In all of the articles I have read throughout my brief, yet very involved Educational career, none have made more of an impact on my Educational beliefs than “The Educator’s Life Journey” by Brother Antonio Botana. This masterpiece draws out a framework for educational success that combines the logical with the spiritual. Through St. De La Salle’s charism, Botana gets straight to the root of what every Christian Teacher’s motivation should be as they go about their daily vocations.
Whether you are serving the poor, the rich, public schools or private, Brother Antonio outlines your mission and allows the Holy Spirit to fill in the lines with your talents.
Please, take the time to read this invaluable and free Lasallian resource. It will certainly help you understand God’s will for the schools in which you serve.
Click here to view the The Educator’s Life Journey in its PDF entirety.
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!
We are a nation of Immigrants. Some of us are generations removed from our immigrant relatives while others arrive daily by risking their lives to cross the imaginary borderline that separates them from poverty and hopelessness in the native countries. Their story, and those of our immigrant ancestors is depicted in Sonia Nazario ‘s masterpiece, Enrique’s Journey.
While the story of immigration may be universal for all Americans, the specifics vary in detail. Most of our relatives came by boat from the Eastern Hemisphere while others, like Enrique, have traveled in a more contemporary, but equally dangerous route- atop the ever-curving train cars underneath the blistering Mexican sun.
From the beginning of this book, the reader is enticed by the sheer grit that Enrique must face to travel by himself to the united States from Honduras. While in his middle teens, he embarks on his journey not for economic stability, not for pride, and not for adventure- he does it for love. His mother left him to go al norte when he was just five. He misses her, and he wishes with all of his heart to be with her again.
The author tells Enrique’s story against the backdrop of factual information. She spent years traveling the route that most Central Americans take to enter into the country illegally. Using recent statistics, she paints a vivid picture that encompasses the ideological motives of those who seek a better life for themselves. She joins these ideologies with real life testimonies from those who have lived, and continue to live, through the struggle of globalized poverty.
This book does a fantastic job of joining the pros and cons of illegal immigration into a gut-wrenching love story of Enrique’s life. It is a must read for all teachers, especially those who serve migrant, children of migrants, and impoverished students with problems at home.
For more information on Enrique’s Journey, including pruchasing information, click here.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!
Ask any elementary teacher what their recommendation would be to any struggling student and 9 times out of 10, their answer will be “Read!” Whether it is through research, extra practice or even for fun, the unanimous advice will remain the same- we must fall in love with reading.
And why do we offer such great advice? Because we know it works. Even those teachers who don’t like reading very much (we know you’re out there) can agree that if a student is a good reader, they are normally more creative, more conceptual, and more likely to succeed in our classrooms.
In the same way reading affects academic performance, it has the possibility of illuminating our spiritual lives as well. We do this by reading Spiritual books that deal specifically with religion, doctrine, and faith. Through these books, we bring to light our intellectual gifts that God has given us through the books He guides us to read.
St. De La Salle understood the importance of this fruitful practice. In his “Collection of Various Short Treatises,” which is a Spiritual reading piece that should be on the top of every Christian teacher’s reading list. In it, he wrote:
Do not begin reading without placing yourself in the presence of God and asking him by a short prayer for the grace and the light to understand and to practice what you will read.
Never read through curiosity, and do not read hurriedly to get through a book quickly. Stop from time to time to relish your reading. Reflect on and examine yourself about what prevents you from practicing what you read. When it is something you could do, ask yourself why you do not do so. Read your spiritual book as if it were a letter sent by Jesus Christ to make his holy will known to you. Above all, read Holy Scripture with the most profound respect; reverence even the least syllable. Read it with a submissive spirit. Practice what you understand; adore what you do not understand. If you want to know the meaning, ask for an explanation of the passage from those who have the intelligence for it.
Frequently review interiorly and strive to engrave upon your heart what you have most relished in your reading.
At the end of the exercise, do not fail to thank God for the truths you have appreciated and remembered, and beg God to enable you to practice them.
The compete version of “Collection of Various Short Treatises” can be found on the link on the right hand side of this website along with the entire complete works of St. De La Salle.
Like La Salle, we should keep the sacred scriptures of the Bible as our primary source of spiritual truth. Guided by the magisterium, we unite ourselves with Jesus, the word incarnate, through the teachings of His Church.
Let’s make sure to make Spiritual reading, especially of the Holy Bible, a daily practice to help strengthen our faith. Whether it is during the beginning, middle, or end of our day, may we strive to read the letters that God has left us through His most inspired authors of the past.
To steal a quote from Father Larry Richards, “No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no bed.”
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!
We Catholics put our Saints on top of a pillar of holiness. But did you know that St. Simeon Stylite lived on top of a pillar to achieve holiness… for 37 years!
The Saints were so human. They’re also funny and quite entertaining. The book Saint-Watching by Phylis McGinley is a compilation of stories that range from the hysterical to the downright weird of those canonized brothers and sisters of ours.
