In May, 1920, Pope Benedict XV officially declared that Joan of Arc was a Saint. Although we cannot gather together in Church to honor our Patroness, I thought it might be a good moment for our parish to reflect on the significance of her life. The “Father of American Literature”, Mark Twain, wrote a major work on her, which he considered to be his most important and best book. “She is easily and by far,” he said of the saint, “the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.” This 100th anniversary is a good occasion to renew our interest in St. Joan of Arc and the important lessons we can learn from her short but impactful life. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said this about the Saint Joan’s interior life and commitment to action: “We know from Joan’s own words that her faith life developed as a mystical experience from the time when she was 13 years old. Through the “voice” of St Michael the Archangel, Joan felt called by the Lord to intensify her Christian life and also to commit herself to the liberation of her people. Her immediate response, her “yes”, was to a vow of virginity, with a new commitment to sacramental life and to prayer: daily participation in Mass, frequent Confession and Communion and long periods of silent prayer before the Crucified One or the image of Our Lady. One of the most original aspects of this young woman’s holiness was precisely this link between mystical experience and political mission. ”Obviously, a teenage girl wanting to meet the French king so she could lead his army sounds preposterous. By sheer force of her will and the sincerity with which she spoke, however, Joan managed to win a meeting with King Charles. Their encounter is one of the more famous anecdotes from the lives of the saints. The French King wanted to test Joan’s authenticity. The King was disguised among his courtiers dressed as an ordinary nobleman. Joan ignored the man dressed up as the king sitting in the place of honor in the center of the hall and went straight to the real king and knelt at his feet. This impressed everyone. Joan was given supreme command of the army at the age of 17. Her presence among the army wrought marvels. The soldiers became more disciplined and stopped swearing. She was affectionately called La pucelle—“the Maid,” that is, virgin. Following the Maid into battle, the soldiers of France began to win victory after victory. Joan’s presence completely reversed the course of the war in France’s favor, and with it the course of history. After several decisive victories Joan was captured and held as a prisoner. The ungrateful King Charles made no attempts to secure her freedom. Her enemies set up a false trial to condemn her as a heretic and a sorceress. The clergy who ran the trial were opposed to Joan politically. The grossly unfair proceedings led to her being burned at the stake in the marketplace of Rouen on the morning of May 30, 1431. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI described the trial as “…a distressing page in the history of holiness and also an illuminating page on the mystery of the Church which, according to the words of the Second Vatican Council, is ‘at once holy and always in need of purification’ (Lumen Gentium, n. 8).” Joan, since childhood, was devoted to the Holy Name. As the flames consumed her, she was heard by all calling upon the Name of Jesus. With the Holy Name on her lips the Maid gave up her soul. She was 19 years old. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI continued his reflection on St. Joan of Arc saying, “The Name of Jesus, invoked by our Saint until the very last moments of her earthly life invites us to a high standard of Christian living: to make prayer the guiding motive of our days; to have full trust in doing God’s will, whatever it may be and drawing, like her, from the Love of Jesus a profound love for the Church.” Since my arrival, parishioners have shared the importance of the parish in their lives. As pastor of Saint Joan of Arc, I offer this invitation and challenge to all of us. A simple and impactful way to deepen the importance of both Christ and the Church calls us to follow her small example. She showed great reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus. (by providence the name of our own Cathedral here in Chicago). Use her example to challenge yourself about reverence in your speech. Our national language has become more coarse and base. Think of it this way ~ we have these days of confinement so let us use them. We can clean up our speech and this will help all of us to clean up our act (life). It is a thought and challenge ~ until we, like Saint Joan of Arc, put it into action in our lives.