I have been reading a book on St. Joan’s of Arc life, not as a martyr, but rather as a mystic, who died a martyr’s death. I find myself quite puzzled by Joan’s early life reading this book.
In particular, the events at the small French fortress town of Vaucouleurs. She was led to this town and escorted by her uncle, who arranged the meeting with Lord Robert.
It was during this first meeting where Lord Robert laughed the girl out and told her uncle to “Take this wench back home so her father will give her a good boxing on the ear, lest I hand you over to my men.”
I want to look at courage in today’s mediation, but through a different lens.
Let’s not joke around. Joan of Arc was courageous in almost every way imaginable. Leading soldiers into battle, being injured on the fields of battle, being held prisoner, enduring a horrible trial, and the ultimate test of courage, her martyrdom. No one can dispute the courage this woman had.
Yet what about her life? What about her coming into contact with St. Michael, the leader of the Lord’s angelic army, wouldn’t that take courage? Wouldn’t it take courage to listen to the saints who told her that she would save France?
But even in her everyday life, she was courageous.
What do I mean?
After the refusal of Lord Robert, we can easily imagine that Joan was not feeling the best. I mean, picture it, you were told by the man who was supposed to give you troops, no. But, worse yet, she was to told leave, or you’ll be handed over to his men.
It would be easy to think that Joan would have been tempted to give up.
Yet, her voices told her that this would happen three times. Armed with this reassurance, Joan would have felt a renewed determination. However, I would still imagine receiving such an answer would have hurt the kind-hearted young woman.
Now we enter into Joan’s near hidden life. We could imagine the frustration Jeanne would have felt. She continued to accept the task given to her by the Lord, but now she was forced to return home, to go back to her family, while she knew she was called to a much higher purpose.
On the one hand, I imagine it would not have been that difficult. Joan loved her family and friends of Domremy, yet she always had her heart set upon her noble mission. But, on the other hand, what anguish must have caused in her heart knowing that she would have to leave her home a second time.
That’s what I want to focus on; Joan’s ability to set aside the comforts of her everyday life for the mission that God has given her. I would say it takes courage to leave her home the first time. However, I would say it takes even MORE courage to leave her home a second time, knowing if she sets upon the Lord’s mission for her, her life will change forever.
She would no longer be Joan of Domremy but Joan of France. It takes courage, I think to set aside the comforts of life to pursue what God is calling you to be. It takes even more courage to recognize what you will lose if you go on that adventure.
Lastly, I think it takes even more courage to follow the Lord when you can’t see the path of where he is leading you. I find it hard to imagine that Joan knew her path ahead to get to Chinon like some internal GPS. I doubt she knew how she would leave her watchful family a second time or how long she was going to stay with her uncle. Or the fact she would spend time helping in a local inn (cooking, baking, and cleaning) all while she was called to lead the armies of France (at least according to some sources.)
It must have been difficult saying to her best friend in Domremy.
Yet she stayed courageous in the small things, letting the Lord guide her through the small everyday tasks that helped her remain brave and faithful to the Lord during more difficult times. How did she stay brave? She never took her eyes off the Lord while He led her through the small moments in life.
Let’s learn from St. Joan’s example. It’s hard to be courageous, but if we practice doing the small things that God sets before us, the Lord will prepare us for when we genuinely need courage through darker storms.
The most challenging and most courageous thing is to follow the Lord when you don’t know or see the path ahead of you. It’s something I’m learning with Saint Joa
Saint Joan, help us to be courageous in the small things in our lives. Help us to follow the Lord in the small tasks that He gives us to be heroic during moments of trial and tribulation. And when we feel lost and don’t see where the Lord is leading, remind us, Saint Joan, that you were in the same boat, and you did the most courageous thing that any of us can do. You trusted Jesus. Thank you, Saint Joan!