Brother Isambart de La Pierre, Part VIII

CHAPTER 41

FORGIVEN

Neither my body, mind nor spirit could find rest that night. Before my eyes the flames still danced. In my ears rang the sound of her calling on Jesus. In my nostrils clung the stench of her burning flesh. I found no peace in my bed, so I made my way to the chapel.

Once I closed the chapel's door the dark stillness of this sacred place enveloped me. The small, flickering light of the vigil lamp guided my halting steps to the tabernacle. I fell prostrate upon the cold, damp stone floor. With my copious tears pooling in the hollows of the flagstone slab, I begged God's mercy for what we churchmen had done. I don't know how long I was thus praying, when somehow an awesome light engulfed and transported me to Heaven! No longer prostrate and forlorn, I stood erect but speechless and wide-eyed; for there, before me lay the great expanse of paradise. How can I, a mere mortal, speak of the divine wonders I beheld; all was a brilliant white illumination or a glowing transparency. Oh, how my words fail me; but never mind, because I clearly saw all of heaven assembled before the Living God, and standing among them was Jeanne. How beautiful she looked, radiant in God's peace and love. Her long, immaculate gown flowed and moved like a shimmering liquid - soft and glistening - as Jeanne majestically approached, knelt and bowed low before The Almighty God.

I heard a whisper of thunder that shook the foundation of heaven. I knew it was God. Welcome MY daughter, MY good and faithful servant Maid; receive The Crown of Righteousness.

Jeanne's face reflected the Glory of The Lord as she lifted her hands to sing her own Magnificat.

"God, Who is mighty, has done great things for me. Holy, holy, holy IS Your Name! My being proclaims the greatness of The Lord; my spirit finds joy in God my Savior. For You have looked upon Your lowly Maid and so, henceforth, all generations will call me Saint. You have removed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places. The hungry You have given every good thing, but the rich You have sent empty away. God, Who is mighty, has done great things for me. Holy, holy, holy IS Your Name!"

When she arose, a delicate, glimmering crown of golden light was upon her head. Shaking the very vaults of paradise, trumpet blasts rang forth in harmony with the joyous hallelujahs of all the angels and saints. What a thrilling sound filled my ears, as my heart echoed the angelic chorus. OH! If only I could be in such a state -always!

It was with joy that I cried out my praises to God, because The Maid stood before me, whole and entire, brilliantly shining. Her youthful face and body were not comparable to the wretched, tortured prisoner I had known.

Filled with overwhelming remorse I bowed my head as I said, "I am sorry that you died such a agonizing death."

Instantly I felt her hand gently rest atop my head and a serene sense of peace flowed throughout my body. At this I dared to raise my head and her smiling face welcomed mine.

"All those months in my Rouen prison were truly terrible. I tried to spend each cold and dark night honoring Christ by uniting my sufferings with His.

"To help ease my pain I thought about my family, my mother and father, my three brothers and my dearly departed sister. I thought back to my life in Domremy with my friends and fellow villagers. I remembered how my life would gently ebb and flow with the slowly changing seasons.

"When my horrid prison was quiet, I used those rare times to reflect upon my life and if I were released what my future would be. For you see, though I was never sure, I clung tightly to my hope that somehow I would be set free.

"When I was told of my impending death, I could not believe it. I was truly stunned to the very core of my being. How could such a thing have happened to me? My Voices promised me that I would be rescued by a great victory and I believe this meant that I would be released. Why did King Charles not send soldiers to rescue me or pay my ransom? These questions filled my troubled mind.

"The only thought that kept me from falling into the blackness of despair was that I would soon be with my Lord and King, Jesus. Over and over I muttered to myself, 'finally I would be with Jesus.' This one thought helped to decrease my terror and bring me some comfort. Otherwise, I became numb to the events that were occurring around me.

"My last hours were filled with the sense that my life had been like a dream that came and left so quickly. My mission for God kept me so busy that my days flew by and now they were over.

"I was given the grace to focus on what I would say that would bring the greatest honor and glory to my Lord. I remembered that Jesus forgave His enemies as He hung upon His cross. So I determined to follow His example and do the same.

"Even though my tears freely flowed from the time that I was brought to the place of my execution until my final 'Jesus' had passed my dying lips. I did my best to accomplish this last task for Him.

