We Remember Them

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

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

Today, All Souls’ Day, the Catholic Church remembers in prayer all those who have died.  In the Chapel of the Brothers’ Community is a book containing the names of beloved deceased given to us to pray for during this month of November by families, faculty, friends and alums of La Salle Academy.  Last Tuesday evening as I wrote out my list I did not simply print their names.

As I wrote my mom’s name I remembered her last day of life—how she called me to her bedside, held her two weakened hands around my chin and cheeks (as she had done when I was a child, bending down to me, and later on as I grew taller and older stretching up to reach my face).  She pulled me close to her and whispered that each day of my life had been a special blessing for her.  Although that happened almost 34 years ago I relived that memory last Tuesday evening as if it were yesterday.

So too I remembered my dad—a strong, tough man, a World War II vet, a steel worker, a weightlifter into his 70’s—I remembered how, from my youngest days, heading off for bed, he would plant a gentle kiss on my forehead and sign it with the sign of the cross with his rough thumb.  He did this the last time I saw him alive, as he had done every time we parted—a few days before his sudden death saying Goodbye not knowing it would be our last.

I remembered my Auntie Rita, married, but with no kids of her own.  How she loved amusement rides and the Red Sox and French fries!  She never denied that I was her favorite and on those days when I visited her as a young kid she shared with me her love of those things—and they became the things I liked and still like.  She spent 8 years in a nursing home after the death of her husband and one Christmas Day a few years ago I spent the morning with her at her bedside, holding her hand until it became cold and she breathed her last.  It was the least I could do to return the favors she had shown me!

And Mrs. Ann Morsilli, my colleague, dance partner and our dance teacher—how I remember those jitterbugs and cha-chas with her in her 5 inch spiked heels, never tiring, full of exuberance and life!

And so many more!

Why don’t you close your eyes now for a moment and picture someone who is gone from your life.  Listen closely for their voice, for their quiet giggle or boisterous laugh; smell the unique fragrance of their perfume or after shave, the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking in their kitchen or the smell of fresh cut wood in their workplace; feel their gentle kiss and tender touch or their firm handshake and crushing hug.  In some mysterious way they are present; in faith we believe that they have passed from this life to another but still they care for us and they love us, and now they intercede before God for us—asking Him to welcome us gently when our time comes.

I ask you tonight to turn off your i phone or cell, your computer and TV and other electronic devices just before you go to bed and remember them, remember those who have loved you and cared for you and made you the person you now are today.  Allow their memories to flood your mind and your heart.  There may be a moment of grief but there will be many more moments of gratitude.  And not just tonight!  How about during the rest of this month of All Souls—remember them, pray for them, and ask them to pray for you.

Let us conclude with a prayer taken from the Judaic tradition—one of my favorite prayers:

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.

In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.  Amen.

 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

When The Lights Go Out

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 27 October 2017)

On Thursday morning an accident in the neighborhood (lightning strike) destroyed a transformer and caused an electrical outage in the area, including the school.  The building was in darkness for more than an hour, except for emergency lights.  Students were dismissed early.

 

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

So sometimes the lights go out.  One second the world is bright and warm, then suddenly it’s not.  Perhaps you have experienced this recently.  Yesterday when La Salle went dark something very interesting happened, but maybe you didn’t see it, and perhaps you missed something special.

As I walked the hallways of the dimly lit school and peered into classrooms what I saw was, well, illuminating.  With cell phone flashlights and white boards, teachers continued to teach.  Students huddled around laptops, faces a glow from their screens in cooperative learning.  Your deans and administrators ran from floor to floor, room to room, building to building to ensure the safety of our community.  One dean stood in the rain to ensure that buses arrived; parents came to the call of their children without hesitation; and, student drivers left the campus, their cars filled with friends in need of a ride home.

You see, the darkness didn’t really stop us.  Yes, maybe it ended our day a little early, but it didn’t stop us from learning and could not stop us from caring for one another.   And life is like this, our mission as Lasallians is like this, and our faith is like this.

The struggle between light and dark is as old as time itself.  God himself drove out the darkness at the beginning of time.  Later he would send us his only son to be the light of the world.  And just think back to your Civics class and Plato’s Cave.

Darkness can be scary; it is filled with chaos and the unknown.  However, no matter how pitch black the darkness can be, there is always a glimmer guiding and urging us to find our way out.  And yesterday reminded me how important it is to be that light for one another.  In little ways, we were able to show our own sense of goodness, and those little actions lit our school with a glow that required no generator.

So I wonder, are you ready to be the light of the world, as Lasallians and Christians? When the gloom of loneliness and cruelty descends, are you ready to be the light of kindness and friendship for those in need?  Where justice is obscured by intolerance, will you be a beacon of hope for those marginalized, abused, and forgotten?  When the dusk of hate and violence falls upon us, will you be brave enough to shine a light of love, empathy and compassion, even when it is for your enemy?

And if all seems lost, when it feels as though everyone and everything has abandoned you, will you be wise and faithful enough to know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has never left your side?  Walk closely then with him and you will never find yourself in the darkness.  And as quickly as the lights sometimes go out, they just as quickly turn back on.

 

Let us pray,

Our Founder, John Baptist de La Salle said in his Meditations, “In the light of faith you see things quite differently.”  Father in heaven, help us to seek out the light of knowledge and love from those in our community.  Strengthen us to brighten the path for others who may be lost in the gloom of night.  And when all that is left is your grace to hold fast to, be with us oh Lord, our light and our way.  No darkness can ever consume us with you at our side.

 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us!

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever!

 

Brian Ciccone–Social Studies Teacher and Assistant Director of Admissions

 

The Hero Inside

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 17 October 2017—International Lasallian Days of Prayer for Peace)

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

As you all know, we are near the end of the Month for Peace. Here at La Salle, we have had a few events to pray for peace such as prayer by the flag pole outside the field house and the release of a rosary made with biodegradable balloons. It was truly beautiful! And I would like to thank all those who participated and organized these activities for giving us all the opportunity of being part of a movement for peace— peace, something that often times seems so elusive. As most of you know, I come from Spain and unfortunately my country is going through a phase of great turmoil and it breaks my heart. But it is not only my country that is experiencing such lack of peace; it is happening in so many places across the world and in our own communities. I am aware that one person alone cannot change the world but one person alone can change someone’s world and in turn this second person can change someone else’s life and hopefully this can be the beginning of a chain effect. I am not going to ask you today to accomplish enormous feats, I am talking about small shows of kindness, opening a door, asking how someone’s day is going, offering a helping hand, and do not forget the power of a smile (as Maddie Hopkins said in her prayer a couple of weeks ago). I consider myself extremely lucky because I receive so often these acts of kindness here, in our Academy! One of my favorites is when we are in homeroom and one of my students, in a very loud voice, wishes a fantastic day to everyone in class. I have to say, that there is no better way to start the day. I feel that love for each other, and it makes me happy, it makes me feel … yes… peaceful!

Never forget that we all have a hero inside us waiting to be released to change someone’s world for the better, because, as my AP Students know, being a hero is being a regular person who achieves something remarkable for others, just like mom and dad!

Let us pray the prayer for the International Lasallian Days for Peace:

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Mercedes DiMascio–World Languages Department Chair

Better To Light A Single Candle

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 5 October 2017)

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

For those of you thinking of having your hearing checked, I can assure you it’s me, and NO 10 years hasn’t passed.  So what has made a liar out of me you ask?  Two different but related words. Opportunity and Excuses.  I was given a second opportunity to address the entire Lasallian community, and I could have given Mrs. Estes any number of 1,000 excuses I’ve accumulated over the years, all of which believable but all of which would have been a lie.  So which is worse? Lying to you that I wouldn’t do prayer for another 10 years or lying to Mrs. Estes about doing prayer today?  Obviously, I decided to embrace this opportunity even though it’s not something I enjoy, rather than make an excuse.

Now there are a lot of sayings and comparisons about what excuses “are like”…We’ve all used them, made some up, borrowed a good one from a friend, and it most likely got you out of something you didn’t want to do.  We took a shortcut, or an easier path.  I heard a great quote recently while watching “Racing Extinction” (an environmental movie) but I think it can be applied in everyone’s lives.

It is better to light a single candle than curse the darkness.

As someone who does quite a bit of swearing this resonated with me.  I’ll spare you from any political, environmental  or social examples.  But perhaps your sports team, your club or even your friends need more light and less excuses.  Whether you know it or not, every single student in this building is someone’s light, your parents.  You probably think your parents were put on this earth to ruin your social life, embarrass you and take your phone away!  Well let me leave you with this story: A dear friend of mine whom I went to high school with, sat at my lunch table, shared a limo to prom, shared a position in football and talked on the phone till all hours of the night when his girlfriend dumped him… I think you get the picture.  After high school we drifted apart, we lost touch, and he disappeared.  (This is before cell phones and social media mind you) Recently, I’ve reconnected with him, only to learn that within 4 years of graduating HS, he was homeless and a drug addict. (Let me clarify, Not just did drugs, but did so much drugs he lost his football scholarship, dropped out of school, didn’t pay his rent or bills and got evicted from his apartment.  He lived in shelters and on the streets for for the better part of a year, and he was too proud to tell to his parents or friends).  When I heard this I was speechless, and as a friend I was ashamed I did not know.  But he is very open about his experiences and in what he calls his darkest hour (A time so dark, he contemplated suicide) he met someone.  Someone who believed in him (his candle, a single light).  Shortly after he learned he was going to be a father and there was his second light.  He cleaned himself up, got a job, married this woman, bought a house and has a beautiful family.  It would have been easy for him to continue to make excuses, but in his words, he wanted to be a good example to his children.

Which reminded me what our Founder wrote in his meditations: “Examples make a much greater impressions than words.” And to put it bluntly as my friend Brian would say all the time… Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.  I hope none of you ever finds yourself in the darkness that Brian did.

Let us pray:

God, help us to remember that our actions speak loudly.  When we are tempted to make excuses, help us to dig deep within ourselves, and step up to the opportunities at hand.  Thank you for the many lights in our life.  And help us to be a light for someone else today.

 

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

Live Jesus in our Heart: Forever!

Mark Watson—Science Teacher

Take A Minute To Smile

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 3 October 2017)

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

Life is short, momentary, repetitive, a roller-coaster really. So what should you do with it?

In religion we learn that Life is literally a journey to happiness. I read that the average person spends about five months of their lives complaining, and over a year crying, but only 115 days laughing. What does that tell us about the happiness of the average person in society today? Let me ask you- How often do you think you smile?  How many times have you forgiven someone? How much have you loved?

In actuality, these questions have immeasurable answers. We’re never going to know or remember how many times we smiled in our lives. That’s just not how the human mind works. Our memory is made up of nothing but moments, and each day we remember less and less of the moments we have had in our lifetimes. So why don’t we make a change right now, and try to make the moments we do remember positive and good?

Today,  I am giving you this life advice.

Be happy. Be loving. Be kind.

That’s it. That’s all that matters. If you’re having a bad day, take a minute to smile. If you’re having a bad week, have faith that it will pass.

Let us pray,

Dear Lord, help us to be more understanding and kind, for it was you who told us to love our neighbor and forgive their trespasses. Help us to open our hearts to love and to find happiness in our day to day lives.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in Our Hearts…Forever.

Maddie Hopkins–Class of 2018

Less Judging—More Peace-Making

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 28 September 2017)

Let us Remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, or the late nineteen seventies, I locked my infant son in my car. My husband was a Navy submarine sailor and had spent his duty overnight on the boat. We had one car and I needed to pick him up. So at 5:30 am, I put my son in his infant seat and went out to the car.  I opened the door, threw my keys, purse, and diaper bag, on the floor and buckled the seat in. Then I pushed down the manual door lock (1970’s remember), held the handle, and closed the door. Walked around to the driver’s side only to realize that that door was also locked. And my keys were on the floor. Panic. Can’t get back into my house to make a phone call and poor Jay is crying. More than a bit hysterical, I run to my neighbor’s house, yep, at 5:30 in the morning, and ask them to call the police. I run back to the car and am crying harder than my son as I stare at him through the window. My neighbor is not nice. She comes outside and begins to berate me for waking her up and then moves on to the topic of my fitness as a mother. And as any new parent can attest this kind of judgement is painful.

Fast forward some months later, again going on an outing, carrying all manner of baby paraphernalia when I trip. I instinctively put my hands out to break my fall and in the process dropped my son. He slid along the cement walk and had scrapes along his head and bare legs. I felt my neighbor watching as the two of us, both bleeding and crying, headed to the emergency room. Once there, when I provided the details of the accident, I could see the judgement in the eyes of the navy corpsman and doctor. Those judgements still bother me, 40 years later.

Our  negative opinions of others inflict pain, damage relationships, and cause conflict.  We judge others by their body type, skin color, spoken language, political opinions, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, and really, just about everything else. And we need to stop. Seriously. Just stop.

Our families, our communities, and our planet need us to be peacemakers in the world. Everyone has a right to live their own life; we don’t know their stories, their struggles, their pain. It’s not up to us to judge their choices. Besides, being judgmental takes up a significant portion of our time—time that honestly would  be better spent reflecting on our own behaviors, figuring out our own life path, and most importantly, learning how to accept others.

Let us pray…

Forgive me, Lord,

When I don’t listen

When I think

I know more than I do

and I do more harm than I’ll ever know.

Help me to be patient

to consider my attitudes

my thoughts

my actions.

Help me to understand

your call to serve

without judging

those I am serving.

Amen

St. John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for Us

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever

Kristine Chapman–Social Studies Teacher

Crack Open the Door

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 27 September 2017)

Good morning, La Salle.

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

For the past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would say for this morning’s reflection.  I have been inspired by the words of so many teachers, and if I am being honest, I don’t know if I could give you much more than what has already been said.

However, I thought I would share something that has been on my mind recently, and that is: I believe most high-schoolers get Christianity wrong.

Prior to my recent move to the Ocean State, I taught for 3 years at an all-boys Catholic High School on Long Island, New York; the course I taught was called Christian Humanism, which is formal and fancy talk for “morality.”  In that course, we studied everything—if there was something to be talked about, debated, studied, argued…you name it, we covered it.  It was a great experience, one that I will never forget, but I was always a little afraid when teaching it.  Why was I “afraid”?  Simply put: I didn’t want my students to think Christianity was simply a moral system of “do’s” and “don’ts.”  “Don’t do this, that’s bad.”  “Don’t do that, that’s not good for you.”  “And definitely don’t do that—that might put you into the 4th circle of Dante’s purgatory, as he described in the Inferno.”

Anyone who has a clue about Christianity knows it’s claim: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  Christianity, fundamentally, is not a behavior-modification program; it is not sin-management.  To be a Christian means to be redeemed—to be deeply loved by God and to be transformed by that love.  God knows my sins and your sins; He knows what gives us great joy; He knows our deepest desires.  He sees us through-and-through, and loves us all the same.

So today, I challenge you: crack open the door of your mind, heart, intellect, and will just a little bit.  Let God’s light and love inside.  It is there for each and every one of us.

Oh, and remember: the next time you think Christianity is just a matter of “do’s” and “don’ts”…think again.

Let us pray,

Lord, enter into our hearts this day.  Bless all our endeavors, and give us the grace and strength to be the young men and women you have called us to be.

Amen.

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

Live, Jesus, in our hearts, forever.

Daniel McQuillan–Religion Teacher