Edward Sirois–Religion Teacher
Edward Sirois–Religion Department
(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 18 December 2014)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of a loving God…
Many children lay awake on Christmas Eve, anticipating the arrival of Santa. They hope to catch a glimpse of a childhood icon in his typical role. I too would lay awake on the Christmas Eves of my childhood, but my reasons were not that of a spy. Rather I lay awake in fear. I was scared that I would see Santa, and consequently ruin Christmas…
I was six years old. It was probably 2 am or so on Christmas. I closed the cover of my Great Illustrated Classic version of Oliver Twist and clicked off my flashlight before I came out from under my covers. I knew I had to be careful not to let any light escape from the room. The consequences could be dire, I told myself. I didn’t really even want to leave my room, but I had already waited for over an hour and I was desperate for a drink of water. I carefully swung my legs over the side of my top bunk and slid down to the floor, worried that any noise would wake my sleeping brother, Patrick, or disturb any spirit beyond my bedroom door. I tiptoed carefully across the dark bedroom. I reached out and grabbed the cold glass door knob. I inhaled deeply but silently and shut my eyes so tight that I could feel the blood rushing to my face. I turned the knob slowly and opened the door just wide enough for me to slip through. With my eyes still clenched, I exited my room and immediately turned my body to face the wall so as to have my back to the rest of the house. I slid down the hallway in my footed pajamas, using my hands on the wall to guide myself as I went, until I arrived at the bathroom. I scurried onto the tile floor and quietly shut the door behind me. I opened my eyes, but resolved to leave the light off. The moon illuminated enough of the space for me to fill a cup with water. I drank it quickly, crumpled the paper cup and placed it in the waste basket so as not to make a sound. I returned to my room in the same manner as before. On my way back to my top bunk, I grabbed the next book in the pile – Little Women – I scurried up to bed and burrowed under the covers.
Christmas Eve went like this for much of my childhood. And, while it enabled me to get a jump start on great literature, it made Christmas Eve a night of great fear and stress rather than one of joyful anticipation. I would leave the bedroom the next morning lacking much of the energy and enthusiasm of my brothers. Christmas morning held more of a sense of relief than excitement. In retrospect, I see the larger implication in life. If we live in fear, then we do not live the life we are meant to live. How many times do we allow fear to hinder us from the joys of life? How often do we allow fear of failure to keep us from some accomplishment? It is not easy to relinquish our fears, especially in our society. But we must do our best to enjoy the “Santas” in our life and not allow that which can bring us happiness to paralyze us.
Let us pray. During the final days of this Advent, let us live with a joyful anticipation rather than with stress, anxiety, and fear. In the words of the angel on the first Christmas “Do not be afraid, I bring you tidings of great joy.”
So do not be afraid to let light be seen coming from your direction. Do not be afraid to open your door to the rest of the world. Turn on the light. Open the door. Walk with resolve into the open. Do not be afraid, La Salle; through the promise of Christmas great things await us.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle …pray for us.
Live Jesus in our Hearts….forever.
Emily Smith–English Department
(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the entire La Salle educational community on Tuesday morning, 16 December 2014)
Let us remember we are in God’s holy presence.
Last August, as we were preparing for a trip to Santa’s Village in New Hampshire, there was an incident. One night, right after the girls went up to bed, we heard a shout: “Mom, dad, come here!” We ran right upstairs and found Mia and Maddie in the bathroom, with horrified looks on their angelic faces. Maddie pointed to the sink, which was filled with toothpaste, an empty tube lying on the counter. Mia pointed to the shower, which had been graffitied with shampoo and conditioner, all up and down the walls, two empty containers resting near the drain. Finally, there was a shampoo-saturated facecloth plopped on the floor. “Mackenzie,” they declared. “It must have been Mackenzie.” My wife and I were horrified and angry, but we decided to wait til morning to investigate, since Molly and Mackenzie were snuggled up in their beds, sleeping.
