Lasallian Kinship

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 15 May 2017–Feast of Saint John Baptist de La Salle)

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

On the teacher’s desk in room 116 is a yellow post-it note with a quote from an inspirational man named Greg Boyle that says “No kinship, no justice. No kinship, no peace.” Let me say that again … “No kinship, no justice. No kinship, no peace.” What is kinship? The dictionary tells me that it means a kind of family relationship between people. Relationships. With seniors nearing the end of their high school experience and the rest of us looking towards the end of the school year, many of us are thinking about relationships or trying not to. The relationships that we have with family, with friends … with teachers, with students … with husbands, with wives … with boyfriends, with girlfriends … with the person whose locker is next to mine, with the person I park next to every morning … with strangers, with people we’ve never met. In this world of instantaneous and constant contact, a world that seems to encourage thousands of Twitter followers instead of a handful of deep relationships, I wonder how often we really dedicate ourselves to deepening the important relationships in our lives. “No kinship, no justice. No kinship, no peace.” I think the single thing that I love the most about being part of the La Salle Academy community here in Providence and the Lasallian community around the world is our emphasis on relationships – deep, one-on-one, smartphone-less relationships. Everything we do here is based on relationships – students, teachers, administration, guidance counselors, administrative support staff, coaches, security guards, maintenance staff, lunch room staff, campus ministers – lay people and Brothers of the Christian Schools. We are something in this world because of the “kinship” that binds us together.

The Brothers of the Christians Schools celebrate today our Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle. 350 years ago, Fr. John Baptist de La Salle’s life was completely changed by relationships, some ordinary and some extraordinary – his relationships with Jesus Christ, with his family, with Adrien Nyel, with the early Brothers, with their students. Those relationships defined his life. We know him 298 years after his death because of those relationships and the effect that they had on the generations of young women and men who have been touched by them. What I’d like you to do today is to put down your phone or your laptop and think about this question (PAUSE): “What deep, one-on-one, smartphone-less relationships am I nurturing and putting work into now that will affect the way I am remembered 298 years after I die?” Relationships are everything. Humans are built for relationships. Without relationships we are nothing. “No kinship, no justice. No kinship, no peace.”

Let us pray:

Lord God – you who are Three in One, you who are relationship by your very nature – open our minds and hearts to one another. Truly open us to each other so that we can develop relationships that will echo through eternity, like our Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle did. Lord, be close to those who feel most isolated today and inspire those around them to reach out to them in love. We ask this through Christ the Lord. Amen.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts … forever.

Charles da Silva–Religion Teacher

Remembering: With Eyes–With Ears–With Heart

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 10 May 2017)

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

For the next few minutes, I invite you to try something different.  Close your eyes.  Push all the other thoughts you were just having out of your mind.  Listen to these words again.

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

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “to remember” means “to bring to mind” or, “to think of again.”  We are invited to think of the fact that we are in the holy presence of a loving God at least five or six times a day here at La Salle, but depending on how you go about remembering, it is easy to forget.

Wait, what did I just say?  Depending on how you go about remembering, it easy to forget.  If remembering that you are in the holy presence of God is something you do with just your mind, remembering can end as quickly as it starts.   At any moment, there are so many stimuli competing for your attention.  A smirk from the person sitting next to you.  The buzz of a text message in your pocket.  The thought, drifting unbidden through your mind, of the really excellent bagel you ate for breakfast this morning.  That’s all it takes, and remembering that you are in the holy presence of God is over, and it doesn’t have a chance to change the way you approach your day.

Instead, today I invite you to remember in a more physical way.

Remember with your eyes.  When you see something beautiful, like the canopy of pink flowers covering the walkway from Academy Avenue to the entrance by the chapel, stop, look up, and take a moment to appreciate this beautiful spring in Providence, a reminder of God’s creation all around us.  You have 5 seconds to do that.

Remember with your ears.  When you hear someone using words that you know are hateful or vulgar, take a moment to stop, turn around, and say, “Hey, don’t use that word.  We don’t do that here.”  You have 30 seconds to do that.

