Come and See

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the La Salle Academy educational community on the morning of 30 April)

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


“Come and see.”


Over April vacation, twelve students and two chaperones did just that by spending a week at the De La Salle Blackfeet School in Browning, Montana. “Come and See” was the motto of the mission we participated in. After spending 6 hours on a plane and another 4 on a bus, we certainly were physically present in Browning. It was the second part of the saying, however, which resonated greatly in our group.

“To see.” What we saw on the Blackfeet Reservation was not easy to relate to or even easy to comprehend. Poverty and destitution is rampant and common among the Blackfeet people with their homes resembling mere shacks, their economy in shambles, and their culture decimated.

blackfeet housing

Alcoholism and drug abuse is prevalent for an alarming portion of the population at all ages, even as early as 4th grade, the youngest children that we were so blessed to work with. Despite these difficult challenges and terrible situations, the kids of the De La Salle Blackfeet School go about their business with an unparalleled sense of grit and determination.

school kids

Many of us at La Salle Academy do not face the challenges of home life that these children face when we return to our own homes.

We are gifted with a safe haven and a loving environment, rather than a chaotic, unstable one. Many of us take for granted the incredible sacrifices made by our parents who provide for us and enable us to attend this amazing establishment where education is so highly encouraged.

This begs the question: Do we “come and see” the tangible realities of poverty in our daily lives?

Do we strive to be constantly aware of the struggles of the less fortunate?

Do we take this awareness and transform it into action to help our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Or do we push aside the needs of others in favor of our own selfish desires?

Do we resist participating in service opportunities provided at LaSalle and other local organizations deeming them not worthy of our time?

Do we acknowledge our gifts, and give thanks for the opportunities we are given in our school, family, and community…   Or do we take them for granted despite how much others yearn for such blessings?


Let us pray:

Dear God, Grant us the courage to acknowledge the reality of poverty among us,   and in other parts of the world such as Browning, Montana. Grant us the mindfulness to be compassionate to the needs of those who are struggling, striving to realize we are all united in Christ. Lastly, grant us the strength to act on this compassion and serve those less fortunate in our daily thoughts, prayers, and actions.

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts…Forever!

Students: Brendan Nigro, Laura Antonelli, Kate Bjerregaard, Arianna Conte, Ryan St. Pierre, Monique Forte, Dominic Bolton, Sophie Cram, Caroline Belcher, Samantha Camardo, Sarah Campbell, Brendan Capuano

Chaperones: Ashley Anderson (Mathematics) and Mike McVey (Sophomore Dean)

Move Beyond Success to Significance

(Address given by the Principal at La Salle Academy’s National Honor Society Induction Banquet on 29 April 2014)

Brother Thomas, President of La Salle Academy, Mrs. Romani, Vice Principal of Academics, Mr. Martin, Vice Principal of Student Life, Class Deans – Mrs. Richard, Mrs. Kelly, Mr. McVay, and Mr. McGinn, National Honor Society Moderators – Mr. Heroux and Mrs. King, members of the faculty and staff, parents, families, National Honor Society members and especially our student inductees, welcome to the 2014 National Honor Society Induction Dinner.  It is both an honor and a privilege to share this evening with you.

We are here to celebrate the excellence you have attained in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character as well as the outstanding grades in the most demanding courses that we offer at La Salle Academy.  Tonight we celebrate that La Salle strives to be a practical place.  John Baptist de La Salle recognized the real needs of young people and taught what they needed in order to function in society and in their faith.  Lasallian teachers, our teachers sitting here tonight, prepare students for their vocation and profession, for their personal life commitments, and for service to society and to the Church.


The most traditional way to measure the quality of one’s life is to evaluate success by listing accolades, achievements, and acquisitions. After all, in its simplest terms, success is getting what we want and most people want wealth and status.  As a good friend has stated on many occasions, “The only thing that money can’t buy, is poverty.”


Yet, as much pleasure as these attributes can bring, the rich, powerful, and famous usually discover that true happiness will elude them if they do not have peace of mind, self-respect, and enduring loving relationships.

Peace of mind doesn’t preclude ambition or desire for material possessions or high position, but it assumes a fundamental foundation of contentment, gratitude, and pride – a belief that whatever one has is enough and an attitude of active appreciation for the good things in one’s life.

