Signs of the Times

One of the main duties of fathers and mothers is to bring up their children in a Christian manner and to teach them their religion. But most parents are not sufficiently enlightened in these matters. Some are taken up with their daily concerns and the care of their family; others, under the constant anxiety of earning the necessities of life for themselves and their children, cannot take the time to teach their children their duties as Christians




(Meditations for the Time of Retreat, 193.2. De La Salle)


Part One: Fall    
In the Fall we look back into history as De La Salle encounters unsupervised youth on the streets of Reims. This encounter changes his life.


Part Two: Spring

In part two of this module, we ask the question, "What needs do we see today?" Do these needs challenge us to refocus our mission?

Semester One                
Signs of the Times


Hope challenges us, moves us and shatters that conformism which says, “it’s always been done like this”. Hope asks us to get up and look directly into the eyes of young people and see their situations. This same hope asks us to make efforts to reverse situations of uncertainty, exclusion and violence, to which our young people are exposed.


Having been formed by so many choices taken in the past, young people now call us to join them in facing the present with greater commitment and to work against whatever prevents their lives from growing in a dignified way. They ask us and demand of us a creative dedication, a dynamism which is intelligent, enthusiastic and full of hope. They ask us not to leave them alone in the hands of so many peddlers of death who oppress their lives and darken their vision.


This capacity to dream together that our Lord offers the Church today as a gift, requires, as Saint Paul expresses in the first reading, that we cultivate one specific attitude: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). And it requires that we aim even higher, humbly considering others to be better than ourselves (cf. v.3). In this spirit we will try to listen to one another, in order to discern together what the Lord is asking of his Church. And this demands that we be really careful against succumbing to a self-preservation and self-centredness which gives importance to what is secondary yet makes secondary what is important. Love for the Gospel and for the people who have been entrusted to us, challenges us to broaden our horizons and not lose sight of the mission to which we are called. In this way we shall aim for an even greater good that will benefit all of us. Without this disposition, all of our efforts will be in vain.





Saint Peter’s Square

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

As we explore the Signs of the Times in the first semester, we focus on De La Salle and the needs in 17th c. France and his and the early community's response.

As we think about Signs of the Times from De La Salle's point of view... we are completing our celebration of 300 years since his death. As we explore the source material it might be good to reflect upon the question, "what did he see that so many others didn't?" What clues can we glean 300 years later that will help us in our own time? "What Holy Audacity" De La Salle writes in the meditation for the Feast of the Epiphany, that led the wisemen to discover the child Jesus under the rags of the poor. May this journey that we travel together lead us to our own epiphany. Proceed to step 1.

Who were the poor?


To understand any person, it helps to know the social context that was the cultural reality that surrounded him or her.  John Baptist de La Salle was a Frenchman in a specific milieu.  This website, produced by the Vincentians, gives us insight into the culture and reality of De La Salle’s lived experience.

This material is presented in three different forms. The original website, an epub for off-line reading and an audio file, if you rather listen than read.





    Part One: Types of Poor



    Part Two: The Poor Peasants



     Part Three: The Beggars



     Part Four: The Vagabonds



     Part Five: Other Types of Poor



     Part Six: Conditions of Life



Proceed to step 2.

Signs of the Times

Part One

"These poor children are also the ones whom God has entrusted to you and to whom you are obliged to proclaim

the truths of the holy Gospel."
(MDF 166.2)

"Silence and the Sorrow"... by Liam Layton on the Album 'Ancient Ways, Future Days' None of us goes through life alone. We, Good Shepherds and Guardian Angels to those entrusted to our care, are called to accompany them on their life journey. This song calls us to keep this dimension of our vocation in mind. After watching the video, proceed to step 3.

Signs of the Times

Part One

"God looks on them with compassion and takes care of them as

being their protector, their support, and their father, and it is to you that God entrusts this care." (MDF 37.3)

The Church also lives within ever changing cultural realities...


The 17th century saw the rise of various movements attempting to reform the Catholic Church from within while avoiding any break-away. Such movements aimed partly at countering the influence in France of the Protestant reformation.


Aims at reforming Catholicism from within


Following the Council of Trent (1545-1563), numerous reforming movements emerged within the Catholic Church. These thrived throughout the seventeenth century – notably in France. Generally speaking, such movements of reform aimed at preventing the development of the Protestant Reformation by reminding the Roman Catholic Church of its true role. The most important one was the Company of Jesus. These movements advocated a return to true holiness, to true charity while remaining aware that such words could have different meanings. This desire to reform gave rise to important internal debates.