Here are a few sneak peeks:
St. Christina the Astonishing hated the smell of unwashed flesh. So, when the poor and needy came to honor her during her funeral, her coffin rose to the ceiling to get away from their dirty stench. Being the obedient Nun that she was, she (and her coffin) came back down at the scoffing of the priest doing the service.
St. Bridget could make hens lay eggs on command for visitors. She could also make trees shake their fruit to the ground.
St. Ignatius (who apparently was quite the pool shark) was robbed (not playing pool). Two weeks later, he had heard that his thief had gotten sick. So, he traveled 100 miles on foot to take care of him.
St. Mary Mazzarello, after receiving her last rights, said, “Well that’s my passport. I expect I can leave now!?”
St. Charles Borromeo was apparently a chess whiz. So much that he was once quoted saying, “If the end of the world came, I’d keep playing chess.”
Last but not least, St. John Bosco was commonly thought to be crazy by his co-clergy. When they came to take him to the asylum, he cordially allowed these fellow priests to enter the carriage first. Once they were in, he slapped the horse and yelled “To the asylum!” Since the men at the asylum were awaiting a “crazy man,” they were not surprised to see two that claimed they weren’t John Bosco.
Hardcover: 243 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; Second printing before publication. edition (August 18, 1969)
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!
Summer is upon us which means teachers everywhere will be taking advantage of Summer break. I am hoping that many of us will pick up a good book to help us with our spirituality. The book I am recommending in this entry will do just that. It is called “Meditations for the Time of Retreat” by St. John Baptist De La Salle.
As many of you have seen, I have added a couple of pictures to the bottom of the blog. The first is of St. John Baptist De La Salle (1651-1719), Patron of Christian Schools in the Catholic Church. This man was a pioneer for spirituality in the classroom and established many of the common practices we follow today.
La Salle’s vision went deep enough to establish a religious congregation made up of men who were willing to serve as life-long teachers. These men, today known as “Christian Brothers,” have dedicated their lives to the construction of God’s children inside the classrooms of Christian schools. Their community is a worldwide fraternity that has vowed life to teaching, obedience, poverty, and communal life. In the past 300 years, their ministry has been blessed to cover over 85 countries in which Lasallian schools offer Christian education to over 700,000 children and young adults.
Now that you know the history of the author, I must implore that you read his book, “Meditations for the Time of Retreat.” From the Introduction by Brother Miguel Campos F.S.C. to the direct and logical style of La Salle, this book is a must read for anyone who has been called to the vocation of Teaching. In all truth, there is so much wisdom in this book that it is hard to pick out one quote or phrase that would touch upon the profundity of La Salle’s words. It is simply a necessity for any Christian teacher because it touches on several themes that we practice everyday in our classrooms. Some of these topics include how to live our Christianity as Teachers, how to discipline our poorly beaving students with dignity, and how to keep all of our pupils away from the sins.
The best part about this book is that it is free. You can download the PDF file at any time. Start on page 412 to read “Meditations for the Time of Retreat.”
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!
A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community
This book is a great resource for anyone, especially teachers, who find themselves working in a diverse, multicultural setting. The author lays out a very convincing and logical explanation as to how we react to our faith and to our community when two or more cultures are brought together. He uses theological and culturally anthropological sources help us understand how we must be able to work together to achieve the American dream of peaceful diversity that we have been struggling with since the days of our founding fathers.
The author uses many generalities that have the possibility of being taken in an offensive way by the reader. It is recommended that this book be read with an open mind, as it has the ability to uncover certain cultural truths that go unnoticed or ignored by people every day.
In one of these eye-opening arguments, Mr. Law compares Jesus Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection to the faith of certain cultural groups. He notes that minority groups tend to relate more to Christ’s suffering. This comes with good reason in that minorities tend to suffer more than the majority. He claims that the faith of this group looks forward to the hope for the alleviation of problems and the resurrected life the Jesus promises to them.
On the contrary, Law remarks that those of the majority have what is called a “resurrected” faith already. Logically, those who are in the majority (with some exceptions) have not suffered to the point that the minority has. As a result, the people of faith in the majority tend to seek suffering in order to create a spiritual balance that they crave. People of this group tend to look for ways to sacrifice, fast, and give because they live in fear of God’s judgment.
Law stresses that individuals from both groups are destined to go through their own spiritual deaths in order to fully understand their faith. Through this death we become knowledgeable of the sufferings that both groups experience. This “death” serves as a focal point for the times when we find our faith being lived in the constant balancing act of joy and pain, or suffering and resurrection, that life instills upon us. From this focal point, we can restrict the “isms” of our nation and open the lines of communication in our multicultural settings.
When understood with an open mind, this book gives us the keys to operate successfully in the diverse nation we make up. Whether we are part of the minority or the majority, Mr. Law challenges us to ponder his logical statements so that we can truly become The “United” States of America.
Paperback: 131 pages
Publisher: Chalice Press (August 1993)
May Jesus live in our hearts forever!