Feeling successful can generate satisfying emotions of self-worth, but feeling significant – that one’s life really matters – is much more potent.  Peter Drucker, the great management guru, captured this idea when he wrote of the urge many high achievers have to “move beyond success to significance.”

The surprise for many is that one of the surest roads to significance is service.  It doesn’t have to be of the Mother Teresa missionary variety. Parents who sacrifice their own comfort and pleasure for their children are performing service, as are teachers, public-safety professionals, members of the military, and volunteers who work for the common good.

In addressing graduates, Albert Schweitzer once said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”


Let me congratulate all of the student inductees and members of the National Honor Society for attaining a goal open to only a handful who can qualify.  Let us also remember to congratulate your fellow students who did not quite make the cut off.  As the famous writer M. L. Boren stated, “You should have education enough so that you won’t have to look up to people; and then more education so that you will be wise enough not to look down on people.”


I am especially grateful to the parents of the inductees for their enthusiastic parenting over the past seventeen or eighteen years.  For you have taken to heart the message of the Gospel according to John (Chapter 21) Jesus says “Feed my lambs.  Tend my sheep.  Feed my sheep.”  We have the fruit of your labor sitting with us tonight grown from infants, nurtured in the love of their parents and the love of God.  In many ways we are celebrating your support system in nurturing the qualities of leadership, service, and character in your children.

Again thank you for allowing us to work with your wonderful children and welcome to this celebration.

Donald Kavanagh  

Twelve Seconds in Time

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 29 April)

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

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

In 12 seconds your entire life could be changed forever. On August 31st, 2005, the New Orleans 17th Street Canal levee broke, sending a 15 foot wall of water right into the densely populated neighborhood on the canal. From the moment that the citizens of the Lower 9th Ward heard the boom of the levee breaking, they had on average 12 seconds to react. Imagine yourself in that position. You can’t run away, you can’t stop the wave. You can’t do anything.


Twelve seconds for the water to start washing away everything they’d worked for. The months that would follow these 12 seconds would be nothing but pure terror for the people of New Orleans. Five days during which one woman of the Lower 9th Ward stood on a dining room chair in her attic in order to keep from drowning. Two months for the water to recede, leaving piles of garbage where houses used to be. Twelve seconds is a short amount of time. Unfortunately, 9 years is a painfully long time to rebuild from the damage that those seconds did. This past week, 12 of us, along with 2 chaperones, went to New Orleans on a service trip. We, like most of you, were young when Hurricane Katrina occurred. We were old enough to know what was happening, but we didn’t understand it. In order to prepare for the trip, we watched documentaries, but it didn’t really register with us how much was still left to be done, 9 years later. I think we all thought we’d be doing finishing touches on houses that had already been rebuilt. But in reality, that wasn’t what we saw at all.

X house

There are still houses that have not been worked on at all from the storm. There are still houses with holes in their roofs where someone had to cut their way out of a flooding attic with an ax to stand on their roof until help came. There are houses that still bear the red “x” signifying that the house was checked for bodies. There are people who remember the storm, and have stayed to watch their beloved city come back to life. There are people who couldn’t bear to stay, and haven’t returned since they were put on a bus and shipped away all those years ago.

As Ms. Brown said during one of our reflections, time is the most precious gift you can give. You can get more money and possessions. Time is finite and you have no idea how much you have left of it. The people of New Orleans had their lives ruined in the blink of an eye, and they’ve spent an eternity rebuilding. None of us regrets the week that we spent there. You can take 12 seconds to unlock your phone, go to your favorite social media site, and start browsing your friends’ most recent statuses. Or you can spend 12 seconds saying to someone: “There are people who are hurting, there are people who need help. New Orleans is still full of them, even after so long.” But I can also guarantee something. The time you spend with the people of New Orleans will change you as well.

group working

It didn’t matter if we were spending 12 seconds listening to a friendly neighbor, like Mr. Barnell who told us jokes during our lunch breaks, or spending 12 seconds listening to a homeless musician play on the street They touched us both the same. You see, the spirit of New Orleans is thriving. But, the physical New Orleans just hasn’t caught up to it yet.

under house

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

Live Jesus in our hearts….Forever.

