Fr John Baptist de la Salle

imageSt. John Baptist was born into a family of the French nobility in the city of Reims in 1651 and, as a boy lived a luxurious life. Still, he was a devout child, in love with the Church and received the tonsure at the tender age of 11. Since he was from the nobility he was able to study at the College des Bons Enfants where he earned a Master of Arts degree and moved to the Seminary of Saint Sulpice to become a priest. We can assume all was well until both his parents died and he had to leave home, now head of the family, to care for and help educate his four brothers and two sisters. Four years later, he completed his studies and was ordained a priest in 1678 and two years later completed a Doctorate in Theology.

Fr. John was a man of fine manners and taste, as might be expected from a member of his class, but he was also quite competent and capable of getting things done in the real world. He became interested in education and related issues by agreeing to help the Sisters of the Child Jesus who were dedicated to helping poor and uneducated girls and helping the new order become established and serving as their confessor. Through this work he met Albert Nyel who was trying to establish a school in Reims to help the poor, who at the time had little or no access to education and less hope for the future. Nyel had a benefactor in a wealthy woman in Reims who would fund the project, but only if Fr. De La Salle would also participate. It was from the work establishing this school that the order now known as the De La Salle Brothers, or the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the first Roman Catholic institute that did not contain any priests, grew.

Fr de La Salle wrote: “I will always look upon the work of my salvation, and the foundation and government of our community, as the work of God; hence I will abandon the care of both to him, acting only through his orders;… I will often consider myself as an instrument which is of no use except in the hands of the workman. Hence I must await the orders of Providence before acting, and be careful to accomplish them when known.”

Worn out, Fr. John died on April 7th Good Friday in 1719 and was proclaimed a saint in 1900. He is the patron saint of teachers of Youth in the Catholic Church. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared him the patron of teachers.



Feast of St Patrick

imageAs I arise today,

may the strength of God pilot me,

the power of God uphold me,

the wisdom of God guide me.

May the eye of God look before me,

the ear of God hear me,

the word of God speak for me.

May the hand of God protect me,

the way of God lie before me,

the shield of God defend me,

the host of God save me.

May Christ shield me today.

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,

Christ when I stand,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.


The Road Less Travelled — Saint Matilda

imageThere are many ways to become a saint, there’s no set of rules to follow that, if ignored, will prevent a person from finding his or her way to heaven. A saint whose day is celebrated today, Saint Matilda, is an example of the truth of that statement.

Matilda was born in Germany in the early part of the 10th century. She became the wife of a medieval king of Germany who died at a young age and whose son, Otto the Great succeeded to the throne. Matilda had favored Henry, her first born son to take the throne, but it was not to be. Henry briefly led a rebellion against his brother but was defeated and afterwards, Matilda persuaded Otto to name Henry Duke of Bavaria.

Matilda, in any case, had inherited considerable property from her husband and was extremely generous making charitable donations from that property, to the point of angering both of her sons who thought she went much too far in these efforts. In response, she relinquished title to the properties to them and retired to her country home. Henry, it appears started another rebellion, with the same results, and Matilda prophesied his imminent death. When that occurred, she established three convents and a monastery and went to live in one of them. She was still influential in the affairs of state though, to the point that her son left her in charge of the kingdom while he traipsed off to Rome and got himself crowned as Emperor, an event many historians see as the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire. She was proclaimed a saint, by popular acclamation, almost immediately after her death.

To me, the encouraging thing about Matilda is that her life doesn’t seem to follow a path that you would expect would lead to sainthood. But the Church recognizes that there is no pattern to be followed to holiness; each one of us has to take his or her own path and work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I find that very encouraging indeed.

St Constantine

St Constantine 03 11Today is the feast day of St Constantine, a little known saint in the Church.  This is from Catholic Online:

“Constantine was king of Cornwall. Unreliable tradition has him married to the daughter of the king of Brittany who on her death ceded his throne to his son and became a monk at St. Mochuda monastery at Rahan, Ireland. He performed menial tasks at the monastery, then studied for the priesthood and was ordained. He went as a missionary to Scotland under St. Columba and then St. Kentigern, preached in Galloway, and became Abbot of a monastery at Govan. In old age, on his way to Kintyre, he was attacked by pirates who cut off his right arm, and he bled to death. He is regarded as Scotland’s first martyr. His feast day is March 11th.”