Tag Archives: France

The Voice of God

Let’s not duck the obvious challenge to the main theme of this version of the Sunday Sermon series. “Follow the Voice of God” brings with it the possibility that any particular individual will get it wrong. It won’t be the true “Voice of God” that they are hearing, but instead may be a hallucination brought on by anything from an abused substance to a mental or physical illness.

That said, there is no doubt in my mind that not only famous individuals throughout history, but also ordinary men and women every single day, receive messages directly from the Almighty. Sometimes these are specific lucent and palpable words and phrases of command. More often they are whispers of direction.

When you as a normal, rational, thinking human being feel yourself being consistently and repeatedly guided by what you might simply describe as “something inside me” towards a certain path, be it in your familial relationships or career choice or general life direction, you should seriously consider that this may very well be that ‘Voice of God’ whispering into your mind and soul.

God has many important things that he wants done in our world. I believe that he repeatedly has used the actions of human beings who have accepted his message and direction, have listened to it fully, understood it correctly, and not been afraid to embrace it and follow through on it in their lives in order to make a difference to humanity in large and small ways.

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the trial of Saint Joan of Arc in 1431 at the English-occupied city of Rouen in Normandy, France. Joan was a young girl at a point in history when that was a particularly difficult time for someone of her age and sex to be taken seriously. But Joan heard the ‘Voice of God’, listened to it fully, overcame doubt and fear, took His message to action, and changed the course of world history.

Joan was born and raised at a difficult time for her home country of France. The historic rivals in England had taken advantage of a number of internal French leadership tragedies and political problems to conquer and control large portions of the country. At around age 12, Joan was alone in a field when she experienced a vision
in which Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret appeared to her and told her that she must drive out the English and return the King of France to power in a coronation at Reims.

At around age 16 she first attempted to make contact with the French ruling aristocracy in order to discuss the visions that she was continuing to receive, but was laughed off and turned away. She returned a few months later and managed to convince some influential men with the passion and intensity of her testimony. After a prediction that she made of a military battle came true, she was finally granted an audience with the French royals.

Charles VII of France, also known as Dauphin Charles, was out of options and likely felt that it was just a matter of time before he lost the entire land to England. Historians make little other sense outside of complete desperation of his willingness to allow a simple peasant girl who came from nowhere with nothing but a self-proclaimed ‘Voice of God’ message to don the armour of a knight and take a place at the head of the French military forces.

Within a short time of her arrival at the battle front, the tide began to turn for the French. She inspired the army with her religious fervor, and led it to victory through both her tactical expertise and her aggressive leadership from the front. Joan’s repeated victories led to Charles eventually appointing her command of the full army.

Wounded at different points by an arrow to the neck, a cannon shot to her helmet, and a crossbow bolt to her leg, Joan continued leading by example from the front of the troops. Reims was eventually taken, and the coronation of Charles given her as a her mission by the Saints finally took place.

While leading troops during a skirmish with English troops in May of 1430, Joan was finally captured and imprisoned. After many political negotiations involving her imprisonment and attempts at escape by Joan herself, she was finally put on trial in the seat of the English occupation government at Rouen for the charge of heresy due to the religious nature of her claim that it had been that ‘Voice of God’ having guided her actions.

During the trial, no evidence could be found to convict her, and so a theological trap was set for her. The prosecution asked her whether she knew that she was in God’s grace. The trap is in the answer. Were she to answer “yes”, she would be a heretic, because the Church taught that no one can be sure of being in God’s grace. If she were to answer “no” then she would be admitting her guilt in her very answer.

The notary at the proceedings later stated that her interrogators were “stupefied” by her actual reply: “If I am not, may God put me there; if I am, may God so keep me.” At bottom line, none of her testimony nor the fact that no real evidence against her could be proven mattered.

Evidence was manufactured against her, she was found guilty, and was burned at the stake on May 20th, 1431 at the age of just 19 years. Her body was burned three times so that no trace remained for collection as relics, and her executioner later stated that he “greatly feared to be damned.”

What became known in history as ‘The Hundred Years War’ continued for 22 more years, with France using Joan’s tactics to maintain control of their land. At the end of the war, Joan was posthumously retried and cleared during proceedings in which she was described as actually having been a martyr.

Beatified by the Church in 1909, she was canonized as a Saint by Pope Benedict XV in 1920. Saint Joan is the patroness of France and of all soldiers everywhere.

The story of the true life of Jeanne d’Arc, the teenage peasant girl from eastern France who followed the ‘Voice of God’, changed the course of world history, became inspiration for an entire nation and finally a Catholic Saint should be example enough for all of us.

It doesn’t matter your age or your sex. It doesn’t matter the times in which you live or the difficulty of the task ahead. What matters when you receive a true message from God is that you have the courage and perseverance to follow His voice.

NOTE: this is the continuation of the regular ‘Sunday Sermon’ series, all entries of which can be enjoyed by clicking on that label below this entry at the http://www.mattveasey.com website

The Haitian Mess

One week ago today on Tuesday, January 12th at 4:53pm local time, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale rumbled from 6 miles under the Caribbean island of Hispaniola not far from the capital city of Port-au-Prince in the nation of Haiti.

Widespread damage and massive death resulted almost immediately, and as the ensuing week has passed the death toll estimates have risen into the hundreds of thousands. It was the worst quake to strike at Haiti in over two centuries, and is going to prove to be one of the largest natural disasters in human history.

