The Dynamic Duo: St. Joan, the Little Shepherdess

Hello dear reader! I have come across the unfortunate position of having too many ideas I want to write on. Too many ideas, not enough time, but that’s life sometimes.  

Sometimes we have too much need or want to do to the point that nothing gets done. Yet as Saint Joan tells us, “Act, and God will act!”  

How true, I wanted to focus on the relationship between Saint Joan and Saint Therese. However, it also helps me find out that I will be going to my Patron’s church. I honestly found it to be a blessing from the Lord.  

Even now, I am a little giddy with excitement. It’s like going to visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while!  

Last time we saw how Saint Therese was a noble spiritual warrior. This time, I wanted to take this opportunity to look at St. Joan. We all know her heroic tales of her going out to fight many impressive battles and leading from the front, inspiring her troops with her bravery and serenity amid the fighting. 

Yet this time, I want to look at her spiritual and faith life. A tricky subject to be sure, considering we don’t have much to go off. We have court records and what people wrote about her.  

I want to emphasize that Saint Joan perfectly captures St. Therese’s Little Way in a big way. What she did in small things led her to complete big things.  

Just as St. Therese was the Little Flower, so too was St. Joan the Little Shepherdess, not the national war hero.  

We have two primary sources for St. Joan. First, we have her trial of condemnation held by the English, where we have her very own words. Then, on the other hand, during her rehabilitation trial, we the accounts of those who knew her.  

When we piece together both sources together, we can get a bigger picture of St. Joan. What is not as commonly known, Saint Joan had two heresy trials.  

The King of France, Charles VII sent young Saint Joan to the College in Poitiers. This would be a remarkable resource because it would have shown St. Joan’s answer and faith in an honest and open environment without facing open political hostility, like the court held in Rouen under the English. Unfortunately, this document was lost in a fire. What a wealth of information this would have been!

But let’s piece together St. Joan’s life.  

The Little Shepherdess

It’s remarkable to read that Saint Joan was faithful and happy in all aspects.  

Whether that’s spinning with her mother or her friends, the people noticed in Saint Joan a calm and collected manner, who was always happy in all her chores.  

Not once did they hear her complain or be in a foul mood, even for a child!

She faithfully attended Church daily and loved the special feasts of Mary.  

During the evenings or while sewing with her mother, it was her mother, Isabelle, who taught her the basics of the Catholic faith.  

Through her mother, she learned the Our Father and the Haily Mary; as I said, she would become a particular devotee of Mary. So it is easy to see Joan get excited during the dedication of May to Mary with the crowning. Who knows how many crowns Joan made for our beloved Mother!  

Growing up, her friends noticed her caring demeanor. Her friend, Simonin Munier, fell incredibly sick. It’s easy to imagine how his friends might avoid him lest they get sick.  

Yet, it was Saint Joan who took the time, not only to visit him but nurse him back to health.  

I want us to ponder the phrase, nurse him back to health. That doesn’t mean just visiting him once a day, giving him food.

No she didn’t do that. Instead, she nursed him back to health.  She stayed by his side, taking care of him, day after day until he had fully recovered. She stood by his side, helping him to recover while offering prayers. We might visit a friend or a loved one in the hospital. But to nurse someone back to health is a whole other thing.  

Her friends took notice of Joan’s behavior. They consistently noted her obedience to her parents, religious fervor, striving for goodness, unselfish generosity, and kindness toward her neighbors. 

They often teased her for being “too pious…” How often we would become downcast for being mocked in our faith and beliefs. How easy it is to get angry when our faith is mocked… even in a teasing way!

Make no mistake; I’m sure it must have wounded Saint Joan that her friends teased for her pursuit in piousness… Yet, it is easy to imagine what she would have done with that hurt.

Instead of getting angry and lashing out, instead of wallowing in pain and anguish, she took that pain and presented it to the Lord. It is easy to hear her pained prayer, “Dear Lord, I bear this pain on their behalf and for your glory. They do not know what they are doing. Convert their hearts.”  