Remember with your hearts.  La Salle Academy gives us countless reminders of how to be our best selves each day.  For students, you can take to heart the following words from St. Paul’s letter to his young companion Timothy, the first few of which are carved in Latin above the front doors to the school on the corner of Smith and Academy:

“Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.”  If you’ve never noticed this, take a look and think about what it means to you after school today.  You have 15 seconds to do that.

For faculty and staff, you can take to heart the wisdom of St. John Baptist de La Salle delivered to us via daily email, such as this reminder, which I saved last October: “To deal with young people very harshly is to forego all hope of effecting any good.”  If you haven’t been reading those emails lately, open the one today.  You have 15 seconds to do that.

So, when you open your eyes after prayer — they’re still shut, right? — see the world around you with new, more observant eyes and ears and a more open heart.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father,

Help us to approach ‘remembering’ that we are in your holy presence, in a new, more intentional way today and help it to bear fruit in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

St. John Baptist de la Salle — Pray for us!

Live Jesus in our Hearts — Forever!

Lia Wahl–Mathematics Teacher

Spring Into Life

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 8 May 2017)

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

As my husband and I worked tirelessly bringing our yard back to life this weekend, I couldn’t help but think of all the new beginnings that the spring season brings—a time to renew your relationship with God, a time to cherish and be thankful for those in your life who are so important to you, and for the Seniors, a time to start your life beyond La Salle, bringing with you all that you have learned here.  Spring is the time when the Earth brings forth all its new life and hope renews itself. The days are longer, the air is warmer and everyone starts to spend more time outdoors enjoying the sun and each other. Flowers break through the softening earth; the trees have new buds and a definite hue of green; and the birds sing with great joy. It is a time for all to shake off the “dust” of winter and renew the hope in our lives.

Let us pray,

Spring is a metaphor for change. Some changes we eagerly await, and some we do not. Some changes we plan and others arrive uninvited. To all these changes we ask the gift of Your perspective beckoning us to expectation, hope, and rebirth.

May the sunlight and the rain be reminders that You are at work renewing the earth. As a God of renewal, You are ever at work in our lives, too.

Open our eyes and lives to the needed changes in our lives this Spring. Awaken us to new life and perspective.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.

Morgan Kane–Mathematics Teacher

“It’s An Incredible Joy!”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 2 May 2017)

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

Good Morning,

Yesterday, May 1st we celebrated the First Religious Brothers Day.

The idea for such a day came out of a group known as “The Brothers Think Tank” of which I am a member.  The Think Tank was formed about 5 years ago to look for ways to make BROTHERS better known.

One of the first things they did was to petition Pope Francis to declare a year of Consecrated Life – Consecrated Life is Religious life – members of Religious Orders – men and women who serve the Church in a special way………..And he did it.  And 2015 was that year.

Last year the Church headquarters in Rome – what we often refer to as the Vatican – published an official Document entitled: “Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church.”

Here are two lines from that document: “Rooting his life deeply in God, the Brother consecrates all creation, recognizing the presence of God and the Spirit in creation and daily events.  Because the Brother recognizes this active presence, he can proclaim it to his contemporaries.”

The Think Tank members were very happy with this document and decided to make it the focus of their “National Symposium of the Religious Brother in the Church“ which was held just a month ago at Notre Dame University in Indiana.

Another thing the Think Tank members decided to do about a year ago was to have a Day designated as “Religious Brothers Day.”  Yesterday, May 1st – Feast of St. Joseph The Worker – was that day.

Before closing with a short prayer I’d like to share with you the words of a Young Brother I know who recently pronounced his Final Vows: He said “We Brothers can offer hope and stability in a chaotic society.”

He went on to say that he joined the De La Salle Christian Brothers because of their multiculturalism and their strong focus on education.  “Everyday” he said, “ you have the opportunity to share the love of the Gospel with young people…through teaching, , listening to young people, hearing their faith and reflections.  It’s an incredible joy.”

I want to tell you that as a De La Salle Christian Brother for 60 years,  my life has been filled with much joy. I hope that all students here at La Salle Academy will be Lasallians; I hope that some of the young men here may consider the call to be a De La Salle Christian Brother.

