Saturday, January 03, 2009

Joan D'Arc

Over the holidays I read a book called Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. This was a fictional account of the life of Joan D’Arc written by Mark Twain under the pseudonym of Sieur Louis De Conte and said to be translated by Jean François Alden.

Essentially what we have is an author, Samuel Clements, who uses the pen name of Mark Twain to write a story adopting another pen name and a third pseudonym for the translator. By the way the name Sieur Louis De Conte is derived from the initials of Samuel Langhorne Clement or SLC.

Clement dedicates the book to his wife. He has written it after the death of his beloved daughter. It is said that he used his daughter as a basis of the character of Joan.

The details of the life of Joan of Arc from a biography which is unique among the world’s biographies in one respect: It is the only story of a human life which comes to us under oath, the only one which comes to us from the witness-stand. The official records of the Great Trial of 1431, and the of the Process of Rehabilitation of a quarter of a century later, are still preserved in the National Archives of France, and they furnish with remarkable fullness the facts of her life. The history of no other life of that remote time is known with either the certainty or the comprehensiveness that attaches to hers.

In my Christian walk I have questioned the Catholic Church’s position on appointing Saints. My wife has explained to me these are merely people that the Church feels have lived extraordinary lives and/or done extraordinary things. Even at that I still find it difficult to understand why the Church venerates some to the position of Saint. Understanding Joan of Arc has taken an understanding of this one step further for me.

Joan was a shy peasant girl of simple faith. She had friends but kept to herself. In doing so she began to be visited at age 13 by Angels of God.

Let me pause here. A few years ago, we in the Christian community and the not-so Christian community had this Angel fad going on. There were all sorts of gurus and no-it-alls writing books, visiting Churches, holding seminars and appearing on Oprah to let you know how you could find out about the care and feeding of your own personal Angel. For a fee they would even communicate with your Angel for you or perhaps draw your Angels portrait.

I say phooey on those folks. Joan's story and life have nothing to do with this nonsense.

The Bible clearly says that Angels are messengers of God. We also learn from the Bible the proof that a prophet speaks the Word of God is when the prophecy is fulfilled.

I have no doubt in my mind, not from reading this fictional account of Joan of Arc, but from reading the transcripts of her trials and knowing that historically the things she states she was told by her “visions” did indeed come true.

How is it that a poor uneducated peasant girl could wind up confronting the dethroned King of France and convince him to allow her to lead his army to drive the English invaders out of France? Although she was unskilled in battle and probably had never ridden a horse, miraculously she became the force that convinced the French to take up arms and revolt against their invaders. Incredibly by listening to God’s voice she was able to lead her army into battle and win while the learned men of war were still making their battle plans.

Joan D'Arc became the scourge of the English.

During her trial this unlearned country girl was given words for her defense and boldly said them to her accusers.

In her own words, her capture came about when she did not listen to God when He told her to stay at a town called St. Denis. Instead when her army moved out she went on to do battle and was captured at the town of Clariox.

During her imprisonment she attempt to escape twice and severely injured herself when she jumped from a tower. In her trial transcript before there is a verdict she tells her accusers that God said she would be a martyr.

I know, that I know, that God speaks to each of us. Most often it is through actions in our daily lives. At times it is in answer to prayer. And it is also a small voice or a thought that comes at us. There are those that God speaks to and uses in a dramatic way. He gives them a vision and they drop everything and follow it. We’ve seen this with Billy Graham and Mother Teresa and others.

In Twain’s book, the narrator states that Joan had a “seeing eye”, meaning that she could predict and she could view the heart of a man. I disagree. I believe she had a listening heart and availed herself to be used of God. I suppose that would be the definition of a Saint.
The Trial Transcript
E-Book of Twain's Personal Recollection of Joan of Arc

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