>> lem // spiritual reflection on the charism of saint jean baptiste de la salle

T-minus Two Years to Buttimer I
The Prayer of the Teacher Before School

The Schedule
Special Presentations
The Classes

Hagiography versus History
Christina the Astonishing by Nick Cave

A Short Biography of John Baptist De La Salle
The Heroic Vow
The "Recall" Letter

The Letters of John Baptist de La Salle
To Brother X

Looking Back to Look Forward: Structure
Looking Back to Look Forward: The Etymology and an Ethic of Salvation
Looking Back to Look Forward: Words and Rules

The Stories
The Practicum and The Questions
The Creation of Community
To Be Teacher, To Be Lasallian
Something Greater Than Ourselves

Domine Opus Tuum


The Conduct of Christian Schools
Modern Similarities
Good Habits

The Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility
Excerpts from Meetings and Conversations

The Duties of a Christian to God
Mutual Invitiation

Reminder: The Double Contemplation and the Dual Commitment
Creative Fidelity

Reminder: The Good Shepherd
Excerpted from The Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher

The Heart of the Lasallian Educational Mission: Relationships
Supporting and Forming Lasallian Educators
The Potter and the Clay

The Heart of the Lasallian Educational Mission: Addressing Poverty
Pierced Hearts

Looking Forward to Coming Back to Saint Mary's College
Who, What, Why?
The Day of Many Feasts

Defining Spirituality and Defining Religion
Scriptural Understanding of Spirit
Lasallian Spirituality: A Spirit of Faith
Lasallian Spirituality: Gospel-Based and Scripturally-Based
Scriptural Circle
Problems We Bring to Scripture

Meditations for the Time of Retreat
The Pauline Influence on De La Salle
Paul, De La Salle, and Us as Stewards of God's Mysteries
Paul, De La Salle, and Us as Ambassadors of Jesus Christ
Paul, De La Salle, and Us as Ministers of the Church

The Method of Interior Prayer
Lectio Divina
Brother Don's Farewell

Brother Bill's Beginning
The Vow Formula of the Brothers
Meditation on the Feast of the Epiphany

The Signum Fidei and The Overview Effect
Meditations on the Many Feasts of Mary

Returning to the Spirit in Pentecost
And, In Conclusion ...

The Life Journey of John Baptist de La Salle

The Five Core Principles of a Lasallian Education
Characteristics of Lasallian Schools (1986)
Seven Hallmarks of a Lasallian School (1994)
Lasallian Basic Operative Commitments (1995)
Goals of Lasallian Ministries (2004)
Qualities of Lasallian Education (2012)

T-minus Two Years to Buttimer I
My initiation into the charism of Saint John Baptist de La Salle and the mission of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (the Institute) occured during my first two years at Saint Mary's College High School, a Catholic school conducted by the Institute in the Lasallian tradition. It began in earnest when our president, Brother Edmond Larouche, FSC, invited me into his office for a conversation about my new role as campus minister about a month after I was hired.

The Lasallian Mission, as Brother Edmond shared with me, is "to provide a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor, according to the ministry which the Church has entrusted to it." I thought to myself that these were pretty hefty and serious words, and that they would challenge me, and provide me with an opportunity to stretch and grow as I learned my role as campus minister.

Brother Edmond gave me a prayer card with De La Salle on the front and a prayer popularly attributed to him on the back. I later learned that the prayer was composed in the nineteenth century but that it still, nevertheless, reflected De La Salle's spirituality.

The Prayer of the Teacher Before School

You, O Lord,
are my strength, my patience, my light, and my counsel.
It is you who touch the hearts of the children entrusted to my care.
Abandon me not to myself for one moment.
For my own guidance and that of my students,
grant me the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety,
the spirit of a holy fear of you and an ardent zeal to procure your glory.
I unite my efforts to those of Jesus Christ, and I beg the Most Blessed Virgin,
Saint Joseph, the Guardian Angels, and Saint John Baptist de La Salle to
protect me this day in the performance of my duties. Amen.

It was during this meeting that Brother Edmond handed me a copy of The Work is Yours, a biography of De La Salle by Brother Luke Salm, FSC.

"This is the best biography of the founder. And, when things have settled down for you, I'd like for you to attend Buttimer," said Brother Edmond.

I found out that Buttimer was short for The Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies and was named after Brother Charles Henry Buttimer who served from 1966 to 1976 as the first American Superior General of the Institute. Buttimer is an intensive formation program that is held at Saint Mary's College of California for two weeks at a time over the course of three summers. The De La Salle Christian Brothers and those associated with the Lasallian mission from all over the world gather to explore the story, the educational vision, and the spirituality of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the initial founding of the Institute, the Lasallian Educational Mission, and the current research explorations of Lasallian scholars.

I looked forward to the summer of 2011 when I would begin the Buttimer program alongside 99 other Lasallian educators from all 6 continents. In my particular first-year cohort, a total of 40 were starting the journey. Brother Jeffrey Calligan, FSC, and Gina Hall, AFSC, would guide our exploration of De La Salle's life story over the next two weeks.

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The Schedule
Having glimpsed the schedule beforehand, I knew that the program would be jam packed. I chatted with school colleagues who were past Buttimer graduates and they conveyed to me the positive impression that the experience had made on them. According to one, the whole endeavor was very well organized and well conceived. And, I also got the impression that the program was regularly evaluated for effectiveness in order to meet the needs of the individuals attending and the needs of the Lasallian institutions sending us. This was made most evident in the way the schedule was laid out and undoubtedly refined.

Community prayer bracketed the beginning and end of each day. On some days, we would celebrate a full Eucharistic liturgy together. The director of liturgy and music, Charlie Legendre, AFSC (an Affiliate of the Institute), had put a call out for musicians willing to to play for the various masses and prayer services. I was more than happy to oblige and to be of service. These prayer services, all of which were designed by Brother William Mann, FSC, the third year Buttimer teacher, served to remind us of the reasons for our Lasallian Mission.

On the days where we did not have a mass, we would gather in practicum groups. These groups allowed us to focus our on-going formation of the Buttimer experience toward some tangible applicability in our various ministries. The practicum I chose was Lasallian Research, knowing full well that I would later enrol in the Master of Arts in Lasallian Studies program. All Buttimer participants had access to the Library for Lasallian Studies, a special collection of works by and about De La Salle, and other titles and sources germane to the burgeoning field of Lasallian Studies.

All days featured five meals: breakfast, morning coffee break (with snack), lunch, dinner, and evening social (with snack!). There were also ample opportunities to recover from this calorie coma during the assigned afternoon reading time which often doubled as a time for siesta: the very humane and European tradition of the post-lunch nap.

Following evening prayer, we would gather either as a large Buttimer community or in our smaller cohorts for snacking and socializing. It was here that we were able to engage in further conversation about class, or to talk about our respective ministries. It was also during this time that some of the Buttimer participants would engage in a game curiously scalled Cornhole, a kind of beanbag toss game that apparently originated on the farms of the Midwest.

What I appreciated most about this social time was that the ranks and positions of the participants did not matter. In fact, I did not even know that I was conversing with presidents, principals, district directors, coordinators, teachers, and Brothers all of whom held incredible portfolios of responsibility. It was a privilege to share ideas with and to learn from all Buttimer participants during these socials.

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Special Presentations
On one evening, the entire community was treated to presentations by members of the international Lasallian community. In particular, we heard about the work of Lasallians in Australia and New Zealand. Their presentation began with dismissing some of the humorous preconceived ideas that some North Americans have about our friends from "down-under."

We were also introduced to the work of Joseph Gilson and the Young Lasallian Movement. I had always understood the work of the Lasallian Educational Mission as belonging solely to the teachers working in various ministries. Joseph, coordinator of the Young Lasallian Movement from the Generalate (the headquarters of the Institute) in Rome, invited the Buttimer participants to consider that this mission also belongs to the many young people who have been called to or have been inspired by the Lasallian charism. While the Young Lasallian Movement includes younger people between the ages of 16 and 35, Joseph made it clear that this movement is also open to all those who work with and support young people in their desire to be associated with this movement.

Alisa Macksey, the new director of formation programs from the Christian Brothers Conference office in Washington, DC, shared the work of the Lasallian Volunteers. The Lasallian Volunteers, or LVs for short, include volunteers who are dedicated to the Lasallian Educational Mission in various ministries for a period of one or two years. Most of the LVs attended or graduated from Lasallian institutions. The latest LV project is a nationwide bike ride to raise funds to support their ministry.

Brother Jeffrey also shared an overview of the latest Circular Letter 461 from the General Council in Rome titled Association for the Lasallian Mission ... an act of Hope. The term association in a Lasallian context refers to all those who work in Lasallian ministries and to those who are united to the mission including Brothers, lay-partners, consecrated religious, and clerics. This document seeks to articulate an answer to a lived and diverse reality: What do we make of the diminishing number of Brothers in the Institute and the increasing number of partners who are involved with, are interested in, or are seeking in some formal way a connection with the mission and the spirit of the Lasallian charism worldwide? The circular highlights the exciting possibilities that exist for the future of the mission while officially acknowledging that association for the mission is inclusive rather than exclusive. In an inviting way, Brother Jeffrey shared his hopefulness with those gathered in the room stating in no uncertain terms that he is not worried about the future of the Brothers or of the Institute, because it is in the hands of more than capable colleagues all around the world.

Through these presentations, I was invited into that wider reality. My local present ministry is but a sliver of the larger picture. It is a humble reminder that while the local work is indeed important, the international network is equally vital. The two must inform each other. My exposure to all things Lasallian was in bits and pieces of various conversations with Brothers in my current ministry and through district-organized events including retreats and meetings. The work of the international Young Lasallian Movement, the national Lasallian Volunteers program, and the ideas expressed in the circular letter concerning association all point to a diverse outgrowth of the original mission envisioned by De La Salle and the Institute. All of these movements are affirmations of the success of grassroots-level responses that address the needs of the last, the lost, and those with the least in society. And, there is language and there are official institutional structures that help to support all of these initiatives.

The Classes
Of course, the heart of the formation program were the thrice-daily classes where we learned from Brother Jeffrey, FSC and Gina Hall, AFSC, both of the state of Louisiana and members of the District of New Orleans-Santa Fe.

Brother Jeffrey and Gina Hall are both master teachers. They instilled a sense of regularity and rhythm to each class that I appreciated as a learner. Brother Jeffrey often began each class by sharing a humorous video to get us engaged. After we were tickled funny, Brother Jeffrey would invite us to bring our morning prayer into the classroom and to recall God's presence. We were then invited to dialogue with one another by completing sentence stems that he had posted: "I learned ... I was surprised ... I wonder ... I wish ... I think ..." Whenever we had an in-class reading assignment, we were asked to read in choirs, that is, in groups of two or three with each person taking a portion or a paragraph. This ensured that we would not wander far from the task at hand, and that we were all equally engaged with the reading. Any teacher can add these simple teaching techniques to their teaching toolbox.

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Hagiography versus History
Our initial classes involved Brother Jeffrey equipping us with various analytical tools which we would then use and apply throughout the course. He started by problematizing our conceptual understandings of history, holiness, human, and saint. We needed to consider from whose point of view stories and history were being told. Holiness, Brother Jeffrey contended, is "a reflection of God's awareness in the world." To be human, is "to know that we are in made in the image and likeness of God" and "to live authentically within our limitations." The word saint, from the Latin root sanctus, is to convey holiness. And with that, Brother Jeffrey asked us to read the story of Christina the Astonishing.

Though we read aloud from a different source, the following song by Nick Cave about Christina the Astonishing captured the sentiment:

Christina the Astonishing
Lived a long time ago
She was stricken with a seizure
At the age of twenty-two
They took her body in a coffin
To a tiny church in Liége
Where she sprang up from the coffin
Just after the Agnus Dei
She soared up to the rafters
Perched on a beam up there
Cried, "The stink of human sin
Is more than I can bear"
Christina the Astonishing
Was the most astonishing of all
She prayed balanced on a hurdle
Or curled up into a ball
She fled to remote places
Climbed towers and trees and walls
To escape the stench of human corruption
Into an oven she did crawl
Christina the Astonishing
Behaved in a terrifying manner
Died at the age of seventy-four
In the convent of Saint Anna

After some laughs at some of the astonishing claims of this story, Brother Jeffrey introduced us to the notion of hagiography. While it was once an early genre of serious Christian literature, today hagiography refers to the uncritical and ultra-reverential biographical treatment of a person who is widely considered by the Catholic Church as a saint.

The first biographies of Saint John Baptist De La Salle were written by men who wanted him to be canonized a saint. And, for the proper authorities, this required evidence of "saintly" action. (Of course, at present, it is much more complicated than that, beginning with the search for evidence of "holiness" in a person's life through formal investigation. Then, large amounts of money to support the cause for canonization is often required to sustain the investigation which can sometimes last centuries. Finally, evidence of miraculous intercession is required.) The three early biographers of De La Salle were Canon Jean-Baptiste Blain, Brother Bernard, FSC, and Dom-Francois Elie Maillefer, OSB. They wrote the life of De La Salle from their point of view and informed by their own biases. Still, in addition to the actual writings of De La Salle, these biographies paint a portrait of a man who seemed to have been so saintly as to have lived without fault.