 

Let us pray:

God of mercy and compassion we thank you for the many blessings of our first Religious Brothers Day!  We thank you for the extraordinary life, witness and ministry of Religious Brothers in our Church.  We ask you to deepen our appreciation of Religious Brothers, their congregational charisms, and their commitment to vowed community life.  Grant all Religious Brothers the grace and perseverance they need to proclaim your Holy Word for the life of the Church and our world.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Robert Hazard, FSC–alum, former teacher and former principal of La Salle Academy

“But…Jesus is the Light!”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 26 April 2017)

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

Before we left for April break, I was visiting Jesus in the Meditation Chapel as I often do during the school day.  Three seniors sat on the couches outside while I was at prayer.   On this particular day, I noticed the Eucharistic candle was not lit.  As I walked out of the chapel I joked to the students,  “The candle in the chapel has gone out. Poor Jesus, sitting there all alone in the cold, dark chapel all by himself….Poor guy is in there bumping into walls and tripping over kneelers…can’t find his way out of the darkness without some light.”

One of the seniors looked to me and said with a slight humor, “But Mr. Ciccone, Jesus is the light.”  We laughed at this somewhat off-handed comment and I went on my way, but I couldn’t help but continue to think about what she had said long after the interaction.  This incredibly simple statement, in this relatively short exchange, was so utterly profound to me.  The words came out of her so naturally and without ulterior motivation.  It wasn’t just a joke nor was it overtly pious, but the sort of thing someone says as a matter of fact, a seemingly common sense answer to the problem of the candle-less chapel.

I can’t help but feel a great deal of pride when our La Salle students have such clarity and intimate knowledge of our faith.  I was touched by the sweet ease by which this student expressed the complex truth of our belief in Jesus Christ.  He is the light, he is the truth, he is the way out of the darkness, he is the life.  And sometimes the repetition of these ideals makes them seem stale or disingenuous.  But then there are times, like in this circumstance, where the words have such an authentic quality, a level of sincerity and honesty that make them feel so true, so close to my mind, my heart and my soul.

Here we are on the other side of Lent.  Forty days of sacrifice have come and gone.  I fear sometimes that with the season of Lent comes such discipline and intention that it is often difficult to sustain beyond Easter Sunday.  But today let us recall that Lent is the preparation for the rest of the liturgical year.  Lent is the journey through the darkness, and the resurrection is the coming into the light that is the grace of Jesus Christ.  Let us therefore recommit ourselves today: to our faith, to seek the light of Christ, and to be that light for others.

Let us Pray,

Dear Lord, everything I am today is a gift from you, guided by your light.  Everything I can be tomorrow is my gift to myself, a chance to be your light in the world.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Brian Ciccone–Assistant Director of Admissions

Do Not Cling To Me

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 24 April 2017)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome back to La Salle!  Happy Easter!

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

The Gospel readings for last week, Easter Week, are, in my eyes, among some of the most touching readings of the year.  Each of them tells the story of newfound joy on the heels of desolation and despair.  I am particularly fond of the Gospel reading from last Tuesday’s Mass that recounts how, early in the morning before the dawn of the first day of the week, while still dark, a woman comes to the tomb of Jesus, sees the tomb empty, and stands there weeping—her sadness even more intense as she fears that the body of Jesus had been taken, robbing her not only of his life but also of his remains.  The woman is Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower of Jesus, a disciple who remained at the foot of the cross as he died, a person who loved him deeply.  And, it seems reasonable, that Jesus had cared for and loved her deeply in return.

Picture the scene and try to imagine how she felt.  I go back in time and re-live my mother’s death, wake, funeral, and burial—the deep grief and pain of being with a loved one and seeing her pass from life to death; and, then, experiencing the finality of the coffin being closed and later being lowered into the ground.  Like Mary Magdalene, I wept also.

But, the Gospel continues.  Mary turns from the tomb and sees a man in the garden—still in the dim gray of the early morning before sunrise.  She presumes he is the gardener or the keeper of the graves.  The man speaks: “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?”  She turns to him and pleads that, if he has taken the body, he let her know where it was so that she might take care of it.  His response is simply: “Mary.”  And she recognizes him as the one for whom she is grieving, Jesus.  Reaching out to touch him, Mary is told by him: “Do not cling to me.  I must go to my Father.”

