To me! Well, to St Joan of Arc, really.
It was a great day — Mass and confession, a finger-food competition at work, some fellowship with coworkers after work, and a last-minute “pinch hitting” RCIA lesson. (The schedule speaker was sick, so the director asked this afternoon if I could teach. It was on the Eucharist, so it was great preparation for this weekend’s feast of Corpus Christi!) I also got some prayer time in before the RCIA class — just me and Jesus, alone in the large, beautiful Cathedral.
I love Joan of Arc so much. I’ve grown to love her for different reasons as I’ve gotten older. She has to be one of the coolest, strangest saints out there, but there was a time when I really struggled with how to reconcile her with femininity. (You can read my thoughts about that here.) But lately I’ve been reflecting on what she has to teach us about the Church.
It can be a struggle to syncretize our belief in the Church as holy with our experience of Her sinful members. This is a stumbling block for many, and not a few people leave the Church because of the scandal of sinful people. How can you believe in a Church whose priests abuse children? How can you attend Mass when Father is so rude? How can the Church be right when the woman that sits next to me in the pew is so awful?
Joan reminds us that you don’t leave Peter for Judas. The Church is made up of sinful people – that’s why I am allowed to be a member. Joan, like St. Catherine of Siena, loved the Church at a time when the Church wasn’t so lovable. But the sins of the Body of Christ didn’t stop Joan from loving Christ and His Church.
She famously said, “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”
And she said that while on trial in front of bishops of that Church. Yes, she loved the Church … even while members of that Church were trying her for witchcraft, were using the Eucharist as a bribe to get her to deny her Voices, and were psychologically abusing her on the stand. If anyone had a reason to criticize and censure the Church based on the behavior of Her members, it would be Joan.
“About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”
St. Jeanne d’Arc, pray for us!