Students: Robert Rebussini, Aaron Mackisey, Christopher Lysik, Eric Martinez, John Carpentier, Tara Louis-Jean, Elizabeth Hampson, Hayley Carlise, Adriana Cancelliere, Amy Nocera, Alexandra Laflamme, Eileen Phou

Chaperones: Nicole Brown (Physical Education) and Brian Brouillard (Arts–Music)

Say Alleluia Always

Lasallian Reflection for Easter Sunday

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

It was still dark, but Jesus was not there at the tomb.  Jesus was an early riser because he had to begin the work of the resurrection—the work of bringing life to that which was dead.  The large stone had been dislodged from the entry way of the cave because the power of evil was rendered useless by the power of good.  The burial cloths were strewn around the tomb because Jesus left behind the linens of death, shaking off the dust of the dead, and emerging forth in the Spirit of new life.


This is the work of resurrection: in the darkness of night, when hurt and betrayal and sickness plague us, Jesus breaks loose and allows life to light up those darkened places in our lives; in the darkness of night, when we feel we have lost our way and our lives are dry, our hearts are burdened, our prayers are troubled, Jesus rolls away the stone and allows light to enter and illumine us; in the darkness of night, when our lives seem colorless and dreary, when our institutional church and faith communities seem distant and cold, when those who were once close to us seem far away, when we find ourselves alone, forgotten and afraid, Jesus emerges from the wintery cold of death and welcomes us home into the warmth of Spring.


As with the disciples who arrive at the tomb, we see and we believe, but we do not yet understand.  However, for now it is enough for us to say with our Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, in his Meditation for Easter Sunday:  let us “rejoice with the whole Church over so great a favor, and thank Jesus Christ our Lord very humbly for it… [Let us] show by our conduct that the resurrection of Jesus Christ has produced these happy effects in [us]!”

“Say alleluia always, no matter the time of day, no matter the season of life.”

Benedict of Nursi

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller

I Have Given You an Example

On Holy Thursday the La Salle Academy educational community had four Prayer Services prepared by The Office of Campus Ministry.  Each of the services featured readings done by students, a homily by Academy chaplain, Reverend Michael Najim, washing of the feet of students, faculty and staff, and a reflection by a member of the class.


The following are the reflections offered by the students.


Matt Holt

Today, we are celebrating Holy Thursday, the day when Jesus sat down with the 12 apostles to eat the Last Supper.


Before Jesus and his apostles ate, he washed each and every one of the apostles’ feet. This washing was more than just a kind gesture; he was showing humility in his service to the apostles. Here was the son of God, washing the calloused, mud-crusted feet of his followers; including the apostle who would betray him merely hours after the Supper was over.

In the Gospel of John 13:14, Jesus says “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

This is our call to service, and one of the reasons why we go out on Christian Service. Our founder, Saint John Baptist De La Salle, fully embodied this message from Jesus, and here we are today.

We fulfill this passage from Jesus as well, by going out on Christian Service every Wednesday for a quarter of the school year. I was fortunate enough to be sent to Tides Family Services, a school for kids who have made bad decisions in their past, whether it means being arrested, or have gotten kicked out of their previous schools. These kids are not exactly the most polite kids and have horrendous language, and the teachers that work there have extremely thick skin, but they are some of the most amazing people I have ever met.

Visiting Tides on Wednesday’s was the highlight of my week. I made friends there that I will never forget.

There was Griffin, who was the loudest kid I have ever met. He loved snack time, dodgeball, and the Jerry Springer show, and hot sauce.

There was Randolph, who loved to play basketball, and knew more about rap music than anyone I’ve ever talked too.

And there was Devin, who loved UFC and ping pong.

These three kids, and all of the others that I met during my time at Tides, have each impacted my life in a different way.  Most of these kids have criminal records. All of these kids have made bad decisions. These are the kids that society turns their back on. I’ll be the first one to tell you that these kids are some of the most genuine people I have ever met. From the second I stepped into the building, they were kind and polite to us… in their own way, of course.  Jesus said treat everyone how you want to be treated, and that was the mindset I had going into Tides. I wish I could keep going on Christian Service the whole year.

As Lasallians, we show the same humility that Jesus showed when he washed the feet of his apostles, and this is an image that all of us should keep in the back of our heads as Easter approaches.  



