Click below for Journey to Christendom – The Freedom Dance.
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Click below for a previous edition (same content but below is the original cover and under my pen name of S.T. Martin).
Everything changed for me on July 17, 2006. At approximately 10:00 pm, I walked through the halls of an old abandoned Catholic seminary, into the chapel, and toward a large statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I was a completely broken man – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Only a few minutes before, I made an emotional sacramental confession to a priest who was directing a week-long silent retreat at the former seminary for a group of about twenty of us.
Something happened as I stood before that statue of Our Lady after confession. The overnight drive to the retreat in the Pocono Mountains had taken me thirteen hours from my home north of Chicago. As I drove throughout the previous night and into the wee hours of that morning toward the retreat location, I prayed persistently to the Virgin Mary that the Holy Spirit might relieve me of more than twenty years of agonizing suffering. Now, there I was before an image of her after my confession.
Something happened. I do not know what it was, but something happened. I was healed. The following day during the morning conference, a phrase burned itself into my heart. “Seek first the Kingdom.” That was my instruction from the Blessed Virgin Mary for going forward.
Almost two years later in May of 2008, my wife and I attended the grand consecration of the newly hand-carved Icon of Our Lady of the Sign, Ark of Mercy at the church of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Chicago. Moved by the sacred beauty of the icon which held the Blessed Sacrament for adoration, I began visiting the church every week to adore the Eucharist. There, before the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, I began to feel the call to write.
Through the influence of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, my companion and patroness since the time of my conversion to the Catholic Church on her feast day in 1981, I wrote four free form poems that made up the foundation for what would later become this book. Yet, at that time, I had no idea that I was about to write a book. That would require one missing source of inspiration.
Soon after composing my poems, I found myself reading one of St. Thérèse’s poems devoted to Joan of Arc. That poem gave me a profound vision of just who St. Joan of Arc is and just how to interpret her enigmatic life. Through Thérèse’s spiritual eyes, my heart swelled with love for St. Joan and was inflamed with devotion for her. That flame of love and devotion for St. Joan of Arc, through the inspiration of St. Thérèse, has never subsided. The Virgin Mary truly had given me what I had asked of her, but, to my great joy, I received it through Joan and Thérèse. Now, St. Joan of Arc, with St. Thérèse, would lead me on my journey to “seek first the Kingdom.” A year later, I discovered that July 17 was the day that St. Joan led Charles VII victoriously to his crowning as King of France. July 17 was a very special day.
I began writing this book through that flaming inspiration from St. Joan under the influence of St. Thérèse.
The book is filled with personal stories, poetic metaphors, and thundering polemics. It is written in the language of the heart and at times, I will readily admit, rather crudely. The structure and flow of the book reflects my awkwardness in discovering a new life. I do not always know what to do or to say. However, I would not change a thing, as the book reflects properly the seeds of thought that would later grow into my life long project, one that has become the very purpose of my life. That project can be found at my main website: JoanandTherese.com.
Journey to Christendom – The Freedom Dance is about how all of this came about. It is my personal testimony, a spiritual journal, driven by love and the sisterly guidance of St. Joan and St. Thérèse as we joyfully travel the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed of Roman Catholicism.
This book holds the following statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago:
“In accordance with c. 827, permission to publish is granted on January 13, 2010 by Very Reverend John F. Canary, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Permission to publish is an official declaration of ecclesiastical authority that the material is free from doctrinal and moral error. No legal responsibility is assumed by the grant of this permission.”