8, 14 and 23

  1. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
    “Gather my faithful ones before me,
    those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
    And the heavens proclaim his justice;
    for God himself is the judge.
    R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
    “Hear, my people, and I will speak;
    Israel, I will testify against you;
    God, your God, am I.
    Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
    for your burnt offerings are before me always.”
    R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
    “Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
    and fulfill your vows to the Most High.
    He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
    and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
    R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Alleluia See Mt 11:25

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
    you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 10:28-31

Peter began to say to Jesus,
‘We have given up everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.
But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Reading 1 Sir 17:20-24

To the penitent God provides a way back,
he encourages those who are losing hope
and has chosen for them the lot of truth.
Return to him and give up sin,
pray to the LORD and make your offenses few.
Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin,
hate intensely what he loathes,
and know the justice and judgments of God,
Stand firm in the way set before you,
in prayer to the Most High God.

Who in the nether world can glorify the Most High
in place of the living who offer their praise?
Dwell no longer in the error of the ungodly,
but offer your praise before death.
No more can the dead give praise
than those who have never lived;
You who are alive and well
shall praise and glorify God in his mercies.
How great the mercy of the LORD,
his forgiveness of those who return to him!

Responsorial Psalm PS 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7

  1. (11a) Let the just exult and rejoice in the Lord.
    Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
    whose sin is covered.
    Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
    in whose spirit there is no guile.
    R. Let the just exult and rejoice in the Lord.
    Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
    my guilt I covered not.
    I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
    and you took away the guilt of my sin.
    R. Let the just exult and rejoice in the Lord.
    For this shall every faithful man pray to you
    in time of stress.
    Though deep waters overflow,
    they shall not reach him.
    R. Let the just exult and rejoice in the Lord.
    You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
    with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
    R. Let the just exult and rejoice in the Lord.

Alleluia 2 Cor 8:9

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich,
    so that by his poverty you might become rich.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 10:17-27

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”

 Gal 5:16-25

Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit
and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
these are opposed to each other,
so that you may not do what you want.
But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry,
sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy,
outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness,
dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,
drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh
with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

Sequence — Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
Alleluia.

Alleluia

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful
    and kindle in them the fire of your love.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

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Let us never tire, therefore, of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

-from The Spirit of Saint Francis

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“Francis and Clare can show you how to die into your one and only life, the life that you must learn to love. It will show itself to be one continuous movement–first learning to love your life and then allowing yourself to fully die into it–and never to die away from it. Once death is joyfully incorporated into life, you are already in heaven and there is no possibility or fear of hell. That is the Franciscan way. The Gospel is not a fire insurance policy for the next world, but a life assurance policy for this world. Francis and Clare somehow came to see through the common disguises of heaven and hell and they seemed to come to this on their own. My hope and desire … is that you can know heaven on your own, too–and now!” –Richard Rohr

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“Your sins are great? Just tell the Lord: Forgive me, help me to get up again, change my heart!” –Pope Francis

-from The Spirit of Saint Francis

Jesus’ Compassion – from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey

Jesus is called Emmanuel which means “God-with-us” (see Matthew 1: 22-23).  The great paradox of Jesus’ life is that he, whose words and actions are in no way influenced by human blame or praise but are completely dependent on God’s will, is more “with” us than any other human being.

Jesus’ compassion, his deep feeling-with us, is possible because his life is guided not by human respect but only by the love of his heavenly Father.  Indeed, Jesus  is free to love us because he is not dependent on our love.

For further reflection …

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:36-38 (NIV)

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Jesus is our hope. Nothing—not even evil or death—is able to separate us from the saving power of His love.

-from The Spirit of Saint Francis

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God is love. And we move towards the light to find the love of God. But is God’s love within us, even in the dark moments? Is the love of God there, hidden away? Yes, always! The love of God never leaves us. It is always with us.

-from The Spirit of Saint Francis

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Gospel Jn 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name
that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

“Lead, Kindly Light” by the Blessed John Henry Newman, written in 1833, several years prior to his conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism

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Lead, Kindly Light

“Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.”

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