|Saint Joan of Arc|
Medium: Sharpie pens and colored pencil
Yes, I am well aware of quite a few anachronisms...but I felt like taking quite a few artistic liberties.
"I do not love the bright sword for it's sharpness, nor the arrow for it's swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend” - TolkienMy childhood was spent reading all sorts of stories laced with bravery, good causes that needed defending, the occasional wizard, and good triumphing over evil. My favorite stories involved knights fighting to the death for things such as honor, true love, duty...things that seem rare today. While perusing books at a used book store, I came across a children's book about a saint that everyone seems to recognize but not really know. Joan of Arc. We've all heard of her, but we don't usually understand the story. Joan of Arc wasn't just some country girl that rose to general status over night.
She had doubts, but confronted them. She did not wish to suffer the indignities she suffered, but ultimately accepted them as a means to bringing greater glory to God. Though she fought to save France from English rule, it was an English peasant that fashioned the small cross she wore when she was burned at the cross. Though a devout Catholic, she was was burned as a heretic. Though a woman, she expelled women soldiers from the French army but still earned the support of powerful women. Though born a peasant, she became a warrior on a mission from God. Though she appeared to be abandoned at death, she was elevated to sainthood and now serves as an example of what it means to truly fight for Christ and put Him above ourselves. Mark Twain, by no means a Catholic, based his last book on Joan of Arc...as a tribute to his daughter Susy, who had died at the young age of 24. These are just a few examples of how many contradictions you find in St. Joan of Arc's story.
I would invite you to truly seek out her story. Don't just look at her story from the surface. You already know she is a French saint who fought the English. You already know that she fought for God and that God worked through her. Look further than that. Read up on how much she suffered while in prison...as she waited for the final condemnation. Read about the doubts she had and the rebukes she heard when she attempted to take the easy way out. God had a plan for her...and this plan required her bravery and complete selflessness in the face of danger and penalty of death. Her story is a story about the tough road ahead of us when we chose to listen to God. He doesn't want us to be good Catholics. He wants us to be saints and, as a result, demands perfection. This sounds tough, especially in a time where Catholics are told to leave the Church for the sake of radical feminism. This is tough in a world where we fight foe and Facebook friend alike whenever we attempt to adhere to our faith.
Joan of Arc's story is our story. We may not have to take up arms to defend our country any time soon...but we are called to defend our faith when the occasion arises.
"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30
We are also called to let go of our own desires, identities, and needs in order that each and every one of us can, in our own way, give greater glory to God. When we seek to do this, and truly work at it...nothing about ourselves truly matters when we are giving all that we are to God. St. Joan of Arc ultimately GOT THIS even as she faced execution and open denunciation as a heretic. Why is she deemed a saint today? It wasn't her military skill or her awesome role as a powerful female figure in history...it was her OBEDIENCE to God's will. Her obedience and courage to do God's will is what makes her badass...and probably what inspired me to finally finish this piece.
I know some Society of Jesus folk (and many others) may take some issue in the placement of the letters of the crest I drew. Normally, it should be AMDG ("Ad maiorem Dei gloriam"/ "for the greater glory of God"). However, even though I intended for it to come out this way...and took notes for it...I ended up spelling it out as AMGD. Based on what I've learned in Latin, I think I should be okay here. If not, I still see it as a bit of a blessing in disguise...Ave Maria Gratia plena Dominus tecum. In a way, this little mistake helps bring to mind another great example of someone who brought greater glory to God through OBEDIENCE. Anyone want to take a guess?
|Ecce Ancilla Domini|
D.G. Rossetti's somewhat controversial painting