Some movements led to a renewal of monastic life. Cardinal Pierre de la Bérulle (1567-1622), who had already introduced the Carmelite Order into France, created the French Oratory. Saint François de Sales (1567-1660) created the Salesian Order. The Order of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, name after its founder (1581-1660), was created in 1617.



Signs of the Times

Part One

You are obliged in your work to teach children the truths of our

holy religion.
(MDF 106.1)

Others movements were of a more mystical tendency, such as the “quietist” movement, begun during the second half of the seventeenth century at the initiative of Fénelon (1651-1715) and Madame Guyon (1648-1717). But the most famous movement was Jansenism, on account of its visible impact on civil society. The desire for reform within the Catholic Church must be associated with the great political debates that pervaded the secular world throughout the 17th century. The power of the throne was increasingly autonomous in a society that was rapidly becoming more modern, and tried to free itself from the political yoke of the Roman Catholic Church. The king cherished the idea of a Gallic Church based on the model of the Anglican Church. On the other hand, the civil society, faced as it was with new responsibilities (the development of handicraft and trade), expressed its own specific requirements and challenged the legitimacy of certain powers. For example, the free-thinking movement criticized the status of “revealed truths”, which, they claimed, could be submitted to liberal examination. The Fronde (1648-1652) opposed part of the nobility to Mazarin over the issue of privileges attributed to the throne and drew a certain number of Catholic and Protestant reformers into its camp. After the reading, proceed to step 4.
What is it that makes you look towards the poor?... De La Salle walked past the poor on his way to the Cathedral for many years. What made him see them for the first time? Brother Gerard Rummery, former General Councilor, offers some insight into De La Salle's transformation. After the video, proceed to step 5.

Signs of the Times

Part One



Signs of the Times

Part One

 In his book...


The Work is Yours: the Life of John Baptist de La Salle, Brother Luke Salm introduces us to some of people who influenced De La Salle.


From Chapter 3: Beginnings in Reims (1679-1688)

    We go back to  the spring of 1679. At the age of 28, John Baptist de La Salle was settling gradually into the routine and the lifestyle of a pious and zealous bur rather comfortable and respected young priest. All  the signs, internal and external, pointed to  a brilliant career in the Church, with  the promise of high ecclesiastical offices and dignities for which his family background and his university education had prepared him. However, the chance encounter with Adrian Nyel at the door of the Sisters of the Child Jesus in Reims was to set his life's course in a totally  new 'direction. De La Salle had never before met this man, but  once the two of them had been admitted to the convent parlor, they were introduced to each other by the Sister Superior, FranÇoise Duval.


Adrian Nyel


    Nyel, a zealous layman in his early 50s, had been sent from Rouen by Madame Maillefer, herself a native of Reims with connections by marriage to the De La Salle family. This fortunate meeting gave Nyel an opportunity to explain the purpose of his mission to the young and influential canon of Reims.

    For some time now, Father Nicolas Barre, a priest of the congregation known as the Minims, had been spearheading a movement in  Rouen, supported by the generosity of Madame Maillefer, to  establish quality schools, first for poor girls, then for boys. Nye!, as an administrator of the General Hospice in Rouen, had been recruiting young men for the same

 mission. Father Nicolas Roland, too, had been in  contact with Barre and was so impressed by  the zeal and effectiveness of the educational reforms in Rouen that he was inspired to try to do something for Reims. If  the community of Sisters, founded by Roland in Reims, had done so much for the education of poor girls, modeled on the schools in Rouen, why could not something be done for the poor boys of Reims? That in short was the message that Nyel brought from Madame Maillefer.

    De La Salle listened to the proposal with interest. His recent experience in obtaining approval for Roland's congregation of Sisters  taught him that it would not be an easy matter to win the approval of the archdiocese and the city council of Reims. There were already too many charity institutions for the resources of the city to support. If  anything were to be accomplished, it would have to be done with the greatest discretion, without publicity, and without arousing the suspicions of the authorities.

    After some thought, De La Salle suggested that Nyel come to stay in his house for a while. It was not unusual for his priest friends from  the country to stay with him. Nyel could easily be mistaken for one of them. In that way there would be time to discuss the problems and the possibilities of the new venture.