Do not cling to me.  How natural it is to want to hold onto what we love, what we treasure, what gives us comfort, what gives us strength and support.  Don’t cling to me.  I didn’t want to let go of my mother and see her die.  Young babies, like my grand nieces and nephews, don’t want to let go of their moms or dads.  Parents don’t want to let go of their adolescent children as they grow up.  Friends don’t want to let go of or to lose friends, as will happen with you Seniors in a little bit more than a month.  We all want to hold on—we say, “hold on for dear life”—hold onto our “security blanket.”

Jesus, however, is teaching us a valuable life lesson—it is the lesson of spring, of resurrection, of new life.  There is always new life trying to emerge in each of us, trying to bloom and to break out of the cold frozen earth.  All too often we ignore the signs of resurrection, we are blind to the risen Jesus because we are looking for him in all the wrong places—and we cling to parts of life that have died for us.  We cling to an old relationship and fail to see the new one emerging; we cling to an old hurt and fail to see new life growing out of that hurt.

Do I, do we have the faith and the courage today to open our eyes and really look for the risen Jesus in the many surprising ways He might appear to us—in the kind word of a teacher, in the “Hello” of someone I barely know, in the forgiving glance of a friend with whom things have been tense?  And do I, do we have the faith and the courage today to let go of things in our lives that no longer have life or give life, things that sap life from us—like a dead-end relationship, like self-destructive behaviors, like a dashed hope (maybe a college rejection)—will I, will we let them go so that new life can emerge or will we cling to them?

Let us pray:  Lord, your resurrection gives us hope—hope that light overcomes darkness, courage overcomes fear, faith overcomes doubt, love overcomes hate, life overcomes death.  Help us to be surprised by your presence in our lives and to choose not to cling to what no longer gives life.  Amen.  Alleluia!!

 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live, Jesus, in our hearts…Forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

Go Ahead–Be Joyful!

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 13 April 2017)

Good morning La Salle!

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

Six weeks ago, you may have been one of the many Lasallians roaming these halls with a mark of ashes on your forehead. It was, of course, Ash Wednesday, the day marking the beginning of the season of Lent. In the time since then, perhaps you have been focused on making small acts of penance, in imitation of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert.

Fast forward to today, Holy Thursday. This evening we will commemorate Jesus’ last meal with His closest friends and recall His betrayal by one of them. Tomorrow, Good Friday, we will commemorate Jesus’ death, when He was paraded through the streets of Jerusalem and nailed to a cross. And Saturday, Holy Saturday, we will recall the desolation that Jesus’ disciples felt as their friend, their Messiah, their God, lay dead and buried in a tomb.

By the sound of it, our faith is a rather gloomy one – penance, betrayal, death, desolation. And if this were the sum and substance of our faith, you could not be faulted for the thought. But the truth is we are an Easter people—a people for whom Christ’s suffering and death only make sense in the light of His resurrection, a people whose individual suffering only makes sense in the promise of eternal life. St. Paul said much the same to the Corinthians: “…If Christ has not been raised,” he told them, “then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.”

In short, we are a people of life, not of death. A people of joy, not of sorrow. We are not the classroom full of tired students in the middle of March, but the room full of exuberant Lasallians filled with joy at the sound of the bell signaling April Break. But don’t take my word for it. Jesus Himself told his disciples why He came, and why He ultimately gave His life for us:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep…I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

And again, in His farewell to His disciples, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

How appropriate, then, that our joy and excitement at the prospect of a week of rest coincides with the celebration of Easter on Sunday. So go ahead, be joyful. Be joyful that you have just a half-day of school today. Be joyful that a week-long Break awaits you on the other side of 12:00. Be joyful that our God is a God who bore the weight of our sins unto death so that we might have eternal life. Be joyful, because that is who you are called to be.

Let us pray.

Father, we thank you for the blessing of Your Son – His life, death, and resurrection. We thank You for the gifts of family, friends, and our Lasallian community and all the little joys that come our way each day.

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts…forever.

Brian Bennett–Religion Teacher

They Came for a Visit—Not to Stay

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 7 April 2017)

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

“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority”.  John 7:17

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of our Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of Catholic Education.  The Institute that he founded in Reims, France in the late 17th Century, The Brothers of the Christian Schools, is now assisted by more than 100,000 lay colleagues and teaches over 1,000,000 students in 80 countries in the world today.

