Matters related to his work on which a Brother of the Christian Schools must give an account to God
Table of Contents
206.1 First Point
Because God has called you to your ministry in order to procure his glory and to give children the spirit of wisdom and the insight to know him and to enlighten the eyes of their hearts,1 you will give an account of how well you have instructed those who have been under your guidance. This is an inescapable obligation for you, and you will be punished for their ignorance in these matters (if it is your fault), just as if you had been ignorant of them.
Once again, De La Salle makes the strong connection between the call from God and the accountability owed to God for the ministry and how it was carried out. Did the children have an opportunity to learn the most important things about God? Did you in your life keep them from knowing the truth?
Modern education tells us today that in order for knowledge to “stick”, that is to be remembered even after the test, it must find a place in the world of meaning of the student. Does this mean the student creates the truth? Of course not. But information does need to find that place where it makes sense to the student in order to “stick”. (By the way, this is not true only of students, but of all of us.)
I would suggest that this connection, and our responsibility for our students, while limited, is needed now more than ever. I think young people and young adults need a reason to know why faith in God matters. I think they need authentic examples from teachers who not only provide good content, but more importantly a good example of what it means to live like a Christian.
De La Salle makes sure to be concrete and specific. Did you teach the faith? Did you use the time allotted? Did you play favorites among the students? Did you ignore children who were slower to pick up the material, who are often the children who are poor? Did you provide a good example for the children at Mass? Did your attitude make it such that children would long to be at Mass?
If you do not, De La Salle encourages the brothers to resolve before God to do better. And to always be ready. Ready for those moments when God causes you to reflect, and the ultimate moment when we must give an account of ourselves before God
206.2 The Second Point
Are you convinced that you are obliged to take care of your disciples during all the time they are in church, as much as when they are in school, in order to prevent them from doing anything even the least displeasing to God? Is it not also your responsibility to be attentive during the prayers you have them say, so that they do so with great piety, decorum, and respect as speaking to God?
For De La Salle, all moments, all attention is to be directed to leading the students closer and closer to salvation. Certainly good teachers do this in the classroom. But at other moments? Does the brother set the same boundaries and parameters so that children may be given every opportunity to learn how to behave at Mass? Are they lead and corrected at Mass? On the playground? At extracurricular activities? Do we care about the decorum of our students at all times?
To be sure, this is a very challenging thing. There are times when it seems best in the moment to perhaps look the other way. Maybe we ourselves do not really know or understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. It may be the case that we even struggle with aspects of our faith, and so make certain parts of our day less important to ourselves, and model a carelessness to our students.
Remember, De La Salle is clear: everything we do is directed to the eternal salvation of our students, and we must do all we can to lead our students to a holy life.
206.3 The Third Point
Attitude and motivation. Recognizing that often our words and actions can be rash, De La Salle focuses on the need to change the internal aspects of our lives that give rise to what we say and do. And it is when the internal is made more like God wants it, it is then that we are able to have better and more control over the other actions of our lives.
We must not let our passions run away with us. We need to ask ourselves in what ways we allow God to help us to overcome these things when they do not serve the gospel. As a Lasallian educator, serving the gospel is critical. For De La Salle, it becomes more important to reflect on the ways in which we speak and act, but most importantly to do this by looking inward.
Reflection and prayer are the ways in which we can become more serious in our resolve to do those things that are going to help God to save us and our students. In some ways, even the De La Salle does not mention it specifically, we need to lean on the vocation we have received from God, rely on the grace that allowed us to accept this call, and to seek to discover the ways today that God continues to pour out grace.
Questions to Ponder
What is the connection in your teaching between helping students to learn your content, and guiding students to accept salvation?
What are the best ways you have found to get your students more engaged at Mass?
When do you take the time to reflect and pray on the internal conversion that will change your actions and words? How does this reflection and prayer change you?