    For a whole week, in the house on the Rue Sainte Marguerite, Adrian Nyel and John Baptist de La Salle spent time together working out strategies to get the project off the ground. De La Salle called in priests he could trust and who had experience, in order to get their advice. Among them were the rector of the seminary and the prior of the Benedictine monastery attached to the Basilica of Saint Remy.  Then some of the local pastors were invited to offer suggestions. They all seemed to agree that there was an urgent need to provide for the  education of the poor boys who were running wild through the streets and alleys in the worst neighborhoods of Reims.

After the reading, proceed to step 6.

Brother Luke Salm, fsc


Signs of the Times

Part One

Lasallians Without Limits...


Every encounter challenges, and calls us to see with new eyes and often changes us to see anew much like De La Salle in his encounters.

Lasallian Reflection three reminds us that,

"Beyond borders we discover, 'The Will of the Father.'"


The step towards recognition of this bond of communion with creation and with “others” is not always easy. Remember the Jesus of the Gospel who in the border region of Tyre and Sidon responded to a foreigner asking his help thus: “It isn’t good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Mk 7: 24-30; Mt 15: 21-28).


This story puzzles us, perhaps because we hold the idea that Jesus is a supernatural man. God, however, doesn’t do anything by halves and when he became man, he truly did so. He took on all human ways of acting with all their implications. Jesus was a child with all that this implies, he lived subject to the processes of growth and maturation of a person in his context. A man of his time, Jesus could only participate in the ideas of the society in which he lived. As with many of us today, he also grew up in a world full of prejudices.


For Jesus, however, all that was enriched by a presence of God that led him to live otherwise and glimpse other horizons for his life and for the life of all those he encountered. This is one of the specific moments where we see Jesus make the leap beyond cultural borders and place himself in a new and different perspective.


Jesus says from the outset that he has been sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. It is the woman who, with her courageous response, stirs Jesus, awakens in him something more profound and makes him realize that God’s love is for everyone, without exception, and manifest where an open and receptive heart is found. From that moment, Jesus was able to overcome prejudices of race, culture and religion, and to thereby discover the will of his Father. In his process of human growth Jesus realized the importance of being open to differences and being willing to welcome them. His vision was broadened to recognize that humanity is one, and there is no reason to discriminate against or exclude people: “Woman, your faith is great; may it be done to you as you wish”. Like many of us, Jesus also believed he did not have any prejudice, until that moment when he was tested. He could rethink his borders; can we? After the reading, proceed to step 7.

Don't Call Me A Saint...


 As we reflect on De La Salle's reading the signs of the times, this video about Dorothy Day will  hopefully help us transition into reading the signs in our own times. In the video Father Martin references Peter Maurin who was a De La Salle Brother for a time. If you have ever watched the movie "Entertaining Angels," and thought to yourself, "that sounds familiar!"  you now know why.












After the video, proceed to step 8.

Signs of the Times

Part One

Christianity Untried


Chesterton says:

“The Christian ideal

has not been tried

and found wanting.

It has been found difficult

and left untried.”

Christianity has not been tried

because people thought

it was impractical.

And men have tried everything

except Christianity.

And everything

that men have tried

has failed. (Peter Maurin--Easy Essays)

Everyone likes a response. In both padlet and flipgrid you can respond to others, even if you don't know them. This is one way to communicate with people in other Lasallian ministries. We encourage you to create account for Padlet and Flipgrid, it not only helps us to award badges, but helps build a Lasallian community accross the Midwest.

Some questions to ponder:

  1. In what ways am I like De La Salle, or even Jesus, whose cultural prejudices and formation prevented them from seeing the glaring needs of their own time?
  2. When I reflect upon the lived experiences of Jesus, De La Salle, and Dorothy Day, what specifically in their response to "the signs of their times" do I admire?
  3. How am I a product of the cultural complexities of my own time (political, religious, economic, racial).

 Post your reflection (what you are comfortable sharing with the community) on flipgrid or padlet.



Signs of the Times

Part One

Made with Padlet

You are finished with the source material and your reflection.


Go to Badgelist and record you evidence for the first semester. You still have to have the community discussion. Do not submit your evidence at this time....only record it. You will receive you badge after the next module at the end of the second semester..