As a lay colleague in this shared mission, I am often amazed to be part of such a significant global movement.  I am humbled to offer some words of reflection on our Founder’s feast day.

When I began to reflect on what I might say, inspiration came from an unusual place.  On the side of the glass milk bottle we have delivered to our house it says, “They came for a visit not to stay.”  This saying is true of all of us as we were sent by God to visit during our human existence and then return to God.  The question then becomes “What do we do on our visit?”

St. John Baptist de La Salle was a man who continually prayed to God to answer that question in his life, i.e. what God wished him do on his earthly visit.  The answer was not easy for him as it moved him out of a comfortable and privileged life and would win him some true “Brothers” and some serious opposition.

The answer for him came in two parts.  The first part was most likely obvious to a man who felt a call to the priesthood at an early age.  The idea that God’s salvation is the greatest gift that anyone can ever receive would be clear to him.  The second, that a human and Christian education was essential for the young men entrusted to his care, most especially the poor and marginalized, came to him gradually and led him to commit more and more of himself to what became his life’s endeavor.

This idea that education can lead to salvation was not universally accepted and many in power in De La Salle’s time and even some in power now deny education to some for their own selfish ends.

Early in his priesthood De La Salle was invited to assist in opening a school for the poor boys of his hometown— Reims, France.  As he came to see what was needed in the schools, he also came to see that these young boys had very little understanding of God’s love in their lives.  He saw that they either had very busy and absentee parents or no parents, and thus they were unable to provide the time and education for their children necessary to understand God’s salvation.  Thus, he came to see that a truly Christian school must teach skills that allow students to obtain meaningful work and provide the students the time for the prayer and reflection needed to ascertain God’s plan for salvation.  So, De La Salle focused his schools on places where practical skills were taught and prayer was constant.

This pragmatic approach to education led him to become a true innovator in his educational approach.  Yet, perhaps the most important element of his method is that he knew he could not do it alone.  He knew he needed other men to be his “Brothers” in his work.  He also truly understood that the work he was embarking on was not his own but God’s work.

Truly this was a man who made the best of his visit.  He poured himself into God’s work.  And even though the work was not always easy and the path not always clear St. John Baptist de La Salle and his Brothers trusted the will of God and have driven forth this mission that continues 298 year past the end of his own life.

We at La Salle are able to see his work in action and reminders about his life are ever present.  My favorite reminder is in the cafeteria where his last words are written in the center of the cafeteria— “In all things, I adore the will of God in my regard.”

Let us pray…

Loving God, let us be inspired to make the most of our visit here on earth.   Let us listen to your will in our lives and have the courage to live it.  Amen.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts … forever!

Timothy Donovan–Social Studies Teacher

The Conscience of a Generation

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 4 April 2017)

Good morning, La Salle!

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

Today, April 4th 2017, marks the 49th anniversary of the death of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King was the conscience of his generation.  He gazed on the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down.  From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to free all people from the bondage of separation and injustice, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream of what America could be.  He helped us overcome our ignorance of one another. He spoke out against war he felt unjust, as he had spoken out against laws that were unfair.  He made our nation stronger because he made it better. He continued to his last days to strive for a world where the poorest and humblest among us could enjoy the fulfillment of the promises of our founding fathers. His life informed us, his dreams sustain us yet.

Forty-nine years ago today, Dr. King lost his life for the cause of equality for all.  Let us pause to remember the great legacy of this man.  We pause to remember how Dr. King’s deep faith called him to his legendary role as a leader to all people.

As you remember this great man, I ask you right now to listen to a prayer that was written by Dr. King himself.

O God, we thank you for the fact that you have inspired men and women in all nations and in all cultures. We call you different names: some call you Allah; some call you Hashem; some call you Jehovah; some call you Brahma; some call you the Unmoved Mover. But we know that these are all names for one and the same God. Grant that we will follow you and become so committed to your way and your kingdom that we will be able to establish in our lives and in this world a brother and sisterhood, that we will be able to establish here a kingdom of understanding, where men and women will live together as brothers and sisters and respect the dignity and worth of every human being. In the name and spirit of Jesus. Amen.” 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle:  Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts: Forever.

James DePasquale–De La Salle Middle School teacher–Spanish*

*drawn from a variety of sources