We Are An Evolving Fabric of Diversity

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 23 April 2018—Intercultural Week)

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

The United States of America holds the reputation of being  one of the greatest countries in the world. But it is also known as the multicultural center, because of the wide variety of people with different cultural, racial and ethnic identities. Immigrants from all over come here holding their own ideal of the “American Dream.”  We have the opportunity to share in how other people experience the world differently. Much of today’s society has forgotten that. “So God created mankind in his own image,” yet on the news we see  discrimination and violence all over the world against people who are considered other. The Diversity Committee has organized Intercultural Day this week so that everyone can express themselves and witness that within our own community we are an evolving fabric of unique threads, colors and textures.

Let us pray,

We thank You God, for the diversity we see all around us. You created all people in your image. We rejoice in the astonishing variety of races and cultures in this world and within our own community. Help us celebrate the wonderful blend of skin colors, languages and customs and teach us to accept one another, and to realize that our differences are what makes us unique.

St. John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for Us.

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Alejandro (Victor) Jimenez–Class of 2018

 

NUMBERS

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 13 April 2018)

Good morning La Salle.

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

Today is Friday the thirteenth. People get nervous about this, because thirteen is unlucky. But how much should we let this number dictate how our day will go?

I remember when the first SAT scores for my grade came out some time early last year. People were asking each other what they got. For some reason, this number mattered to us. To the kid who got an almost perfect score, it wasn’t good enough. To the kid who got just what they needed to get into their dream school, it was their saving grace. Some people’s numbers inspired them to study harder and do better. Others were happy with what they got. Each number can mean something different to everybody. They can be motivating. But they can also be destructive.

I run competitively. Sometimes I’ll have a race that just doesn’t go my way. I might be off my time by a few seconds. Those few seconds can be the difference between confidence and self-doubt. It’s hard for me to remember all the good races I have had when I have a bad one.

Everyone does this sort of thing. Like when you get a bad grade on a test, you immediately forget about getting all-honors last semester, because YOU JUST BOMBED IT! But, you have to take a step back and think about it. Are people going to be at your funeral saying, “jeez, they were a nice person and all, but they failed that history test in junior year, what a failure”? NO! People are going to remember you for who you are. And who you are is not defined by your grades or any other number.

I recently deleted Instagram. I have about a thousand followers on it. For some people, that’s a lot. For others, it’s not even half of what they have. But what really stresses me out is the amount of likes I get on a photo. I’m sure I’m not alone when I think about deleting a post because it got a poor amount of likes. You know that first half hour after you post a photo, and you’re constantly refreshing the amount of likes you have? If it’s too low, you get anxious. And then you also have to worry about what time you post, because you’ll get more likes if you post in the evening. If I don’t get a lot of likes, I immediately assume that something is wrong with me, or people don’t like me.

We have to remember that numbers are nice to use as tools, to see where we are, or to quantify goals. But numbers are not our self worth. We are more than our grades, our SAT scores, or the amount of colleges we got into.

Could we instead focus on numbers that make us feel good? How about the number of people that smiled at you today? Or the number of good deeds you have done? I like these numbers a lot better. Each one represents a positive impact on someone’s life. And we should be striving to make that impact as big as possible.

So before you judge someone who did worse on a test than you, or someone who doesn’t have as many followers as you, stop and think. If you are more than those numbers, then they are more than those numbers, too. Each person is too unique and amazing to be summed up by a bunch of numbers. It is all these qualitative, not quantitative, ideas, about humanity that makes us awesome. So let’s keep being awesome.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts…. forever.

Grace Connolly–Class of 2018

Give and Give More

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 11 April 2018)

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

 “Give and Give, even and especially when you don’t think you can give anymore.”  The first principal who hired me years ago–a Christian Brother by the name of Thomas Casey—had those words on a poster in his office.  I remember thinking how foolish and silly they seemed when I first read them over a decade ago.  After all, everything about our society tells us to measure our actions and choices by how we will benefit from them or not.  So often before we give, we think…how will this affect me?  How much time or money will it cost me? Or emotionally, is this worth it for me?