Community Discussion Questions:

  1. What in our Lasallian Heritage calls us to read the signs of the times?
  2. Both De La Salle and Jesus were resistant to change. How is the prospect of change a challenge to us, their disciples?
  3. Father James Martin told us some might have considered Dorothy Day "damaged." She lived on the margins of the institutional Church and now many consider her a saint. Who might some others be that show the same kind of humility Dorothy Day exhibited?
  4. Humility is one of the Lasallian virtues of a good teacher.  What gives me the audacity to be a witness to those entrusted to my care?


Semester Two                
Signs of the Times

In the first semester of Signs of the Times we reflected on De La Salle's response in his own time. In the second semester we look at our own times and determine the appropriate responses.


The gift of discernment has become all the more necessary today, since contemporary life offers immense possibilities for action and distraction, and the world presents all of them as valid and good. All of us, but especially the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. We can navigate simultaneously on two or more screens and interact at the same time with two or three virtual scenarios. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend.


168. This is all the more important when some novelty presents itself in our lives. Then we have to decide whether it is new wine brought by God or an illusion created by the spirit of this world or the spirit of the devil. At other times, the opposite can happen, when the forces of evil induce us not to change, to leave things as they are, to opt for a rigid resistance to change. Yet that would be to block the working of the Spirit. We are free, with the freedom of Christ. Still, he asks us to examine what is within us – our desires, anxieties, fears and questions – and what takes place all around us – “the signs of the times” – and thus to recognize the paths that lead to complete freedom. “Test everything; hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess 5:21).







Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind.

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?


The Five Man Electric Band wrote this refrain to the song “Sign” in 1971.   It was indeed a time of profound change when the world was asked to look again at what was before it’s eyes.


It was a time of looking and seeing things differently.  The Second Vatican Council (Light for the Church and for the Modern World) had ended in 1965 and the document: The Brothers of the Christian Schools in the World Today – A Declaration (1967) had been crafted at the end of the 39th General Chapter (1966-1967) and would serve as foundation and unifying principle of the work of the 39th General Chapter of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.   The brothers were told to open their eyes.


Our story has its beginnings in 1679 when a young cleric, John Baptist De La Salle is introduced to Adrien Nyel and whose eyes were open to plight of the street children in Reims, France.   He was forever changed because he was invited look in a new way to those he passed on his way to the Cathedral in Reims.


This semester we turn from the Brothers and 17th Century France to the 21st Century and the ministry in which you find yourself.   You are here because of a call and your continued response of “Yes”.   The Church and the Brothers help lay a framework but it is the individual gaze and actions that recognize and address the needs of  your particular ministry.   Let us open our eyes and begin.

As we think about Signs of the Times from our point of view... what makes us Lasallian, "are we meeting the needs of the children entrusted to our care?" We probably answer with a resounding, YES. We are proud of what we do and who we are. Maybe we should ask, "how could we better meet the needs of the children entrusted to our care?" Peter Maurin writes in his Easy Essay "Educational Secularism" :
 When religion has nothing to do with education, education is only information: plenty of facts but no understanding. As you make your way through this module, How are we distinctly Lasallian (and not just any Catholic school or a public school with a cross )? Proceed to step 1.
What do we see? 
How do we see? 
What do we do? After the video, proceed to step 2.

Signs of the Times

Part Two

Reading the Signs of the Times...


The Pharisees and Sadducees came and, to test him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven.* He said to them in reply, “In the evening you say, ‘Tomorrow will be fair, for the sky is red’; and, in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to judge the appearance of the sky, but you cannot judge the signs of the times. Mt: 16:4


How do we read the Signs of the Times today in light of Catholic Social teaching and our Lasallian Tradition?


Catholic Social Teaching -- Theological Context: Reading the Signs of the Times




  • for convenience the entire article follows.

Catholic Social Teaching – Theological Context: Reading the Signs of the Times


Excerpt from Catholic Social Teaching: Our Best Kept Secret, (2003) Orbis Books and the Center of Concern.



Catholic Social Teaching Theological Context: Reading the Signs of the Times


Excerpted from Catholic Social Teaching: Our Best Kept Secret, (2003) Orbis Books and the Center of Concern.To purchase this book, go to


A foundational conviction underlying Catholic social teaching is that God is at work in human history. This was true in biblical times; it is true today. It is true in places the gospel has been embraced; and it is true in places and among people who have never heard of the gospel or of Jesus the Christ. God is at work healing and redeeming human history and inviting all people to participate in that work. Perceiving the historical action of God and discerning God’s invitation are often now referred to as “reading the signs of the times.

