Holy Scripture – Meditations for the Time of Retreat – 18th Century Wisdom
The Role of Holy Scripture
The Word of God, living and effective, can demonstrate the presence of God in a powerful way. Recognizing the presence of God was particularly important to De La Salle. And no wonder, for the both the brothers and the students had need of acute awareness of that presence to help them in their day to day lives and in their ministry.
The Catholic Church is sometimes said not to care much about the bible, but the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps it is because the Catholic Church had a period of cautiousness about individuals interpreting Holy Scripture correctly.
But this does not mean the Bible was not present in the teachings of the Church. It also does not mean that it was not referenced in a powerful way by those charged with helping people to grow in their faith.
To understand the Role of Holy Scripture, it is best to consider the following quote:
“The point of departure of Meditations for the Time of Retreat—if it is necessary to speak in these terms—is not from Holy Scripture on one side and from life on the other. De La Salle is meditating on the history that he lived with his Brothers as they realized together a common project that united them: to conduct the Christian Schools, to rescue the poor from their miserable condition, and to help them enter meaningfully into the history of the world and of salvation. This is where the role of Holy Scripture must be placed.”
And so what De La Salle presents in an integration of the various aspects of the lives of the brothers. The mission is the integration of the Christian Schools, rescuing the poor from their miserable condition, and helping them both in living their lives successfully because of their education, while at the same time helping them to receive God’s gift of salvation.
The Role of Holy Scripture for De La Salle
And so it is important to note there is an integral unity to the presentation and the role of the bible with the lived ministry and professionalism of the brothers. There lives are not compartmentalized. Rather, they are designed to see how the various components of their lives are one big whole.
As this introduction points out, the first Scripture verse quoted introduces God’s desire to save all peoples. And the last verse identifies the result of the brothers’ faithful ministry to this task, their own salvation. And as the introduction emphasizes, it is not appropriate to identify how De La Salle used Scriptures, but how the Scriptures came from a gut level reaction to inspire the faith God had already begun.
A Profession of Faith
Sometimes the use of Scripture is as a prayer that has been used by people of faith for as long as there have been people of faith. It is not a mere proof text, only meant to support an already articulated point of the author, but rather is a statement of faith which joins the brothers today with the history of God’s relationship with His people.
Citations of Remembrance (Memoire)
Cited in this way, De La Salle calls to mind for the brothers the apostolic example upon which the Church relies. By recalling the ways God has been active in the lives of the Church in the past, the brothers can perceive more clearly the role of that call today.
Citations of the Call
In this sense, De La Salle is referencing the Word of God as a means of judging fidelity to the work of God by the brothers. The purpose is not to develop something harsh, but rather to inspire and distill the faith and zeal necessary for the brothers’ ministry.
Saint John Baptist de la Salle relies heavily, and some might suggest foundationally on the writings of Saint Paul. His exegesis would not only be true to his day, but also stands the test of time today.
Questions to Ponder
What is the role of the bible in your prayer?
How does reading the biblical narratives help you to see how God is active in your life right now?
When you consider how De La Salle saw the role of Holy Scripture above (profession of faith, citations of remembrance, citations of the call) how does thinking of the bible in this way help you to grow in your faith and in a sense of your call?