Thursday April 11, 2019 #1
In the winter of 1690, after a trying year of lawsuits and difficulties with the Brothers, the Founder falls ill and nearly dies. During his lengthy recovery in Reims, he receives tragic news: the Brother that he hoped would succeed him as superior, Brother Henri L’Heureux, has died suddenly in Paris. Confronted with the very real possibility of his own death without a clear successor, De La Salle has real fears about the future of the Brothers. This, together with the fact that many Brothers are leaving the community, gives the Founder every reason to fear that it is all coming apart—the future of the Brothers and the Schools looks bleak.
Reflection: How do we regain strength in the face of great difficulty?
Prayer: Dear father, help us in those times when life seems very difficult. When we fear all is lost, help us become strong again and rebuild our path so that we can continue the education De la Salle worked so hard to establish. Amen.
Thursday, April 12, 2019 #2
Heroic Vow – Association
It is on November 21, 1691, that Fr. John Baptist de La Salle, Brother Gabriel Drolin, and Brother Nicholas Vuyart profess the famous “Heroic Vow.” They pledge “from now on and forever until the last surviving one of us, or until the complete establishment of the said Society…association and union to bring about and maintain the said establishment, and without being able to withdraw from this obligation, even if only we three remain in the said Society, and if we were obliged to beg for alms and live on bread alone.”
Reflection: How do we understand commitment and sacrifice in our lives?
Prayer: St. John Baptist De La Salle and two other brothers fully committed themselves to each other and to the mission. This was a very sacrificial act as they would be giving up a lot for the sake of the schools and their own community of Brothers. They did this in the imitation of Christ, just as he gave up his life for our sake. Let us remember to always sacrifice our own desires and give things up for God. Like Saint John Baptist de La Salle and the other Brothers, help us to imitate Christ and to sacrifice our material possessions and pledge our lives to work with others to do the work of Jesus.
Thursday, April 11, 2019 #3
Challenges of the early 1700s
In the ensuing years, De La Salle and the Brothers establish a common Rule of Life, and formally elect a Superior for the first time (De La Salle was unsurprisingly elected). Schools begin opening in new cities and the number of Brothers grows steadily. Things are looking up for them. Nonetheless, in the early 1700s, new challenges and lawsuits emerge from increasingly persistent School Masters and Church pastors. These challenges become more and more consuming for De La Salle. Between 1709 and 1712, he becomes embroiled in a legal battle over a sizable donation he had received from a 25-year-old benefactor named Jean-Charles Clément to start a training college for teachers. At 25, Clément was still considered a minor, and when his father found about the donation, he sues De La Salle for the sum and a lengthy legal battle ensues. By 1713, all these challenges together with another bout of serious illness bring De La Salle to a point of despair. He is exhausted and discouraged.
Reflection: When faced with unavoidable suffering that begins to plague the beautiful things we make, how do we respond and what attitude do we take to face it?
Prayer: Dear God, in our lives we constantly seek out one thing that comes in many forms. However, after we have worked so hard to achieve our goal a new challenge may show up worse than the last. Even St. John Baptist De La Salle showed despair in the face of this same type of suffering. On the brink of despair and plagued by sickness he stood back up and continued on. Help us to persevere in everything we do especially when we are faced with any form of suffering. Help us to maintain a cheerful spirit even in the face of all the difficulties life throws at us. Amen.