Signs of the Times

Part Two

”The term “signs of the times” in contemporary Catholic social thought is a term based upon Jesus’ statement to the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 16:4—“You know how to read the face of the sky, but you cannot read the signs of the times.” Pope John XXIII made the first use of the term in modern Catholic social teaching to refer to the principal characteristics of the age that are emerging from the collective consciousness of the human community in the form of shared understandings and social movements. In Peace on Earth (Pacem in Terris), John XXIII identified the women’s movement, the movement for workers’ rights, and the ending of colonialism as important “signs of the times.


”The Second Vatican Council embraced the notion, bringing it to the heart of the church’s mission.


“…the church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ Himself under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment,to serve and not to be served. To carry out such a task, the church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the gospel.” (The Church in the Modern World[Gaudium et Spes])


The “signs of the times,” then, embody and reflect the movement of the Holy Spirit in human history working to bring about the redemption of peoples and the fuller realization of the Reign of God. Interpreting the “signs of the times” requires prayerful discernment within the Christian community and in dialogue with all people of good will. The criteria for this discernment involve the coherence of the contemporary “signs of the times” with the gospels, the Christian understanding of human nature,and the common good.


The growing body of Catholic social teaching, beginning with On the Condition of Labor (Rerum Novarum),comprises a collection of efforts by the church to read the“signs of the times”since 1891.


 Questions to Ponder

1. In your opinion, what are some of the current “signs of the times?”

2. Why is it important that you and your faith community identify and interpret the “signs of the times”?

After completing the reading, proceed to step 3.

In accordance with the tradition of OUR INSTITUTE...
From Lasallian Reflection three, Lasallians without Limits


Lasallians, by tradition, have gone beyond the borders. This creative impulse comes from our foundation, when John Baptist de La Salle, going beyond the social and religious borders of his time, brought together a heterogeneous group of lay teachers that, in the spirit of partnership was first transformed into community, then into society, and finally into Institute. The Lasallian model was the prototype of all the brotherhoods of education which, in the middle of the 19th century, became the fastest-growing movement in the church. During its more than three centuries of existence, this Institute, which has twice been on the verge of disappearing in France, his country of birth, has spread today to 79 countries where nearly a million students are educated. What are the fundamental principles that have allowed it to continue with such vitality for so long? What can we say about the successful application of these principles in so many and such varied countries and cultures, allowing it to transcend the pre-set differences of race, gender, language and religion?


In general, we could talk about two fundamental principles: the constant preoccupation with the education and empowerment needed to enable the disadvantaged to live with dignity, and the spirit of gratuity and service in the training offered and received in our educational works.



Signs of the Times

Part Two

The last General Chapters and International Mission Assemblies have provided remarkable shades of innovation in the application of these two principles:

  • the formation of the International Council for Lasallian Association and the Educational Mission (CIAMEL);
  • the integration of the Lasallian University Network;
  • the promotion of interreligious dialogue initiatives;
  • the coordination of the Lasallian youth movements;
  • the expansion of volunteer programs;
  • the creation of mixed communities that integrate the different Lasallian vocations
  • the expansion and articulation of the communication network at all levels;
  • the prioritization of sustainable initiatives for the service of the poor; and,


In addition to the many local initiatives launched during this period, it is worth mentioning initiatives of the Institute such as the 100+ Project, launched by the 42nd General Chapter; Solidarity with South Sudan, driven by the 44th, and the Fratelli project inspired by the 45th. Creative from the beginning, Lasallians, as well as other religious congregations, continue to be called “initiators”20 in the educational and evangelizing task of the Church in today’s world.




Lasallian Reflection 3




After completing the reading, proceed to step 4.

Most likely to Succeed...

Most Likely To Succeed is a thought-provoking documentary feature film that reveals the growing shortcomings of conventional education methods in today’s innovative world. The film explores compelling new approaches that aim to revolutionize education as we know it, inspiring school communities to reimagine what students and teachers are capable of doing. To date, MLTS has screened for thousands of audiences around the world, igniting conversations and empowering change along the way.