Our task as a class was to better understand the life of De La Salle as a historian might. That is to say, our stance was to be impartial, centered on historical evidence, and focused on the facts. We were also to examine the events of his times in order to gain greater insight into the circumstances of De La Salle's life. The point was to see De La Salle's humanity and to see that while he was made in the image and likeness of God, like all humans he was all bound by his limitations. Our two primary sources for the work ahead were The Work is Yours by Luke Salm, FSC, the book on De La Salle that Brother Edmond had given me when I began this adventure, and The Letters of John Baptist De La Salle, a collection of letters that he wrote to his brothers.

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A Short Biography of John Baptist De La Salle
Jean-Baptiste De La Salle was born on 30 April 1651 in Reims, France to Louis de La Salle, a magistrate of the court of Reims, and Nicole Moët de Brouillet, a woman of noble lineage. As members of the upper middle class they enjoyed all of the privileges and activities that were connected to that particular caste. Salm's biography (while referencing Blain) details De La Salle's early fascination with all things religious which seems to have effected his eventual vocation.

De La Salle enjoyed the privilege of private tuition in his home until he was enrolled in 1660 at the College de Bons Enfants in Reims, where he studied Latin and Greek, specifically, and classical studies, more generally. On 11 March 1662 at ten years of age, De La Salle received the clerical tonsure signifying his formal candidacy into priesthood. After further study, De La Salle was invested on 7 January 1667 as Canon of the Cathedral of Reims. This position entailed receiving a house and a stipend for his duties which included chanting the liturgy of the hours in choir and advising the archbishop of Reims. Following additional studies and receiving his minor orders, De La Salle entered the Seminary of Saint Sulpice in Paris in 1670 to continue his studies in theology.

Following the death of his mother and father, De La Salle returned to Reims to assume guardianship of his siblings. With his studied interrupted, a fellow Canon of the Cathedral of Reims, Father Nicolas Roland offered spiritual and practical guidance to De La Salle and recommended that he continue his studies locally. On Holy Saturday, 9 April 1678, De La Salle was ordained to the priesthood. The priesthood and the canonry were both prestigious positions, and De La Salle was well positioned to continue to rise through the ranks of the church hierarchy. With degrees in Master of Arts, Bachelor of Theology, and Licentiate in Theology, a position as a university professor was also possible.

Only weeks after De La Salle's ordination, Nicolas Roland died. De La Salle was named as executor of his will, and amongst Roland's requests was for De La Salle to guide a group of nuns who were charged with the education of poor girls in Reims. In April 1679, while on the footsteps of the convent of the Sisters of the Child Jesus, De La Salle met Adrian Nyel, an enthusiastic layman from the city of Rouen who was establishing charity schools for the education of the poor. De La Salle was quite interested in Nyel's proposals and the two men worked on strategies to begin the endeavor.

A school was established but he found that the teachers he recruited for the endeavor were lacking in training and manners, were struggling with pedagogy, and were generally unfit for the tasks at hand. Recognizing the need to ameliorate the situation, in 1680, De La Salle invited his teachers to his home for meals in order to instruct them for the work of teaching. Surely and gradually, De La Salle had come to the realization that his work as a canon and priest was becoming secondary to the immediate needs of the teachers before him and the schools that had been established. In 1681, De La Salle asked his teachers to live with him in the family home. De La Salle incurred the wrath and scandal of his own family and the local community as it was uncommon for the upper class to mix with the lower class. The following year, on 24 June 1682, De La Salle and his teachers moved to a humble house in the poorest part of Reims. This house is termed today to be the "cradle of the Institute" and it was here where De La Salle, for the first time, called his new family his "Brothers."

De La Salle regularized the life of his Brothers by teaching them through example, by introducing them to prayer, and by guiding them toward a spiritual life. However, De La Salle's brothers were concerned that at any point he could return to his life of privilege and permanent income. The brothers were unsure whether the Providence of God would actually take care of their needs should De La Salle decide to abandon the whole endeavor. So, on 16 August 1683, De La Salle resigned his canonry, his guaranteed income and pension, and along with that his social status. De La Salle who was now committed to his community of brothers would also fully commit to trusting in divine providence to take care of his material needs and the needs of his brothers.

As his community began to grow in number, De La Salle was tested with various growing pains. The morale of his fledgling community would ebb and flow. De La Salle's health was also precarious at this time. Unsure of the future of his endeavor, De La Salle chose two of his most trusted and zealous brothers. Together, on 21 November 1691, the feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, De La Salle and Brothers Nicolas Vuyart and Gabriel Drolin made their "heroic vow."

The Heroic Vow
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
prostrate with the most profound respect before your
infinite and adorable majesty, we consecrate ourselves
entirely to you to procure with all our ability and efforts
the establishment of the Society of the Christian Schools,
in the manner which will seem most agreeable to you and
most advantageous to the said Society.

And, for this purpose, I, John Baptist de La Salle, priest,
I, Nicolas Vuyart, and I, Gabriel Drolin,
from now on and forever until the last surviving one of us,
or until the complete establishment of said Society,
make the vow of association and union to bring about
and maintain the said establishment,
without being able to withdraw from
this obligation, even if only we three remained in the said Society,
and if we were obliged to beg for alms and to live on bread alone.

In view of which we promise to do,
all together, and by common accord,
everything we shall think in conscience,
and regardless of any human consideration,
to be for the greater good of said Society.

Done on this 21st of November, feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, 1691.

The first assembly of the brothers took place in 1694 when De La Salle and twelve Brothers adopted a common rule and took perpetual vows of obedience, association, and stability. The following day, De La Salle proposed to the Brothers that they elect one of their own as superior. To De La Salle's surprise, the results of their ballot declared that he would be their superior and the brothers pointed out to De La Salle that any resistance to the results would be a contradiction of the will of God. He assented to their wishes. De La Salle and the Brothers also declared that De La Salle would be the only priest to be chosen as superior and that only brothers could be accepted or associated as superior in the future. This was done in order to counter any clerical interference into the affairs of the Institute.

Through time, De La Salle would establish additional schools and teacher training centers, but he also faced resistance and resentment from clergy and from the "writing masters" of the established pay schools. At one point, the communities surrounding those schools had come to recognize that De La Salle's schools were offering a superior education and that they were free of charge. The result was that students who were of privilege and means left the pay schools for the free schools. Those writing masters brought forth lawsuits against De La Salle and the Institute. Many of those lawsuits were decided against him and on 5 February 1706, the court of the parliament forbade De La Salle to establish teacher training centers. In spite of this, the reputation of De La Salle and the Institute began to spread and soon more schools and centers would be established.

Nevertheless, De La Salle felt that his presence became a distraction to his Brothers and the Institute. To remedy this, he sought to recluse himself. In 1712, De La Salle left for the south of France to discern his next steps. His health had continued to bother him and the struggles of the lawsuits, the establishment of schools, and the closing of others had worn him down. The Institute had elected a new superior (Brother Barthelemy) but the affairs of the Institute soon fell into disarray as ecclesiastical authorities sought to begin control of the Institute. The principal brothers of the Institute then drafted a letter addressed to De La Salle.

The "Recall" Letter
Our very dear Father,
We, the principal Brothers of the Christian Schools,
having in view the greater glory of God, the greater
good of the Church and our Society, recognize that it
is of the utmost importance that you should again take
up the care and general management of the holy work of God,
which is also yours, since it has pleased the Lord to
make use of you to establish it and to direct it for such a long time.

Everyone is convinced that God gave you and still gives you
the graces and talents needed to govern properly this new Society
which is so useful to the Church; and it is only proper for us
to acknowledge that you have always governed it with much success and edification.

This is why we very humbly beseech you and command you in the name
and on behalf of the Body of this Society to which you have promised obedience,
to resume without delay the general management of our Society.

In testimony of which we have signed.

Done at Paris this first day of April 1714.

We are with most profound respect,
our dear Father, your humble and obedient inferiors.

On 10 August 1714, De La Salle arrived at the door of the community in Paris saying: "Here I am; what do you want me to do?"

Brother Barthelemy continued as superior of the Institute, but this time with De La Salle's insight and guidance. De La Salle did not take up the daily affairs of the Brothers, but his presence did much to quell much of the disarray. De La Salle completed a revision of the Rule of the Brothers of the Christian School in 1718, and with only minor adaptations, this Rule would remain in force until the next major revision in 1967 almost 250 years later. (A Rule is an order and governing document for living in community with other consecrated religious.) During this time, De La Salle also performed sacramental ministry for the brothers and took to training the novices in formation in the practice of interior prayer.

Having never fully recovered from his rheumatism, De La Salle's eventually succumbed to his illness. At four o'clock in the morning on Good Friday, 9 April 1719, De La Salle made an attempt to rise from his bed as if to greet someone. He joined his hands together, lifted his eyes toward heaven, and took his last breath.

De La Salle was canonized as a saint on 24 May 1900 by Pope Leo XIII. On 15 May 1950, De La Salle was declared Patron Saint of All Teachers by Pope Pius XII.

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The Letters of John Baptist de La Salle
Our evening sessions with Gina Hall were dedicated to exploring the Letters of John Baptist De La Salle. As we read through them, we were invited to consider what those letters said about De La Salle and the recipient. The collection of Letters included some of the monthly correspondence that De La Salle required of his brothers. The brothers were to share with De La Salle their practices in prayer, in community living, and the trials of their community relationships as a way of reflecting upon their duties and to determine if they were being faithful to them. Most of De La Salle's reply letters were very direct, dry, matter-of-factly, and featured a kind of surgical precision. De La Salle dispensed advice, admonition, and encouragement, all in equal proportion. Read with modern eyes, most of the class found the letters to be rather humorous. Gina invited us to write a letter in the style of De La Salle to a fictional Brother X who was entrusted to us as an advisee. This was a fun exercise, and one that elicited much laughter and elation when we shared our letters in class.

To Brother X
It seems to me, my very dear Brother, that you are troubled by the recent invitation
for our Brother colleague to join our movement. Please, take care to release your jealousy
and invite our Brother to our movement by engaging in conversation with him and by making
him feel welcome in all matters.

Since your last letter to me, you had indicated that your belongings were strewn about when
our Brother colleague joined our movement. As you yourself had indicated, all our possessions
do not belong to us, but rather to the School. Take care not to horde worldly possessions for
God does not look favorably upon that.

Is it true that you engage in gossip with other Brothers? This is inappropriate.
See to it that you cease from doing this for gossip is destructive to the well-being
of the community and fosters distrust of you.

I am happy to hear of your new ministry as a retreat master. See to it that the children
receive the very best experience possible. Be sure to train a successor since it is likely
that you will be moved very soon. Also, be sure to collaborate with your colleagues,
lest you are branded an outsider. This is not good.

I am delighted of your progress in your scholarly work. Ensure that this does not conflict
with your duties in your primary ministry, and that is the teaching of catechism to the children.

Be sure that you do not get easily frustrated with your colleagues for it is fairly certain that
they are equally frustrated with you. Release your frustration in prayer.

Please, be sure to sleep on time, to get your exercise, and to eat at regular intervals.
Not doing so will ensure that you will get sick, and that you may pour out your
frustration to your fellow Brothers. This is not good.

Feel free to write to me whenever you have need to.

Continue to pray to God so that in all things, God's will, and not yours, be done.

I am, in our Lord, my very dear Brother,

Totally yours,
De La Trinidad

I did, however, have a semi-serious and somewhat scholarly question: What ever happened to the letters that the Brothers wrote to De La Salle and why were these not collected? The impression that I had about the Brother being written to was perhaps unfairly tainted by De La Salle's writing manner. In some instances, the Brother seemed totally inept and unable to deal with the rigors and realities of community living much less the task of classroom teaching. If we had a glimpse of what that Brother confessed to De La Salle, perhaps we would have a more even rendering of the story.

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Looking Back to Look Forward: Structure
As we made our way through each class, I felt that we were assembling a patchwork quilt of De La Salle's life rather than painting a linear picture of him. My own brain prefers the linearity, but I also understood that history is rarely neat and that our brains require certain categorical structures to make sense of human events. I was finding it hard to keep track of all of the dates and names, and I strove to find overarching themes that I could grab hold of. At all times, I operated with the idea that by looking to the past we may discover some potential solutions for present-day problems.

Looking Back to Look Forward: The Etymology and an Ethic of Salvation
As a language major, Brother Jeffrey had a command of language and a love for the etymology of words that we easily detected. The importance of etymology was clear: by looking into the history of words, we can determine if the words stayed faithful to their original meaning or whether the meaning of those words had changed, and if so, to what extent. Indeed, recapturing the essence of the word would allow us to regain some insights that we might have lost.

