A year with St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Perhaps you will want to do the same or something similar!
Today is May 30th, the Feast Day of St. Joan of Arc. I am marking this day as the beginning of a year long “retreat” with St. Joan and St. Thérèse. I got the idea from the brilliant and inspiring book Shirt of Flame by Heather King. The book is an account of the author’s “year with St. Thérèse,” and I highly recommend it. I first read it in 2011 not long after publication.
I am co-host for a podcast called Heroic Hearts which is dedicated to the spirituality of St. Joan and St. Thérèse. In our first season, we focused on the story of Joan of Arc as told by Mark Twain. Season two will be devoted to St. Thérèse using Shirt of Flame as our guide. I hope you will join us! It was by rereading King’s book in preparation for season two that I received the inspiration to spend “a year with St. Joan and St. Thérèse.”
Recently, I felt called by Our Lady to revisit all the devotional expressions I had developed over the past twelve years regarding what I call the “combined hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse.” This led me initially to post updates and revisions to my earlier works which has been a most rewarding exercise. Sometimes we just need to stop, reflect, and contemplate the structures of meaning in our life. With season two on the horizon and Shirt of Flame on the forefront of my reading list, the Feast Day of St. Joan inspired me to truly follow Our Lady once again through the hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse to the Kingdom in the distance. This should not be a one-day ordeal!
Here is my general plan for the next year. I do not have a regiment. I know that a strict guideline can be most helpful in staying on track; however, it can also be stifling. I am not going to require that I touch on each of the activities below every day. I am using this as a repository of spiritual reading and prayerful aids to help me further my relationship with these two saintly sisters in Heaven and through them to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I might touch on one or two each day, or all of them if time permits.
The repository will look like this. Keep in mind that an active and obedient sacramental life is paramount and assumed in this “retreat.”
· Gospels and Psalms, including the morning and evening Christian prayers taken from the Liturgy of the Hours. Thérèse was very grounded in the scriptures and loved the gospels.
· True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. As mentioned in my author’s story, this book had a deep and lasting impact on me after I entered the Catholic Church. True Devotion to Mary is the foundation for my devotion to the combined hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse.
· The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. Thérèse relied heavily on this book of meditations, and it had a very formative impact on her.
· The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I have a French version which I use to practice my French language skills which are languishing!
· The Life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux: The Original Biography Commissioned By Her Sister. This is a wonderful book on the life of St. Thérèse.
· Joan of Arc: Her Story; Joan of Arc: By Herself and Her Witnesses; The Retrial of Joan of Arc: Evidence for Her Vindication; all by the noted French historian Régine Pernoud.
My long-time devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse under the loving care of the Blessed Virgin Mary renewed my life. I feel called now to reflect, refresh, and create new expressions of love and devotion. Perhaps you will want to do the same or something similar!