There is a story here that is being mostly buried under the literal rubble that is now the nation of Haiti. It is a story that most humanitarians would say is secondary at this stage to the human loss and suffering. They are correct on one level. Help is needed, massive amounts of help, and it is needed quickly.

But that story needs to be told as well, because it tells the story of a nation that was a complete mess even before the earthquake struck. It is a story of a nation run by criminal gangs and thugs with little or no national authority. It is a cautionary tale about allowing anarchy to take hold and destroy lives.

For those who are not aware of the basic facts, Haiti makes up the western end of the island of Hispaniola which it shares with it’s neighbor on the east side, the Dominican Republic. The island is approximately 700 miles southeast of Florida.

It was on December 5th, 1492 that Christopher Columbus landed in the ‘New World’ at Hispaniola and claimed the island for Spain. The island was already inhabited at that time by a native tribe known as the Taino. Over the next couple of hundred years the Spanish continued to develop the island, and also began importing African slaves.

In the late 17th century, French buccaneers began to settle the west side of the island which would later become Haiti, and pirates used Hispaniola regularly thereafter due to it’s strategic location in the Caribbean. Famed French pirate Jean Lafitte, who frequently operated off the southern United States, was born here in 1782. John Audubon, the famed French-American ornithologist for whom today’s nature society is named, was born in what is now Haiti in 1785.

The Spanish and French fought for control of the island, and in 1697 signed a treaty that gave the French control of the western end which they named Saint-Domingue. They brought in thousands of African slaves who made possible the French settlers wealth in the coffee, sugar and indigo industries.

In 1791 a revolution of sorts began to break out among the slaves, which was inspired itself by the French Revolution. The French tried to maintain control by abolishing slavery, and a former slave took over the reigns of governmental power for the first time.

Napoleon Bonaparte attempted to retake control and reinstitute slavery a few years later. These efforts proved not only fruitless but disastrous, as more than 50,000 French troops were lost in the efforts. On January 1st, 1804, the slaves formally declared independence and renamed their nation as Haiti, thus becoming the only nation ever born directly of a slave revolt.

In July of 1825, France again tried to reconquer the island. This time the Haitian government did not fare so well, and was forced to negotiate a peace that allowed it to retain its independence and name, but at the cost of financially reimbursing France for what it deemed were lost slave wage profits.

In the aftermath of this deal with France the Haitian government lost support and in 1843 was removed in a coup. This began a string of dozens of such governmental coups over the ensuing century and a half, leading right up to today.

In 2004, the latest coup removed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the United Nations has been trying to restore order ever since.

Haiti is a nation with a supposed political structure, but which in actuality was being run on a day-to-day practical level by gangs, some organized and some not, but all violent in nature. These gangs divert or hijack any material aid sent to the country by well-meaning humanitarian groups, with only the Brazilian-led U.N. mission keeping any semblance of order.

It was the mess of a nation called Haiti, a nation that really didn’t need any more trouble heaped upon it, that was devastated last week. But the real fact is that Haiti’s 10 million people were already living under intolerable, unmanageable circumstances long before the earthquake.

In the aftermath of the quake, the United States has been requested to come to the rescue and provide security for the massive undertaking that will be the rescue, relief, stabilization, and recovery operation that will be going on in the country over the coming months and years.

With a little luck and a lot of sustained American intervention, it is possible that what is reborn of Haiti can actually be better than what came before, and can provide the Haitian people with stability and an opportunity at having a real society that is free and safe for all it’s citizens, not just the elite few or the street-wise strongmen that were contributing to its ruin long before the earthquake.

The Eurack Obamapean

It has been described in the adoring old media as ‘a sea of humanity’ and ‘hundreds of thousands of adoring followers’. 

Of course, I am talking about the crowds at rallies for United States Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s visit this past week to Europe for his speeches in front of the ‘adoring throngs’ – in Germany and France. 

Meanwhile, back home here in the good-old United States, where the election actually matters and among his own nation, Republican candidate John McCain chose to visit with and talk problems with real Americans. 

The Dems just don’t understand the significance of the difference. 

A professor on public policy at George Mason University, Jeremy Mayer, is quoted as saying “…if you look at the pictures this week, McCain is speaking at a German restaurant in Ohio, and Obama is speaking before 200,000 Germans in Berlin” as if that is somehow a negative for McCain. 

Obama is speaking to a lot of Germans overseas. American hero John McCain is speaking to someone who built the American dream here in the U.S. as an independent businessman. 

But somehow Obama’s Euro-speech is more significant? Only to the liberal Kool Aid-drinking, Dem-supporting academic elites and the old media. 

With all the attention, Obama gained nothing in the polls during his big Euro-love festival. Liberal pundits are scratching their heads wondering what they have to do to get their candidate ahead. They just don’t realize that there is little that you can do to fool the full 51% of the American population of Americans who support positions to the right of their far-left agenda. 

It is not enough that he chose Europe to make his big public push this week, Obama was also seen globe-trotting in the war-torn Middle East. Problem was that he once again found a way to alienate our troops while over there. 

Obama continued his strategy of putting forth two different positions at once, depending on whatever audience he was in front of at the time. Pull out the troops, keep a strong presence. Keep up the fight, time to end the war. Back and forth, flip and flop, two-faced to the end. 

Those liberal pundits will continue scratching their heads as to the tight polls right up until their election loss in November. They just don’t get it, that the majority of Americans will always chose a real, proven American hero over a Euro-candidate any year.