St. Joan of Arc
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.
"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)
As she was being burned at the stake, Joan called on Jesus.
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
To be present is to arrive as one is and open up to the other.
If God were trying to tell me something, would I know?
In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground.
The Word of God
Reading 1 acts 18:9-18
One night while Paul was in Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision,
"Do not be afraid.
Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.
No one will attack and harm you,
for I have many people in this city."
He settled there for a year and a half
and taught the word of God among them.
But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia,
the Jews rose up together against Paul
and brought him to the tribunal, saying,
"This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law."
When Paul was about to reply, Gallio spoke to the Jews,
"If it were a matter of some crime or malicious fraud,
I should with reason hear the complaint of you Jews;
but since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles
and your own law, see to it yourselves.
I do not wish to be a judge of such matters."
And he drove them away from the tribunal.
They all seized Sosthenes, the synagogue official,
and beat him in full view of the tribunal.
But none of this was of concern to Gallio.
Paul remained for quite some time,
and after saying farewell to the brothers he sailed for Syria,
together with Priscilla and Aquila.
At Cenchreae he had shaved his head because he had taken a vow.
Responsorial Psalm ps 47:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R. (8a) God is king of all the earth.
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
R. God is king of all the earth.
He brings people under us;
nations under our feet.
He chooses for us our inheritance,
the glory of Jacob, whom he loves.
R. God is king of all the earth.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R. God is king of all the earth.
Gospel jn 16:20-23
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you."
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say "Thank You Lord" for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
6th Week of Easter
You will grieve, but your grief will become joy. (John 16:20)
When we watch a movie or read a book, it's usually pretty easy to follow the plot. We understand the story because we see one event following from another, and we begin to get a feel for where the story is heading. Wouldn't it be nice if life worked the same way? The problem is that when you're "inside" a story, it can be easy to lose the thread of the plot and to wonder where it is heading.
As Jesus approached his crucifixion, he tried to help his disciples with this sort of confusion. He knew that they would be faced with a huge challenge when they saw him die on the cross. To prepare them, he explained that this was part of the great story that he had called them into. They would experience wrenching grief, and they would feel out of step with the rest of the world. But that wouldn't be the final chapter. Their grief would be turned to joy, and the story would take on a whole new meaning.
Do you believe that your life is part of this same story? In fact, you are a child of the author! While the disciples had to wrestle through the grief of Jesus' death, you have come in later in the plot. You know about Jesus' resurrection! If you can try to center your life in Jesus' victory, you'll know a joy, a stability, and a peace that nothing in this world can take away from you.
At times we lose sight of God's story. We forget that our joy comes from Jesus' salvation, not from the story that the world offers us. Losing focus, we can begin to lose our trust that God is with us. That's why we need to immerse ourselves every day in the story of the Scriptures. We need God's word to sharpen our focus.
Never forget that you are part of an epic story. You are one of the "great cloud of witnesses" whose lives have been changed by the Lord (Hebrews 12:1). You aren't just a passive observer; you're an active participant. You have a role to play today in moving this story forward. So get out there and do it!
"Lord, teach me the wonderful story of your salvation. Help me to make it the story of my life."
Acts 18:9-18; Psalm 47:2-7