Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trinity Sunday - St. Joan of Arc - L'Institut Jeanne d'Arc d'Ottawa

El Greco, The Trinity

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (Year "C") May 30, 2010


[Texts: Proverbs 8:22-31 [Psalm 8]; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

In today's gospel, Jesus describes the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church in the following words, "He will guide you into all the truth".

The Spirit speaks the truth from Jesus in order to glorify Him. Yet all Jesus possessed had come to Him from the Father; and Jesus' sole desire was to glorify the Father. In these glimpses into the interior dynamics of God, disciples grasp the selfless life of the Trinity. Each Person of the Trinity is unique; yet each is oriented to the Others.

Still, people only know the inner life of God from God's movement towards them in creation (first reading) and in the way they have actually been saved (second reading). Here, again, Christians discover the way in which the Persons of the Trinity selflessly work together `for us men and for our salvation' (Nicene Creed).

Proverbs noted that divine Wisdom was present with God in the creation of the universe, "delighting in the human race". The sage author of Proverbs issued a plea that humans discover the way to life. Early on, Lady Wisdom preached and uttered prophetic judgments, denouncing folly and uttering scorn against ignorance. But in chapter 8, Wisdom became an evangelist, tenderly pleading her case. Choosing for or against wisdom, in Lady Wisdom's view, is a matter of life and death.

The majesty of creation which this passage depicts, reaches its climax with the assertion that God delights in being present with His children. Christians may infer that, since this is so, God delights even more in those who have been re-created as the brothers and sisters of Jesus. This came about through Christ's gift of himself on the cross, a sacrifice out of love for both the Father and for us.

In Romans, Paul told believers that the Spirit makes them fearless in the face of difficulties through the Father's saving activity (`God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us'). The first part of Romans (chapters 1-4) was devoted to showing how, in salvation history, men and women had become alienated from God by the rebellion of sin.

As long as they remained in this condition--which they could do nothing to undo--sufferings and anything that suggested the prospect of death were to be feared. For these brought with them the threats of judgment and condemnation for sin which would follow. Paul brought his history of sin to an end with the Good News that God had done what human beings could not do: reconciled sinful humanity by putting forth Jesus as the expiation of our sins (4:25).

Now Paul turns to the experience of finding peace with God. Because their status as sons and daughters of God comes by faith and through Jesus, Christians can "boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God". Far from fearing suffering, the Christian's daily tribulations lead to an inner transformation of life through sharing in God's life through faith, hope and love.

The Christian's conviction that such hope is not deceptive issues from the Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart of each believer. The dynamic of salvation history reveals the plan by which the Trinity entered into and continues to enter the lives of God's people.

In the farewell discourse Jesus offered His testament to His disciples. He revealed that the Word He spoke to them would serve as the guiding principle for the apostles' and the Church's future. The power of the Word to guide Christian lives is the fruit of the Holy Spirit's work.

The Spirit actualizes (makes real here and now) the Word spoken by Jesus in the past, so that it might be life-giving in the Church. Even the way the Spirit carries out this mission is reminiscent of Jesus. For the Spirit points beyond -- to Jesus, just as Jesus always pointed beyond Himself to the Father.

And this, paradoxically, is to Jesus's glory, revealing as it does how obedient He was to the Father's will. For the Christian, the way to his or her glory is by way of entering into the dynamic of the Trinity's life so that ultimately God might be "all in all" (1 Corinthians 15-28).

* * * * * *


This year's observance of the feast of Joan of Arc is not permitted because of Sunday's solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. But here are a few aspects of her story:

St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class, at the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she heard voices: those of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

At first the messages were personal and general. Then at last came the crowning order. In May, 1428, her voices "of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret" told Joan to go to the King of France and help him reconquer his kingdom. For at that time the English king was after the throne of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, the chief rival of the French king, was siding with him and gobbling up evermore French territory.

After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, the seventeen year old girl was given a small army with which she raised the seige of Orleans on May 8, 1429. She then enjoyed a series of spectacular military successes, during which the King was able to enter Rheims and be crowned with her at his side.

In May 1430, as she was attempting to relieve Compiegne, she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English when Charles and the French did nothing to save her. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him to become archbishop.

Through her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of theology, Joan was trapped into making a few damaging statements. When she refused to retract the assertion that it was the saints of God who had commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. She was nineteen years old. Some thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt and she was ultimately canonized in 1920, making official what the people had known for centuries. Joan was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV; her feast day is May 30.

St. Joan of Arc's story has a special significance in Ottawa for among the religious congregations present here the Institute of St. Jeanne d'Arc is of diocesan foundation. Some years ago, after a dearth of applicants, the institute decided not to accept new members.

Here are few points about its historic origins:

L'Institut JEANNE D'ARC d'Ottawa

Les Sœurs de l’Institut Jeanne-d’Arc constituent l’une des rares communautés religieuses de langue française à avoir été fondées en Ontario. Il y a eu, bien entendu, la fondation des Sœurs Grises de la Croix en 1845, par Élisabeth Bruyère, mais cette communauté s’est détachée des Sœurs Grises de la Croix de Montréal pour s’implanter à Bytown (Ottawa).

En novembre 1910, Albina Aubry et Laura Chartrand fondent un foyer pour jeunes filles à Ottawa. Au début, il s’agit d’une succursale du Foyer Notre-Dame, ouvert à Montréal en 1903, mais il s’en détache le 1er mars 1913 et prend le nom d’Institut Jeanne d’Arc.

Sœur Marie-Thomas d’Aquin (née Jeanne-Lydia Branda) fonde la congrégation des Sœurs de l’Institut Jeanne d’Arc d’Ottawa, érigé canoniquement le 7 octobre 1919 par Mgr Charles H. Gauthier, archevêque d’Ottawa.

Jeanne-Lydia Branda voit le jour le 13 août 1877 à Saint-Romain-la-Virvée (France). Elle entre chez les Sœurs de Saint-Dominique en 1899, se rend à Lewiston (Maine) en 1904, prononce ses vœux en 1906 et prend le nom de sœur Marie-Thomas d’Aquin.

Elle arrive à Ottawa en 1914, crée la revue Jeanne d’Arc, qu’elle dirige jusqu’en 1957, puis fonde la congrégation des Sœurs de l’Institut Jeanne-d’Arc en 1919. Elle en est la supérieure jusqu’en 1942.

Sous le pseudonyme de Marie Sylvia et de Jeanne-Louise Branda, Mère Marie-Thomas d’Aquin publie divers recueils de poésie, dont Vers le bien (1916), Vers le beau (1924), Vers le vrai (1928) et Reflets d’opales (1945).

Membre de la Société des auteurs canadiens et de la Société des poètes canadiens-français, elle reçoit la croix de la Légion d’honneur en 1956. Elle est décédée à Ottawa le 17 mars 1963.

L’Institut Jeanne-d’Arc n’a œuvré qu’à Ottawa. Il s’est voué principalement à la protection des jeunes filles en offrant diverses formes d’aide, dont le cours commercial dispensé de 1920 à 1957.

La communauté oeuvrait depuis un édifice de la rue Sussex. Son emplacement fait jadis partie du «mille historique» de la Commission de la capitale nationale. Aujourd'hui, les Sœurs ont leur résidence principale sur la rue Princeton dans l'ouest d'Ottawa.


  1. I used to live there when I was in Canada in 1969, beautiful memories and beautiful Ottawa.

    1. My mother is in this photo as a child. Could you please let me know if you have any other information about the photo and names in it?