 My favorite example of “Give and give more” happened a couple of years ago on my first service trip with La Salle Academy students.  We were volunteering at the De La Salle Blackfeet School in Browning, Mt.  Most of the students there are poor.  Often, their parents struggle with alcoholism or drug dependency.  All of the students receive free breakfast and lunch.  Anyway, one day at lunch, I sat at a table of fifth graders to eat with them.  I remember finishing the granola bar I had packed and mumbling something about still being hungry.  In an instant, the boy seated next to me reached for his cookie and offered it  to me.  Without hesitation or calculation, he shared the little he had.  He taught me something that day about giving, about generosity, and about purity of heart.

That boy was like the poor widow for me—reaching into his need and sharing all that he had.  I wonder if this kind of generosity is what is meant by the Scripture verse  “Unless a grain of wheat dies, it will not bear fruit.”  Maybe it’s that when we give without thinking of ourselves, we die to our own interests and let God’s will and unconditional love and mercy fill our lives.

Let us pray:

Loving God, we give ourselves to you–our gifts and talents, our time, our energy, all that we are and have.  In those moments when we are tempted to be selfish or stingy, when we are tired or lazy, give us pure, generous hearts so that we may give without counting the cost.   You, O God, are all we need.

St. John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for us

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Christine Estes—Director of Campus Ministry

Where Is God Calling You Today?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 9 April 2018)

Good morning. First let me wish our Orthodox brothers and sisters a happy Easter.

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

There is an old saying that says: “When God closes a door, God opens a window.” Let me say that again, “When God closes a door, God opens a window.” The idea behind this saying is that we never really know where life is going to take us and rarely do we end up where we think we’ll end up.

I know this has been true in my own life. Maybe it has been true in yours. It was certainly true for our Founder, John Baptist de La Salle. He was a wealthy man on the fast track to becoming an even wealthier Church leader in France when God, through a chance encounter with Adrien Nyel, led him to give up his wealth and found schools for poor boys. We would not be sitting here today, if it were not for that. His decision to follow God’s will was not the easy thing to do – it led to much pain and suffering for John Baptist de La Salle, but also to much joy and satisfaction. After all, the old saying says that God leaves a window open for us and climbing through a window is much more difficult than strolling through a door … even if it does give us a chance to see the world from a different – often more beautiful – perspective.

Today, we Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the day when Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. Today we remember the day when God closed the door of a normal life to the teenaged Blessed Virgin Mary and opened the window to a life full of tremendous sorrow and tremendous joy, a life full of grace. Mary’s life was anything but ordinary from that day forward. But it was the life that she was called to live so that she could be most fully the person that God made her to be. She’s a perfect example of how following God’s call – whatever it is – can change your life, fulfill you, and make you into the person you are meant to be. “When God closes a door, God opens a window.” Climbing through a window is never easy, but – with God’s help – it is always worth it.

My challenge to you today is to just listen. Take the ear buds out. Close the screen. Shut off the television. Find a quiet spot and listen. Where is God calling you today?

Let us pray:

Lord God, we know that following you does not always seem easy. Give us the grace to follow you anyway, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary made a decision to follow you two thousand years ago. Amen.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts … forever.

Charles da Silva–Religion Teacher

We Are An Easter People

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 2 April 2018)

Good morning La Salle! And Happy Easter!

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

On this Easter Monday, as we continue our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, I would like to return to the scene of that first Easter morning recounted at Mass yesterday. St. John the Evangelist tells us that Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb early Sunday morning, so early that “it was still dark.” (Jn. 20:1) Seeing that the stone covering the tomb had been taken away, she ran to inform two of Jesus’ closest disciples – Peter and John. Upon arriving at the tomb, Peter and John entered; John, we read, went into the empty tomb “and he saw and believed.” (Jn. 20:8) Something from that scene struck him – perhaps it simply made sense of the words that Jesus had spoken to him, but, up to that point, he could not fully understand. And so John and Peter returned to their homes, leaving Mary alone at the tomb alone, weeping.

Two angels appeared to Mary in the tomb, asking her why she was weeping. “Because,” she explained, “they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.” (Jn. 20:13) She then turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but significantly, as St. John recounts for us, “she did not know that it was [Him].” (Jn. 20:14) And this time it was Jesus Himself asking her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” (Jn. 20:15) Mary sounded a wearied response: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” (Jn. 20:15) At that, Jesus simply said her name – “Mary” – and immediately she recognized Him.

