The 8th Meditation
[Audio will be uploaded once it is recorded.]
What must be done to make your ministry useful to the Church.
194.1 First Point
The eighth meditation reasserts the importance of the Lasallian educational ministry and its connection and imitation of the apostles. They were constantly teaching in the Temple, and, as is pointed out, selected deacons to make sure the poor were attended to in their needs.
There is also the important point in this meditation that apostles learned this by the example of Jesus, who taught all day and prayed and night. And, of course, since De La Salle has made this connection previously, if this was the model of the apostles in their ministry, it must be the model for the brothers and the Lasallians.
And so while the ministry of teaching is quite difficult and hard, De La Salle chooses to encourage the brothers to make essential time for prayer and reading, so that they may have a clear idea of what it is they wish to teach.
194.2 The Second Point
For De La Salle, it was not enough simply to teach the content of the faith. What was even more important was to increase the faith practice of the students. Put another way, it was not sufficient for the students to receive content. What was more important was the degree the content led them in a specific way. If the religion content did not lead to faith practice in the students, then the mission had not been accomplished.
It is also important to note that one can score perfectly on the tests and assignment for religion, but not really have any sense of understanding concerning the material. If a student is presented all of the material, but not presented the importance of living, there is something quite significant that matters for the student thrive.
Using a modern phrase, it is not enough for De La Salle that the students know about Jesus, but more importantly that students know Jesus. And so a teacher who does not spend the amount with the focus of living the Christian life, but only on the academic content has not fulfilled their duty as a teacher.
194.3 The Third Point
In the third part of the meditation, the point is driven home yet again. Ignoring the question the faith practice in the name of focusing on content and pedagogy alone will not fulfill. As he writes, “What would it benefit you, then, to teach your disciples
the truths of the faith if you do not teach them to practice good works? For faith that is not accompanied by works is dead.”
The teacher then, or the Lasallian, needs to pay particular attention to the connection between knowledge and practice. A Lasallian who teaches the conduct perfectly, but does not lead by their actions to faith in Jesus, then the mission for which these Lasallians were baptized is dead too.
Put another way, our commitment to living the faith should be made visible not only to our students, but to those who also can inspire our own practice of the faith, too. “It will not, then, be enough for you to have instructed your disciples about the mysteries and the truths of our holy religion if you have not helped them learn the chief Christian virtues and if you have not taken an altogether special care to help them put these virtues into practice, as well as all the good of which they are capable at their age.”
Questions to Ponder
How do you foster both content and application as it pertains to the faith, or the subject matter you teach?
What specific actions could you take to witness to your students the integration of learning content and practicing faith?
What is the biggest barrier for you in terms of instilling the desire to practice the faith into your students?