The Secret of St. Margaret Mary. By Henri Gheon. Translated hy:, F. J. Sheed. (Sheed and Ward. 2s. 6d.)
Joan the Saint. By Stanislaus Fumet. Translated by F. J. Sheed. (Sheed and Ward. 2s. 6d.) Reviewed by CLARE NICHOLL
God, through the medium of His saints, supplies the cure for the spiritual diseases peculiar to each cycle of time: that the vocation of Saint Margaret Mary was to kindle and vivify the too rigid and rationalistic faith of her age is the theme of M. Gheon's essay.
In modern times devotion to the Sacred Heart, unfortunately, too often degenerates, or appears to degenerate, into a pious cult, expressing itself by gently glowing red lamps, sentimental statuary and the more flowery type of hymns; M. Gheon by the strength and economy of his prose recaptures for his readers some of the burning force of the source of that devotion-the revelations vouchsafed to Saint Margaret Mary. in which God manifested His love for men as a consuming furnace, a sword of flame dividing the spirit from the flesh.
In his outline of the life and historical background of Joan of Arc, M. Fumet has done valuable work in stressing three aspects of the saint, which, perhaps, have tended to become overshadowed in more diffuse biographies. The first is the source of her title The Maid : " What God wanted," writes M. Fumet, " what His work needed then as ever was a virgin whose virginity should be not only a fact but the fact, not simply a condition of her being, but the very purpose of her being: one who should be not only a maid but the maid-La Pucelle."
Secondly, the author brings out in detail the extraordinary resemblance between the Passion of Joan and that of Christ, and thirdly the miraculous manner in which she, who, according to the verdict of her contemporaries, was "a very simple girl," sundered, by the luminous directness of her answers, the wordy snares woven for her by the theologians at the tribunal. To select one reply at random:
" Do you submit to the decision of the Church? " they demanded of her. " I submit to God, Who sent me, to Our Lady and to all the saints of Paradise. And it seems to me that it is all one-God and the Church-and that one ought not to make so much difficulty about it."
M. Fumet points the message which she, who restored the kingdom of France in the fifteenth century, has for our times: "Joan inaugurated the doctrine of Christ the King, the doctrine whereby human sovereignty is absorbed in the sovereignty of God."
In both volumes Mr. Sheed's translation does ample justice to the original French.