By Charles Jardine
One of St. Joan of Arc’s sayings is “help yourself and heaven will help you… you pray a lot but do not do anything.” St. Joan here is talking about our tendency to wait for a sign and being in a state of being stuck.
Sometimes when there’s a big decision in our life, we want God to give us a definitive sign, but one of the worst things we can do is tunnel our vision and look for one specific thing and miss all the other signs that God is giving us.
St. Joan wants us to discern, of course, but she wants us to realize what we are doing or trying to accomplish. If we are thinking about going to mass an extra day out of the week, we wouldn’t be looking for a sign to tell us that it is a good thing. Rather, we know that it glorifies God and therefore we should do it. It is this same mentality in bigger situations that St. Joan is asking us to have.
From personal experience of trying to decide on a major and from talking to many people on campus about the struggle to discern our vocations as students, it is hard to take the leap of faith and we do get caught in this state of being stuck.
If you’ve ever taken a Dr. Hildebrand class, his three principles have been ingrained into your brain, and the first of these three principles is the principle of participation. The principle of participation essentially means that we have to use the gift of reason and free will that God has given us.
Because God has given us reason and free will, we ought to use it. God does reveal things to us, but he also leaves much for us to figure out on our own. This is what St. Joan is getting at when she says “help yourself and heaven will help you.” We have to be able to realize when things are for the glory of God then we should probably act on it.
The challenge laid out before by St. Joan ultimately is to act. To trust our conscious and be firm in our faith, and do what we are called to do. Although many of us may not completely understand the whole of our vocation, we are still called to live out the part that we are aware of in a great way.
One of my favorite quotes is that “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” Remember that throughout this semester and ask God for the courage and the grace in order to live out our vocation in a great way.