Cracking the Code
To understand the French School of Spirituality it is necessary to remember that life was more than a little chaotic for France, and for the Church. Still digesting the teachings of the Council of Trent, and responding to the secular threats posed by the Enlightenment, it is easy to see why the French School of Spirituality could be harsh in its understandings between the human person and God.
And yet in this environment the brilliance and spiritual insights of De La Salle come forth in powerful ways. Most important is the ways in which De La Salle adapted writings and teachings of the French School of Spirituality to apply to the life of teaching.
When De La Salle speaks of the human being, it is more optimistic a view. Unlike other writers who saw the human being as essentially worthless, De La Salle indicated a preference to see the human being as one capable of responding to God’s grace. He recognized and acknowledged the vast difference between God and human creatures, nonetheless he had a higher view of God’s grace.
Live, Jesus in Our Hearts! Forever!
The Christocentric nature of De La Salle gave rise to this phrase that is so central to Lasallian schools. This is because he saw the importance of having Christ at the center. It is Christ who called the brothers to this ministry, and the importance of this sense of vocation cannot be overstated as carrying on in his schools today.
The Holy Spirit
When the actions of the Holy Spirit are considered, it is the case that the place and role of the Holy Spirit are at the very core of working in a Lasallian school. If the mission and vocation of a Lasallian school is to touch hearts, than the recognition of the role of the Spirit in this process becomes essential. Humans can only touch the hearts of others with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
The Human in Relationship to God
The writers of the French School of Spirituality had an unusually harsh view of the human being, essentially calling for the annihilation of the human because God could not even look at the human lest the human cease to exist. This is not the view of the brothers’ spirituality.
While it is true the difference between humans and God is significant, this does not lead to a annihilation, but to a desire to adore and to love God in His greatness. As such, while the human does need ascetical practices to grow in relationship with God, it is not the case that De La Salle saw the human being as so ultimately flawed that there was no way God could even look on the human.
For De La Salle words like “destruction” and annihilation are reserved for sin. If there is something to be destroyed, it is sin, which provides the reason for the ascetical practices. Because the Holy Spirit is at the center of the call and the soul, the relationship with God is achieved by the abundant grace God pours out.
This is the way in which there is a discussion about “destruction of the spirit.” The primary obeidence is always to God, and it is in being obedient and faithful to God that the destruction of sin is required. This is not easy, and De La Salle likens this process to the martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew in one of his homilies.
Questions to Ponder
How do you keep the balance between the harm that sin causes us with the infinite love God has for us?
In what specific ways to you see teaching as a way you fulfill your vocation?
How is it that you find the action of the Holy Spirit helps you to touch the hearts of the students you teach?