Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another Spiritual Lesson from Joan

“Aide toi et Dieu t'aidera”
“Aid yourself and God will aid you”

This spiritual truth is one that Saint Joan of Arc exemplified in her life and actions and one that I was only personally able to completely comprehend through studying Joan. I had always heard the old saying that “God helps those who help themselves” however I was taught in the churches that I attended that this was not true because these exact words are not contained in the Bible. When I came to the part of Joan’s life where she was examined by theologians prior to her being given command of the armies of France she was asked: “If God desires to deliver France where is the need for soldiers?” Joan famously responded: “In God’s name, the soldiers will fight and He will grant victory.” The priests examining Joan understood that Joan was correctly saying that God will aid those who attempt to aid themselves trusting in God for the ultimate victory such as the example of David when he stepped forward to face Goliath trusting God for victory.

I was recently reminded again of this spiritual truth in a way that made me think of Joan when a friend of mine sent me a link to a news article about Robert E. Lee’s sword. What caught my attention were the words contained on one side of the sword: Aide toi et Dieu t'aidera. These are the French words that Joan is renowned for speaking during her life and it is highly likely that the French craftsman who made this sword placed them on the sword in memory of one Christian general as a present for another. It is easy to envision Robert E. Lee gazing upon this sword and drawing strength from these words during the darkest moments of his life. (For more go to Joan of Arc & Robert E Lee)

Thank you Joan for continuing to teach me along with everyone else about the truths of God.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Joan at Paris

Joan Of Arc may have failed in her attempt to liberate Paris but few military commanders in history have acquitted themselves so admirable in a defeat. On September 8, 1429, Joan led an assault upon the St. Honore gate at Paris in an attempt to breach the strong walls surrounding the city which ultimately ended in failure when Joan was wounded in the thigh around dusk after a long day of fighting. Not willing to admit defeat herself Joan continued to encourage her men to attack and had to be forcible carried from the battle field. While historians have long debated about the factors that led to the French defeat at Paris one thing that has never been questioned is Joan’s valor. As historian Andrew Lang eloquently writes in his own commentary about Joan at Paris:
“But, through the mist, one figure stands out clear in the sunlight, discerned alike by friend and foe; a girl of seventeen in white armour, who lets herself down into the deep dry fosse, who climbs out on to the dos d'dne under the city wall, and, like Bruce at Perth, fathoms the water of the great fosse with her lance, under a rain of projectiles, till she is smitten through the thigh. Undaunted, unweakened, she cries on the men. History shows no other such picture.”

The following scene from the 1999 movie Joan of Arc is a touching, if not exactly historically accurate, portrayal of Joan’s failure at Paris.

To learn more about Joan at Paris visit these resources at MaidOfHeaven.com:

Eyewitness accounts of Joan of Arc at Paris
Andrew Lang's chapter about Joan at Paris