St Isidore the Farm Labourer, Confessor; Commemoration of St John Bapiste de La Salle: Missa “Justus ut palma”
The saint was born into a peasant family. He was baptized Isidore in honor of the famous archbishop of Seville. His unreliable biography was written about 150 years after his death. Much of it deals with miracles associated with his name.
Isidore was a day laborer, working on the farm of the wealthy John de Vergas at Torrelaguna just outside Madrid. He married a poor girl, Maria Torribia. They had a son who died while still a baby. The couple took a vow of continence to serve God. Isidore’s life is a model of simple Christian charity and faith. He prayed while at work, and he visited the many churches in Madrid and the area while on holidays. He shared what he had, even his meals, with the poor. He often gave them the more than he had for himself.
He was steady and hard-working, but a complaint was made against him to his employer that he arrived late to work because he attended early morning Mass each day. When charged with his offense, he did not deny it and explained to his employer: “Sir, it may be true that I am later at my work than some of the other laborers, but I do my utmost to make up for the few minutes snatched for prayer; I pray you compare my work with theirs, and if you find I have defrauded you in the least, gladly will I make amends by paying you out of my private store.”
His employer said nothing, but remained suspicious, and, being determined to find out the truth, rose one morning at daybreak and concealed himself outside the church. In due course, Isidore appeared and entered the building, and afterwards, when the service was over, went to his work. Still following him, his employer saw him take the plough into a field, and was about to confront him when, in the pale, misty light of dawn, he saw, as he thought, a second plough drawn by white oxen moving up and down the furrows. Greatly astonished, he ran towards it, but even as he ran it disappeared and he saw only Isidore and his single-plow.
In such simple tales we find reflected the spirit of Saint Isidore, who never ruled a diocese or was martyred for his faith, but who as truly served God in the fields and on the farm as those in higher places and who bore more famous names.
When he spoke to Isidore and enquired about the second plough he had seen, Isidore replied in surprise: “Sir, I work alone and know of none save God to whom I look for strength.” Thus the story grew that so great was his sanctity that the angels helped him even in his plowing. It was characteristic of Isidore’s entire life. He was a simple plowman. His speech was clear and direct. His conduct was honest, and his faith pure and steadfast. He was a poor man, but gave away what he could, with a good and generous heart, and with such sympathy and good will that his gifts seemed doubly blessed. He could not neglect doing a kindness to man or beast.
One snowy day, when going to the mill with corn to be ground which his wife had gleaned, he passed a flock of wood-pigeons scratching vainly for food on the hard surface of the frosty ground. Taking pity on the poor animals, he poured half of his sack of precious corn upon the ground for the birds, despite the mocking of witnesses. When he reached the mill, however, the bag was full, and the corn, when it was ground, produced double the expected amount of flour.
His saintly wife survived Isidore for several years. Forty years after his death, his body was transferred to a shrine, and his cultus grew as a result of miracles attributed to his intercession. He is said to have appeared in a vision to King Alphonsus of Castile in 1211, and to have shown him an unknown path, which he used to surprise and defeat the Moors. His canonization occurred at the insistence of King Philip III, who attributed his recovery from a serious illness to Isidore’s intercession. He was canonized with four very notable Spanish saints. The group, known as “the five saints”, included St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis Xavier, St. Phillip Neri, and St. Isidore.
INTROIT Psalm 91: 13, 14
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Lebanon. They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat In the midst of the Church…
O Merciful God, shield us from the pride that comes from learning, through the intercession of Your holy farm worker Isidore. May his merits and example help us to please You by our humble service. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration of St John Baptiste de la Salle
O God, Who raised up the holy Confessor John Baptist for the Christian education of the poor and to strengthen youth in the way of truth, and through him formed a new family in the Church, graciously grant by his intercession and example that we, striving to save souls out of zeal for Your glory, may be found worthy to share his heavenly crown. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE James 5:7-8, 10-11, 16-18)
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth: patiently bearing till he receive the early and latter rain. Be you therefore also patient and strengthen your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Behold, we account them blessed who have endured. You have heard of the patience of Job and you have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is merciful and compassionate. Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much. Elias was a man passible like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth. And it rained not for three years and six months. And he prayed again. And the heaven gave rain: and the earth brought forth her fruit.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA In Eastertide: Alleluia, alleluia! Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he shall delight exceedingly in His commandments. Alleluia! The just shall spring as the lily: and flourish for ever before the Lord. Alleluia!
