Sister Louise, St. Paul’s School’s newest addition to its daily prayer intercessors, was an integral part in the founding of LaSallian schools. The way that she aided St. John Baptist de la Salle is not unlike the way I was personally aided by the Holy Spirit when one of my best friends died. This is also related to the way the Holy Spirit aids us all when we suffer from a lack of motivation or knowing what to do next. To illustrate this, I will share my personal experience.
It was mid-morning, or somewhere in the afternoon of a day that seems like a blur to me now. I woke up after a day of yard work to find it raining, and posted a picture on Instagram about the occasion. That picture changed my life, but not because of its content.
Some time after posting, I received a comment: “Do you know Josh Hathcox?”, to which I replied with a casual “Yup.” Then a less expected response, not one of happiness, serendipity, or even contentment; one with an air of bad energy: “DM (direct message) me. Something happened.”
A sentence incomplete to convey that a life had become all too suddenly complete. On Saturday, May 31, 2014, Joshua Alexander Hathcox was killed in a car wreck in Kiln, Mississippi. On Saturday, May 31, 2014, an indescribably important piece of my life was taken from the world.
It sounds selfish, but I’ve learned that the only emotion you feel after the death of one of your best friends is selfishness. Selfishness in wanting them back. Selfishness in simply wanting to say “I love you” one more time. Selfishness of wanting to look into their eyes again and let them know you legitimately appreciate them. I can’t do that. I won’t ever be able to do that. Not in this life.
How can you bounce back from that? How can you find a way to pick up the pieces, to rise from the ashes stronger than before, ready to take on the world? The only way that I can even fathom how I pulled myself out of that hole is that I didn’t pull myself out. I was pushed.
I know, in a tangible-but-intangible way, that it was done by a thankfully all too common pusher of people in dire straits–the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit did unimaginably more for me in the moment I needed help than anything else.
300 years and 60 days prior, on April 1, 1714, St. John Baptist de la Salle was ready to give up.
After living in a hermitage with an illiterate woman of faith who had kept nudging him on to return to a life of service and to keep his moral compass pointed northwest to Paris to resume his mission, LaSalle figured that it was for the betterment of the Christian Brothers for him to stay away. If it weren’t for that woman, Sister Louise, hundreds of thousands of young men throughout the next 300-plus years would have gone without LaSalle’s vision of quality education and service to the poor.
On that April day, LaSalle received a letter imploring him to return to that mission. After confiding in Sister Louise, LaSalle did return, and the rest is part of a history that remains alive indeed today around the world in the LaSallian schools. Within Sister Louise is an observable quality of being a conduit of the Holy Spirit’s incomparable counsel.
LaSalle’s choice to seek that help undoubtedly changed his life for the better and, in turn, allowed him to do God’s will to a score of individuals he likely couldn’t have foreseen. The way the Holy Spirit worked for me and the way the Holy Spirit worked for LaSalle are not too uncommon–God, in his incomprehensible mercy, saw a being that He knew wasn’t done yet. Someone with something left to give to someone else.
I am not Catholic, and therefore, the idea of asking someone I had never met to pray for me always seemed like a foreign concept. But after seeing all I have so far, it becomes easier to realize why–the things they did can inspire everyone to do God’s will, and if they are on our side by interceding for us, how is there any need to feel afraid? There isn’t.
By asking St. Paul, our patron, and St. John Baptist de la Salle, and St. Benilde, and Bro. James Miller, and Sister Louise to pray for us, we are asking God to continue to endow us with His strength to continue to further his mission in our lives, and to be genuinely good people for His glory.
That is what it means to do God’s will–further His name. Further His glory. Further His humility, love, and faithfulness in everything we do. By saying “Sister Louise, help us do God’s will,” we are asking for more than we could begin to comprehend. And then the really crazy part begins–with effort, we get it.