St Joan of Arc

Virgin (entered heaven 1431)

Dear Joanne,

My dearest of nieces, as you prepare for your graduation (this afternoon, I believe?) I am reminiscing here in my drab and almost comfortable cubicle/prison, recalling the highs and lows of your collegiate career.  You were a most comforting and faithful correspondent, exactly as your mother had been when we used to send our sibling letters back and forth during our own college days (no email back then, I’m afraid, just a lot of long waits and ink blotches).  Now you are finished. Off to conquer the world, no doubt. One thought keeps coming back to me: it can’t be a coincidence that you are graduating on the feast day of St Joan of Arc, your namesake.

Has God ever given the Church a more heroic figure than St Joan?  A teenage girl, illiterate, of peasant stock, unable to ride and unschooled in war, receives a call from God to liberate a divided and corrupt France from the overpowering and almost completed English invasion.  No wonder she at first resisted the imprecations of her voices (i.e. the saints whom God sent to her as his messengers)! It was only when they told her “It is God who commands it” that she complied. And the world has never been the same.  She led armies, she outfoxed evil courtiers, she emboldened a cowardly king, she revived an entire nation, she befuddled the most learned clerics and lawyers of her day. Single-handedly (well, I guess she had the help of God) she reversed the fortunes of France and altered the history of Europe, enduring moral, physical, and psychological tortures of the cruelest brand.  Through it all, she suffered profoundly – confusion, exhaustion, betrayal… And why? “It is God who commands it.” She was given a mission by God, and she accepted it, even to the point of being burned at the stake, dying with the name of Jesus on her virgin lips.

Well, do you have any doubt that God has a mission for you?  Is justice threatened any less in today’s world than it was in Joan’s world?  And are you any less likely a candidate to uphold the cause of Christ in the face of monstrous odds than Joan the Maid? (“Maid” was a term meaning “virgin,” not someone you hire to clean your house.)  Hardly. The only variable now is – when you hear his voice, will you take the risk of trusting him? … Oh, how I pray that you will, and I am sure your patroness is praying as well. Happy graduation; may it be the beginning of a glorious adventure.  

God bless you always, Uncle Eddy

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