September 22, 2016
In one of St. La Salle’s writings, he encourages the Brothers to approach their students with the “firmness of a father and the gentleness of a mother.” As with many of his words, this expression not only transcends time period and setting but also manages to speak to the multidimensional nature of human interaction.
What I am attracted to in these words is the simplistic nature of De La Salle’s vision of student/teacher relationships. Relationships, as expressed in this phrase, are fraternal and maternal—respectful and courteous, while at the same time kind and understanding. They are a marriage, if you will, of the two sets of qualities.
His portrayal of the demeanor of a teacher in interaction with his students is not limited to that relationship. It is a portrayal that all of us can understand and incorporate into our own lives, whether with a spouse, a child, a boss, an employee, a colleague, even a stranger on the street.
What I also see and hear in his words are underpinnings of the virtue of temperance—an important virtue that can guide all of us in our interactions with one another. From the gift of temperance flows other virtues that God blesses us with—modesty, humility, forgiveness, and compassion—all very important to the manner in which we approach others.
As an educator and a parent who struggles at various times with both the “firmness” and the “gentleness,” I take great comfort in De La Salle’s words of challenge, for they allow me to see that relationships, although intricate and often complicated, can be distilled down to very simple, beautiful language in a manner that each of us can appreciate and follow if we recognize the grace of God in our lives. St. La Salle has given us a wonderful expression to refer to when we struggle to find the appropriate behavior for a difficult situation.
May teachers be blessed with the grace to be witnesses of Jesus Christ to their students and may parents be blessed with the grace to be witnesses of Jesus Christ to their children!
I hope all who are making their way to the Gulf Coast this weekend for the Fishing Rodeo have a safe and enjoyable trip!