A few hours later we went to bed ourselves. But when my wife walked into our bathroom, she let out a shriek. I ran in and saw her with a horrified look on her angelic face, pointing at the shower door. Sure enough, before that shampoo-soaked cloth wound up on the floor of the girls’ bathroom, it had been used to smear our shower door and our bathroom mirror with shampoo. A bigger problem? – the damage was too high up for it to have been Mackenzie, meaning it must have been Mia and Maddie, and they were trying to pin it on their little sister. We went to bed that night in a rage. Not only had somebody made a giant mess, an ill-intentioned mess, but somebody was probably lying about it too. The next morning I woke up, and went through my morning routine, but as I went to throw my clothes in the hamper I noticed the final piece, the nail in the coffin, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Our hamper and the laundry in it, was covered with toothpaste. What force of evil would do such a thing?
Four months later, my wife and I still don’t know who did what, how it happened, or why it happened. Every line of questioning, every good cop/bad cop routine, every attempt at a plea bargain, every opportunity to throw a sister under the bus was met with an “I don’t know,” or an, “It wasn’t me,” like some twisted childcare song by Shaggy. And while we know it was one of them or more than one of them, each one-on-one conversation left us more confused and frustrated because we actually believed each of them when they said they didn’t know.
A few weeks ago the four suspects, my daughters, compiled their Christmas lists. They love Christmas just like every kid does. But the whole premise of Santa Claus is that he rewards the good little boys and girls with presents while the naughty children, you know, the ones who empty toothpaste in their parents’ laundry and squirt shampoo on the walls, are punished with coal. So what are we to do?
I feel as if I have two angels sitting on my shoulders singing sweetly in my ear. One angel says Santa is a symbol of God’s unconditional love, and that while I don’t approve of my daughters’ behaviors, I love them and should express that love with a gift. Not giving a gift will scar them and they will internalize the shame of not receiving a gift from the saint who gives gifts to all those who are worthy. By not giving a gift I am saying they are not worthy. Another angel says my job is not to raise a child but to grow an adult – and that I will love them by showing that life has consequences, while giving them gifts will only spoil them and reinforce negative behaviors. By not giving a gift I am saying I expect better. By not receiving a gift they will learn a valuable life lesson.
So here is my question: Should Santa come to my house this Christmas or not? Should my four daughters get Christmas gifts? Have they been good enough?
And here is your question: Did you deserve Christmas when you were a child? Do you deserve Christmas this year? Do you deserve the gift? Did you earn it? I mean really earn it? Are we deserving of all that we have?
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, Your Son came and replaced the rulebook with just one rule: love. Give us the wisdom to know how to love when life is complex.
Heavenly Son, you taught us that God’s love for us is unconditional. Help us to see ourselves and others as God sees us and to love accordingly.
Heavenly Spirit, fill us with generosity and compassion this season and always.
St John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.
Matt Daly–Director of Campus Ministry
(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 12 December 2014)
Done in dialogue form for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
M: Recordamos que estamos en la presencia sagrada de Dios.
D: Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
D: God will surprise you sometimes. Throughout the course of history, He often chooses the lowly and outcast to deliver his message of love to the powerful. 483 years ago outside of Mexico City, the Virgin Mary appeared to a Native American Aztec youth named Juan Diego on Dec. 12th.
M: Even though Juan Diego spoke Nuahtl, the language of the conquered Aztec Indians, la Vírgen María spoke to him in su propia lengua– in his own language. This was not the Mary you’re used to seeing portrayed in European Renaissance art-with blond hair and dressed in blue.
D: No. This was La Morenita, a dark-skinned appearance of Mary with whom Juan Diego could identify, because she spoke his language and she looked like him.
M: La Morenita commanded Juan Diego to go to the Mexican Bishop Juan Zumárraga, and have him build a church on Tepeyac hill in Our Lady’s honor.
D: The bishop refused, demanding proof from this native American that he really did see and talk to la Vírgen María.
M: La Vírgen appeared again to Juan Diego and said, “¡Vén aquí, Diegito! Míra las rosas. ¡Llévalos al obispo como prueba de mi aparición!”
D: “My dear Diego-come here and take these roses to the bishop as proof of my appearance to you.” He thought that this miracle- blooming roses in the December cold- would be the proof he needed to convince the doubting bishop.
