April 7th was the feast day of St. John Baptist de la Salle, founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools or Christian Brothers. The Institute of brothers was dedicated to teaching poor boys using the very successful teaching methods developed by St. John. But John’s main concern was with living the Christian life wholeheartedly.
The Gospel of the day for St. John’s feast day is John 8:1-11, the story of the woman caught in adultery. It is a story very familiar to me and to most Christians. All I will say about it here is that the story ends with Jesus asking the woman if anyone has condemned her. She says, “No one, sir.” So Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
When we Catholic receive forgiveness for our sins in the sacrament of Penance, we are to have the intention of sinning no more. But how can we, in our human weaknesses, actually comply with that requirement? It’s not easy, but St. John Baptist de la Salle has some suggestions. Begin by praying for the graces we need to do good and to avoid evil.
- When praying to do good ask for occasions and the competence needed to do good acts that we find difficult:
- pardoning those who have offended us or who don’t like us
- doing as much good as we can for someone whom we find disgusting
- speaking charitably toward someone we detest
- When praying to avoid evil ask for help and protection from falling into temptations:
- strength to remain humble and pure
- moderation of anger and passions
- shunning coarse language, swearing or lying
- steering away from occasions that would cause us to be tempted.
The Lord is on our side. He wants nothing less than our salvation. We can pray for these graces with confidence.
You can find St. John’s suggestions in “Meditation of the Day” section of the April issue of Magnificat Magazine, p.111.