In a moment described to me as the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, my mother named me Joan Lorraine, after St. Joan of Arc, who hailed from the French district of Lorraine.
The name previously chosen for me was quickly disregarded, and a name my mother had never before entertained became mine. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I felt my name to be somewhat outdated amongst all the Lisas and Jennifers. I didn’t realize what a meaningful namesake I had been given!
For my confirmation, my class was encouraged to choose our given baptismal name as our confirmation saint name (as confirmation is the completion of the baptismal covenant). In choosing Joan for myself, and learning more about her faith life and accomplishments, I gained a friend and confidante whose name I was proud to bear.
When I saw that St. Joan of Arc was the patron of the Bellator Scriptor Society, I knew this was an endeavor that I wanted to be a part of!
During my undergraduate years at the University of Arizona, I became involved with the campus Newman Center. As my faith grew through participation in a Bible study and discipleship group, I began to desire to love as Jesus loves.
So how to do this exactly?
Besides prayer, my default mechanism was and is to find a great book on the subject! While perusing the shelves in the religion section at a used bookstore in Tucson, my eye was drawn to a book titled “Love is My Vocation”. Aha! My exact yearning! That book introduced me to St. Therese of Lisieux.
While reading this book, and the subsequent biography of St. Therese, Story of a Soul, I felt so connected with this quiet, humble French maiden. I was astonished to learn how much St. Therese respected and honored Joan of Arc. It is easy to picture Joan of Arc in battle, but I began to see hallmarks of a battling warrior in Therese as well: courage, wisdom, and living one’s life for a greater cause.
I began to meet life’s challenges with these two great saints in my corner.
In June of 2016 I found a lump in my left breast. It was 5 days before my oldest daughter’s wedding. I quickly made the necessary appointments, and received my diagnosis of malignancy as I was decorating our church hall for the wedding reception. What a contrast of feelings I experienced at this moment! Incredible joy at the imminent creation of a new family, and profound fear as to what my own future held.
Fear was a battleground for both of my sister saints: Joan, when she capitulated her testimony in the face of martyrdom, and Therese when she faced the dark night of the soul and feared the loss of her salvation.
Being a brave warrior does not mean that we never fear.
It means that we admit our cowardice, and call upon the Perfect Love that casts out all fear. This was my prescription for walking the road of numerous doctors’ appointments, blood tests, scans, four surgeries, and eight chemo treatments. As I began to lose my hair, my energy, and eventually both of my breasts, I called on St. Joan and St. Therese to walk my journey with me and help me respond with trust in God’s plan for me.
Amid all the loss, I gained so much more; greater faith and knowledge that my life is not solely about me, appreciation for all of God’s blessings, courage to live one day at a time, and the ability to offer up my suffering for others. The presence and example of these great warrior saints helped me face my own fears. They have led the way for me to experience inner peace despite the storm surrounding me. I am eternally grateful for these great women who continue to show me how to be a true warrior for Christ.
Who helps you to claim your warrior status?