Thursday, December 30, 2010

Twain's Jewel of Arc

I just finished Twain's biography of St. Joan of Arc. While I, like the rest of the world, knew her fate, I found myself with tears in my eyes at the conclusion of the story. Twain proved himself, again, as America's storyteller.

A beautiful young person called by God to reform His Church in France, St. Joan of Arc was not only burned at the stake by the Burgundians of France, she was left to fend for herself by the very country she was called to defend--especially by King Charles VII. And he did not choose to defend her until, 25 years later, when they said he was not legitimately the king since his royalty was founded on a young woman found to be a child of Satan. Thank God she was redeemed through the papal investigation..albeit only because of a king's greed.

On another note, she is left a martyr of the Church, and one whose character we can all aspire to. She was truly a Soldier of Christ, and I can only hope to strive for such a distinction; although, I doubt I shall ever succeed in achieving it. Her only passion was to serve God and his mission. What she received was the backhand of an overzealous bishop aspiring for an archbishopric promised him by the English should he find her guilty. In the end, his soul we can only pray for. And to her, a devotion and admiration for the ages to come. May I succeed in MY mission...whatever that may be. I pray God will some day make that clear.

Artistically, Twain maintained his humor in this historical fiction; though, in minute forms through St. Joan of Arc's personal entourage. I understand he wrote this in his later years, and with his daughter's untimely death in the shadows, published thereafter in novel form. However, I found myself touched by his compassion for St. Joan of Arc's passion and for her faith. I admire his respect for the Catholic faith, yet he points out very well the evils of matter their faith.

Thus, I am left with a void. The time invested in reading a book leaves one with a sense of accomplishment yet a yearning for the story to continue. I have a newfound respect for Mark Twain, I have a newfound devotion for this great young saint, and I have yet another reason to say the rosary, receive the sacraments, and get down on my knees and thank God for his greatest Gift.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Every Tongue Confess

Normally, when I go to Adoration, I sign up for the early morning hours when no one else is there like at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. I like that it is just God and I. I say a few prayers, and then I say the Rosary and ask the Blessed Mother to pray for me that I may grow closer to her Son. And then, gulp, I sing - loud and off-key. Usually I first sing "Holy Mary, Gentle Woman." Again, to gain her assistance to grow closer, and because it reminds me of mom. Then I sing "How Great Thou Art." I am always humbled to tears when I think the Lord did not even spare his Son for us. That is how much He loves us. Usually at this point I pray some more, and then I wrap up the hour by reading the Bible.

This morning was different. For whatever reason, I chose to sing another hymn: "At the Name of Jesus." (At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow...)

When I turned to read the Bible, I asked the Lord to show me what He needed to tell me. I asked the Holy Spirit to stir in me His gifts: knowledge, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety, fear of the Lord.  I then opened the Bible and found myself at Philippians - right at the beginning, so I read the introductory material. I did not know it is known as the "letter of joy." At any rate, I was drawn to a description that Paul had written a hymn, so that is where I decided to read - Philippians 2:5-11

"Who, though, he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
 something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness,
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and 
under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."

...the very words of the song, "At the Name of Jesus," that I sang earlier.