Click here for more information on how to see the complete documentary.




After watching the Most Likely to Succeed trailer, proceed to step 5.

Signs of the Times

Part Two

Why open a close a prison One person's response to the signs of the times. Nadia Lopez is the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, where she is showing the world how underprivileged communities can beat the odds and create positive institutions that have a global impact. After watching the video, proceed to step 6.

Signs of the Times

Part Two

"Who's influenced you the most in your life?" "My principal, Ms. Lopez." "How has she influenced you?" "When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter." from Humans of New York

What is it that makes you look towards the poor?...


for years De La Salle walked past the poor on his way to the cathedral. Who helped him see them and the signs of the times? In this step we will look at  the role Nicholas Roland played in De La Salle's journey.


Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus


Nicolas Roland (1642-1678), a young priest from Reims possessed by God was overcome by the destitution of the poor abandoned children who knew nothing of the great love of God for each one of us.


In 1670 he took charge of a house of orphans, “these suffering Jesus”, in Reims. He brought from Rouen two Sisters to take care of them, educate them and announce to them Jesus Christ. Open to God and filled with the apostolic currents of his time, he gathered into his house the priests of Reims in order to live more closely Jesus and His Mystery and to learn to speak in a more apostolic way, without rhetoric.



Signs of the Times

Part Two

Against all odds (the City Council, the Writing-Masters, the Cathedral Chapter), he quickly founded a Congregation of non-cloistered young women to run a school for girls so as to reveal to them Jesus Christ and His Gospel. For him, for the priests, for the Sisters what mattered was not activity nor apostolic projects but belonging to God, leaving to Him the initiative for everything and remaining a docile instrument in His hands.


When he fell gravely ill, he confided to John-Baptist De La Salle, his disciple and friend his apostolic zeal towards the young, making him his executor and asking him to take charge of the little community of the Sisters of the Child Jesus and to pursue his apostolic work aimed at the young. He died aged 36, certain that God would make his work live by and through his death, convinced by his little Congregation that “a handful of people heading towards perfection in a beautiful way , regardless of their state in life, render more glory to God than a city or even a province knows how to render to Him”, asking for love, poverty, humility and apostolic zeal in order to make known the work of God.




After completing the reading, proceed to step 7.


A Lasallian Response to the signs of the times ... The CBC Innovation Commons offers more than 8,000 square-feet of space to inspire 21st century learning and experimentation. This best-in-class facility is home to the CBC STEM Academy as well as the Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Industry leaders have identified these skill sets as areas of significant need in the work force, and CBC is the first school in the St. Louis area to formally connect these rapidly growing career paths. After watching the video, proceed to step 8.

Signs of the Times

Part Two

Signs of the Times

Part Two

God is a God of Surprises...


Lasallians have always been good at seeing and responding to the signs of the times. We are proud of what we have done. Can we continue to look at new needs as they arise? The Spirit constantly opens life in surprising ways and invites us to be open and respond.


John Allen comments on the Pope's Easter message in the Crux.









If you prefer, the heart of the article follows for you convenience.


ROME - On Christianity’s holiest day, Pope Francis said that the resurrection of Christ was a massive surprise, even to his closest followers, and drew the conclusion that “Our God is a God of surprises.”


“At the beginning of the story of salvation, it was full of surprises, with God telling Abraham ‘leave your land and go’,” the pope said. “It’s one surprise after the other. God does not know how to announce something to us without surprising us.”


“The surprise is what stirs the heart, that touches you precisely there, where you’re not expecting it,” he said. “To say it with the language of young people, the surprise is a ‘low blow,’ because you’re not expecting it. He goes and stirs you.”


Francis himself followed the “surprise” model in his Easter Sunday homily, speaking entirely extemporaneously and without any notes.


“The surprises of God get us moving, right away, without expecting it,” Francis said.


At the heart of the Easter story, the pope said, is the announcement that “Christ is Risen!” He noted that early Christians actually used that phrase as a way of saying hello to one another.


The surprises of God, the pope said, also have the effect of putting people into motion.


The women who found the tomb empty and Christ risen, the pope said, “were in a hurry … they ran to say they’d found him.”


“Peter and John ran too, like the shepherds on Christmas night ran to Bethlehem,” he said. “The Samaritan woman ran to tell her people, ‘I’ve found a man who told me everything I’ve done,’ because they knew what she had done.”