And we, John’s audience, are simply left to ponder…“Why?”

Why did John immediately recognize the significance of the empty tomb ‘and believe’? Why didn’t Mary? Why didn’t she recognize it at the appearance of the two angels? Or even upon seeing Jesus Himself? Perhaps her mind was darkened by anger thinking that someone would cruelly add to the anguish of the crucifixion by stealing Jesus’ body. Perhaps her faith was clouded by grief at the loss of a beloved friend. Perhaps it was simply the physical fatigue of two sleepless nights or the tears clouding her vision that would not allow her to see Jesus clearly. St. John does not tell us. But, then again, does he have to? Does he have to tell us, any one of us, how the circumstances of life…anger, grief, confusion, stress or simple fatigue…can disrupt our ability to recognize God’s presence in our lives? No, I think not.

But St. John’s account does contain an important lesson: Mary never did stop searching for her Lord. She set out in the darkness of the early morning to reach Him. When she could not find Him there, she confided this to her close friends. And when they were no longer there by her side, she stayed at the tomb, alone, she wept, and continued to question, to plead. And, in a moment of grace, she heard His voice and her eyes were opened.

Let us pray.

Father, help us to remember that we are an Easter people. We, like Mary, are sometimes weighed down by suffering – the anger of betrayal, the sorrow of loss, the physical toll of each day – and You can seem so distant. May we trust that if we persevere in Faith, You will bless us with the grace to recognize that You have been right before us all along, calling each of us by name.

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts…forever!

Brian Bennett—Religion Teacher

Those Feet Are “Us”!

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 29 March 2018)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

Today is Holy Thursday in the Christian tradition. It is a day marked by three themes: the chrism or the oils, a sign of the priesthood; the meal done in remembrance of the Passover; and the washing of the feet of the guests at table.  Most of us do not remember our own baptism; but, maybe in having witnessed a baptism, we recall that it is not only the priest who is anointed with oils at his ordination—the oils anoint us at baptism as well—if you die with Christ you shall live with Christ.  The celebration of Eucharist is a remembrance of the dying and rising of Jesus—eat my body and drink my blood—the ultimate sacrifice of self for other; unless I die I remain but a single seed, a single grain.

My focus this morning, however, is on the washing of the feet.  A tradition among the Brothers was a weekly activity called the “exercise of pardon.”  Brothers in the community sought pardon from each other for their offenses of the week.  On Holy Thursday the “exercise of pardon” was done for the year.  Fifty-two years ago when I was a novice Brother, some twenty-five 18 and 19 year olds like me gathered in the Chapel at Narragansett on this day and washed each other’s feet and asked each other for pardon.

There is something special, something unique about our feet—think about your feet for a moment and picture them.  They are often not the nicest looking; for some of us they are well-worn and tired; some are large and some small; some feet have bunions or broken toes or warts or other disfigurements.  Some feet can run swiftly; others shuffle along.  Some are calloused from heavy use and have the odor of sweat and hard work; others are soft and fragrant, pedicured and painted.  We generally hide our feet and keep them covered, in socks and nylons, boots and shoes, sandals and slippers.  Those feet are us!

Each of us is broken and deformed in some way; we are imperfect as our feet are—it is part of what it means to be human.  When Jesus knelt at the feet of his friends he was telling them that he loved them in all their humanness.  Peter said to Jesus—“You will never wash my feet.”  Was it pride?  Was it fear of having his humanness discovered?  Was it embarrassment?  Jesus answers: “If I do not wash your feet, you cannot share life with me.”  If you do not allow me to embrace you with all your warts and all the dirt of your life’s travels, you cannot be my friend—I can only love you as you really are.  I cannot really love the painted façade, the pedicured and perfumed.  And then Jesus tells us that we must wash and embrace each other’s feet.

