I don’t think I’ve told all of you the story of how Joan of Arc became my Confirmation saint. And with yesterday being her feast day, I figured this would be a great chance of telling you this story.
Let me give you a glimpse of what my life was like before my Confirmation in March 2011.
My maternal grandmother died in the hospital in 2007 after having some health complications. My maternal grandfather died three and a half years later in 2010 at his home. I had been bullied for as long as I could remember. And my freshman year of high school (the academic year during which I was Confirmed), I was sick a whole heck of a lot.
Now for the story of how I picked Joan as my Confirmation saint.
I began looking for possible Confirmation saints when I was in eighth grade, knowing that I was going to be Confirmed the next year. One day, I saw there was a list of teenage saints outside my religion teacher’s door (I went to a Catholic school). Of course I saw Mary’s name, but the other name that drew my attention was Joan’s. And from what I can remember, Joan’s name was towards the bottom of the list. And if my memory serves me right, I didn’t seem to pay attention to any of the other names on the list. If I did, I don’t remember any of them.
Well, time goes by, and I keep Joan in the back of my mind. I keep looking for possible candidates for Confirmation saints. But as I kept looking, Joan’s name stayed in the back of my mind and I kept going back to her.
When the time came in my freshman year of high school, I joined the other people my age in my parish to undergo Confirmation prep classes. And I chose my sponsor, who happened to be both my aunt and my godmother.
And eventually, the time came to pick out Confirmation saints.
Having not come across any saints who had the same affect on me as Joan, I ended up choosing her and writing her down as the saint I wanted to pray for me and be my friend.
Then Confirmation came.
We had practiced how our Confirmation Mass was going to be structured before the Mass itself. And while we were waiting in one of the youth spaces, our bishop came down and spoke with us. He came down to ensure that we were ready to receive the sacrament. Any sacrament is a big deal, but Confirmation is a really big deal, so I can understand why the bishop came down to speak with us.
And when it came for Mass to start, it went off without a hitch. My family was there, including my non-Catholic uncle and my godfather and his wife (who I still don’t see all that often).
And when it came to the laying on of the hands, I had an intense experience. The bishop came around first, directly followed by our parish priest. When the bishop laid his hands on my head, I felt like my head was going to explode. And when he moved on and the parish priest laid his hands on my head, I might’ve possibly felt the same sensation, but it wasn’t nearly as intense. The only way I can explain this sensation was that it was the Holy Spirit entering me (and my life).
The rest of my freshman year seemed to go smoother after my Confirmation.
And when I went on a mission trip with other high schoolers from my parish later that academic year, I told this story to the female chaperon. And was she said has remained with me ever since: “You listened.”
And I can say that I agree with her.
The rest of high school had its ups and downs. The bullying stopped in my junior or senior year. My parents got divorced at the beginning of my junior year. In the second semester of my senior year, I was chosen to be the female representative of my class in a special ceremony the high school had around Valentine’s Day.
When I went to college, it had its ups and downs as well. During my first semester, I wanted to drop out. But due to persuasion and influence from my mom, I didn’t and stayed in school.
The reason why I think God (or Joan herself) wanted Joan to be my Confirmation saint.
In the eight years since my Confirmation, there have been times when I know for certain Joan was the right choice.
I’ve thought: Joan had to go through her particular battles and I have to go through mine.
She had to go through deciding whether or not to follow the directions God and her Voices gave her. She had to make the decision to leave home at a young age to do something that was incredibly rare. She had to go up against people who doubted her and wanted to bring her down. She had to fight literal battles. She had a trial where people doubted the reasons she was doing what she was doing. And she was eventually condemned and burned at the stake. And her condemnation (from what I remember and understand) wasn’t questioned or overturned for a while after her death.
But as for me, my battles are different. I had to face bullying. I had to face my parents getting a divorce and the grief and anger that resulted from it. I had to decide to stay in school. I’ve had to fight an anxiety order for the past (roughly) three and a half years. And in fighting the anxiety disorder, I’ve been fighting with my own mind.
So the reason I know I made the right choice in Confirmation saint because although we fight different battles, Joan and I still have that in common. And I know I have someone in Heaven knowing what it’s like to go through hardship and battles. And maybe one day, I can truly say that I’m friends with Joan. Maybe even close friends.
But until then, Joan has a very special place in my heart and I’m glad that she’s praying for me. Because I know I sure as heck need those prayers.