We explored the history of many words. One such word that had particular salience for me was the word salvation. Brother Jeffrey traced its origins back to Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, and whose name gave meaning to the term hygiene. The Romans then appropriated her as the goddess of good health and called her Salus. According to Brother Jeffrey, a common greeting of good health at the time was to invoke Salus's blessing upon a person. Eventually, the Latin term salve came to be, which we today associate with the English terms saving and salvation. So, when we consider "saving" someone in danger, in the name of religion, or within an educational context, perhaps we ought to consider that this action means restoring or revealing to her or him the means toward "good health." Within a current Western medical context, the meaning of good health has shifted from curative medicine (healing) to preventative (holistic) medicine. Good health, or salvation, within an educational context, then, means equipping that young person with the skills, the knowledge, and the experiences necessary to prevent her or him from falling ill. Of course, these actions presume an ethic of care and responsibility on the part of the teacher similar in content to the Hippocratic oath that physicians take in order to practice medicine.

Furthermore, to be a Lasallian teacher means to see that our own salvation lies in the salvation of the young people entrusted to our care. Taking our exploration of the link between good health and salvation, our role is to restore or to reveal the inherent goodness and wholeness found within each and every student to herself or himself. Through the act of ethical teaching, and by adopting a stance of humility, we can glimpse our own inherent human goodness and wholeness.

Looking Back to Look Forward: Words and Rules
To Brother Jeffrey, there are no "natural words." By this he means that humans created sounds to approximate experiences and ideas, but that these words share the limitations of their creators. Any word is, at best, an approximation, and it can never fully reveal the totality of any experience or idea. Words are merely snapshots, but they are useful tools nevertheless. We use words to organize our experiences or to categorize ideas, because we have this insatiable human need to make meaning and to structure that meaning into intelligible bite size units of understanding.

We then create rules in order to nail things down and to make those experiences and ideas tangible and predictable. Rules, as Brother Jeffrey shared with us, are merely guides that allow us to get from one point to another. When we make gods out of rules and structures, we put the cart before the horse. When we apply this within an educational context, and in particular with student discipline, do we ask ourselves: is it about the rules, or is it about the student?

Even as we were studying the life story of De La Salle, and in successive years as we study his pedadgogy and his spirituality, Brother Jeffrey made clear that the point of this studying was not to apply everything wholesale that we had learned to our present context. I believe that the point is to ask the question: What can we learn from the approach, the attitude, and the spirit of De La Salle that may be fruitful, inspirational, or practical for our particular ministry?

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The Stories
Perhaps the greatest gifts that Brother Jeffrey shared with us were his stories. He shared with us childhood stories, stories of his formation as a Brother, teacher stories, stories of his time as an administrator, many of which were quite humorous, and all of which revealed Brother Jeffrey to be an enlightened and heartful human being.

The sharing of stories is also a pedagogical tool that I feel I need to pay more attention to. While it may seem rather narcissistic to assume that my students may want to hear about aspects of my life, story sharing, to me, is an important part of relationship building. By sharing stories, students come to see their teachers as human beings living very human lives fraught with joy and jubilation, trials and tribulations. While sharing stories can often make more lively or salient some aspect of curriculum, it is its relational power which is more important. Furthermore, for the brief instant that the story is shared and perhaps during the pause or laughter immediately thereafter, students may come to see that we too are on a similar human journey just trying to figure out answers to all of those existential questions: Who am I? Who am I meant to be? Where did I come from? What is my purpose in this life? To quote Brother Jeffrey, "We're a lump of clay with many fingerprints - malleable and never finished."

At the start of the course, Gina Hall gave us each a table top name tag. She also invited us to decorate that name tag at will, but to also leave room on the reverse side to write the names of teachers who were inspirational to us, or who had a hand in forming us into the people we are today. I thought of the other great story tellers who shared their stories with me and I wrote their names down: my ninth grade social studies teacher Mark Smigel and a grad school professor of poetry and creative writing Carl Leggo.

The Practicum and The Questions
Being a campus minister at Saint Mary's College High School has many rewards and also many challenges. Being with the students each and every day, helping to shape and to guide them, and watching them grow are blessings unto themselves. I believe that my greatest challenge is to confront and to stave off creeping student spiritual apathy especially as it comes into contact with a very nascent adolescent spirituality. As young people learn about themselves, and as they learn to navigate the world (never mind learn to navigate dealing with multiple teachers with multiple expectations), it seems like there is rarely sufficient time to attend to developing a spiritual practice that would sustain them through the joy and jubilation, and the trials and tribulations of modern life.

As a Lasallian Catholic school, approximately half of our student population every year indicate on our application forms that they are Catholic. It is probable that perhaps half of them are active in parish and sacramental life. It also means that some of our students belong to other Christian denominations or faith traditions. Some are fervent atheists, and others are seeking and questioning. In short, our school is a microcosm of the multi-religious and multi-cultural reality present in the United States.

If we are truly to meet the students where they are and if part of a campus minister's task is to help guide students to the fruits of a spiritual life, then perhaps we need to attend to this multi-religious and multi-cultural reality in a meaningful way. I have many questions attached to this:

What is the function of a Catholic school in a pluralistic society?

How do we attend to a multi-religious and multi-cultural reality while continuing to maintain a Catholic identity?

What is the purpose of maintaining an institutional Catholic identity?

In this age of so-called postmodern relativism, does being "more Catholic" engender a sense of stability for the institution?

What if we believe in the notion of ecclesia semper reformanda, or, "the Church always reforming"? Does that sense of stability then become moot?

If we believe that an institutional Catholic identity is important, and we wish to maintain an inclusive community, how do we evangelize and not proselytize?

In other words, how do we convey and present the Gospel message without the aim of intentionally converting others?

How do we invite those students who are not Catholic to feel that they are being included?

If we insist on the imposition of a Catholic identity upon young people, are we inadvertently coercing and indoctrinating them?

How does the notion of free will, conscience, and human dignity play out with regard to the expression of an institutional Catholic identity and the developing spiritual identities of young people?

What does the Vatican II document on the Declaration of Religious Freedom have to say about the freedom of religious expression? How does this apply in a Catholic school setting?

Are the notions of free will, free expression, and conscience simply abstract concepts that apply to people who are of the age of majority?

Why is inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue important in a Lasallian Catholic school? How is this dialogue practically implemented in various school programs?

I elected the Lasallian research practicum because I wanted to better understand what Lasallian philosophies, pedagogy, and spirituality can bring to bear on these questions. My hope is that the next two years of Buttimer, and the subsequent time spent in research in pursuit of a Master of Arts degree in Lasallian Studies will shed some light and provide some answers to some of these questions. While each of these questions can constitute individual theses unto themselves, my hope is that with further experience as a lay ecclesial minister in a high school setting, with further conversations with colleagues, and with additional reading and research, I can come to a greater understanding of how to effectively minister to young people who are searching for, among many other things, their spiritual and religious identities.

Brother Jeffrey gave me a hint of how to potentially begin to answer these questions: "Before you were Christians, before you were Buddhists, before you were anything else, you were human."

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The Creation of Community
Brother Jeffrey also believes that we are Lasallian to the degree that teachers are genuine brothers and sisters to one another. This Buttimer experience reminded me of the need to be able to rely on one another within our teaching communities for mutual support. The creation of community begins with the one-on-one relationships that faculty and staff have with one another, in the way that teachers treat each other daily, and in the way the teachers have each other's "backs."

De La Salle recognized the power of community when he united himself with Brothers Nicolas Vuyart and Gabriel Drolin in a "heroic vow" of association and union to commit to the creation and the cause of the Institute. At a time when there was opposition to and negativity regarding De La Salle's work, these Brothers stuck together and realized the inherent strength that was to be found in community.

At the school level, teachers must also come to recognize the power of a healthy community, one that becomes a source of mutual support in times of trouble and hardship. The creation and maintenance of community requires effort, patience, and understanding on all who work for young people and the sake of the mission. While it is sometimes not easy to work in community, let alone to live in community as the early Brothers did and as they continue to do today, it is essential if we are to have any hope of realizing a sliver of the mission which has been entrusted to each Lasallian teacher.

To Be Teacher, To Be Lasallian
To be a Lasallian teacher whose mission involves the human and Christian education of the young, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged, according to the ministry which the Catholic Church has entrusted to him or her, is certainly a difficult proposition in these times. This mission is further complicated by the many negative and life-purging trends and tendencies present in North American culture. However, there are also great opportunities to effect change for the present and for the future. Teachers are gifted these opportunities through the students they are privileged to teach.

Brother Jeffrey invited us to consider De La Salle's memoir on the beginnings of the Institute: "... it was a wise and gentle God who led him (De La Salle) and the founding community step by step, never with force but always with compelling invitation, to create this society of the Christian schools." To be a Lasallian teacher, according to Brother Jeffrey, is to be wise and gentle with students in the way that God was wise and gentle with De La Salle.

Something Greater Than Ourselves
De La Salle was moved to address the needs set before him. God called, and he answered. If he had known the path that God would eventually lead him toward, he probably would not have answered that call and in all likelihood would have dropped the whole endeavor. Though obedient to the will of God and relying upon God's providence in all things, De La Salle soldiered on in faith trusting that he was doing the right thing.

Teachers in the schools of the Lasallian family are invited to something greater than themselves. It is humbling to think of the magnitude of the responsibility of effecting change and transformation in the lives of young people entrusted to our care. And, to be able to take part in this experience is indeed a grace.

This first Buttimer session taught me that the Lasallian charism is present no matter where we are at work within the Lasallian family. The Lasallian familiy is present in 82 countries, with more than 1,000 educational institutions, and where more than 1,000,000 students are learning. Included in this family are approximately 6,000 Brothers and more than 100,000 lay women and men working together and by association to change the lives of young people. It is humbling to think of the enormity of this family all working worldwide to make this world a better place through the gift of education.

The Lasallian mission has been in play for more than 300 years. It is humbling to think that as a teacher we are invited to be a part of this mission, in effect, to be connected to the Communion of Lasallian Saints, both official and unofficial, and with those who have lived and with those who are living. With that kind of support, it is possible to achieve great things.

Domine Opus Tuum
The book that Brother Edmond gave me, The Work is Yours, refers not to our work alone, but to God's work living within us. We are mere instruments to animate that work. A conversation that began two years ago in the office of the president of Saint Mary's College High School, has allowed me to see that I am a part of something greater than myself. Indeed, I go forward humbled by the great achievements of De La Salle and the Institute of the Brother of the Christian Schools and only hope that I am worthy of association with this charism and this mission.

The work continues ...

The day before Buttimer II began I reviewed my class notes from Buttimer I as a way of getting back into the proper frame of mind. After an exhausting and lengthy school year filled with many changes, I needed to see again some of the salient wisdom that Brother Jeffrey and Gina shared with us:

"Educate from Educare: to lead from ..."

"Look beneath the rags and find the child Jesus."

"We only have the power to change ourselves, we spend our lives trying to change everything around us."

"The role of the teacher: To guide with gentleness and wisdom; to be relational and inviting."

"Before you were Christians, before you were Buddhists, you were human."

"The Glory of God is a human being fully alive -- when we are our best selves."

"To fall in love is to go from your head to your heart."

"We make Gods of rules and laws; we take and squish any life out of them."

"Structures are for people, not the other way around."

"Impediment from Impedimenta: something gets in the way of your feet."

"Perfect from Per Facere: Per -- to complete; Facere -- to do. Perfect is not possible in anything that is ongoing or unfinished."

"Virtue from Vir Tue: Vir -- man; Tue -- strength."

"When does a student respect themself? When someone offers them that respect."

"7 Deadly Habits: (1) Criticism; (2) Blaming; (3) Complaining; (4) Nagging; (5) Threatening; (6) Punishing; (7) Bribing to Control."

"7 Caring Habits: (1) Supporting; (2) Encouraging; (3) Listening; (4) Accepting; (5) Trusting; (6) Respecting; (7) Negotiating Differences."

"Let us call students forward to a deeper humanity."

"We're a lump of clay with many fingerprints: malleable and never finished."

While I was looking forward to seeing familiar faces and friends, I was not looking forward to regaining what has been colloquially known as the "Buttimer Belly Bulge." This net result of eating five or six meals a day (including snack) would result in a gain of at least five pounds. And, it took me all year to lose it! Of course, this was all supposed to be negated by the amount of calories our brains would consume while attending to the joys of better understanding Saint John Baptist de La Salle's educational vision and pedagogical influence.

And so we began, as we did the year before, with a delicious shared meal. After our dinner, we scurried quickly to our first class session. The Buttimer Institute for Lasallian Studies was once a three week, three year program. In order to make the program more amenable to more participants, it was reorganized to fit within two years. Hence, we needed to start right away on the first evening to fit the first of some 28 sessions.

