You Did It For Me

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 11 January 2019—fifth and final day of the “Hands Out for Haiti” Campaign)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

As we high school students prepare to give our offering to the Hands Out For Haiti Campaign and as the middle school students reflect on the contribution they made yesterday, let us listen to the words of Matthew’s Gospel:

Jesus says to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Let us pray,

Jesus, our Lord and our brother, open our hearts today so that we might generously respond to the young people of Haiti who really are the least members of your family.  Remind us that whatever we do for them, we do for you.  During this Lasallian Jubilee Year as we celebrate the 300th Anniversary of the death of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, keep us ever mindful that as Lasallians we are all one in the heart of our Founder, in the life of our Founder, and in his commitment to service of the least among us.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Kyle Chelo—Class of 2020 (Member of the La Salle Academy Boys’ Hockey Team)

Make a Sacrifice?—-Who? Me?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 10 January 2019—4th day of the “Hands Out for Haiti” Campaign)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

It is the winter of 1683-1684 and the high price of food and the harshness of winter turned the city of Reims, France into a huge poor house of starving people.  To the three newly-started schools of the Brothers and to the Brothers’ House on Rue Neuve the poor came in droves, adults and children alike, many of them close to starvation.  None of them went away unprovided for.  John Baptist de La Salle, the wealthy priest and reluctant founder of schools for poor boys, now lived with the handful of new Brothers.  He had decided after much prayer and spiritual direction, to hand over his wealth so that he too would be poor like his Brothers.  So the daily distribution of food went on until there was nothing left; and then, De La Salle himself had to beg for the bread he could no longer afford to buy.

Flash forward to the winter of 2010, January 12th, and the devastating earthquake that flattened much of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, killing an estimated 316,000 people, leaving 2.0 million people homeless, and making orphans of hundreds of thousands of children.  Like its Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the Lasallian World could not just stand-by and watch the suffering of people that they had so long served in Haiti.  Through world-wide donations, including a substantial gift from the faculty, staff and students of this school, the educational and health needs of hundreds of young people and their families is being met by our brother school, the St. Jean Baptiste de La Salle School in Cazeau, a small town on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.  Each January, since that initial gift, our community has donated about $10,000.00 annually through our Hands Out to Haiti Campaign—to help build the Health Center, to build additional classroom space, to build athletic fields and provide athletic equipment, to purchase uniforms and books, to buy a van for transportation, and to provide tuition help to the now 700 youngsters being educated in Grades pre-K to 10.

Unlike John Baptist de La Salle, we are not being asked today (for the De La Salle Middle School) or tomorrow (for the high school) to give away all our wealth and to go out to beg for food.  We put in our $5.00, get a chance to dress-down for the day, and go home tonight or tomorrow night to a good meal and a warm house—with all our toys (cars, I-pads, I-phones, X-boxes, etc.) to keep us occupied.

However, I ask you to find a few minutes during the rest of this day and tonight to be quiet and to reflect.  What if the earthquake or another natural or man-made disaster happened here in Rhode Island?  How would we feel if we were deprived of everything we take so much for granted?  Well, that is how De La Salle and the starving of Reims felt during that bitterly cold winter and that is how the students of the St. Jean Baptiste de La Salle School felt following the earthquake!  I would never wish that feeling or those disasters on anyone, but it is good from time to time to ask ourselves: what really counts, what is really important, and when it comes down to it, what do I truly need?

Maybe, after some moments of reflection, you might decide today or tomorrow to forego that Dunkin Donuts flavored coffee and bagel or those extra fries; maybe you might decide to skip the movie you are planning to go to over the weekend or to not buy the CD or DVD or Apple I-tunes you saved for with your Christmas money.  Are those things REALLY necessary?  Making a sacrifice is not something we hear about often.  However, today I ask you to consider making a sacrifice, making a sacrifice like John Baptist de La Salle, making a sacrifice that hurts a little bit—making a sacrifice this morning or tomorrow morning when the envelope is passed in your classroom, as you sit comfortably in your dress-down clothes in a warm building.  And as you consider this request, think about the young people of Cazeau, Haiti who are being clothed in uniforms, and given medicine, and being taught because of the extra dollars that you contribute.

They will not be able to thank you in person; but, believe me, your reward will be great when our loving and merciful Father welcomes you into his Kingdom, there to share eternal blessings with so many other generous Lasallians, like Saint John Baptist de La Salle.  Jesus will say to you and me, as he did to his disciples on the Mount: “Come to me, you blessed of my Father—for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was without clothes and you gave me school uniforms, I was sick and you provided medication, I had no opportunity for education and you provided a school and books and teachers and taught me.”