Nick Altieri


I’d like to start off with a quote stated by Mother Teresa,  “Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”

Generally people define charity as giving money, or participating in an annual event, or doing volunteer work.  These are all fantastic acts of kindness and I personally enjoy participating in or doing each and every one of them.  But one will never gain the full extent of the experience until they sincerely give themselves to others.  We don’t all have to be Mother Teresa, however it is worthy to note that the more effort you put into service, the more you will get out of it.  And I can guarantee you that one who is true to the service and genuine when doing it will feel changed.  You will feel better about yourself.  But more importantly you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you bettered the life of someone else.  It may be something small, but this small act translates into other small acts and who knows how far you can take it.

I am currently a member of the San Miguel Association group along with a handful of your classmates.  San Miguel is a Lasallian middle school in Providence.  The club members and I spend quality time with these gentlemen and act as mentors and show what it means to be a true Lasallian.  I joined the group along with a few of my friends and I thought that it sounded like a fun thing to do.  But little did I know of the great impact that it would have on me.

A few weeks ago we all went bowling with the San Miguel gentlemen.  I got in my car afterschool and followed my friend to a bowling alley a few miles away.  We all gathered on the San Miguel bus in the parking lot outside of the bowling alley, and talked with the students for a short period of time until everyone was present.  And then we all formed groups and went inside of the bowling alley.  I was placed in a group with this particular boy named Raymar.  Right from the moment I met him something stood out to me, but I didn’t know what it was.  Raymar didn’t say much; he was very soft spoken and clearly a shy individual.  So I did my best to make conversation, and we enjoyed the small talk for a while.  Then I gave him some tips on how to bowl.  And listen, I am not a good bowler by any means; however, somehow he started to do much better and was knocking down all of the pins with ease.  I thought to myself “how the heck did I just teach him how to bowl like a champ when I can’t even do it myself?”  But that is beside the point!  From that moment on he started to open up to me more and more and he shared stories with me about his daily routine.  We both enjoyed the conversation very much.  During the few hours I spent with Raymar I really enjoyed getting to know him.

As I was preparing to leave, Raymar came up to me and said that he had a lot of fun getting to know me and that he can’t wait to hangout again next time.  Then he paused and said “thank you for listening to me”.  At this moment it seemed as if time had stopped.  I felt a feeling that I have never felt before.  It was better than winning a hockey game; it was better than having a good time with my friends.  I made Raymar’s day.  And I made a new relationship that I can always count on.  This shy boy who stood quietly in the back of the room had just gone out of his way to show his appreciation of our time together.  Raymar truly appreciated my effort to get to know him.

Through this experience I was able to find God.  And that is where the special feeling comes from.  This particular moment inspired me to get even more involved in and out of school.  And I encourage everyone to try and do something small, because the reward is greater than you would expect.  And I am confident that your small contribution of time and effort will transform into more and more.  The reward is a feeling that you will never know until you experience it yourself.  Please make your best effort to get involved.  Thank you.



Monique Forte


When asked how do you wash the feet of others, I think of literally scrubbing someone else’s feet. But when put into the perspective of today’s reading, there is a much more deeper meaning. Jesus says to his disciples, “you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” He is not talking about going around scrubbing people’s feet, but doing what he has taught them to do to others. We, as a community, can take this and use it in our everyday lives. We can start a chain reaction by helping each other, giving a smile to someone, or just simply brightening someone’s day. And by just affecting one person, that may make them brighten someone else’s days by a simple gesture.

The service trip that I will be going on this coming week to Montana is a way of washing the feet of others because we as a community are helping another community all the way across the country. The Lasallian school that we will be helping is on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.  In their community there is a high percentage of alcoholism. We could change the future of the children in this community by making a small difference, whether it is a material item, or giving a child a new friendship. When I go to Montana I am hoping to give a child something that they can cherish for the rest of their lives even if it just some simple advice or a small toy. I am hoping to make at least a small impact.

Jesus says, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” He means that something small that you may think has no significance can impact the people around us or even ourselves in the future. My hope is to change a child’s future in their community. By causing the slightest shift in someone’s life, we are doing a service to them, to ourselves, to the world, and also to God. Service? What is Service? It is washing the feet of others.


The Storms of Life

(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the La Salle educational community on Friday morning, 11 April 2014)

Let us pause for a moment and remember that we are in God’s holy presence.

