September 23, 2023

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The first meditation for the time of retreat reminds the brothers of their participation in God's providence, the assistance of God's grace, and that the children will not only learn the faith, but most importantly, to accept God's gift of salvation.
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

First Meditation

That God in his Providence has established the Christian Schools

193.1 First Point

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Saint John Baptist de la Salle begins this meditation, the first for the retreat, with an important reminder for the brothers. They are about God’s holy work. Even a casual reading of the history of the order reveals that in so many ways, that this was the most unlikely endeavors to have succeeded. This holy work was inspired by God.

But looking at the order today, it seems quite clear that God intended this order not only to exist, but to thrive. And most important, the divine will is that all be saved, as de la Salle reminds the brothers at the start by referencing the First Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy. “This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”

I would suggest that by implication Saint John Baptist de la Salle is not referring simply to some generic verse, but rather a two-fold reminder that God wills the brothers to be saved, and that God wills the poor students they are teaching to be saved. And that announcing this salvation to the students rests with the ministry of the brothers.

This is no small task, but a great gift given to the brothers by God. By extension, the same great gift of ministry is given to all who are ministers (all who work) in Lasallian schools today. So it is not so much our choice to do so, but rather our response to the gift of God to engage in this ministry.

193.2 The Second Point

Why would God want the ministry of the Christian Brothers, specifically in the time and place they find themselves in? For de la Salle admits that the primary responsibility for their ministry rests with the parents of the children they teach. But he also understands fully the deep challenges faced by many during his time, that the necessary task of providing basic needs keeps them from being able to do this.

And so the providence of God provides for the gift of faith for the children through the brothers. This means that the vocation of the brothers means they are always in the task of cooperating with the grace of God. Theirs is a ministry of grace. By attention to this grace, it is the case that the brothers fill the important duty of the parents of these children in passing on the faith.

Image by Vesa Minkkinen from Pixabay

193.3 The Third Point

“God wills not only that all come to the knowledge of truth but also that all be saved.” With these words, the brothers are reminded that it is not simply the presentation of academic content that is the ministry of the brothers, but more importantly that the brothers provide the inspiration for the children to accept the gift of salvation.

In this sense, then, there is an eternal role of the brothers, or at least the reality that faithful engagement in the ministry can have eternal consequences. It is this eternal purpose that should inspire the brothers to engage faithfully in the ministry entrusted to them. So too it is the high honor of all who work in Lasallian schools.

Questions to Ponder

What does it mean to you to be engaged in a ministry desired by God from all eternity?

What does it mean for you to help the parents, and maybe even supplement the children’s knowledge and acceptance of salvation?

How is it your personal life models for the students you serve the desire of faith and of salvation?

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