Monday, April 07, 2008

St. John Baptist de La Salle

Today is the feast of St. John Baptist de La Salle. Wikipedia acknowledges him as the patron saint of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (of which he himself founded), Lasallian educational institutions, educators, school principals, teachers.

You see, when I left the Salesian seminary four years ago, I abandoned John (Bosco) only to be welcomed by another John (Baptist de La Salle) as I was employed in one of his institutions in the Philippines.

I stayed in that institution for almost two years before finally returning to the same seminary. Honestly, I didn’t know much about St. La Salle. My knowledge of him is limited to his coming from a well-off family in the 17th century France. Somebody told me, a colleague from La Salle I recall, that his family was known to be wine makers. His achievements in the field of the academe include the grouping of students according to their mental ability and the teaching in vernaculars (French, that is) instead of the then universal language which was Latin.

Devouring some volumes of the Biographical Memoirs (a 19-volume biography of St. John Bosco), I have stumbled on certain instances when Don Bosco would be closely working with the Fratres Scholarum Christianarum (Brothers of the Christian School or simply FSC brothers!)

Don Bosco was one of the confessors in their institute, hearing the confessions of their students. Plus, it’s a common knowledge that Blessed Michael Rua, Don Bosco’s first successor, was a product of a La Salle school before he finally moved in to the Oratory of Don Bosco.

What is more is that in the second volume of the Biographical Memoirs (p. 257 ff), Lemoyne noted that in October 1845 when Don Bosco completed a 200-page book on Church History, he dedicated his book (I’d like to think that it’s his first, since his first outputs were mere booklets) to the provincial of the Christian Brothers in Turin, Brother Erve de la Croix.

Don Bosco’s explanation was as follows:

The esteem and respect which I feel for you prompts me to dedicate this little book to you, for it is the only tribute I have to offer. I know very well that your modesty and humility will shy from it, but since it was written solely for God’s greater glory and the spiritual advantage of young people in particular, to whom you have dedicated yourself, I do not think you will have any excuse for refusing it.

St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.