Our teachers this year were Brother Frederick Muller, the Coordinator for Lasallian Formation and Professional Development at La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island, and Doctor Greg Kopra, Director of Formation for Mission for the District of San Francisco. Greg recently completed his doctorate degree in Catholic educational leadership at the University of San Francisco and his dissertation focused on the phenomenon of lay association for the Lasallian Educational Mission. Both teachers brought to bear a significant amount of lived Lasallian experiences and with that many scintillating stories to the course. They were well organized, efficient, and generous.

They also expected plenty from our group as we had much more reading to contend with. Some of us remarked that the workload was not unlike what a junior would receive in high school. The Buttimer III folks, affectionately known as the Big Butts seemed to revel in plenty in down time, complete with afternoon napping, and endless conversations with one another. Last year, as Buttimer I participants, we were known as the Baby Butts. This year, we Buttimer II people, or, the Half Asses spent most of our "down time" reading in preparation for class discussions. Altogether, the work was quite fruitful even if the time felt compressed as this preparation work made our classes worthwhile. While the Buttimer puns often gave us moments of levity, we agreed that perhaps we ought to think of a better moniker to describe ourselves. The work we put in to Buttimer II was anything but Half Assed!

Our aim for this class was to understand Lasallian pedagogy through three texts that De La Salle wrote either by himself, or in association with his early brothers. These primary texts included: The Conduct of the Christian Schools, The Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility, and The Duties of a Christian to God. Taken together, these three texts respectively comprised the academic, behavioral, and catechetical elements of what we today call Lasallian pedagogy. The project of providing a human and Christian education involves intellectual (academic) development, social (behavioral) development, and religious (catechetical) development. De La Salle had a knack for taking the best of what was available at the time and then synthesizing and adapting them for his and his Brothers own uses.

We also had a couple of complementary texts: Brother Leon Lauraire's Conduct of Schools: An Overall Plan of Human and Christian Education, and Brother Fred's own The Formation of New Teachers: A Companion on the Lasallian Journey. These last two served as ideal companion texts which we read in conversation with the primary texts.

In addition, we read contemporary articles from Educational Leadership, essays written by Thomas Groome and Christian Smith, and pastoral letters written by the Superior General Alvaro Rodriguez Echevarria. All of this was held in conversation with De La Salle's works and Brother Leon's and Brother Fred's complementary texts.

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The Conduct of the Christian Schools
The Conduct of the Christian Schools (hereafter referred to as "Conduct") first appeared as a manuscript in 1706 and was later revised in consultation with De La Salle's early Brothers and printed as Conduite des Écoles chrétiennes in 1720 after the death of the founder. The Conduct is an instruction manual that detailed how a school should be operated. Such was the importance of the Conduct that the Brothers were required to carry a copy of it in one pocket and a copy of the New Testament in the other. And, because of the uniformity of the Conduct, a Brother could be switched into any school and pick up where the other left off without missing a beat.

Today, an instruction manual for any electronic equipment contains exact directions to ensure successful operation. When read with twenty-first century eyes, one senses that there was no degree of latitude in the Conduct. Of course, understanding the context and the circumstances for which the Conduct was written can give us clues as to why the prescriptions in the text were so exacting.

The inconsistent training of male elementary school teachers in sixteenth and seventeenth century France meant that the quality of the teaching varied from school to school and class to class. In addition, the students of the "artisans and the poor" needed a firm structure that would allow them to succeed. The edition of the Conduct we read was divided into three sections: (1) Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Classroom Management; (2) School Operations; (3) Teacher Support. Of course, this was not the terminology used then.

Modern Similarities
What is fascinating to me is that the focus of the elementary schools then were not much different than the focus of some Catholic elementary schools today. The focus on reading, writing (and spelling), arithmetic, and catechism is paramount in the present as it was in the past.

Even the pedagogy that was employed is remarkably similar. In the first section of the first article in the third chapter on "What Concerns All Lessons" De La Salle noted that "all students of all these lessons ... will be grouped in three levels: the first composed of the beginners, the second of the intermediate, and the third of the advanced and those who are perfect in the work of the lesson."# Seating in the classroom was strategic such that each student was grouped according to ability. This is a modified form of what we today call classroom differentiation. Bearing in mind that the students are in different places along their learning journey, the teacher must use differentiation to ensure that the teacher meets the needs of each student while operating in a single classroom.

Good Habits
The procedural routines of having a set class schedule established good habits both for the Brothers and for the students. And, as we know, good habits create good character. The Brothers rose at 4.30 AM and went to bed at 9.00 AM. They were awoken each day with "Live, Jesus, in our Hearts ..." to which the Brothers would respond with "Forever!" Any Brother who did not respond would receive a loud knock at the door to prompt him to get up for morning prayer! The students were given such responsibilities as opening the school at 7.30 AM, sweeping the classroom once daily, bell ringing to announce start of school and end of school prayer. In effect, De La Salle and the Brothers saw fit to empower students with these responsibilities to promote good character. De La Salle was intimately aware that good habits and good character qualities were as important as well as any secular or spiritual knowledge.

Ordered School
An ordered school was considered sacred ground: set apart for the purposes of learning. According to Brother Fred, having an orderly school was an "indispensable condition if the students were to make any progress." We must also remember that order is meant to give life, and never exists merely for its own sake lest we fall into "over-ordering." Order is manifested and achieved in several ways pedagogically: through the succession of activities, the various gradations of difficulties in learning, and grouping of students of like abilities. According to De La Salle, this allowed students a degree of security through predictability while taking away arbitrary teaching. The intended result was a sense of discipline which pervaded the classroom and which subsequently affected the overall operation of the school.

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The Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility
The Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility (hereafter referred to as "Rules") was first published in 1703 as Les Règles de la Bienséance et de la Civilité chrétienne. A manual to instill refinement and gentlemanly conduct in boys, the Rules ensured that good manners were essential to good character. De La Salle also saw the pedagogical value of using the Rules: he presented his ideas on politeness and behavior in a systematic way fit for the students who were able to read French fluently. He saw that decorum and civility were necessarily intertwined with Christian ideals. Adherence to the Rules meant that the boys of "artisan and poor" families could be ready to take their place in a world occupied by gentlemen of higher social classes. In other words, De La Salle was preparing his pupils for upward social mobility.

Read once more with twenty-first century eyes, the ideas that De La Salle presented in the early eighteenth century are just as applicable today. One only needs to look at the current state of politics in the United States to see the absence of decorum and civility. The young people entrusted to our care in our schools need models who embody a strong sense of modesty, respect, and charity. They are not likely to find it in popular culture nor politics.

Greg reminded us of the original meaning of the word respect. From "spect" we get our word "spectacle," a colloquial term of eyeglasses. And, of course, "re" means "to do again." Therefore, to respect someone is to see again what is already there. Young people deserve respect and deserve to respect one another because they are inherently worthy, and because young people belong.

More importantly, to see one another as children of God in whose holy presence we rightfully belong demands a respect for one's inherent dignity. How we treat one another and how we treat ourselves are of prime importance if we believe the maxim that we are made in image and likeness of God.

Brother Fred also reminded us of the old saying "you never get a second chance to make a good first impression." He also reminded us that we must pledge to never let our first impression of young people be our lasting impression of them. And, as we alluded to earlier, anyone in the process of being formed is never complete and never perfect, so why should our first impression be our last?

That said, young people need to be taught good manners. And, young people with good manners ready to take their place in society is a way of effecting social change. Human and Christian education are intricately intertwined, and decorum and civility are simultaneously humanistic and Christian.

Excerpts from Meetings and Conversations
Here are some of the more poignant excerpts from our assigned reading of the section entitled Meetings and Conversations from the Rules:

from Article 1, Section 1 [The Truth and the Sincerity that Decorum Requires in Speech]:
"Rather than trying to equivocate, it is more ordinarily appropriate to excuse yourself politely."

"Nothing is more honorable for you than the sincerity and fidelity that you show in keeping your promises, just as nothing makes you more worthy of contempt than breaking your word."

from Article 1, Section 2 [How You Violate Decorum When You Speak Against the Law of God]:
"It can be said that you make your real self known by the sort of language you use, for, as Jesus Christ declares, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12.34)."

from Article 1, Section 3 [Faults Against Decorum Committed When You Speak Against the Charity Owed to Your Neighbor]:
"When you hear someone spoken ill of, civility requires that you try to excuse his defects and to say something good about him, by showing him in a favorable light, and by speaking with appreciation of something he did."

from Article 1, Section 4 [Faults Against Decorum Committed Through Inconsiderate, Thoughtless, or Useless Talk]:
"If you wish to speak with discretion and prudence, you must never speak before thinking carefully about what you intend to say."

In our small group discussions, we talked about the implications of decorum and civility for today. Aside from the earlier example regarding the lack of graces in United States politics, there was a strong sense from our small group that having a courteous disposition is a necessary component of a human and Christian education and should be a vital aspect of each of our ministries.

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The Duties of a Christian to God
The final text that we explored was De La Salle's catechetical opus The Duties of a Christian to God (hereafter referred to as "Duties"). Written for both his pupils and his Brothers, the text was titled Les Devoirs d'un Chretien Envers Dieu et Les Moyens de Pouvoir Bien s'en Acquiter. Duties, like the Rules, were meant to complement one another and were intended for use as curriculum in the classroom. And, as with De La Salle's other texts, he drew heavily and freely from other sources available at the time.

Brother Fred reminded us of the need to read the Duties with context firmly in mind: De La Salle's opus is culturally, theologically, and socially bound to its time and place. Seventeenth century France in the wake of the Council of Trent and the Protestant and Catholic reformations influenced the Tridentine theology prevalent at the time. In addition, the influences of both the Jansenist and Quietist movements also had an effect on De La Salle and the Duties. In the editorial introduction of the most recent English translation of the Duties, Alexis James Doval had this to write regarding Jansenism:

"Jansenism, representing a long tradition that has its roots in a radical application of Saint Augustine's thoughts about grace and nature, takes a very negative view of fallen human nature. According to the Jansenist doctrine, free will has been so enslaved by the effects of original sin that humans are incapable of any good act. As a result, the absolute power of grace is necessary, not just for salvation in general but for any and all good acts."#

De La Salle saw that his work belonged firmly within the larger Church. Many of the uneducated in Seventeenth century France were not only unable to read and write, but many were also illiterate when it came to the tenets of their faith. It is not unlike the situation in some places today where the result of poor religious education are pupils in Lasallian schools who do not know the Catholic faith tradition.

Still, what can we learn from De La Salle's approach to catechism? De La Salle's pedagogical method for religious instruction was about developing piety in pupils through knowledge of the doctrines of the Catholic church which prepared them for life and for social mobility. The first two sections of the Duties were about knowing and loving God, and for De La Salle, this was integrated. Knowledge of one's faith should necessarily influence the way one is called to act.

The Brothers were to be inspiring role models and the Duties provided them with a spiritual rationale for some supremely difficult work. In the end, to provide a Christian education to the young meant that their ultimate goal was to conform the mind (to know) and the heart (to love) of the child to the life of Jesus. De La Salle also intentionally linked the Rules and the Duties lessons so that it was clear that one's actions as a gentleman reflected a refined life of piety and knowledge of the faith.

Mutual Invitation
Perhaps one of the most pedagogically useful things I learned during Buttimer II was the use of Mutual Invitation. So often in small discussion groups, those with extrovert personalities tend to dominate the conversation. As a way of leveling the speaking field, Brother Fred and Greg employed Mutual Invitation. This technique was developed by the Kaleidoscope Institute in Los Angeles as a way of "including everyone at the table."

Before each small group discussion session, we were given two minutes of silence to collect our thoughts and ideas based on the question or prompt at hand. A designated leader would be the first to speak, and she would invite someone else to speak. After that person has spoken, he would then, in turn, invite another, and so on. If a person is not ready to speak, he can pass, at which point he would invite someone else with the caveat that he would be invited once more after everyone had spoken. No one can respond or comment to another's thoughts until all have spoken.

Reminder: The Double Contemplation and the Dual Commitment
All throughout our reading of the Conduct, the Rules, and the Duties, Brother Fred and Greg reminded us to keep the Double Contemplation by Brother Gerard Rummery and the Dual Commitment by Brother Leon Lauraire.

De La Salle's life was firmly about loving God and knowing a loving God who wants all to be saved. He encountered the children of artisans and of the poor of his time who he saw was far from salvation because of their state in life: uneducated and limited in means and opportunity.

Of course, salvation, as Brother Jeffrey had taught us the year before, was about good health and wholeness. It was about providing young people with an opportunity to live a full and productive life through the ministry of education. Jesus came so that all might have life, and have it abundantly.# And, that abundance of life is for the present as it is for the future.

So, the Double Contemplation began with De La Salle's love for God and the children of artisans and the poor. He was led from one commitment to another to establish schools and train teachers who would become his Brothers so that all involved might achieve salvation.

