Phenomenology in general makes truth more accessible to our consciousness. It deals with how we construct our understanding of the world around us and helps us make logical inferences about how our lived experience correlates to what we know. Phenomenology harmonizes the principles governing the self-evident truths in our lives and guides us as we attempt to make sense of our experiences. Phenomenological Devotion more specifically focuses on the appearance of self-evident truths revealed to us by Divine Providence in our contemplative lives and harmonizes their governing principles in a way that clarifies their meaning and purpose. It helps us make sense of the truths revealed to us. Phenomenological devotion begins with a divinely given point of interior inquiry. That point of inquiry given to Royaume France is Joan of Arc as revealed to us through the heart of St. Thérèse.
Applying phenomenology to our religious devotions opens our hearts and minds to grace that we might intuitively understand the essence underlying the experience of our spirituality. We develop reasonable axioms from these intuited essences by which to derive higher level meaningful theorems about the correlation between our lived experience and the truths of the faith. We use our intellect and will under the guidance of grace to model the intuited essences revealed by the movement of Divine Providence in our lives. Phenomenological devotion brings clarity to our thinking as we contemplate the mysteries of the faith. Our contemplative modeling imbues us with agility of thought by which we cooperate with grace through the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, notably, wisdom, knowledge, counsel, and understanding.
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 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."
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 axioms through the lens of their spirituality to derive meaningful theorems about the purpose of our lives. Applying phenomenological methods to our spiritual and religious devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse gives us clarity of mind through knowledge and understanding, agility of thought through counsel, and pureness of heart through wisdom that 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.
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 intellectual methodology for making sense of how our lived, contemplative experience of the heart correlates to the world of objective reason. Its goal is our sanctification through the obedience faith in the Holy Catholic Church.
Phenomenological devotion to St. Joan and St. Thérèse can be described more accessibly as clarity of mind, agility of thought, and pureness of heart. Each is discussed in order below.
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.
Only God can bequeath these gifts of clarity of mind, agility of thought, and purity 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 intuitive certainty, an event Edith Stein calls an “intuitive touch,” or, a “divine glance.” This glance instills in us the primary 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 primary 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.
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 insight (divine glance) 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 is both personal and subjective in our own spirituality while at the same time being objectively communal and societal in helping to build 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 become 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 reason.” 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.
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