Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jeanne La Pucelle: La Grande Fille de Dieu

15th century images of "Joan the Maid" (or "Joan of Arc" as she has come to be known in English). The one on the left is from a sketch made soon after the victory at Orleans in 1429 in the margin of a Parisian book, probably based on contemporary descriptions.

I love that stunning group of kids from every time and place and circumstance that light up history even as they continue to stir and inspire us with their beautiful courage. There is no marvel quite like the Girl God Squad.

United by an intense passion for Christ and an utter devotion to the mission He entrusted to them, these girls lived but brief lives in this world. Yet each has left an enduring, luminous mark from her own time to the present.

I think this is not just a matter of historical memory. God keeps sending these girls on missions of all kinds. As friends, helpers, little sisters, they remain very much involved in our lives even as they behold the glory of God in His kingdom.

As one of them, Thérèse of Lisieux, promised before her death in 1897, "I shall spend my heaven doing good upon earth."

Renée Falconetti's famous portrayal of the protagonist in Carl
Dreyer's classic 1928 silent film La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc.
What can we say about La Pucelle, Joan "the Maid" of France, who cried out the name of Jesus as she was being consumed by the flames at the stake on May 30, 1431? She continues, nearly 600 years later, to watch over her own people, and to give hope to the renewal of faith among them that is taking place. She also inspires people everywhere who fight against evil, who defend the poor, or who answer God's call with generous hearts and persevere in the most desperate circumstances. She has been a muse for artists, sculptors, poets, filmmakers, and writers (even having an unlikely champion in the usually comic and cynical American Mark Twain).

What is the secret of this nineteen-year-old girl, and all of her sisters from the earliest martyrs to kids whose names we may not even know today, but who will be known and loved in times to come?

Let the great poet of Jeannette of Lorraine have the last word, the great Charles Peguy:
Car il y eut une si grande quantité de grâces,
qu'elle égalait le sable de la mer, 
et qu'elle ne pouvait pas même se mesurer.
 [For there was so much grace,
that it equaled the sand of the sea,
and it could not even measure itself.]