The Dual Commitment was Brother Leon's conviction that the Institute had always desired "to have a clear, precise, well-argued view of the human and Christian education project, and, at the same time, to endlessly question oneself on the real, practical, adapted conditions necessary."#

Reminder: Creative Fidelity
As mentioned before, it is essential that we present-day Lasallian educators not merely lift wholesale De La Salle's seventeenth century approaches and expect it to work now as it did then. It is important for us to understand the spirit of De La Salle's work. To revisit older ideas which may be fruitful for the here and now, or to be inspired by the past to imagine new possibilities for our work in the present, is the best thing we can do with the wisdom and the scholarship that has been laid before us.

The Good Shepherd
"I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep,
sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—
and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd.
I know my own and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.
And I lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.
So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
For this reason the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again."#

This particular passage from the Gospel of John rang true several times through the course of Buttimer II. Like the Double Contemplation and the Dual Commitment, Brother Fred and Greg often made reference to this passage as it relates so eloquently to the work of the Lasallian educator.

"The good shepherd ..."
The Lasallian educator is committed to providing the very best education for those entrusted to his care.

"The hired hand ..."
Is the Lasallian educator merely an employed worker-teacher in a school like some corporate hire or independent contractor? Or does the Lasallian educator see her work as a vocation, perhaps a calling to a higher purpose?

"I know my own and my own know me ..."
How well do we know those entrusted to our care? Do we know each and every student sufficiently to know their individual needs? Our work as Lasallian educators is ultimately relational. Strong relationships between teacher and student, student to student, administrator to teacher create whole communities.

"And I lay down my life for the sheep ..."
What personal sacrifices are we willing to make to ensure that those entrusted to our care have the fullness of life? What lessons can we learn from the Brothers who have made commitments to the Lasallian Educational Mission, to their Institute, and to their community?

"I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold ... I must bring them also ..."
Can we extend our ethic of care to beyond those in our immediate ministries or communities? Is it possible to see that our responsibilities may entail more than just those pupils in our midst and that our contributions might have a lasting, ripple effect into society?

These questions can also apply to the way teachers are in community with one another. Presidents, principals, and others thrusted with positions of authority are entrusted with the care of those they lead.

This may all sound overly dramatic, or, at worst, highly idealistic and naive. Nevertheless, if we believe that the work of fulfilling the Lasallian Educational Mission as a Lasallian educator is of great importance, then we should consider these questions carefully with creative fidelity to the tradition and with our own students, circumstances, and ministries in mind.

As a counterpoint to our readings and group discussions, a number of our classmates also prepared a prayer each day to begin our second morning session. Arranged before arriving at Saint Mary's College, each prayer highlighted one of the Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher written by Brother Agathon, the fifth Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools from 1777 to 1795. Each prayer-virtue, by design, acted as a kind of daily theme which also anchored our discussions and which served as a lens by which we would conduct our readings. These qualities and characteristics while written for the Brothers of the eighteenth century hold as much meaning for us today as twenty-first century teachers. As the first circular letter of the Institute, this text was a staple of many Catholic teacher training institutions from the time of its initial printing until the 1930s.

Excerpted from The Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher

1. Gravity [Seriousness] is a virtue which regulated the exterior of a teacher, conformably to modesty, politeness, and good order.

2. Silence is a virtue which leads the teacher to avoid talking when he must not speak and to speak when he should not be silent.

3. Humility is a virtue which inspires us with low sentiments of ourselves; it attributes to us our just due.

4. Prudence is a virtue which makes us understand what we need to do and what we need to avoid.

5. Wisdom is a virtue which gives us knowledge of the most exalted things through the most excellent principles so that we may act accordingly.

6. Patience is a virtue which makes us overcome, without murmuring and with submission to the will of God, all the evils of this life, and especially the cares inseparable from the education of youth.

7. Reserve is a virtue which makes us think, speak, and act with moderation, discretion, and modesty.

8. Gentleness is a virtue which inspires us with goodness, sensitivity, and tenderness.

9. Zeal is a virtue which makes us procure the glory of God with great affection.

10. Vigilance is a virtue which makes us diligent and painstaking in fulfilling all our duties.

11. Piety is a virtue which makes us fulfill worthily our duties toward God.

12. Generosity is a virtue which makes us sacrifice voluntarily our personal interests to those of our neighbor, conformably to the example of Saint Paul who said that he did not ‘seek what is profitable to myself, but to many, that they may be saved.'#

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The Heart of the Lasallian Educational Mission: Relationships
The quality of the school is determined by the quality of the teachers and the quality of the relationships present in the community. According to Greg, as lay people, we must ask ourselves what we can learn from the way Brothers live in community with one another. Brother Fred assured us, however, that it is certainly not a glamorous lifestyle, and it is one that is filled with joys, pains, laughter, and struggles. Of course, these are present in household families as well. Brother Fred also acknowledged that Brothers need to cultivate healthy relationships with faculty and not just with students. We bear all of this with the student in mind, however, for we ought to regularly ask ourselves as Brothers and laity this question: "How do we need to be together in order for us to effectively transform the lives of our students?"

Supporting and Forming Lasallian Educators
The structural and organizational elements of the school are meant to serve the students, the teachers, and the relationships that are born from these arrangements. How the school supports the teacher is paramount for the teacher being able to do what she does best. How we form the teacher to become a Lasallian educator is therefore of vital importance.

De La Salle saw the need to train his Brothers in order that they might be effective teachers. As we learned in Buttimer I, each Brother each had to maintain correspondence with De La Salle to update him of their progress, their difficulties, and their triumphs. Today, we need to nurture the vocation of the Lasallian educator and invite them to participate in available formation opportunities.

The Potter and the Clay
"The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:
‘Come, go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.'
So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel.
The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand,
and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me:
‘Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done?' says the Lord.
Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel."#

Brother Fred sees professional development and Lasallian formation as integrated. Are new educators merely new employees, or are they also entrusted to the care of the administrators? Why should schools devote time and energy to new educators? According to Brother Fred, it is because the salvation of the students are at stake! Even veteran teachers coming from other systems or familiar with other charisms can benefit from Lasallian formation. Nobody is so experienced that they have nothing to learn, and nobody is so new that they have nothing to give.

As Brother Jeffrey from Buttimer I, and the passage from Jeremiah reminds us, "We're a lump of clay with many fingerprints: malleable and never finished."

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The Heart of the Lasallian Educational Mission: Addressing Poverty
Poverty today is represented in so many ways. While I often cringe when I hear the word poor when used only in reference to those who are economically disadvantaged, the truth is that poverty exists in many ways. One can experience a poverty of spirituality or a poverty of intellect in addition to a poverty of material wealth. While changing conditions and contexts will often dictate what poverty might mean in a so-called developed country like the United States, we nevertheless ought to be honest about what the Institute means by poor when used in the context of the Lasallian Educational Mission.

If the Lasallian Educational Mission is "to give a human and Christian education to the young, especially to the poor, according to the ministry which the Church has entrusted to it" then the clear reference here is to Catholic Social Teaching which alludes to a "preferential option for the poor," that is, the economically disadvantaged.

Living in North America we are often blinded by the stark reality of extreme economic poverty experienced by other people in other developing nations around the world. The commercials of starving children we often see on television no longer seem to captivate us, and instead we are often prompted to change the channel so that we may not be annoyed by the sight of malnourished kids. Living in relative material abundance, it is hard for us to feel what it must be like to struggle to feed a family, much less to send children to school on empty stomachs.

Pierced Hearts
Brother Fred and Greg concluded our class by playing a video set to the song How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place by Father Arnel Aquino, SJ. While the melancholic melody filled the air of the classroom, and as the screen displayed images of Filipinos pilfering through the trash on Smokey Mountain (an urban landfill) for items that they might be able to sell or food they might eat, I broke down in tears. I was reminded that had my parents not made the sacrifices that they did to find and make a better life for themselves (and for my sister and I) in Canada, that I could have easily been one of the young kids of Smokey Mountain.

Sobbing uncontrollably, I was affected more and more deeply with each scene: smiles on the faces of the innocent children who were playing and laughing amidst the garbage and the filth. They were not abandoned, but no one could give them a better life, and yet nothing could take away the joy on their faces, in spite of the lives they were living. That video was a reminder to us living in the western world that we have much to learn from the poor. As De La Salle implored us to see Jesus beneath the rags of the children of the artisans and the poor, I was also reminded that Jesus himself was born in a manger and in filth. But, he was also surrounded by unconditional love. And, as I collected myself in my seat, I too, was surrounded by the love of friends who consoled me.

Sometimes, we need our own hearts pierced in order to transform the hearts of others.

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Looking Forward to Coming Back to Saint Mary's College
Returning to Saint Mary's College was one of the many gifts of this third session of Buttimer. I had been on campus many times before but I never seemed to notice the chapel statue of Saint Ann combing her daughter Saint Mary's hair, the quotations from Inferno that adorn the hallways of Dante Hall, or the inset sculpture of the image of the Good Shepherd which greets you as you enter the side entrance at Dryden Hall. There is, of course, the verdant chapel lawn that greets you as you drive in, the giant statue of Saint John Baptist de La Salle in the chapel courtyard, and of course there is the magnificence of the chapel itself with stained glass windows that allow us to meditate on the Marian mysteries as well as the stories of De La Salle. All of this served to remind me of the absolute importance of the ensuring that the school's environment is conducive to promoting an educational atmosphere animated by tradition, depth, and wonder. The intentionality and placement of the various icons, signs, and symbols on the campus is a direct result of the quest for excellence in the quality education provided by the Brothers and their lay partners.

Who, What, Why?
An astute classmate of mine from New Zealand suggested that if the first year of the Buttimer Institute was dedicated to answering the "Who?" and if we answered the "What?" in the second year, then the third year was framed to answer the "Why?"

And so, after the opening dinner, table conversations with new and old friends, and assorted chit-chat with promises of continuing our reconnection during the various socials and break periods, each group headed to their first class. We were greeted in class by Brothers Donald (Don) Mouton and Florent Gaudreault, our teacher for the first week and our community director, respectively. Brother William (Bill) Mann would join us later in the week to take over for Brother Don who would head back to Santa Fe where he was teaching a weekend class at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

Brother Don introduced himself to us stating humourously that he was "born at a very early age." And, with a little clin d'oeil and a petit sourire, Brother Don continued by sharing with us an abbreviated version of his life story and family history. His last name Mouton, is translated as sheep, en anglais. With northeastern Acadian roots stretching generations, his family was transplanted to the southern state of Louisiana. So, Brother Don, a cajun man, hailing from a family of teachers joined the De La Salle Christian Brothers and found himself in various teaching and administrative positions, ranging from teaching at Saint Michael's High School in Santa Fe, to administration as President of the College of Santa Fe, and as visitor (provincial head) of the District of New Orleans - Santa Fe. A specialist on scripture and spirituality, our class was in for a treat over the course of our time with him.

Before we left for the evening, Brother Don asked us to consider a question: "Should we reconfigure the Buttimer program so that we begin our studies with the spiritual vision of De La Salle rather than De La Salle's biography?"

And, with that, we recessed for the evening for our first social, where indeed, many reconnections and continuing conversations took place.

The Day of Many Feasts
Gathering after morning prayer, Brother Florent, a native of Quebec, reminded us that the day, June 24, was a national holiday in Quebec, was the Feast of Saint John the Baptist in the liturgical calendar, and it was also the founding day of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. With the knowledge of this trifecta of celebrations we launched formally launched into our first full day of studies.

With the teaser from the previous evening, we set about with a short class discussion of trying to answer the question of whether De La Salle's spiritual vision rather than his life story would be a better starting point for the Buttimer program. Having come to the conclusion that the existing sequence of study was appropriate, Brother Don set about helping us to define and understand spirituality.

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Defining Spirituality and Defining Religion
Definitions are merely boundaries, guidelines that allow us for launching points in dialogue. If we change the definition of what we are talking about, the nature of the discussion also necessarily changes. To begin our understanding, we needed to have definitions from which to work from.

Simply put, Brother Don defined spirituality as "a way of being." It was originally coined in French in seventeenth century France as an effort to articulate the various paths of living out the Gospel call. As a noun, spirituality lends itself to multiple meanings and multiple appreciations. Spirituality is also a lived experience of religion.

We covered the interesting topic of the growing phenomenon of the spiritual but not religious phenomenon in North America and increasingly in other parts of the world. Brother Don reminded us that it is entirely possible to be religious and not practice religion. Religion is not entirely a private matter, but carries with it elements of social responsibility. Brother Don defined religion as "a structured response to a perception and understanding of the sacred."

The structure of this response involves (1) community; (2) cult; (3) creed; (4) conduct. To be called out of the ordinary (ekklesia), to engage in patterns of worship, prayer, and devotion (cultus), to hold a set of common beliefs and scriptures (credo), and to live together in an ethical and just way with a responsibility toward and solidarity with others (mores) is, broadly defined, what belonging to a religion is all about.

Scriptural Understanding of Spirit
Brother Don led us to examine scripture to better understand what the various writers of the Bible professed about the matters of spirit.

(1) Genesis 2.7: "Receive the spirit, live by the spirit." - God breathed (ruah, spirit) unto Adamah (earth or dust) to create Adam (human beings).

