Monday, April 8, 2019
Birth and life Circumstances
Jean-Baptist de la Salle is born on April 30, 1651 in the French city of Reims. His parents, Nicole Moët and Louis de La Salle, though not members of the nobility, are nonetheless wealthy members of the upper class of society. John Baptist is the oldest of 11 children, four of whom passed away in their infancy. As a child he has everything he could ask for—a loving family, wealth and comfort, and the beginnings of a good education. A life of privilege, contentment, and success await him.
Reflection: How did the loss of his siblings help shape him into the person he became, remaining generous and gracious through times of hardship later in his life?
Prayer: Saint John Baptist de la Salle was the oldest of 11 children. Four of his siblings passed away in their infancy, and his family was stricken with great grief. But they had many blessings too, so he was able to attain any wealth, comfort, and education he wanted. These blessings helped him to push through his grief. It also gave him compassion which enabled him to leave his social class to provide care for all around him. Lord, help us to push through the tough situations in our lives. Help us to never forget to care for our neighbor and live in perpetual contentment. Amen.
Becomes a Canon at the age of 15
Very early in his life, De La Salle demonstrates a profound love of God and a desire to serve the Church. Before he has even turned eleven, he chooses to receive the clerical tonsure—an initial step in a journey to the priesthood. On January 7, 1667, at 15 years of age, John Baptist accepts the office of “canon” of the cathedral of Reims. He is now a prominent leader in the prayer life of the cathedral. In addition to its being a tremendous honor, this post is a lucrative one and is considered a launching pad for a prominent ecclesiastical career—it had already produced 3 popes, 23 cardinals, and more than 30 bishops. De La Salle is on the fast track for prominence and influence in the French Church.
Reflection: What made De La Salle leave his life of wealth and prosperity, and live a life of poverty, dedicating his life to God? What is God calling me to sacrifice?
Prayer: Born into a wealthy family, De La Salle valued his actions and desired to follow God. Just as De La Salle expressed his selflessness, today let’s learn how we can incorporate his traits into how we express ourselves with everyone we meet. Lord, strengthen our decision-making, and guide us by your light to help us to live as De La Salle so graciously did. Collectively let us try to give a little bit each today, to help those in need. Amen.
Loses both parents in one year
De La Salle’s life of comfort is dealt a major blow in July of 1671 when word reaches him that his mother has passed away. He is studying for the priesthood at a prestigious seminary in Paris at the time. Just nine months later, in April of 1672, his father passes away. As the oldest child in the family (just shy of his 21st birthday) the responsibility of caring for his siblings now falls to him. He leaves his seminary studies to return to his family in Reims.
Reflection: De La Salle had already left the life that his parents had made for him. Now that they have passed, he must raise his siblings. What kind of emotional toll does this take on him, and how does he cope with the losses of his family?
Prayer: De La Salle lived a life of comfort but had to undergo the death of his mother and father within the same year and was responsible for the care of his siblings. De La Salle was suddenly thrust with responsibility and grief. Lord, help us to be prepared for life’s sudden events. Prepare us both mentally and spiritually to be able to overcome hardship and to thrive in this world. Help us to learn from our founder De La Salle and incorporate his actions in our daily lives. Amen.
Ordained a priest 1678
Following the deaths of his parents, De La Salle must take a year off from his theological studies to prioritize his family affairs, but in Fall 1673 he resumes his studies, culminating in a bachelor’s degree in Theology two years later and a graduate degree in 1678. In that same year, on April 9, he is ordained a priest and celebrates his first Mass the following day, Easter Sunday. This is a time of sheer joy for him, as he has desired to serve as a priest his whole life.
Reflection: Due to his parent’s sudden death, De La Salle must take a year away from studies to take care of his family. After the year, he returned and, two years after that, was ordained a priest. How might this event and loss have strengthened his relationship with God, enabling him to become a priest, his biggest plan? How can difficult events help us to grow as a person and in faith?
Prayer: De La Salle had his fair share of hardship throughout his life, including losing both his parents in the same year. However, he fought through this, taking care of his family for a year, and continuing his studies afterwards. Lord, help us fight through times of hardships in our lives, whether it be from family, friends, school, or other aspects of life. Help us realize the things that happen on this earth are not the end of everything and help us to continue our life. Help us also realize its ok to take a break, that we are expected to be balanced in everything we do. Amen.