As we continue our celebration of the 300th Anniversary of the Death of our Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, let us honor him not just by words or by pictures with 300th Anniversary signs but by imitating his generous heart, his self-less life of giving, and his commitment to be of service to the least, the last, and the lost.

Let us pray,

Jesus, our Lord and our brother, open our hearts today and tomorrow so that we might generously respond to the young people of Haiti who really are the least, the last and the lost of your brothers and sisters.  Remind us that whatever we do for them, we do for you.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

Haiti–Its Faithful and Friendly People

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 8 January 2019–2nd Day of the “Hands Out for Haiti” Campaign)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

Good morning.

My name is Idylla Louis and I graduated from La Salle in 2015.  I am here to give you a look into what the island of Haiti is like and the beauty that some have the opportunity to experience.  Both my parents were born in Haiti.

When flying over the island preparing to land, you see the beautiful mountains and lush trees.  When you land, you are hit with warmth that can only be found on the wonderful island.  At the airport, you are greeted by smiles and the music of Haitian troubadours.  This prepares you for what’s to come on the island if you allow yourself to be immersed into our culture and our people.

Although Haiti is an economically underdeveloped nation, Haiti’s identity is much more than that.  We are a country with a rich history and a diverse group of people.  I am proud to call it my home.  If you have the opportunity and time, I encourage you to visit, to take the time to get to know its landscape and its people.

Let us pray:

God, thank you the beautiful country of Haiti, for its faithful and friendly people.  As a Lasallian family connected around the globe, we remember that the children who attend our Lasallian school in Haiti are our brothers and sisters.  This week, during Haiti Solidarity Week, we pray that we may give generously, knowing that education changes lives, provides hope, and gives people options out of poverty.

St. John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for us

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Idylla Louis–Class of 2015

“…We All Will Be Together”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 20 December 2018)

Good Morning.

Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God…

During the holiday season, one of my favorite Christmas songs to listen to is “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” The song was written for Judy Garland to sing in the MGM movie “Meet Me in St. Louis.” One of the reasons I like the song so much is because of the immediacy in Garland’s voice. She’s there to explain to her younger sister why Christmas is important, and why family is important, a lesson we can all benefit from. Another reason I enjoy it is because of the lyrics. Some of my favorite lines in the song are:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

From now on your troubles will be out of sight

Here we are as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Through the years we all will be together

If the fates allow

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough

So have yourself a merry little Christmas

There’s so much wisdom in that song, especially the line about how we will all be together, if fate allows it. During the Christmas season, I know I look to things that remind me of my childhood, and I’m sure you also find yourself partaking in traditions that are meaningful to you and your earliest holiday memories. That could be decorating your tree with your family, or wrapping gifts the night before Christmas, or making gingerbread houses. Whatever it is, we do these things to experience that feeling of magic that comes with the innocence of childhood, and of hoping and wishing for everything our heart desires. And we want to continue these traditions, because it means that we will carry those memories with us our entire lives and pass them on, sharing a piece of that magic with someone else.

The good news for us is that we can live that magic everyday. Look around and take in the small moments that the world around you provides. Drive on 95, and see the Big Blue Bug with reindeer ears and a red Rudolph nose. Notice the Christmas music playing in the hallways before homeroom here at LSA. Watch one of your favorite Christmas movies playing on TV. And thank the loved one who bakes all those cookies ready for you to eat when you get home from school. Live in the peace God has given us during this season, and know that everything is exactly how it should be.

Let us pray…

Dear God, thank you for sending us your Son, for showing us what love is, and for blessing us with the memories and people that shape our lives. Remind us to always be grateful for the sacrifice of your Son, that he atoned for our sins, and laid down his life for us. And let us open our eyes to the world and people around us, to notice that they are just like us in their pursuit of happiness and love. We ask all of this in your name. Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle… Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts… Forever!

Joseph DeLeo–Physical Education (Dance) Teacher

“…What You Needed Was Each Other”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 18 December 2018)

Good morning De La Salle and La Salle Academy.

Let us remember that we are in the presence of a loving God.

I grew up in the time of Claymation Christmas movies.  You know which ones, right? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Santa Claus is coming to town? Jack Frost?

