What can a fifteenth-century peasant girl teach us about living our mission today?
St. Joan of Arc lived during the Hundred Years’ War. It was a time of great political upheaval and confusion. Much of France was under English rule while the throne was disputed among the royals of the time. Through a series of messages from St. Catherine and St. Margaret, she was given her life’s mission to help Charles VII gain his rightful place as King of France.
Joan exhibited great courage and fortitude in pursuing her mission to save her country. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines fortitude as, “the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause.”
So committed was Joan to her mission that she, an uneducated peasant girl, willingly spoke in the highest courts of her land. She bravely went into battle with men who were far more experienced and skilled than she. Then, though only nineteen years old, she was unwilling to recuse herself in court to save her own life from being burned at the stake.
Below are some of the most inspiring quotes compiled from the many works, testimonies, and transcripts of her life:
“Courage! Do not fall back.”
“In God’s name let us go on bravely.”
“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, and so they give their lives to 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 who you are and to live without belief is more terrible than dying – even more terrible than dying young.”
“I fear nothing for God is with me!”
“Go forward bravely. Fear nothing. Trust in God; all will be well.”
“I am not afraid; I was born to do this.”
“All battles are first won or lost, in the mind.”
“I am the drum on which God is beating out his message.”
“… since God commanded me to go, I must do it.”
“Hold the cross high so I may see it through the flames.”