"I was frightened beyond words as they chained me to the stake. My heart pounded so much that I thought it would erupt from my chest. This lasted until Brother Martin allowed me to lavish my kisses upon the image of Our Crucified Lord. As I did so my soul heard Jesus say, 'Soon you shall be with Me, in My Kingdom forever. I will be with you through the fire.' And this thought gave me courage.

"When I saw that the fire had been set to my pyre, I begged Brother Martin to go and save himself from the encroaching flames. As he was leaving, I told him, 'I will soon be with Jesus.' How grateful I am to him, for braving the heat and flames in order to keep Christ's image ever before my eyes.

"I looked up and there before me was the most beautiful blue sky that I had ever seen! With the eyes of faith, I saw the sky opened and Our Lord coming towards me, riding a magnificent white charger. Upon His head was a brilliant golden crown. I saw too, His Sacred Heart burning with intense flames of love. Near Him were my saints, Michael, The Archangel, Catherine and Margaret. The Heavenly Host were there too, singing God's praises.

"Jesus reached out His hand to me and I eagerly responded as I called out His Holy Name."

Sweetly Jeanne bade me rise as she said, "God asks you to tell those that you will meet about me. I never wanted to harm anyone in any way, and if it were Godís will, I would have willingly given my life for anyone, friend or foe. So tell the people not to be afraid of me. I am still that young farm girl from Domremy who loved Jesus with all her heart!"

"My ability to accomplish the Lord's will in my life came solely from love. Tell the people to focus on Jesus and to seek to love Him as I did. Tell them never to accept the ways of the world but only the ways of Christ. Life in the world is very brief whereas heaven is our true and eternal home, the destination for all those who love God.

"Have no fear in speaking about my weakness, for they are common to all. What is important is to encourage the people to strive to overcome them, as I did. Faith in Christ will grow as God's children struggle to defeat their failing. I always saw my faults but I relied on God's abundant grace to conquer them.

"If they need help in their daily trials and temptations, through the Mercy of Christ, I will be their help. I will never abandon them but will guide and help them until their life's end. For I love them all with the Love of Jesus.

"It is my fervent prayer that the people's anger will be consumed by Christ. Their fears will be taken from them, by the power of Christ. Christís truth will be their truth. The eyes of Christ will be their eyes so that they will see clearly. May the kind and gentle Spirit of Christ always guide their actions. Let their spoken words be from the lips of Christ. Let their prayers be said through faith in Christ. May they be merciful, as Christ is merciful to us all. Let the love they share be the Love of Christ. May their last word be the Name of Christ said as a prayer of praise and love for Him."

In the next instant I was back in the chapel. In a faint whisper, I heard for the last time, the soft, feminine voice of that ignorant girl who took up God's command and kept it courageously, even to the flames.

I will pray for you and for all my brothers and sisters...always.

Jeanne felt very sorry for the sadness she saw within the world. She was told by her voices that they had come to her because of the great pity that God had for the world. The people wanted to come to Christ and they tried to pray for God's Mercy, but their pain, caused by the destruction of their homes and crops, blocked their salvation, because it brought hate to their hearts and minds.

Jeanne was truly sensitive to the sufferings of Christ that came from the blindness of mankind. It was this perceptiveness that allowed her to hear her voices so clearly.

Her empathy caused her to speak softly to those who were weak in spirit and to speak boldly to those who were filled with selfishness. It caused her to be gentle to those who suffered and firm to those who caused the suffering.

Her spiritual awareness allowed her clearly to recognize evil in all its many forms. A man's goodness or evils were like marks upon their foreheads. It caused her loneliness of spirit, because she found it difficult to walk among those whose souls did not seek Christ's salvation. To hear unkind or false words spoken were like arrows piercing her heart.

Jeanneís deep spirituality caused to grow within her a good and kind nature. Everyone who truly knew her saw Christ's nature reflected there.

Only those who truly love God can feel this kind of suffering. It was this spirituality that was the true source of her emotional love. It led her to the gates of Orleans and to the flames of Rouen.

It gave her the ability to forgive others. God's forgiveness flowed from her to the priest who begged it of her as she was being taken to her place of execution. It flowed freely and fully to all those that surrounded her, the priests, the town's people and the soldiers both English and Burgundian. Before the flames, she forgave all those who had wronged her and thus the greatness of her spirit was recorded for all mankind to read. Her sensitivity came from Christ and through it He gave us His Mercy and Love.

Since that night I have longed for the day when the Church, that I have so poorly served and which Jeanne so deeply loved, will boldly proclaim the truth and will declare her to be

Sancta Johanna.