I also grew up in the time of Jim Henson’s Muppets, of course you remember…… A Muppet Family ChristmasThe Bells of Fraggle Rock?    Okay…..I envision some of you shaking your heads in confusion, not having a clue to what I am referring to….. I also envision some of you generating a little smile of remembrance of your Holidays past.

Of all of these holiday movies, my most favorite is Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas.   This 1977 classic follows Emmet and Ma on their journey leading up to Christmas Eve.

Simple pleasures such as the fresh ice slide that Pa built, the Christmas branch, and wonderful music are what sustains them most years.  But with Pa having passed away, they find themselves struggling to buy a special gift for one another with the limited money they have from washing laundry and landing odd jobs.  With a talent contest coming up at the Town Hall and the prospect of winning $50, Emmet and Ma secretly take separate risks sacrificing items of great important to the other person in an attempt to win the prize.

In an unfortunate turn of events, both Ma’s singing and Emmet’s Jugband fail to win the money.  Walking home later that night along the icy river, Ma and Emmet confess to each other about the great risks they took…… Forgiveness is granted all around and in celebration of love, Ma, Emmet and Emmet’s Jugband friends decide to harmonize and sing their separate music together as one.   Doc Bullfrog, the owner of a riverside restaurant soon hears them, hires them, and with one of my favorite lines from the movie says….. “That’s fine music, folks.  I thought you needed something a little extra (tonight) but it appears to me that what you needed was each other.”

For me, Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas is a wonderful display of love, loss, risk, tradition, remembrance, forgiveness and so much more.  I have watched this every Christmas season since I can remember, and what makes it even more special now, is getting to share this wonderful story with my children.

Let us pray.

Lord, during this Holiday season, grant us the warmth and comfort of family and friends.  Grant us the willingness to take risks for those we love and to seek and find forgiveness for when the outcome is not what we planned.  Remind us that within this hectic season of material gift-giving your simple yet wonderful gift of Grace is what matters most. Amen.

St. John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Erica Napolitano–Math Teacher

 

 

To See With New Eyes And In A New Light

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 13 December 2018)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

Today in Sweden, girls all over the country will dress in white dresses and wear wreaths of candles on their head (yes, that’s right, some little girls use electric candles, but older girls will wear wreaths of real candles on their heads!).  They will visit friends, family, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and pass out traditional Swedish Christmas foods and spread holiday cheer. This tradition is not as well known in the United States, but as a little girl growing up with a Swedish mother, I remember that we always had a special dessert at our house on December 13.

Why?  Well, December 13 in the feast day of Saint Lucy, a Roman girl who lived around the year 300 A.D.  In a time, not unlike today, when it was difficult and unpopular to live according to your faith, she pledged her life fully to Christianity, refusing to be married and asking her parents to donate her dowry (the money that a bride’s family used to be required to give to her new husband’s family when they were married) to the poor.

There are many stories about St. Lucy, two of which are important for us today.  The first is that St. Lucy would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who were living in the catacombs, a huge maze of tunnels and caves underneath the city, because they could not worship God openly.  To light her way, legend has it that St. Lucy wore a wreath of candles on her head as she made her visits. In her charity, she literally brought light to the darkness of these people’s lives. This is, of course, the origin of the present day tradition in Sweden, one of the high points of their entire Christmas season.

The second legend is that St. Lucy had particularly beautiful eyes, and that when she was eventually martyred for her faith, her eyes were ripped out as part of her torture, but restored by God just before her death.  For this reason, St. Lucy is the patron saint of both light and eyesight, especially blindness and other eye problems.

We can follow St. Lucy’s example, then, by being a light to others, especially in the dark times of their lives.  But since she is also patroness of those with problems with eyesight, I also want to suggest that we all have problems with eyesight that we can try to correct today.

What do I mean?  My son has a picture book called Look Again, Thomas! which someone surely got for him because his name is in the title.  The story is about two little boys named Angelo and Thomas. Thomas has never spoken to Angelo, even though they are next door neighbors, until, one day, Angelo invites Thomas to go on an adventure.  Angelo takes Thomas to see all sorts of seemingly ordinary places, but then urges him, “Look again, Thomas!” Upon looking again, Thomas always discovers wonderful and fascinating details of the world around him (like the colorful fish swimming below the surface of a pond, the chameleon hiding in plain sight among the leaves in a forest, or the patterns on the snowflakes falling right in front of his nose) that he missed by not looking carefully enough.  By the end of the book, Thomas also realizes that he has been missing out on a great friendship with his next door neighbor Angelo because he never looked closely enough at the person right in front of him. I don’t know about you, but I know this is something I do all the time.