M: Juan cut the roses and carefully wrapped them in his tilma, his native cloak, and took them to the bishop.
D: When Juan unfolded his tilma before the bishop, the flowers had disappeared and had transformed themselves into the same image of the Virgin Mary that he had seen earlier. La morenita, was now imbedded into the threads of his cloak.
M: This 483-year old cloak can still be seen today in la basilica de nuestra señora de Guadalupe en la ciudad de México. Today thousands of Americans from the Western Hemisphere will come to this same spot to offer up their prayers and petitions to God and Mary.
D: La Virgen de Guadalupe unites us spiritually throughout the Americas, as the patroness of both North and South America.
M: Our Lady of Guadalupe has been adopted as a patroness of the Pro-Life movement and of Latino migrant workers who labor in the fields of California, Arizona and Texas. Saint Juan Diego is a model of persistence. Sometimes we have to work hard to share God’s message with the close-minded.
D: Throughout the course of Christianity, whether at Fatima, Lourdes, LaSalette, or Tepeyac hill, Mary has spoken to us as God’s messenger, to help all peoples in whatever situation they find themselves; with whatever needs they have.
D: Let us pray:
Loving God, you first sent Mary, Mother of God to bring your own Son, Jesus, into the world 2,000 years ago. You have sent the Mother of Jesus to us throughout salvation history to comfort us in our sorrows and to help us turn our hearts to Jesus.
M: Por favor Dios, open our eyes here at LaSalle Academy, so that we may see how you reveal yourself to us today. Help us to see you, Señor, in those we meet today.
D: Help us to see you in the scriptures we read today and in the religious teachings we will ponder. Querido Señor, dear Lord, as we notice more and more your loving presence here at LaSalle, may we be transformed during this Advent season, to be Christ’s light for others.
M: ¡San Juan Diego, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe y San Juan Bautista de La Salle,
D: ¡Ruéguen por nosotros!
M: Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. John Baptist de La Salle,
D: pray for us!
M: ¡Víva Jesús en nuestros corazones!
D: ¡Para siempre!
M: Live Jesus in our hearts!
Mercedes DiMascio (Spanish Teacher) & David Martínez (Religion Teacher)
Ed Sirois–Religion Department
(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 11 December 2014)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God
Good morning, La Salle.
In schools across the country, just like here at La Salle, both teachers and students are looking forward to Christmas and other Holidays that bring along a 2 week vacation. This will bring much-needed rest and distance from the classroom for all of us. But, there is a little over a week to go, and a great deal to do and think about in preparation for an organized and effective start to the New Year.
Returning in January from more than a week away from school can pose quite a challenge; after all, time away is time away. Before students head out, I try to engage in one-on-one conversations. Like a department store Santa, I’ll try to uncover what they would like to get out of the second half of the year, either related to content knowledge and/or creative productivity. I am sure to check my “list” more than twice, reviewing and re-evaluating interests and learning styles, and noting who has been naughty and who has been nice.
For students who are organized, productive, enthusiastic, and respectful, the goals set for the second semester will be clear and understood. After writing down three goals and three ways to meet them, they are ready for the increased challenge. Other students need a bit more direction, and so discussions will focus on opportunities and strategies for improvement. One thing is certain, while expectations and offerings come wrapped in ribbons and bows, and gifts aren’t really gifts until they are given.
The cycle of giving and receiving goes beyond the holiday season. Feedback and evaluation follows new assignments, and with hope, makes a difference in the next piece of work completed. Once illuminated, the lights ignited shine brilliantly, and when the visions of sugarplums fade, real dreams can begin.
As we all settle down for a long winter’s nap, let’s take the time to thank God for all that we have in our lives.
Let us pray
Lord, we thank you for the true gifts of the season. Our families, our friends, our lives, our passions and talents. Send us the guidance we need to keep those relationships strong and the desire to seek out the best opportunities we have as individuals.
St. John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for Us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.
Jeff Danielian–Science Teacher and Director of La Salle Scholars Program
Edward Sirois–Religion Department