What Captivates the Heart
On the Fourth of July, I stood out on the National Mall in DC with tens (maybe hundreds?) of thousands of people, watching fireworks light up the sky above the Washington Monument. It was beautiful. It was awe-inspiring. It was simply… captivating.
That same day, I finished Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, a book I’ve been devouring over the past three weeks. Twain holds up this book, a fictionalized account of Joan of Arc’s callings, battles, trial, and death, as the “…best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.”
Twelve years. Twelve years Twain, an ardent anti-institution and anti-Catholic author, spent drawn in and captivated by the story of a seventeen year old girl; an illiterate, poor shepherdess from a tiny town in France, who inspired a country and won back a crown that had been out of their hands for almost 100 years. The story itself is almost unbelievable. What a life, what faith, and what courage!
Sometimes I think the world sees a life obedient to God as one boring, tedious, and unremarkable. But a life fully surrendered to God is the greatest adventure of all. Joan captured the hearts of a nation and the world, and her story has left me more determined to be just as open, surrendered, and trusting of God’s goodness and purpose for our lives.
The life and story of Joan of Arc has never been more relevant, necessary, and important. I couldn’t recommend the book enough – I think it’s solidly claimed it’s place as one of my three favorite books of all time. You can order it here, and if you want a deeper look at how Twain became so fascinated by the life of Joan of Arc, this article offers great insight (or as much insight as we can gather from his life!)
Twain’s love and admiration of Joan of Arc leaps off the page. His respect and awe for this faithful, joyful, generous, merciful, and incredibly courageous woman is more than deserved. And, much like the fireworks last night, the human heart is captivated by the magnificent. Joan of Arc is nothing if not magnificent. St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!
What we’re loving lately (on the blog and beyond!)
Norwid once wrote: “Beauty exists to awe us into work, and work exists to raise us from the dead.” If man indeed rises again through work, through the different forms of work he carries out, this is precisely due to the inspiration he draws from beauty: from the beauty of the visible world, and within it especially from the beauty of womanhood.
There’s 13 full pages of this beauty, and I encourage you to dive into this reflection by Saint Pope John Paul II! I’ve already gone back to it three times this week. It’s stunning!
The SundayMonday Spotify Playlist is here!
There’s something about beautiful music that lifts the soul. Here’s a collection of some of my current favorites – songs that uplift, pour out joy, and are just freaking gorgeous. Among all these gems, I’ve had Runaway and In the Meantime by Jess Ray on repeat this week. Enjoy!
Liturgical Living with Gabriela R. A. Doyle
July is the month of the most precious blood of Jesus. It makes sense; after spending June pondering the Sacred Heart, we should be more ready to accept and adore the precious blood. But how often have you really thought about the blood of Jesus? As Catholics we talk about the body and blood, but many of us only really *know* the body.
For me at least, I’ve actually never even received the most precious blood in Holy Communion. My parish consecrates it of course, but usually only the Eucharistic ministers receive it, and I was always too shy to break out of the communion line to go forward. This week I encourage you to go to Mass and receive the most precious blood if you can. Then spend some quiet time in prayer praying the Litany of the most precious blood.
Jesus gave his life for our sins—his body—but it was a painful death, a bloody one. This is why we often think of his blood as our ransom for our sins. They say the church was born from Jesus’s crucifixion, and the sacraments from the blood and water that poured out of his pierced side. To commemorate this sacrifice, you can also try to go to Confession this month.
In the weeks to come, I’ll be sharing other ways to consider the precious blood and what else you can do to live more liturgically this month. Stay tuned!
Words of the Week
“Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, nevertheless they give up their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it, and then it’s gone. But to surrender what you are, and live without belief – that’s more terrible than dying – more terrible than dying young.”
// St. Joan of Arc
Intentions for This Week
For those preparing for life changes, for those who are overwhelmed or stressed. For all those experiencing tumult at work.
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Jane Kennedy lives in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and works in criminal justice reform. When she’s not working or writing, she’s probably catching up with friends on FaceTime, getting lost in Rock Creek Park, quoting C.S. Lewis, or trying to recreate Salt and Straw ice cream at home.