“This still happens today, in our neighborhoods and villages,” Francis said. “When something extraordinary happens, people run to see it. They go in a hurry. A housewife will leave the potatoes on the stove, because she’s in a hurry.”


“The surprise of the Good News is like that,” Francis said. “It makes us hurry.”

That led the pontiff to pose a question to the congregation gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the sunny and mild Roman day.


“Do you have your hearts open to the surprises of God?” he asked. “Are you capable of moving with hurry, or do you say ‘tomorrow, tomorrow’?” the pope asked.


“Today, on this Easter Sunday 2018, what will I do?” the pope asked believers to ponder. “You, what will you do?”


Personal Reflection:


For our personal reflection for this module, we would like to introduce and use a form of De La Salle's Mental Prayer. Much like Lectio Divina, it consists of three movements:

  1.  we place ourselves in the presence of God.
  2. we allow the Spirit to speak to us through our awareness of the signs of the times.
  3. we discern how we are called to respond in specific ways.


Let's look at three Brothers reflecting on each of these movements.





Signs of the Times

Part Two

De La Salle's Method of Mental Prayer...


Reflecting on the Gospel..


First Movement

We begin by pausing for a few moments to quiet ourselves and to remember that God is, even in this very moment, present to each of us.

•  In all creation, every around you

•  In your very self, keeping you alive

•  In the midst of those with whom you are praying

•  In the Eucharist and in the Word of God

•  In you by God’s grace at work in your life

•  In the chapel as God’s dwelling place

•  In the young and the poor


Read the following Scripture a few times slowly. What word or words especially catch your attention? Listen to what is being said, pay attention to what is surfacing inside of you, try to enter into the story. Reflect on the Mystery of God’s love

at work in your own life.

•  What words or words in this passage caught your attention?

•  What in this passage comforted you?

•  What in this passage challenged you?

•  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” Are you always aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit within you? Give some reasons why you can show reverence for all the people in your life.

•  Do you always call on the Holy Spirit for guidance when you need it? Do you get it? Explain. Do you also receive some peace along with the guidance? Do you think the Holy Spirit enjoys, indeed, is waiting to be called upon for help?

•  Does the Scripture have any relevance for your life?

•  How does this text invite you to be more faithful to the ministry of the human and Christian education of youth?

•  How do you try to share the message of this Scripture with those with whom you live and work... with those that have been entrusted to your care?

•  If you choose to allow this scripture passage to come alive in you now, what would have to change in your life?
What are the obstacles to this change?

If praying in a group setting, after time for quiet reflection, invite participants to share their responses to some of the questions above.


  • Resolve to be open to the Spirit working in and through you today.
  • Where is the Spirit drawing you to sacrifice yourself today that others might have a happier, fuller, holier, and more love-filled life?
  • Take a few minutes now to thank God for this time you have spent in prayer and to reoffer yourself, as far as your are able, to the accomplishment of God’s will... God’s plan.



Saint John Baptist de La Salle



Live Jesus in our hearts



After you complete the videos...


Try it:

  1. take time to place yourself in the presence of God.
  2. reflect upon what stands out for you, what seems important to you regarding the signs of the times and its needs.
  3. what actions are you called to take at this time? How do  you take this back to the community?


Share it:

On Padlet or Flipgrid, share your insight on stood out for you and what you want to take this back to the community?

Made with Padlet

Everyone likes a response. In both padlet and flipgrid you can respond to others, even if you don't know them. This is one way to communicate with people in other Lasallian ministries. We encourage you to create account for Padlet and Flipgrid, it not only helps us to award badges, but helps build a Lasallian community accross the Midwest.

For community Discussion:


Share and discuss your reflections from Padlet or Flipgrid with the community.


After listening to others, what resonates with me (even if it was from a different ministry via Flipgrid or Padlet)?


On Disqus:


  1. After reflecting on the signs of the times, what is an innovation the Lasallian Community (here or elsewhere) might initiate in response...
  2. How might we engage our students to be more aware of the needs that surround us and prepare them to respond.



Signs of the Times

Part Two

Go to Badgelist and record your evidence for the second semester (your evidence for the first semester should already be there). Once recorded, submit your evidence for both semesters for review. Thanks for joining us on the journey.

Copyright © 2017 Christian Brothers of the Midwest | All Rights Reserved