GOSPEL John 15:1-7
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: “I am the true vine: and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean, by reason of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me: and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine: you the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch and shall wither: and they shall gather him up and cast him into the fire: and he burneth. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will: and it shall be done unto you.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 20: 2-3
In Thy strength, O Lord, the just man shall be joyful, and in Thy salvation he shall rejoice exceedingly: Thou hast given him the desire of his heart. Alleluia
Let our prayers win peace for Your people, O Lord, so that their offerings may be pleasing in Your sight. Grant the requests we confidently make of You through the intercession of Your blessed confessor Isidore. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration of St John Baptiste de la Salle
We offer You sacrifices of praise, O Lord, in memory of Your Saints; trusting that by them we may be delivered from both present and future evils. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of Easter
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, at all times to praise Thee, O Lord, but more gloriously especially in this season when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the Lamb Who hath taken away the sins of the world: Who by dying hath destroyed our death: and by rising again hath restored us to life. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 19: 28-29
Amen I say to you, that you, who have left all things and followed me, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. Alleluia
May this Heavenly Sacrament bring us health of soul and body, O Lord, and through the intercession of Your blessed confessor Isidore make us feel the power of the sacred rite that we have celebrated. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration of St John Baptiste de la Salle
Refreshed with heavenly food and drink, we humbly pray You, our God, that we also may be helped by his prayers in memory of whom we have partaken. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
John Baptist de La Salle was born into a world very different from our own. He was the first son of wealthy parents living in France over 300 years ago. Born at Reims, John Baptist de La Salle received the tonsure at age eleven and was named Canon of the Reims Cathedral at sixteen.
Though he had to assume the administration of family affairs after his parents died, he completed his theological studies and was ordained a priest on April 9, 1678.Two years later he received a doctorate in theology. Meanwhile he became tentatively involved with a group of rough and barely literate young men in order to establish schools for poor boys.
At that time a few people lived in luxury, but most of the people were extremely poor: peasants in the country, and slum dwellers in the towns. Only, a few could send their children to school; most children had little hope for the future. Moved by the plight of the poor who seemed so “far from salvation” either in this world or the next, he determined to put his own talents and advanced education at the service of the children “often left to themselves and badly brought up.”
To be more effective, he abandoned his family home, moved in with the teachers, renounced his position as Canon and his wealth, and so formed the community that became known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
His enterprise met opposition from the ecclesiastical authorities who resisted the creation of a new form of religious life, a community of consecrated laymen to conduct gratuitous schools”together and by association.” The educational establishment resented his innovative methods and his insistence on gratuity for all, regardless of whether they could afford to pay. Nevertheless De La Salle and his Brothers succeeded in creating a network of quality schools throughout France that featured instruction in the vernacular, students grouped according to ability and achievement, integration of religious instruction with secular subjects, well-prepared teachers with a sense of vocation and mission, and the involvement of parents.
In addition, De La Salle pioneered in programs for training lay teachers, Sunday courses for working young men, and one of the first institutions in France for the care of delinquents. Worn out by austerities and exhausting labours, he died at Saint Yon near Rouen early in 1719 on Good Friday, only weeks before his sixty-eighth birthday.
John Baptist de La Salle was a pioneer in founding training colleges for teachers, reform schools for delinquents, technical schools, and secondary schools for modern languages, arts, and sciences. His work quickly spread through France and, after his death, continued to spread across the globe.
In 1900 John Baptist de La Salle was declared a Saint. In 1950, because of his life and inspirational writings, he was made Patron Saint of all those who work in the field of education. John Baptist de La Salle inspired others how to teach and care for young people, how to meet failure and frailty with compassion, how to affirm, strengthen and heal. At the present time there are De La Salle schools in 79 different countries around the globe.