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De La Salle Provincialate,

140 Banbury Road,

Oxford OX2 7BP

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Reflections on Waiting for the Shops to Open



Lasallian Spirituality means accompanying people in the real world and being aware of the realities in which we all live. Traditional vocabulary is often a problem for people of today, and much work still needs to be done in adapting it to present day society. In schools, spirituality is especially important for heads and senior staff, because management style is crucial in determining whether a school or other establishment is a genuine Lasallian community which has a formative influence on those who are part of it.


De La Salle was a man of great faith, prayer and compassion. But he was also a very down to earth practical individual. For him, Christian spirituality is something to be embodied in ordinary actions including the basic virtues of "Christian Politeness". This is a very incarnational understanding of spirituality - a lay and secular spirituality of the busy city streets.





We see a crowd of people from Salford in the years of the Depression. They are very ordinary people. They are hungry people. They are patient and trusting. They are waiting in the hope and faith for the door to open and for food to become available.


It was compassion that led Jesus to heal people's infirmities, to teach the multitudes and to feed them by multiplying the loaves and fishes. But Jesus gave his disciples the task of actually going out among the crowd and distributing the bread. Through them he fed the people with "bread here in the desert", and in this we can see a reflection of the role of the Christian educator as a disciple of Jesus. Bread symbolises the word of God, the source of true life. As disciples we are commissioned to feed the multitude with bread in the desert. We know what bread stands for. What does the desert symbolise for you today ?


As we look at the crowd of people in Lowry's painting, let us reflect on how Wisdom invites everyone to a come to a banquet of good food and fine wine. But how are they to come to the banquet? The compassion Jesus felt for ordinary people is reflected in the compassion that made Saint John-Baptist de La Salle take that first step towards the poor children of the cities of his day. That same compassion must be the starting point of our mission today as Christian Educators, our mission to ordinary people, to those we meet on the road and in the street, to young people who are hungry for the nourishment of an education, to those who have been metaphorically mugged along the road of life, to those who have become lost, to those who are in danger of spiritual death. Compassion will make us take that first step towards young people who are in such great need today.