In this third week of Advent, we conclude a set of reflections by Saint John Baptist De La Salle. The final meditation is on one’s own actions throughout the year. It is my sincere hope that these reflections are useful no matter what one’s faith background may be.
At times it can be useful to reflect upon ourselves and our own actions. As we do so, we must do so with hope toward the future. Let us never be discouraged about the past, because there is nothing from the past that is irreparable. Saint John Baptist De La Salle suggests three points for us to consider regarding ourselves – relating to our time within the house, outside the house, and in the classroom. He gives this meditation with his religious house in mind, but we can adapt it to consider our own residences.
- Within the residence. “Fidelity and punctuality regarding [spiritual] exercises [are the means by which] good order will be established and maintained with ease.” Within the religious house it is important to obey the practical and spiritual rules regarding the house so that everyone within can flourish. Having a set of rules for ourselves is also a means by which we might regulate our own residence. It is so that good order can be established within the residence and all within can find an environment in which they can continue to grow and flourish. What rules might I want to establish for myself regarding my conduct within my residence?
- Outside the residence. “We ought to edify our neighbor. The first thing we must pay attention to is great self-control.” Our manner of living has an impact on those around us. Our actions, words, gestures, and way of living do impact those that we come into contact with. How can we make sure that we have a positive impact on those around us? As St. John Baptist De La Salle wrote, “You ought, instead, to be occupied with the presence of God.” The presence of God is what allows us to have a supernatural vision of reality. It allows us to look favorably upon our neighbors and to respond in ways that lead us to greater union. Do I practice the presence of God as I carry out my daily activities outside my residence?
- Within the classroom. “School being the place where the Brothers spend most of their time during the day, where the activities they engage in are the ones in which they are most involved, and where they find the most occasions for distraction, the Brothers cannot watch too closely over themselves.” All of us are present at Saint Mary’s University in some way related to studies and education. Some take classes, others teach, while still others assist and support these efforts in a myriad of ways. These roles will be sanctified by the way in which we carry them out and our intentions regarding them. Am I making use of the talent and skills that God has given me? Am I seeking to grow in them? Do I have a good intention as I carry out my duties relating to studies?
As we reflect on ourselves, we should always do so with hope toward the future. Remember the dignity that you yourself have as a child of God, who is always present to give us the treasures of wisdom and grace. Live Jesus in our hearts … forever.
Note: Words in italics are taken from Meditations by Saint John Baptist De La Salle.