Austin, United States

I have spent most of my career as a French professor and a research librarian, and have been reinventing myself as a writer. I’m...

Second Step for Trying Times

I was reading Newt Gingrich and co-author’s book on the American Revolution, “To Try Men’s Souls”. It’s hard to put that book down once you get into it. Fascinating. I was reading about all their defeats and all their difficulty. The Hessians were better armed, better clothed, and not having the same struggles with the weather that the new “Americans” had with poorer provisions. I read an excerpt about Washington’s daily prayers for his troops and the success of his mission. Anyway, it made me think of how to deal with difficulties. So a few days ago, I wrote this entry:
I was thinking about it today, and I recalled that Our Lady said, if you pray before beginning your work and at the end of your work, God will bless your work. I tried this on one job, and I was amazed at the spectacular results.

So from that first post, and from reading some more in the book, about Washington’s defeats, I remembered something else that is effective in any kind of conflict. When France was struggling with the British effort to take the French throne, that long war that did not seem to be able to be won, a young maiden stepped up to the plate, a most unlikely prospect for success. Who was that maid? Well, I’m sure you know something about the story of Joan of Arc. I think she was only 17 when she led the French troops to victory, and finally seeing the Dauphin crowned King of France.

What was the secret to her success? How did this young, very young, woman succeed where military leaders had failed? Quite amazing, isn’t it? Joan was a very devoted gal. She insisted on something new for the troops, something that had been unheard of before. She had first of all banished the troop “followers” from the troops. These were the women…you know. Next, she insisted that all of the men go to Confession. You can imagine how that was received! Nevertheless, Joan’s power over them was already strong, so they acquiesed. In fact, one soldier who had insulted her and God (and I don’t recall the exact circumstance), received her strong reprimand, and in some strange event, the soldier died. The hand of God, and not that of any man.

Once the troops had banished the women and cleaned their consciences, Joan led them to victory after victory, until she reached Orleans and convinced the Dauphin to be crowned. The King had been reluctant to believe her. So she insisted on speaking to him privately. THen she told him a secret about his life, one no other living soul knew anything about at all. This had been revealed to her by heaven. Once the King heard her words, he was immediately moved and recognized her authority as coming from God. He was crowned. But he also betrayed Joan, sadly. Nevertheless, she had saved France. She had completed her mission. The King, who had shown himself a coward, seems to have remained so.

This is how Joan of Arc won her battles, by insisting on confession and a state of grace for her troops. And the results were spectacular. This really does come from Scripture too. I’ll give you just one example:

“When all these things which I have set before you…you ponder them in your heart; then, provided that you and your children return to the Lord, your God, and heed his voice with all your heart and all your soul, just as I now command you, the Lord, your God, will change your lot; and taking pity on you, he will again gather you…will bring you back…”

“Here, then, I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.” —Deuteronomy 30

Anyway, this is step two of how to behave powerfully in trying times. So I will reiterate:
1.) Pray, pray, pray, an d be sure to pray before and after your work.
2.) Banish sinful habits offending against the Commandments from you, and go to confession. I find it interesting that the Church refers to sins against the 10 Commandments as “MORTAL sins”, i.e., sins that, without repentance, can destroy your soul and cause you to lose heaven and inherit hell. There are lesser sins, called “venial sins”, because they are not so serious that you will be refused heaven if you do not repent.

So if you want to receive help from God, here are the first two steps.

Perhaps tomorrow, I’ll be inspired again by “To Try Men’s Souls…” hah!

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