Unless the seed fall into the ground and die, it remains but a single grain—unless I put aside my pride, unless I embrace my own woundedness and that of my brothers and sisters, I will never lead others to fullness of life.  Am I willing to accept myself and others in brokenness, in imperfection, with all the idiosyncrasies, and annoyances, and hurts we experience in ourselves and in others?  Jesus invites us, challenges us—to embrace our own feet and to embrace our own selves, whether we be glamorous or plain, athletic or clumsy, artistic or color blind, musical or tone deaf, very bright in academics or struggling.  AND, Jesus invites us, challenges us—to embrace and respect and honor the diversity around us—the young man or young woman who is wealthy and drives a sporty car and the one who takes the bus, the most popular kid in our clique of friends and the kid who hangs out on the edge, the star athlete and the bench warmer, the lead actor and the kid with the bit part.  Each of us, each of you is of worth—God embraces you as you are; God embraces me as I am.  Should we do anything less?

So, think about feet today—think about how unique each of us is—think about what it would mean to really respect and honor and care for each other, as we are, in bare feet so to speak.  And when you wash your feet tonight think about our God who lovingly washes and embraces us regardless of how grimy or soiled we think we are.  Make this Holy Thursday really holy—and, like the young Brothers your age did some 52 years ago symbolically, find a way to forgive and ask forgiveness of those whom you have hurt and those who have hurt you.  Bring that to the Cross tomorrow and Jesus will bring you to new life on Easter Day.

Let us pray: Jesus, you swallowed your pride, took off your cloak, and knelt at the feet of your disciples as a servant.  Help us today to be people of feet who accept ourselves and each other in all our humanness, with all our imperfections, with all the warts and callouses and bruises of our lives.  AMEN.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live, Jesus, in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller

They Are Our Children—-They Are Our Students

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 27 March 2018)

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

This past weekend I was riveted to the news, watching young people from all over the US march for a cause they are passionate about, searching for a way to express their beliefs, and demanding to be heard. The signs they held were barbed, ironic, and just plain funny. Their speeches were thoughtful and delivered from the heart. Yes I realize that not everyone believes in their cause, although no one on either side wants to see children die.  But if we could, for a moment, push political rhetoric aside, what we would see are amazing children and young adults participating in the wider community. What I saw made me proud to be a parent and an educator.

And what I saw was another movement, in the summer of 1963, where Americans from all over the US marched for a cause they were passionate about. In fact, much like our children today, their very lives depended on it. Unfortunately, the passage of time has condensed that march to a single speech, Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech. And no disrespect to Dr. King, but history has forgotten the hundreds of thousands of young black Americans who demanded their civil rights and freedom on that day, on the days to follow, and still today. Although the causes are very different, the marchers on Saturday are much like those who stood in solidarity 55 years ago. Like their historical brethren they are enduring discrimination and hatred not just for their cause and but for who they are.  And who they are, are beautiful, talented, articulate, flawed, mature and immature, complex, nuanced, and incredibly important members of our society. They are our children, our students, our friends, our loved ones, and our future. Our community is strengthened by their activism as opposed to the people who sit back and hate.

Let us pray:

Dear God,

Help us to come together to stop the gun violence in our communities that kills so many of our young people.

Help us to see how our perceived cultural norms alienate so many.

Help us to understand the pain of mental disease.

Help us to celebrate those who actively participate in their communities and show passion for social justice.

Help us to put aside our differences and come together to solve real problems.

We ask this in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen

 

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

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Kristine Chapman—Social Studies Teacher

Spread the Word to End the Word

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system and the school wide intranet for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 22 March 2018)

Let us remember we are in the holy presence of a loving God …

Helen Keller once said:

“Blind people are just like seeing people in the dark.  The loss of sight does not impair the qualities of the mind and heart.”

I would like to introduce you to my friend Megan from Meeting Street.

Megan is not like all of the other friends in my life. She is blind and spends most of her time in a wheelchair. She sees life from a very different perspective and her magnifying glass through which to examine life is formed by the four senses she has been blessed with.  Walking into Megan’s classroom every week, I begin my visit with a joyful hello, informing Megan I have arrived and who I am.  As she recognizes the sound of my voice, she extends her arm, grabbing my hand and saying hello.  The softness in her grip and the calm in her voice remind me of how much Megan has to offer the world.  Her great compassion, sense of humor, intelligence and friendliness makes her a friend to all of the people that surround her.

