Jehannian-Thérèsian Phenomenology

Clarity of mind, agility of thought, and pureness of heart

The goal of Royaume France is to help us unite our hearts, minds, and souls with the two celestial patronesses chosen for us by Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mother, the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary. These two proximate figures are St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. More specifically we refer to their combined French Catholic spirituality, the Combined Hearts of Joan and Thérèse, as the means Divine Providence has chosen for us that we might become fully who we are destined to be in the mystical, beautiful panorama of the “landscape of souls,” to use St. Thérèse’s metaphor. Rephrased, the goal is the salvation of our souls by being intuitively “present” to Joan and Thérèse as they are to each other in clarity of mind, agility of thought, and pureness of heart as they lead us through the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Sacred heart of Jesus in His Holy Catholic Church. 

As clarity, agility, and purity are manifestations of glory revealed in the body of the resurrected Christ which we are promised as heirs with Him, our project invites our saintly sisters to form these same attributes in us through their intercessory care. We draw closer to them through a phenomenological understanding and transcend to know them ever more fully here on earth as they know each other in Heaven through clarity of intuition and agility of correlative insight whereby we contemplate an ever-expanding panorama of unified meaning. We call the modeling of these “categorical” intuitions “following the science of the Saints,” or in our metaphorical language, “Walking the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with St. Joan and St. Thérèse.” Thus, this work is about bringing the Father’s Kingdom “on earth as it is in Heaven” in union with our saintly sisters, Joan and Thérèse. Through grace we ascend the Dionysian staircase by these Heavenly attributes of clarity, agility, and pureness so as to unite ourselves with Jesus, Mary, and the saints in one panorama of unity and wholeness.

 How do we make this phenomenology of Joan and Thérèse a reality?  How do we “walk the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed” with them to the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary? We  share life-stories “about” them so as to share transcendence “with” them.  Sharing transcendence with them is a way of being in communion with them. Through this communion, they lead us in contemplation of the self-evident truths held within our own life-story. These self-evident truths unite into meaningful, higher level categorical intuitions.  Through a “Holy Realism” we construct our new world view. With that, our liturgical, spiritual, and religious lives become the material by which our intuitions build a bridge to Heaven. They become the very means by which we come to realize our place in the Kingdom of Heaven with Joan and Thérèse, as much as possible here, and to be fulfilled entirely only in heaven. 

Yet, more than being simply “our” place, it is where we fit in community with others, in the communion of saints; it is our place in the panorama of the Kingdom. And this is what we all are looking for in our liturgical, spiritual, and religious lives – to come to understand who we are in the Kingdom.

Thérèse influences us through the ascent of the soul in mystical prayer while Joan influences us through the ascent of understanding the nature of the Kingdom. Together they lead us to a deep realization of who we are in the mind of God and where we fit in this Kingdom.

The Jehannian-Thérèsian approach is an empathic sharing in Joan’s own noematic field of meaning.

I have written extensively on the subject of empathic devotion to St. Joan of Arc. Our Lord and Our Lady have transformed my life through this uniquely powerful relationship. The Holy Spirit has willed to provide the sanctifying grace I need in hierarchical fashion, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and then through St. Joan. I have been fascinated for over a decade as to the process and mode of this grace. It feels as though I am called to think it through for whatever mysterious purpose that thinking out, that modeling of the grace, serves the Kingdom of God.

The key aid has been Edith Stein, known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Stein was a pre-conversion phenomenologist who, post-conversion, reconciled phenomenology with the scholasticism of the Church. The result has been a treasury of knowledge for my cause. Edith Stein integrated modern philosophical thought with the ancient tradition of the Church. She is modern without being a modernist, a spiritual talent sorely needed in contemporary society.

Her description of the need to engage a mentor, even across time and space, by studying their thinking from “grounds to conclusions” overwhelmed me as being most appropriate for understanding my own devotion to Joan, my mentor. It was my first reflection on empathy from Edith Stein’s perspective and the beginning of my articulation of “empathic devotion.” I began to realize that it was empathy, in the Steinian sense, that I felt with Joan of Arc. I wanted to go where she goes, to follow in her footsteps to the pearl of great price. This empathy, this tracing of footsteps, when understood through the harmonization of the revealed truths discovered in this communion, also can be described as an empathic reduction. It is a union of heart, mind, and soul with Joan through a sharing in her “internal horizon,” her thematic field of French, Catholic, and Royal perceptual noematic meaning. We are interested in understanding Joan’s mind,  heart, and soul by reducing her life’s story to its core essence and sharing in her point of view. In this way, we truly can follow her to that pearl of great price from “grounds to conclusions.”

What is Phenomenological Devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse?

Phenomenological devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse is the application of the principles of phenomenology to our celestial relationship with our saintly sisters, Joan of Arc and Thérèse of Lisieux. Joan becomes our embodied point of inquiry, of our intentionality, through the heart of St. Thérèse. Together they guide us to self-evident truths that when harmonized make radical changes in our conscious understanding of the world. Joan and Thérèse guide us to a Heavenly understanding of who we are in the Kingdom of God. In this way, phenomenological devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse leads to the meaningful fulfillment in our lived experience of the Our Father. His Kingdom come, His will be done, “on earth as it is in Heaven.”

How does Phenomenological Devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse work?