(2) Galatians 5.16-25: "Live by the spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh." - Living and being guided by the spirit means partaking of the fruits of the spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

(3) 1 Corinthians 2.11-12: "For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? ... Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God." - God is revealed through the recognition of the gifts of God.

(4) 2 Timothy 1.6: "Rekindle the gift of God within you ..." - God's omnipresence

(5) Psalm 104.24-30: "... when you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth."

(6) Psalm 139.7-10: "Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?" - God's omnipresence.

(7) Exodus 31.1-11: "... and I have filled him with divine spirit, with ability, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, in every kind of craft." - The spirit of God is manifested in the artisan.

(8) Exodus 25.8: "... I will dwell among them." - God's omnipresence

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Lasallian Spirituality: A Spirit of Faith
Lasallian spirituality is necessarily informed by De La Salle's circumstances and life story and is influenced by the ideas, experiences, the concerns of his time. His particular concern rested in the what we had studied the year before, namely, the double contemplation of God's desire for all to be saved and the children of the artisans and the poor of seventeenth century France who were very far from salvation.

The starting point for Lasallian spirituality has to do with the dual maxims of faith and zeal. Brother Don reminded us that the purpose of the Institute was to provide a human and Christian education to students and that the spirit within which this is accomplished is possible through a spirit of faith and is actualized through a spirit of zeal.

Lasallian spirituality is a distinctive way of living the spirit of the vision of Saint John Baptist de La Salle and is a privileged conduit for the Gospel to enter the world through the ministry of education. It is an integrated spirituality through which there is no distinction between the state of one's life and the work at hand. It is important to note, too, that Saint John Baptist de La Salle had no desire to form a new spirituality, rather, he was wholly concerned with running good schools and saving those kids entrusted to his care. Nevertheless, it is apparent to those of us studying the legacy of Saint John Baptist de La Salle that there was a congruence between the general spiritual principles of De La Salle and his specific educational directives.

But, what exactly is a spirit of faith?

According to Brother Don, it is a way of seeing the world. And, it is a way of seeing this world as "more than meets the eye," which is to say that more lay beyond what is immediately apparent. To live with a spirit of faith means to avoid superficialities, and it is an antidote to myopia. A spirit of faith is not ego-concerned but rather directed toward others. We looked at De La Salle's Meditations for affirmation:

(1) Meditation 96.3: Epiphany. "Recognize Jesus beneath the poor rags of the children ..." A reminder from the previous year in Buttimer: Let us not make our first impressions our last impressions.

(2) Meditation 139.1: The Feast of Saint Peter. Who was Jesus to Peter? For someone so filled with faith, Peter gave up what little he had to follow Jesus.

(3) Meditation 85.1: Vigil of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. "For how long has Jesus been presenting himself to you and knocking at the door of your heart to make his dwelling within you ..."

(4) Meditation 177.3: The Feast of Saint Theresa of Avila. "In the midst of her greatest dryness, she was profoundly immersed in God and totally abandoned to him ..."

And so, a spirit of faith demands (1) Christian Judgment: "Not to look upon anything but with the eyes of faith"; (2) Christian Commitment: "Not to do anything but in view of God"; and (3) Christian Discernment: "To attribute all to God." Once more, we looked to De La Salle's Meditations for further affirmation:

(1) Meditation 147.3: The Feast of Saint Martha. "Especially in your actions, your faith ought to be seen by your performing them only with the spirit of faith ..." Our actions must reflect the spirit of faith.

(2) Meditation 108.2: The Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas. "In all his studies and all his writings, Saint Thomas had no other purpose than the glory of God and the building of the Church." The Glory of God should be the goal of our teaching.

(3) Meditation 43.3: Pentecost Sunday. "You carry out a work that requires you to touch hearts, but this you cannot do except by the Spirit of God."

To further illustrate the connection between Lasallian spirituality and the spirit of faith, Brother Don reminded us of three states of being human: (1) Lifeless Being: Receive the spirit, from Adamah to Adam (Genesis 2.7; Psalm 104.30); (2) Living Being: Live by the spirit (Galatians 5.16-25; Romans 8.4-6); (3) Life-Giving Being: Impart the spirit of faith and zeal in all that we do.

And, how do we acquire and nurture a spirit of faith?

De La Salle exhorted his brothers to devote themselves to scripture and to interior prayer. In fact, the first and principal rule is the Gospel itself, and the first and principal exercise is to practice interior prayer.

The brothers carried a copy of the New Testament with them wherever they went, and lived out what the Gospel stood for. In this way, Lasallian spirituality is both materially (physical) and essentially (action) scriptural.

Lasallian Spirituality: Gospel-Based and Scripturally-Based
A way for the Gospel to enter into the world is through this ministry of education. But, what did the Gospel stand for?

(1) We are imbued with dignity by virtue of being human. If we want to know who God is, look at Jesus Christ. How can we, as teachers, enhance the dignity of all people in our schools? How can we better know Christ and make Christ better known to others?

(2) We are created free. How do we promote freedom within our educational context? And, of course, it is not an "anything goes" kind of freedom but rather a freedom which is derived from liberation through education.

(3) We are made for the service of others. How can we live out the corporal works of mercy within our education context?

In De La Salle's thought, the word was made incarnate through two ways: (1) Through Jesus Christ, the Word of God made visible; and (2) Through Scripture, the word of God made audible.

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Scriptural Circle
Brother Don introduced us to the concept of the Scriptural Circle, a way of interacting with and meditating through the scriptures.

(1) Read. Meditation 178.3: The Feast of Saint Luke. "Listen with docility to the word of God. Read it every day with attention ..."

(2) Study. Meditation 170.1: The Feast of Saint Jerome. "If you wish to be filled with the mind of God and entirely fit for your work, make the sacred books of Holy Scripture your special study, particularly the New Testament, so that it serves as a rule of conduct for both you and those whom you instruct."

(3) Meditate. Meditation 170.2: The Feast of Saint Jerome. "You must have knowledge in order to teach, but be convinced that you will know the Gospel better by meditating on it than by committing it to memory."

(4) Converse. Meditation 100.1: The Feast of Saint John Chrysostom. "Meditate on these truths from time to time, and take them as the usual topic of your conversation."

(5) Practice. Meditation 171.3: The Feast of Saint Remigius. "Your work does not consist in making your disciples to be Christians but in helping them to be true Christians ... Recognize what this requires of you; it is, without doubt, to put into practice the holy Gospel. Read the Gospel frequently ... and let this be your principal study, but study it especially in order to put it into practice."

(6) Transmit. Meditation 84.1: The Feast of Saint Thomas. "... you are responsible to teach these truths to others. Show by the way of your actions conform to these holy maxims that, in fact, you do believe them by putting them into practice."

Problems We Bring to Scripture
Brother Don reminded us that scripture, while God-inspired, is a human product. It is a product with male-dominated perspectives, pre-scientific views, and a multiplicity of genres adorn the various texts. Along with our propensity for misinterpretation and mistranslation, our present limited understanding of language, and our ability to apprehend metaphors, allusions, symbols, and signs, we can sometimes "get it wrong." We simply cannot read the sports section of a newspaper in the same way that we read the stock market pages. We also bring to scripture our own experiences, and so we must read scripture as an active participant bearing in mind our present context while ensuring that we evolve in our understanding of the past while acknowledging our responsibility for the future. Nevertheless, while we acknowledge the human elements found in scripture, the divine inspiration which gave life (or spirit) to the authors does not diminish. We must continue to deepen our knowledge of scripture so that we might be better conduits of the Gospel in this world in need of redemption.

Meditations for the Time of Retreat
De La Salle's Meditations for the Time of Retreat (Meditations) was written "for the use of all people who are engaged in the education of youth, especially for the retreat that the Brothers of the Christian Schools make during the time of vacation." Through it, we see De La Salle use scripture quite liberally interweaving his own thoughts about the life of the brothers, his own experience, and the various tenets of the Gospel.

De La Salle was a very structured writer and was a literary product of his time. To wit: the structure of the Meditations include sixteen reflections in eight paired couples. The odd numbered meditations are concerned with issues of faith and the theoretical while the even numbered meditations deal with practical ideas and the spirit of zeal. Each meditation had three points and was written using a chiastic structure.

De La Salle used scriptural citations in various ways:

(1) Historical (Remembrance). Meditation 193.1 (cf Romans 10.14-17): "For how can people believe in someone, the Apostle says, about whom they have not heard anyone speak, and how can they hear him spoken about if no one proclaims him to them."

(2) Theological (Faith). Meditation 193.1 (cf 1 Timothy 2.4): "God is so good that having created us, he wills that all of us come to the knowledge of the truth."

(3) Existential (Appeal). Meditation 193.2 (cf 1 Corinthians 3.10): "According to the grace of Jesus Christ that God has given to them, they are like good architects, who give all possible care and attention to lay the foundation of religion and Christian piety in the hearts of these children, a great number of whom would otherwise be abandoned."

It was clear that De La Salle knew scripture so well that his thinking was thoroughly embedded with it. Some say, however, that it is possible that De La Salle had a copy of the New Testament close by so that he could cite quickly and comprehensively.

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The Pauline Influence on De La Salle
Since the majority of the New Testament is comprised of the apostle Paul's writings, it makes sense that many of his words would show up in De La Salle's work. For example, De La Salle connected the work and ministry of the brothers to Paul's understanding of salvation:

(1) God saves students through us. Meditation 193.3 (cf 1 Corinthians 3.9): "This, says, Saint Paul, is the field that God cultivates, the building that he is raising, and you are the ones whom he has chosen to help in this work by announcing to these children the Gospel of his Son and the truths that are contained in it."

(2) Students save themselves. Meditation 195.1 (cf Colossians 1.24): "This is what made Saint Paul say very well, speaking of himself, I accomplish what is lacking in the Passion of Christ. ... Because you are obliged to help your disciples save themselves, you must engage them to unite all their actions to those of Jesus Christ ..."

(3) Students save us. Meditation 208.1 (cf 2 Corinthians 1.14): "Consider, then, that your reward in heaven will be all the greater inasmuch as you will have accomplished more good in the souls of the children entrusted to your care. In this spirit, Saint Paul told the Corinthians, You will be our glory in the time to come on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul, De La Salle, and Us as Stewards of God's Mysteries
"Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries." (1 Corinthians 4.1)

Brother Don reminded us that "we never attempt to explain a mystery, we simply enter into it." Interestingly, that has never stopped us from trying to better understand what these mysteries might mean for us today. Paul's understanding of mystery in deeply rooted in attempting to explain to the Gentiles God's plan of salvation as revealed in Jesus Christ. I suppose if Paul had listened to Brother Don's advice, we wouldn't have the corpus of Paul's writings available to us today, and De La Salle would have less to refer to us, and we wouldn't have the Meditations in the Time of Retreat, and the whole world would fall apart. Brother Don concluded by saying "all this stuff is really simple, it's just really hard to explain!"

Paul, De La Salle, and Us as Ambassadors of Jesus Christ
As Paul was an ambassador of Jesus Christ and the Gospel to the Gentiles, so was De La Salle and his brothers ambassadors of Jesus Christ and the Gospel to poor youth: "Because you are ambassadors and ministers of Jesus Christ in the work that you do, you must act as representing Jesus Christ." (Meditation 195.2; cf 2 Corinthians 5.20) According to Brother Don, there were two kinds of ambassadors in Paul's day: senatorial ambassadors who spoke for the senate in the Roman provinces, and imperial ambassadors who spoke for the emperor. The approach that Paul takes is the latter as he preached the Gospel. De La Salle implores us to do as Paul did in our work with youth.

Paul, De La Salle, and Us as Ministers of the Church
"The purpose of this Institute is to provide a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor, according to the ministry which the Church has entrusted to it."

De La Salle viewed the work of his brothers are necessary not only for salvation, but in so doing in simultaneously building up the Church:

(1) Meditation 199.1: "You must, then, regard your work, which has been entrusted to you by pastors and by fathers and mothers, as one of the most important and necessary services in the Church. This means you are called to lay the foundation for the building of the Church when you instruct children ..."

(2) Meditation 201.2: "What ought to engage you further to have great zeal in your state is the fact that you are the ministers not only of God but also of Jesus Christ and of the Church."

(3) Meditation 208.3: "This is the happiness that will be possessed in heaven by those who have procured the salvation of souls, who have done this in a way that has been useful to the good of the Church ..."

And, by Church, De La Salle probably meant this: "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." (1 Corinthians 12.27)

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The Method of Interior Prayer
"Prayer is something that permeates our entire lives, and we must link interior prayer to our work," Brother Don said.

And, interior prayer is the first and principal rule of the brothers's daily exercises. In not distinguishing between our state and our work, we must remember that De La Salle's spiritual vision is one which is integrated. All of the Buttimer participants had an opportunity to pray a form of this method devised by Brother Bill Mann during our morning and evening prayers.