My time spent with Megan has taught me that the people that matter the most in life are the ones that relate to you in the most unique ways.  When I am in the presence of this wonderful girl, our conversations are never ending. I could babble on about my day and she would sit there and listen, waiting to tell me a joke.  Our friendship is built on love, loyalty, and compassion for one another.  Of course, our physical appearances and boundaries may be different, along with our intellectual ability to obtain traditional or academic knowledge, but that does not prevent us from being true friends and sharing our opportunities with one another.

Like Helen Keller said, someone who is blind is not impaired in the mind and heart.  Today we celebrate Spread the Word to End the Word at La Salle Academy, where we will try to spread the mission to end the use of the derogatory R-word.  I encourage everyone to take the pledge, because in not just refusing to use the word yourself, but in educating others about why it is so hurtful,  you are committing to looking at people for their personalities and hearts, rather than their physical image or worse, their limitations.

Let us pray …

Lord, give us the power to see beyond the physical barriers of individuals and give them the opportunities we give everyone else around us.  Allow us to open our hearts and treat everyone equally.  Let us all spread the word to end the word.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…. Pray for us

Live Jesus in our hearts….Forever

Courtney Caccia–Class of 2018

How to Be a Good Father

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 19 March 2018)

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

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers and the universal church. He is the foster-father of Jesus and husband to the Virgin Mary. It would be appropriate for us to remember our own fathers this morning, both living and deceased. If your father is deceased, we pray that he finds comfort in knowing God face-to-face, and experiences everlasting peace in heaven; may you be aware that he is watching over you today. If your father is still alive, wish him a Happy St. Joseph’s Day. Tell him that you love him, in person, by skype or by phone. Try to do that in the next 15 hours, maybe over a shared zeppole for dessert tonight. Don’t wait… before it’s too late.

My own father is turning 90 years old this August. In his own quiet way, he taught me how to be a father. When I was growing up, he taught high school Spanish in Winnetka, Illinois. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, he was serving as my role model for my own teaching vocation, even though I swore I would never be a high school teacher during my teenage years. Your Father in heaven will surprise you sometimes, in his Divine Providence.

 

Anyways, together with my mom, he helped me develop a love for learning and dug deep into his pockets to let me attend my first-choice college (Northwestern University), which was more expensive than the state university that my parents attended in Champaign-Urbana. He exhibited great patience as he taught me how to drive a car with a stick-shift. He dragged me out of bed during the summers to play tennis at 6:00am every morning. And still to this day, he mails me weekly envelopes filled with practical advice on health, wealth, and what Pope Francis did last  week, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Catholic, the New York Times, plus every coupon you could imagine.

 

My father, John Martinez, taught me how to be a father. You really can’t buy a book or watch a video called, “How to be a good father.” If you believe there is such a magic-wand, you’re a fool! You have to watch and learn from fathers–your own, your grand-fathers, my father-in-law, any father worth his salt–often by trial and error–what I call experiential learning. And so as I reflect back on my own 5 children–Michael, Christina, Marianna, John and James–I’m proud of how they turned out (due mostly to the influence of my wife), and ask their pardon for any deficiencies or shortcomings I exhibit as their Dad.

 

However, the best part for me has been becoming a grandfather. I love watching my oldest son, Michael, raise his two young children–my grandson Zachary, 20 months old, and my grand-daughter, Elsie, who turns 6 months old on Palm Sunday. It’s a sign to me that I did okay as a dad, and that I gave my own son the greatest gift he could possibly ask for–the tools necessary to become a good Dad, himself.

Let us pray:

St. Joseph–you accepted God’s plan for you in a dream, that you should enter into marriage with the Virgin Mary, and raise lovingly the child Jesus, the Son of God, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. May you watch over all couples experiencing difficult pregnancies. Because you were attuned to Divine Providence, you whisked your child and wife away from Bethlehem, becoming refugee immigrants in Egypt, to protect them from the wrath of King Herod. St. Joseph–may you grant hope to immigrants today, who are escaping from terror and violence in their father-lands. And may you watch over all our fathers, both living and deceased. Watch over the young men in our student body. Guide and strengthen those who will marry and become fathers some day. May they imitate you St. Joseph, in the same way you cared for Jesus and Mary.

St. John Baptist de La Salle, PRAY FOR US.

St. Joseph, PRAY FOR US.

Live Jesus in our Hearts! FOREVER!

David Martinez—Religion Teacher