Through disciplined prayer, contemplation, and study founded on a life of sanctifying grace, we follow in the footsteps of St. Joan and St. Thérèse with intentionality; we seek the truths evident in their life-stories, and  come to understand through them the self-evident truths in our own life-stories. We then expand on those Jehannian-Thérèsian meanings through the hermeneutics of experiential insight. Applying phenomenological methods to our spiritual and religious devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse gives us clarity of mind through knowledge, agility of thought through understanding, and pureness of heart through wisdom that together lead us in an enlightened manner to the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We call this walking the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with St. Joan and St. Thérèse.

What is the goal of phenomenological devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse?

The goal of phenomenological devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse is to clarify the meaning and purpose of our lives through our relationship with our saintly sisters. It is to aid in our sanctification through grace in union with the Holy Catholic Church and in full assent to all that she teaches. Phenomenological devotion is itself neither spiritual guidance nor doctrinal teaching. It is an intuitive methodology for making sense of how our lived, contemplative experience of the heart correlates to the world of objective meaning. Its goal is our sanctification through the obedience of faith in the Holy Catholic Church.

The “Divine Glance”

Only God can bequeath these gifts of clarity of mind, agility of thought, and pureness of heart to us and in the manner He chooses. These gifts of grace manifest themselves imperfectly in us in this life but will be brought to fruition in the fullness of glory as co-heirs with Christ in the next, should we persevere to the end. The Holy Spirit through the Immaculate Heart of Mary touches us with an unreflective certainty, an event Edith Stein calls a “divine glance.” This glance instills in us the primordial data from which we draw clarity of mind, begin our journey, and receive key insights on our way. 

In our devotion to St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse, an example could be an immediate, enthusiastic, immutable devotion to Joan of Arc communicated through the poetry of St. Thérèse. Or, it could be a moment when we pause from our reading to exclaim, “Joan’s work is not finished!” This intuitive touch, or divine glance is an act of grace drawing us into the mystery of True Devotion to Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the specific devotion of the Combined Hearts of Joan and Thérèse. 

The “divine glance” is founded on a life of sanctifying grace through the sacraments of the Church whereby this primordial data is transformed through purity of heart to the clarity of mind needed to be present to Joan and Thérèse, allowing us to “follow” them transcendently in agility of thought to the heart of Mary.

Clarity of Mind and Agility of Thought

We know that we are “present” to St. Joan and St. Thérèse and are “guided” by them to the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary through clarity of mind, agility of thought, and pureness of heart. We have defined each of these attributes in the introduction. “Presence,” through the sharing of stories about and with them, is defined more deeply as “being present to them” in our mutual sharing of stories, which is “to be with them” in a transcendent communion of spirit. This “presence” as communion of spirit is not defined by physical, earthly proximity. 

Two people can be present to each other while living far apart in the world. A mother is more present to her child who is a thousand miles away than to the clerk before whom she stands at the checkout counter. Clarity of mind makes mother present to child even while far apart in time and space. Agility of thought instantly moves mother close to her child even while physically apart. In this same way, clarity of mind makes us “present” to St. Joan and St. Thérèse while agility of thought “moves” us with them to the heart of the Blessed Virgin. In other words, clarity of mind and agility of thought lead to “being-with” them and, by an empathic sharing of their hearts and minds, “moving-to” the heart of Mary in a manner that transcends time and space. We are in communion with them despite the different states of our existence. 

Walking the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with St. Joan and St. Thérèse is a metaphor for this clarity and agility which transcends earthly existence. By sharing their stories which reveal the self-evident truths in our own life-story, we are with them in clarity of mind. By then constructing the mental models of the Kingdom out of the axioms inherent in these truths, we move with Joan and Thérèse in agility of thought. In this way we are uniting ourselves with them in the Immaculate Heart of Mary and with Jesus through her even though separated by time and space.

Pureness of Heart

This presence to our saintly sisters brings us into something bigger than ourselves. We become who we are supposed to be in the grand scheme of the panorama of the Heavenly Kingdom. This is the purpose. Through our abiding presence and communion with Joan and Thérèse (clarity of mind), they are moving us (agility of thought) in purity of heart to the Kingdom of God. Through our saintly sisters we furthermore are given the soft light of intuitive insight as to this Kingdom to which we are called. It is the mystical Kingdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Catholic and Royal France, the true and full form of which is in the center of her Immaculate Heart. 

Through clarity of mind, we understand that the French Royal Combined Hearts of St. Joan and St. Thérèse could lead us nowhere else but to this mystical Kingdom. Our devotion leads us to the discovery of a “Holy Expression” that has a force of embodied necessity and communal value for building up the Kingdom of God. We understand that the more perfectly we become who Jesus intends us to be in the Kingdom, as St. Thérèse instructs us, the more perfect we become. Joan and Thérèse are leading us to the place Jesus intends for us that we might ourselves become the embodiment of who He intends us to be. 

This requires the holy realism, as Edith Stein describes it, of the saintly Combined Hearts, which manifests as the science of Royaume France whereby we construct our “bridge of meaning.” We are drawn upward through a Dionysian hierarchy of truth to the eternal and immutable Kingdom. Thus, Walking the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with Joan and Thérèse as described above, they guide us through the dark night of faith in the soft light of holy Jehannian-Thérèsian realism bringing us to the fullness of our being in the communion of saints. This is our goal.