Projected on the screen in your classroom is an image of Rembrandt’s painting, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. It was painted in 1633 and was inspired by this scene from Mark’s gospel:


That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”  Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

I love the image of the boat at sea as a metaphor for our life’s journey or even our faith journey. Sometimes the wind is at our back and we experience smooth sailing…sometimes the wind dies down and we just sit there bobbing up and down, nothing new under the sun…and sometimes a storm comes that tosses us back and forth on the waves, making us anxious and scared and sick to our stomach. Like the image of the cross used by Br. Fred in yesterday’s prayer, we never know what challenges we will meet at sea – the question is how we will handle the storms when they inevitably come.

The coolest part of this painting is that there are actually thirteen people in the boat, besides Jesus. Since he had only twelve apostles, who is the thirteenth person? Rembrandt is known to have painted himself somewhere in his paintings from time to time, so maybe he is the mysterious thirteenth person. Or, maybe that thirteenth person is you. Look at the people on the ship and all their different reactions to what is happening.  Which one is you?

One disciple sits in the bow of the ship, at the top of the painting, trimming the front sail. Three more gather around the mast working frantically to fix the main sail. A fourth is at the very back of the ship, holding the tiller and trying to steer the ship through the storm. Could that one be Peter, the leader? These five disciples are focused on doing everything in their power to fix the problem.

On the left side a disciple is hanging onto a guy wire for dear life as the wave pounds in to him. On the right side another disciple looks with dread at the wave and his vulnerable friend. On the bottom left a third disciple leans overboard to vomit. For these three men it looks like the storm is just too much to handle. They are overwhelmed and scared.


Right in front of Jesus are two men who look as if they are angry – they don’t understand how Jesus could be sleeping and not doing anything to help. You can imagine them screaming, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

In the middle of the painting at the bottom of the boat, a man in a blue shirt is holding a guy wire and staring out to sea. It actually looks like he’s staring at us. Maybe looking for another ship, for someone, anyone to help. To his left is a mysterious man in white with his back to us. Is he just accepting his fate? Sitting there and taking whatever hand fate deals him? The events around him seem to have paralyzed him.

Doing everything within your power or feeling overwhelmed or looking outward for an outside savior or just feeling paralyzed. I think I’ve felt like each of those twelve disciples at some point in my life.

Finally, there is a disciple at Jesus’ feet, the thirteenth man, sitting in the boat and looking at him. This disciple is the only one in the painting with a halo. He has put his trust in Jesus in the midst of the terrible storm.

Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Let us pray.

Father, you never promised that life would be without storms. But you did promise that you’d be there in the boat with us when life’s storms strike. Bless us with the strength and faith and desire to remain focused on you during these times.


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

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Matthew Daly (Coordinator of Campus Ministry)

Adapted from Bill Gaultiere (

To Do The Right Thing

(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the La Salle educational community on Thursday morning, 3 April 2014)

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

Over the course of the past few days and weeks, we have been reminded of how important it is to do the right thing in all situations.  To keep others in mind.  To own your decisions and take responsibility for your actions.

What does that mean… the “right thing”?  Outside of our religious texts, there is no playbook for life to refer to.   I like to think “the right things” are the decisions we make in life when we have others in mind.  You see, we are so wrapped up in our daily lives and struggles that we oftentimes lose perspective on what it really means to empathize with others.  It is a natural human instinct to be concerned with our own problems first, but instinct isn’t always our best compass.


Last Wednesday, Boston Firefighters Michael Kennedy and Lt. Edward Walsh lost their lives in a fire that also injured dozens more.  These firefighters, along with every other police, fire, EMT, and military service person, deal with these dangers on a daily basis.  For whom?  Themselves?  Certainly not.  We may not hear of it, but life and death instances occur all the time.   They don’t run around looking for praise, they don’t need recognition for their acts.  None of them would expect a prayer like this to center or focus on their lives, as they are simply doing what they chose, and love, to do.

Instinct.  Our instinct in all of these situations is to run.  Run from the crime, run from the fire.  It is a natural animal instinct to flee from danger.  But not these people.  When everyone else runs away, they run towards the danger, not for themselves, but for the betterment of others.   They knowingly insert themselves into lethal situations to save others.  Is there a more self_less act – dying for strangers?