The Explanation of the Method of Interior Prayer (Method) was written by De La Salle in 1739. It was written for beginners, and to novice eyes may appear to be rather onerous with its lists, acts, and maxims. Brother Don boiled it down to three parts: (1) Recalling the Holy Presence of God; (2) Considering the Subject (a mystery, virtue, or maxim), and (3) Review, Thanksgiving, and Offering.

Once again, is explaining the Method, De La Salle made ample use of scripture:

(1) Recalling the Holy Presence of God: "We may consider God present within us to maintain us in existence, as Saint Paul says in the Acts of the Apostles, in these words, God is not far from any one of us, for in [God] we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17.28)

(2) Considering the Subject: "... to convince ourselves of the need for humility we can recall to mind the words of Saint James, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble." (cf James 4.6)

(3) Review, Thanksgiving, and Offering: "We ... offer ourselves to Go with all our actions and all that we shall do during this day." (cf Romans 12.2)

As Brother Don iterated in his introduction to the Method, "In prayer we listen to the word of God in scripture which calls forth our word of response to God. Listening to the biblical word in an attitude of faith constitutes an essential component of the method proposed by De La Salle."

The end result of the Method should be to eventually transcend the step-by-step prescription proposed by De La Salle and come to a place where the Spirit prays in us. As Brother Don stated, "(De La Salle) assumed that if (the brothers) remained faithful to the method of interior prayer they would no longer need to occupy themselves with all the acts which the (Method) describes. They would gradually move to a form of prayer with prolonged reflections and then to a state of simple attention in which they would simply recollect themselves interiorly by directing their thoughts to the presence of God ..."

Lectio Divina
Brother Don introduced us to a version of the Lectio Divina as an alternative to the method proposed by De La Salle. Lectio Divina is a Benedictine approach to scripture reading which was traditionally comprised of four parts: (1) Lectio (Reading); (2) Meditatio (Reflection); (3) Oratio (Response); (4) Contemplatio (Rest). Brother Don added a fifth part which he called Operatio (Life):

(1) Lectio (Reading): We remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God. After choosing a text, we listen with the ears of our hearts, and let the word speak to us without hindrance. What did the text mean?

(2) Meditatio (Reflection): In reflecting about text to context, we ask what the text says to us. We attempt to link scriptural truths to the world and try to use biblical words in response.

(3) Oratio (Response): We converse with the text and attempt to discern our emotional response with it.

(4) Contemplatio (Rest): We allow the text to be still in our hearts. We quiet the mind with wordless silence.

(5) Operatio (Life): We ask the question: How can we live out this response in our lives?

Brother Don's Farewell
Brother Don concluded his time with us by briefly reviewing the major themes we had discussed and studied thus far, as a good teacher does. He reminded us that Lasallian spirituality resides in a spirit of faith and zeal and that as we received the spirit as adamah that we are to live in the spirit as adam. In our ministry of education, we move from being lifeless clay, to a living being, to becoming a life-giving being through faith (God's saving will for us all) and zeal (visibly actualized in our work as teachers of young people).

By citing scripture, and in true Trinitarian and Lasallian fashion Brother Don gave us his farewell in three parts:

(1) Paul's Prayer of Thanksgiving to the Romans: "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God's will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." (Romans 8.1-12)

(2) Inscription from a Statue of Saint John Baptist de La Salle in Sri Lanka, Colombo: "Child, give me your hand that I may walk in the light of your faith in me."

(3) A Mizpah, according to Jewish custom, signifies a bond between two people often separated by distance or by death. In Genesis, Jacob and Laban set up a pillar of stones near Gilead to symbolize a pact between them and to remind them of God's presence. Mizpah from Genesis: "Laban said, ‘This heap is a witness between you and me today.' Therefore he called it Galeed, and the pillar Mizpah, for he said, ‘The Lord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other." (Genesis 31.48-49)

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Brother Bill's Beginning
Without missing a beat, Brother William (Bill) Mann, president of Saint Mary's University and former Vicar General of the Institute of Brothers of the Christian Schools picked up where Brother Don left off. How blessed were we to have had the presence of two experts on Lasallian spirituality with us during our closing year of Buttimer! Brother Bill expanded on Brother Don's introduction to spirituality by asking us to consider a number of additional ideas regarding the journey of Lasallian spirituality:

(1) As integrated human beings, our focus is on a specific gospel-based spirituality and on a method for those with a particular profession or vocation, in this case the ministry of education.

(2) "If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit." (Galatians 5.25) Let us follow the Spirit's lead in all things.

(3) Since the breath of God is within us, let us go forward. (cf Genesis 2.7)

(4) Spirituality is a journey, a growth process of self-awareness that occurs in a real-life context. It is an in-this-world experience.

(5) We do not make this journey alone: Mary Visited Elizabeth in the Hill Country (cf Luke 1.39); The Mission of the Seventy-Two Sent in Pairs (cf Luke 10.1); The Walk to Emmaus in Pairs (cf Luke 24.13).

(6) Ultimately, this journey is about discovery of self, of others, of mission, and of God. I noted that Lasallian spirituality is an evolving journey and a way of integrating life, work, and spirit.

As soon as we begin the journey, Brother Bill exhorted, we must start sharing it and we must invite people on the journey. Brother Bill also reminded us that a Lasallian spiritual vision is fundamentally Trinitarian in origin and character. He noted three fundamental principles of this vision:

(1) Living in the conscious presence that we walk in God's world. It is simultaneously an immanent and transcendent presence characterized by the unfolding will of God. We are aware of this presence and we are invited to be in relationship with God and to be involved in what God is actively doing in the world.

(2) Knowing that we are one in the mystery of Christ. "No longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (Galatians 2.20) The Gospel is central: we participate in Christ's momentum toward God and in service of and is solidarity with humanity. "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10.10)

(3) Accepting that we have been raised up in the Church by the power of the Spirit and sent on mission. Through an interior transformation we renew the educational enterprise, and we express this through zealous activity and action.

The Vow Formula of the Brothers
Brother Bill reminded us that the center of Lasallian living is based on the first part of the Vow Formula that the Brothers profess when making their final vows:

"Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, prostrate with the most profound respect before your infinite and adorable majesty, I consecrate myself entire to you, to procure for your glory as far as I am able and as you will require of me ..."

I recall that we first learned about this vow during our first year of Buttimer with Brother Jeffrey. The formula is essentially the same as when De La Salle, Nicolas Vuyart and Gabriel Drolin made their "heroic vow." As a prayer, I am reminded that the educational enterprise of providing a human and Christian education to the young, and especially the poor, is to get myself out of the center of things, and to put God instead in that place. We must use the love that students may have for us and lead them toward God instead. We are witnesses of God's love in a world so much in need of healing. We have the opportunity to effect change for the common good through the work of educating young people. And, we bring glory to God through our work.

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Meditation on the Feast of the Epiphany
We engaged in several in depth readings of various meditations including Meditation 86 on the Nativity of Jesus Christ, Meditations 139 and 140 respectively examining the Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul, and Meditation 96 dealing with Epiphany.

Meditation 96 is something of a special reflection for it calls to mind within a single passage many of the ideas related to a Lasallian spiritual vision that Brothers Don and Bill presented to us. This Feast of the Epiphany commemorates the visit of Three Wise Kings to the infant child Jesus. Bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they journeyed from the distant lands of Persia, Arabia, and India and followed the Star of Bethlehem to the place where Jesus was born.

"Recognize Jesus beneath the poor rags of the children whom you have to instruct; adore him in them. Love poverty, and honor the poor, following the example of the Magi, for poverty ought to be dear to you, responsible as you are for the instruction of the poor. May faith lead you to do this with affection and zeal because these children are members of Jesus Christ." (Meditation 96.3)

De La Salle had a particular way of applying the stories of scripture to the working situations of his brothers. Here, he took the story celebrated on that particular feast and pointed their attention toward the children present before them. Jesus was probably born in a place of filth, one close to the earth, in a position of humility. The Three Wise Kings saw more than a filthy child, and through the eyes of their hearts knew that this was no ordinary person but rather the King of Kings. No doubt, many of the children of the artisans and the poor of seventeenth century France occupied a similar place in the strata of the society at the time, and they too were probably filthy. But, De La Salle invited his brothers to see with the eyes of the heart as the Three Wise Kings saw in Jesus. To "recognize Jesus beneath the poor rags of the children" is a reminder that we, too, are to be led by God, to see with the eyes of the heart, and to know with a spirit of faith. We are not merely to see what is visible in front of us, but to look in a sacramental way, and to know that God, who wills all things, placed us perfectly where God needed us to be.

The Signum Fidei and The Overview Effect
The Signum Fidei, or the Sign of Faith, with its five-pointed radiating star is the current motto and emblem of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. I remarked in class that stars are often obscured in big, metropolitan cities. Perhaps these cities are signs of prosperity, and perhaps it is not a coincidence that we find faith and religion waning in the metropolises of the world, particularly in North America and Western Europe. Where is the Sign of Faith in these places? Perhaps it is to be found in the young people that we encounter in our ministry of education, many of whom may come from broken homes and broken families, conditions altogether now too common in our opulent urban communities.

Many astronauts have remarked that upon seeing the Earth from the vantage point of a spacecraft for the first time, a significant change in awareness overcomes them. This shift in understanding that astronauts experience is known as the Overview Effect and the term was coined by Frank White. The Earth, as it appears from space, is without territorial or national boundaries, and it is a fragile world protected only by a thin sheet of atmosphere. Seeing in a sacramental way with the eyes of the heart may prompt us to look at the Earth in all its humus and fragility, and, more importantly to be in a loving and compassionate relationship with all of its inhabitants. In this way, perhaps we might see the Sign of Faith. Like the proverbial seeing of the forest from the trees, perhaps we have to journey "above it all" in order to truly know that which is already there.

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Meditations on the Many Feasts of Mary
Working at Saint Mary's College High School and attending this Buttimer Institute at Saint Mary's College has given me a new appreciation for the role of Mary in the Church. Simply put, without her, there would be no Jesus. De La Salle's appreciation for Mary is clear in the various reflections he wrote about her. We studied Meditation 163 which examined the Nativity of Mary (celebrated on September 8), Meditation 112 which looked at the Annunciation of Mary (celebrated on March 25), and finally Meditation 104 which dealt with the Purification of Mary (celebrated on February 2).

(1) Meditation 163.2: "(God) also gave her a heart so filled with God's love that she lived only for God. Everything in her related to God alone; her mind was occupied only with God and with what God helped her to know that would be pleasing to (God). All the faculties of her soul had no other function except to give homage to God."

(2) Meditation 112.3: "If God gives us so many signs of his goodness toward us on this holy day, we also have the advantage of receiving a great number of graces."

(3) Meditation 104.1: "Admire Mary's humility in this mystery, for she appears here as an ordinary woman although she is far superior to all others by reason of her two roles as virgin and mother. Learn from her not to want to be distinguished from others, not to ask for or to seek any exemptions in the practice of your Rule."

Saint John Baptist de La Salle firmly saw himself within Mary's story. Though he also saw that it was through Mary that his brothers could come to better understand Jesus Christ. Mary was devoted entirely to God and was humbly filled with grace. As teachers, perhaps we ought to learn from her example, to become humble conduits always pointing, by our speech and through our example, to the grandeur of God.

Returning to the Spirit in Pentecost
How fitting it was that we would conclude our studies in Lasallian spirituality by returning our gaze upon the Spirit. Brother Bill asked the question: "Where is the Holy Spirit breaking into our lives, drawing us to self-sacrifice and change, so that others may live and that this ‘Holy Work of God' might flourish?" Was it through the renewal of our interior lives and was it oriented toward the educational enterprise? Were our lives renewed in view of God's service and have we formed plans of action with concrete resolutions in order to carry out our mission? Are our actions and responses Gospel-inspired?

So important was the time of Pentecost to De La Salle that he devoted four whole sets of meditations (42 - 45) to reflecting on the Holy Spirit. Occurring fifty days after Easter in the liturgical calendar, Pentecost was the time when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and others who were gathered in the Cenacle. Inspired by Pentecost, De La Salle left a rich legacy of reflection for us to consider today:

(1) Meditation 42.1: "Be detached from all things, then, and be attached to God alone, if you wish to be in a state to receive the Spirit of God."

(2) Meditation 42.2: "You have left the world, no doubt, to give yourself entirely to God and to possess abundantly his divine Spirit. Do not expect to achieve this, however, unless you punctually fulfill what you know is God's will for you."

(3) Meditation 42.3: "If you wish to be disposed as perfectly as God asks of you in order to be filled with the Spirit of God on Pentecost, apply yourself with attention and fervor to interior prayer in order to be filled with God's grace."

(4) Meditation 43.1: "The Spirit of God also ought to come and to rest upon you on this sacred day, to make it possible for you to live and to act only by the Spirit's action in you. Draw him within you by offering him a well-disposed heart."

(5) Meditation 43.2: "You need the fullness of the Spirit of God in your state, for you ought to live and be guided entirely by the spirit and the light of faith; only the Spirit of God can give you this disposition."

(6) Meditation 43.3: "You carry out a work that requires you to touch hearts, but this you cannot do except by the Spirit of God. Pray to him to give you today the same grace that he gave to the holy Apostles. Ask him that after filling you with his Holy Spirit to sanctify you, he will also communicate himself to you to procure the salvation of others."

(7) Meditation 44.1: "Do you make use of this light to judge all visible things and to learn what is true and false about them, what is only apparent and what is substantial? If you act as a disciple of Jesus Christ enlightened by God's spirit, this is the only light that ought to guide you."

(8) Meditation 44.2: "You are obliged to teach these holy maxims to the children you are appointed to instruct. You must be thoroughly convinced of them, so that you can impress them deeply on the hearts of your students. Be docile, therefore, to the Holy Spirit, who can in a short time procure for you a perfect understanding of these truths."

(9) Meditation 44.3: "Because the world is blinded by sin, it follows maxims entirely contrary to those that the Holy Spirit teaches to holy souls. The world is guided by these false precepts, which are the source of its sins and of the corruption of hearts."

(10) Meditation 45.1: "Take care, then, to preserve this grace of freedom that is given to you, which Jesus Christ won for you with so much suffering."

(11) Meditation 45.2: "It is not enough for a person who has withdrawn from the world to live a life of grace; he must also oppose whatever might cause him to lose it."

(12) Meditation 45.3: "To live according to the spirit of your state, you must act under the influence of grace and make it plain that you are guided by the inspiration of the Spirit of God."

While certainly a product of their time, De La Salle's wise maxims nevertheless have the capacity to challenge us today.

And, In Conclusion ...
The educational enterprise set before us is not easy, we can perhaps take comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our pursuit, that many Lasallian educators journey alongside with us all around the globe. We can also delight in knowing that the many Lasallian saints who have gone before us have paved the path and have shown us the way. And so, as we always remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God, let us go forth to continue the spirit and legacy of Saint La Salle knowing full well that we are the continuation of a story that had its humble beginnings over three hundred years ago.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle ... pray for us!
Live, Jesus, in our Hearts ... forever!

The Life Journey of John Baptist de La Salle
(as outlined by David Hotek)

Birth at Rheims, France (April 30, 1651); his father is a County Court Magistrate; his mother belonged to the nobility; oldest of eleven children (four died in infancy). Born and lived during the reign of King Louis XVI (Sun King). The family was wealthy and belonged to an elite group (upper class) in France which was looked up to by the common people.

Off to school at the College des Bons Enfants.

Receives the tonsure, symbolizing his desire to beocme a priest.

Made a canon of the Rheims Cathedral Chapter; this involves religious obligations but it also means a secure revenue of 4000 pounds (about 80000 francs) yearly.

Receives his degree, Master of Arts (summa cum laude), from the University of Rheims.

Goes to Paris to study theology at Saint Sulpice.

Returns to Rheims following the death of both parents; takes over direction of the family. (Mother died in July 1671 and Father died in April 1672). De La Salle becomes the legal guardian for his brothers and sisters (the youngest was 6 years of age). Considers giving up the study for priesthood but persevered and studied at the University of Rheims while taking care of his family.

Receives his Licentiate in Theology; ordained a priest; upon the death of his friend, Canon Roland, becomes protector of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus who run charity schools for girls.

Meets Adrien Nyel who had come to Rheims to establish schools for poor boys; invites Adrian Nyel into his home; beginning of his gradual involvement in charity schools for boys; Byel begins two schools in Rheims. (Saint Mauraice and Saint James).

Takes charge of training and directing Nyel's schoolmasters who one contemporary described as 'gamblers, drunkards, libertines, ignorant and brutal'; later in his life, De La Salle admitted, 'Those whom I was at first obliged to employ as teachers, I ranked below my own valet, hency the very thought of having to live with them was unbearable.'; Receives his Doctorate of Theology.

Moves the teachers into his home, much to the disgust of his friends and relatives. The teachers were from the lower class, without a proper education, little manners, and were incapable of holding a decent conversation -- the opposite of De La Salle and his family.

The group becomes too large, De La Salle and the teachers move to a new house.

De La Salle strongly preached about putting trust in God. One day his teachers complained that it was easy for him to talk since he was in possession of a considerable fortune and income from his canonry. The teachers were fearful because they had no security. De La Salle decides to give away his wealth and assume the lot of his teachers. He resigns his canonry.

De La Salle gives away his money to show the teachers that like them he must rely on God's providence. (Time of a great famine, De La Salle gives his money to the poor.)

First vows of the group (a vow of obedience); decide on a habit; take the name "Brothers of the Christian Schools."

Founds a training college for schoolmasters and a formation program for men wishing to join the community.

Assumes direction of the Brothers first school in Paris; the first lawsuits are filed against him to stop his work.

Opens a boarding school for young Irish refugees in Paris.

A wave of defections among the Brothers; resources are scarce, teaching is proving painful and difficult; some teachers die; Writing Masters and the Masters of the Little Schools show their opposition; there is trouble with some Church officials; discouragement descends ont he congreation; De La Salle becomes ill.

Together with Nicolas Vuyart and Gabriel Drolin, De La Salle pronounces an 'heroic vow' to work as long as life lasts in order to establish the Institute of the Brothers even if this means they were to 'beg for alms and live on bread alone.' (November 21, 1691) done at Vaugirard, near Paris.

A harsh winter; the community experiences hunger; the founder and twelve brothers consecrate themselves to the Most Holy Trinity and promise obedience ot he Body of the Society as well as to its Superiors; to this vopw they add another, the specific vow 'to keep together and by association, gratuitous schools' even if to do so they ahd 'to beg for alms and live on bread alone.'

During the rest of De La Salle's life, many schools were opened throughout France -- Rheims, Paris, Rouen, Rethel, Laon, Guise, Calais, Boulogne, Darnetal, Versailles, Chartres, Troyes, Dijon, Moulin, Macon, Grenoble, Les Vans, Mende, Ales, Avignon, Marseille, Saint Denis -- as well as on papal school in Rome.

Opened a Christian Academy, or 'Sunday School', in Paris for young men who worked during the week.

De La Salle sends two Brothers to Rome as a sign of submission to the Pope (Gabriel and Gerard Drolin). A powerful pastor, Father De La Chetardie, tries to depose De La Salle.

More attacks by the Writing Masters and Master of the Little Schools who demand the closure of the Brothers schools.

Boarding school opened in Saint Yon; teaches commercial courses.

Opens first school for delinquents in France; followed by a house of detention; all were housed at Saint Yon.

De La Salle believes that he has become a hindrance to the work of the Brothers, leaves for a journey to the south of France; he seeks spiritual direction from a holy woman at Parmenie; the congregation suffers total confusion without their leader; novices leave; more lawsuits.

Brothers in Paris order De La Salle, in virtue of his vow of obedience, to return to Paris and take direction of the community.

Lives at novitiate at Saint Yon, Rouen.

Election of Brother Barthelemy as Superior General at the first General Chapter of the Brothers. He is a layman, not a priest.

Dies at Saint Yon on April 7 (Good Friday).

The Five Core Principles of a Lasallian Education

Faith in the Presence of God
We believe in the living presence of God in our students, our community and our world.

Concern for the Poor and Social Justice
We are in solidarity with the poor and advocate for those suffering from injustices.

Respect for All Persons
We honor and respect the dignity of all individuals.

Inclusive Community
We celebrate diversity and welcome all members of our community.

Quality Education
We engage in quality education together as students, staff and faculty by thinking critically and examining our world in light of faith.

Characteristics of Lasallian Schools
(as described by the Regional Education Committee of the Christian Brothers Conference, 1986)

The Teacher as Minister of Grace
To manifest a spirit of faith by living in the presence of God and recognizing and responding to God's direction in all one's actions.

To manifest a spirit of faith in seeing one's educaitonal ministry as enhancing one's spiritual development.

To manifest a spirit of zeal through a full commitment to the education of students.

To manifest a spirit of zeal by a compassionate attitude and caring behavior toward all students.

To manifest a spirit of zeal in efforts for the education of the poor.

To foster a shared commitment to the ideals of the New Testament.

To live and work in mutual charity.

To promote the spiritual and professional development of each individual.

To promote a collegial style of administration and decision making.

To associate parents, students, alumni, and friends with the Lasallian family.

The Management of Schools
To cooperate with and support the local church while maintaining the special character of the Lasallian school.

To help finance the education of the economically poor.

To attract students form various economic, academic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds.

To foster values of tolerance, sensitivity, concern for the poor, justice, peace, and responsibility.

To give prominence to formal religious instruction within the curriculum.

To provide for the religious formation of students in the Christian faith.

To be committed to academic excellence.

To create a discipline and a structure which enhance personal growth, develop responsibility, and foster leadership.

Seven Hallmarks of a Lasallian School
(as declared by Brother John Johnston, FSC, Superior General, 1994)

Respect for each person as a unique person.

Spirit of community.

School of quality.

A school that is Christian.

Solidarity with the poor.

Teachers: Men and Women of Faith and Zeal.

Organized around the story of De La Salle.

Lasallian Basic Operative Commitments
(as defined by Brother George van Grieken, FSC, 1995)

Centered in and Nurtured by the Life of Faith
Christian faith provides the motivation, the context, the direction, and the support for the mission of Lasallian education.

Trusting Providence in Discerning God's Will
God guides those engaged in the Lasallian mission with absolute trustworthiness. The work is God's; we are God's instruments.

With Creativity and Fortitude
When the invitation to the Lasallian mission is clear, God blesses and supports that which is done with imagination and determination, ingenuity and endurance.

Through the Agency of the Holy Spirit
The Spirit of Christ effects the work of salvation through prayerful persons open to God's dynamic presence both within their souls and in expressing their Lasallian mission.

Incarnating Christian Paradigms and Dynamics
The Lasallian mission brings alive and brings present, Gospel realities and the essential elements of Christian life within the world of education.

With Practical Orientation
Lasallian education strives to be realistic in its approach, its ends, and its goals. Prayer is put to work; practicality counts.

Devoted to Education, Accessible and Comprehensive
Lasallian education must be accessible to all who desire it, and it must include all that constitutes a complete Christian education.

Committed to the Poor
Lasallian education makes every effort to be of service to the poor, to make educational service of the poor an effective priority.

Working in Association
Lasallian education is accomplished as a common dedication to the shared mission of education, one marked by cooperation and complementarity.

Expressing a Lay Vocation
Lasallian education is a lay vocation expressing and encouraging common baptismal realities as followers of Jesus Christ.

Goals of Lasallian Ministries
(as revised by the Regional Education Board of the Christian Brothers Conference, 2004)

We instill Gospel values
"Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest." (Luke 9.48)

"With the mind of Christ, the servant of all, they generously place at the disposal of those whom God has entrusted to them their time, their talents, and their energy." (The Rule, Chapter 2, Article 21)

We are animated by and foster a Spirit of Faith and Zeal
"Since, then we have the same spirit, according to what is written, 'I believed, therefore I spoke,' we too believe and therefore speak." (2 Corinthians 4.13)

"The spirit of this Institute is first, a spirit of faith, which should induce those who compose it not to look upon anything but with the eyes of faith ... Secondly, the spirit of this Institute consists in an ardent zeal for the instruction of children." (The Common Rule, 1718)

We create and sustain respectful human relationships in community
"I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for another." (John 13.34-35)

"The Lasallian School is to be a living community where young people, coming from different social, ethnic, religious, and family backgrounds, educate one another by mutual understanding and respect, openness of mind and dialogue, acceptance of the uniqueness and limitations of each, growth in the spirit of service, and the practice of justice and charity." (The Brothers of the Christians Schools: A Declaration, 46.2, 1967)

We exercise a preferential option for the poor
"If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and no food for the day and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,' but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2.15-17)

"You are under the obligation to instruct the children of the poor. You should, consequently, cultivate a very special tenderness for them and procure their spiritual warfare as far as you will be able, considering them as members of Jesus Christ, and his loved ones." (Meditations of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, 80.3)

We develop and maintain diverse programs meeting recognized standards of excellence
"According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder, I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for on one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3.10-11)

"It is, then your duty to teach the children entrusted to you: this is your duty every day. They must understand what you say, so you must give them instructions adapted to their capacity, otherwise what you say would be of little use. For this purpose, you must prepare yourself and train yourself ... for to teach, you must first know." (Meditations of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, 33.3)

Qualities of Lasallian Education
(as elucidated by the Christian Brothers Conference/Lasallian Region of North America, 2012)

The Lasallian educational mission provides transformative experiences that are innovative and holistic.

Teaching methodology based on the vision and spirituality of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, predicated upon personal relationships and a focus on each student's learning needs.

Faithful to the Lasallian mission of human and Christian education for the young, especially the poor, for more than three centuries.

Conducted by the De La Salle Christian Brothers and Lasallian Partners.

Centered on Gospel and Catholic values.

Advancement on innovations in teaching, technology, and scholarship.















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