Let us pray,

Dear Lord, drawing from the example of St. Lucy, let us strive to see the things and people around us with new eyes.  Let us notice when other people are experiencing times of darkness and be a light for them today.

St. John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts – Forever.

Lia Wahl–Teacher of Mathematics

God Will Surprise You Sometimes

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday, 12 December 2018)

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. 487 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.

M: Roguemos:

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 Lasalle,

D: ¡Ruéguen por nosotros!

M: Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. John Baptist de LaSalle,

D: pray for us!

M: ¡Víva Jesús en nuestros corazones!

D: ¡Para siempre!

M: Live Jesus in our hearts!

D: Forever!

(M) Mercedes DiMascio (Chairperson–World Languages Department) and (D) David Martinez (Religion Department)

Presents OR Presence

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday, 7 December 2018)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

I am not a terribly good shopper.  I am one of those people who know what they want to buy and buy it.  I am not particularly fond of standing in long lines or of going through items that are misplaced because so many shoppers before me have been searching through the counters for sales, sizes, favorite colors, etc.  So Christmas shopping is not one of my favorite activities.

Recently, I was appalled when, the day after Halloween in a local CVS, there were not only Thanksgiving items but the start of the Christmas displays.  Every newspaper has extra sections with the latest in bargains, and television and radio commercials lure us in by playing some well known Christmas song.  The commercialism of Christmas really turns me off.  Getting up early on “Black Friday” after Thanksgiving, or surfing the web on Cyber-Monday for bargains are not high on my “to-do” list.

I ask myself if I have become an old Scrooge who mumbles “humbug” under my breath, but I know that Christmas and the season of Advent that precedes it are among my most special times of the year.  For me, this is really a season of gift-giving—and I love giving gifts (and, if I am honest, I love receiving gifts).

So where does that leave me?  The stores are crowded with shoppers and the displays seduce us into buying and more buying.  I say to myself: “There is nothing wrong with giving, as God’s grace is His gift to us each day.”  What is wrong is thinking that things given once a year are a substitute for loving, and caring, and being present the rest of the year.  I ask myself and I ask you to ask yourselves as well: “Is there someone on your Christmas gift list whom you only remember with a yearly present?  Is the gift-giving simply a matter of habit—I always get so and so a gift card since that’s easy to do.  Or is it a matter of making us feel less guilty—I never get to see my elderly grandmother or aunt or I avoid going to see this relative or this other relative—so let me buy them a gift and I won’t feel so bad.  Or is it a matter of social custom—my friend whom I cannot stand gives me a gift so I have to give a gift in return.”  Is the Christmas gift a substitute for love and care the rest of the year?  It is so much more difficult, yet so much more honest and sincere to give the gift of oneself regardless of the season—to spend time on the phone or in person with an elderly relative, to perform those small but meaningful random acts of kindness at home, with parents, with brothers and sisters, with friends here at school, to remember loved ones, both old and new, with notes and calls and cheerful presence (that is P-R-E-S-E-N-C-E).

I tend to think that Christmas might be a much more authentic time if our gifts were not measured by cost in money or by uniqueness or by usefulness, but rather by the cost in personal sacrifice and giving of self and real care for another all the year long.  So, I guess it is OK to stand in long lines in the stores (if that’s your thing!) and I guess it is OK to shop for sales and follow the trail of advertisements—as long as the gift given is really a sign of the gift of love and care given all year long.  Gadgets will wear out and we’ll outgrow clothes or the styles will change, but none of us ever tires of receiving love and care.  This Christmas let’s give of ourselves, as you have been doing so generously with the high school adopt-a-family program, the Middle School’s Kids, Cops and Christmas Fill a Cruiser, your volunteering for the McAuley Village Christmas Party and the other ways so many of you are sacrificing time and treasure for those with less.  BUT, also remember that all these others we are helping now need our help and care all year long.  A token gift now to make us feel good about ourselves is just NOT enough!

And so we pray:  Generous God, you loved us so much that you gave us the gift of yourself, your Son.  And You love us so much today that you grace us freely with all the good gifts we experience in life—health, a home, heat in the cold, safety and security, and so many other things.  Help us to be generous with our love, knowing that love given away returns to us a hundredfold.  We ask this in the name of your son and our brother Jesus whose gift to us was his very life.  Amen.

St. John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live, Jesus, in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC