Bright Maidens: Believe Me If You Like

 The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

Topic: Fr. Corapi and the importance of Christian witnessing

Elizabeth at Startling the Day
Julie at The Corner With A View 
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Believe Me If You Like
Q: How do you know that it is Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine who speak to you?

A: I have told you often enough that they are Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine – believe me if you like.
Transcript of the Trial of Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc by Bastien-Lepage
As a young girl born during the Hundred Years’ War, St. Joan of Arc heard the voices of Saints Michael, Margaret, and Catherine instructing her to dress like a man and save France.  Joan bravely sought the dauphin, the future King of France; predicted French defeats; and in April of 1429, requested to free Orleans, a town which had been English-occupied for months.  She was successful, though wounded, and celebrated as the Maid of Orleans.

Soon after, she was captured by Burgundian troops and sold to the enemy English.  She was then imprisoned for a year and tried by the Catholic Church on charges of witchcraft and heresy.  An inaccurate summary of her statements was drawn and she was convicted.

In a moment of panic, she felt overwhelmed in front of the large crowds, and recanted her position.  Once she reached her rooms, however, she gained confidence and once again professed the truth of her statements. Joan was condemned as a relapsed heretic and burned at the stake.  Her last words were “Jesus, Jesus!”

Asked if she knows she is in God’s grace, she answered: “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.” She added, if she were in a state of sin, she did not think that the voice would come to her; and she wished every one could hear the voice as well as she did.

St. Joan of Arc is an example of authentic Christian witnessing.  She properly and humbly defended herself from her interrogators, who happen to be Church clergy! If you read the Transcript of her trial (link above), you will find her to be a devout, simple peasant girl who took on an insurmountable task at the urging of Saints, Angels, and the Lord Himself.

We are all called to witness in the same way, although our tasks may not be as bold as Joan’s, nor as life-threatening.  As the Body of Christ, our actions must mirror Christ’s in all we do, and when we face opposition from even our own Church, we must humble ourselves, trusting that God works in His own time.  The truth will always come out.

In a July 5th statement the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, Fr. John Corapi’s Order, insisted that although Fr. Corapi inspired “thousands of faithful Catholics…he is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations.”  This is the danger of false witnessing: it misleads others and often damages their trust, their hope, and their courage.  It sows seeds of discord instead of seeds of peace.

If the Body of Christ jeers, mocks, lies, and hurts other…can we really say we’re the Body of Christ?  Will we really move others to want to know Jesus?  Will we shower others with Christ’s love when we don’t act like him?  

Fulton Sheen told a story about an encounter he had with Mother Teresa.  He asked her how she catechized so many men and women.  She replied that as she cared for the Poorest of the Poor, she would ask them if they wanted to know about Jesus.  “Is Jesus like you?” her charges replied.  “No,” Mother Teresa would tell them, “I’m trying to be like him.”  With that statement and Mother Teresa’s love, the hearts of these men and women were opened to Christ.

Again, most of us do not have the same call as Mother Teresa, but we witness in other ways.  When we participate in Sacramental life; when we care for children,the elderly, or the home-bound; when we offer friends encouragement; when we pray for our enemies; when we give to the needy; when we welcome strangers; when we share hope; and when we offer support, we point our friends, family, and others to Christ’s love.  As long as we do this, we authentically witness to Him.

I will never forget one night in college when I did not feel like going to 9 p.m. Mass in the University Chapel.  “I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I don’t want to go!” I complained to God.

I got dressed anyway.

As I put on my shoes, my phone rang.

“Trista, what’s goooood?” 

It was one of my transfer students, a baseball player with a good heart, lots of smarts that he wasn’t using, and a penchant for partying.

“What’s up?” I asked him.

“I’m sending up the bat signal,” he said, an inside joke about how my transfers could send signs, and I’d be there to help.  “You, like, go to St. Vinny’s for Mass right?”

I sighed.  So funny, Lord!  “Yep, I’m actually heading there in a few.”

“Great, cuz I was thinking…I don’t know anyone who goes to Mass…and like, I wanna go tonight, but I don’t wanna sit by myself…so I thought, oh yeah!  Trista goes!  I could sit with her.”  He was silent for a second.  “Right?”

I tried to digest the fact that he was asking me to help him find a place in the Church.  I felt a heavy, but not uncomfortable, weight on my shoulders.  Whether I realized it or not, others were watching my actions and coming to me to better know Christ’s love.

“Yeah, of course!,” I replied.  “Meet you there in five minutes!”