Even in small things, she led her friends by her example, whether they realized it or not. Having known who their friend was going to be the savior of France, it’s hard to picture what their inner reflections would have been like a few years later.

Maybe, just maybe, Joan planted a few seeds in her friends that grew into bountiful harvests, just by her very example!

How often do we scoff at someone for trying to be good? How often do we snicker at someone trying to do the right thing? A goody two-shoes! (Or something along those lines?)

It is an all too common thing in today’s society. Even still, we might not laugh or make fun, but we would indeed find it strange and abnormal.  

Yet in those moments, when we see a young child, or we reflect in our formative childhood years, when can you think of a former peer or friend who did things without complaining? Did you have a friend who strove in holiness in all aspects?

I know I did…

And I know, without the light of faith, I thought them to be strange… and unusual! I admit this is even to my own shame now, thought to some extent, it was fake! No one could be that pious, especially as a child.

Whether I knew it or not, I was one of Joan’s friends teasing her, “Come on! Be real, Joan… stop with the show…” 

Even now, I’m humbled that the Lord had corrected me gently. And Saint Joan… well… she knocked some sense into my head! “It is possible! You can do it! You just need to put in the effort!”  

I can see her warmly smiling at me, “It usually doesn’t happen in one day.”  

That is true. In that moment, I realized that Saint Joan was the Little Shepherdess to the Little Flower.  

I realize now… that I lacked a certain degree of faith. I wasn’t with the Lord as a child, I was of the world. Maybe, as a child, I was jealous of how devout they were, and I lacked that level of devotion. And you know the child’s mind. If you don’t have it, there is no way another can have it. Silly, I know.  

Saint Joan worked for her holiness. She put in the work. She practiced the virtues. Most importantly, she put God in mind in all things.  

She even gave up her own bed! It was during a cold and blustery winter that someone knocked on her home’s door.  

A homeless man came by, asking for shelter, a place to stay during the winter. How easy it is for us to turn someone away when they ask for our help.  

Or, we could put in the bare minimum to help someone. For example, offering a warm blanket and a hot drink.

What does Joan do? She gives up her bed to the stranger! Whether she would sleep on the floor or another sibling’s bed, it’s hard to say. 

“Come, friend, rest now and lie down. You must recover your strength; I have no need for a bed.”

She gave up her bed. She denied her comfort for the sake of not a loved one, but for a stranger, out of love!

It is true. Saint Joan illustrates that you will be holy in small things when you are holy in big things.  

To the extent that St. Michael would visit her at the age of 13, she received special grace. She would receive direct instruction from Saint Michael.

“Be good and attend church often, and that God would help you.”  

What sound advice! She was definitely on the right path when Saint Michael, the leader of God’s angelic army, speaks to you!

Yet as she grew in faith and holiness, she still reminded herself that she was a mere child that God chose.  

She wasn’t unique. She could do nothing without God. “I am the drum which God beats his message.”  

Picture a simple drum. Wood, tan hide, a straightforward instrument, then when hit, makes a loud sound. Thus God’s messages are amplified if we stay little and realize that we are mere children to the Lord, who loves us!

Even a drum can cause people to rally together, just as lambs follow the voice of their shepherd. The drum, however, will point us to the drummer.  

Dear Saint Joan of Arc, you remind us of your simple childhood. You showed us St. Therese’s Little Way very much leads to extraordinary things.  

Though you knew it or not, you put the Little Way into practice, which inspired your future Heavenly sister, Saint Therese, to be a spiritual warrior of God while developing child-like love, innocence, and trust in Jesus.

Pray for us, Saint Joan, that we might follow the example you set in your childhood.  

My friends, it was a delight to continue this series. I hope you are fascinated reading this as I am writing this!

May the Lord keep you, and may St. Joan smile upon you! Never give up, and keep running. If you can’t run, keep walking.  

I think maybe next time, I will be looking at how St. Therese and St. Joan practiced the Little Way in their own way. 

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