Boston Brownstone Fire Funeral

Father John Unni, in speaking to the crowd and directly to children of Lt. Walsh, reminded them of his heroic nature, and told us all to take inspiration.

Surely this is an extreme example of selflessness.  While it is true that few of us will ever be forced to make decisions in such dire circumstance, there are things we can do to take inspiration from this.  Things we can do in our daily lives to live with a modicum of selflessness in a similar way as Mr. Walsh and Mr. Kennedy.


Do we give our time to others in need?  Be it poverty or helplessness?

Do we treat family, parents, teachers, and peers with the respect and dignity they deserve?

Do we resist instinct to stereotype others and act on those stereotypes?

Do we stand up for people who feel powerless, be it a schoolyard bullying situation or those who don’t have a voice in society?  Or do we instinctually stay quiet, avoiding conflict?

 Let us pray—

Loving God, we pray for the strength to resist our instincts in situations where it puts us at odds with what is “right.”  May we have the knowledge and foresight to identify what the right thing is, and may we take inspiration from the selfless acts of others who have come before us.



Saint John Baptist de La Salle.  Pray for us

Live Jesus in Our Hearts.   Forever

Thomas Pacia (Chairperson of the Social Studies Department)

What Do You Do?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 10 April 2014)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

 “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

Every Friday afternoon during Lent, when I was a grammar school student first at the Assumption School in Providence and later at Saint Matthew’s School in Cranston, the entire student body was brought over to church for the Stations of the Cross.  Between each of the 14 stations we sang the solemn hymn “Stabat Mater” (remembering Jesus’ mother Mary at the crucifixion),

then we knelt as we prayed the prayer that I began with, and then we stood as the priest solemnly announced each of the moments of the last day of Jesus’ life.  Sometimes I returned to church on Friday evening to be an altar server for the adult Stations of the Cross.  In those days, this devotion was a “must” for Lent.

As early as the fifth century the Church solemnized the Stations of the Cross.  This devotion had originated in Jerusalem as pilgrims sought to follow the last steps of Jesus, the Via Crucis (the Way of the Cross), the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrows).

Station 8 Via Dolorosa

Over the years these stations were added to all churches, so today we see them displayed around the walls of every church.  Reflecting on these last moments of the life of Jesus has been and remains a powerful opportunity for each of us to reflect on our own lives as well.

Let’s look at one station this morning, the fifth remembrance of the fourteen—Simon of Cyrene helps to carry the cross of Jesus.  We don’t know much about Simon except that he came from Cyrene (northern Africa).  We don’t know if he was a traveler to Jerusalem that day, an immigrant worker, a follower of Jesus, an adversary.  What we do know is that the soldiers made him carry the cross of Jesus.


So let’s go back in time, close our eyes, put our heads on the desk if we wish, and imagine the scene.  The narrow dusty road is crowded with Roman soldiers and Jewish officials; some followers or friends of the accused man are straggling along crying, upset, beside themselves with grief; some enemies of the man are jeering and shouting; some bystanders are just standing there as the execution procession is passing.  The man to be executed is bloody from being beaten and whipped, his face is covered with sweat and with blood trickling down from the crown of thorns around his head.  He falls in front of you beneath the weight of the cross—he is already exhausted and he still has a way to go up to the hill of Golgotha where executions happen.  A Roman soldier roughly pulls you from the crowd and orders you to carry the cross for the convict.  You pick it up, you wait for him to rise, and you walk on with him at your side.  The cross is heavy; it is at the hottest part of the day; some of the crowd starts to shout at you for helping the man out.   Do you feel angry that you have to do this?  Do you feel helpless?  Do you feel compassion?  Confusion?  You walk on and he stops to have his face wiped by a woman, and again he stops to meet some crying women; he falls not once but two more times.  Are you annoyed by the delays and just want to get it over?  Do you feel like you want to do more for this man who struggles beside you?  Finally, you reach the top of Golgotha, the executioners take the cross from you and your work is over.  Do you disappear into the crowd?  Do you stay to watch?  Do you join the crowd in making fun of him?  What do you do?

What do you do?  What do you do when unexpected crosses come your way—an illness like diabetes that changes the way you live, an injury—concussion, broken ankle, etc. that keeps you from your usual activities, being cut from a team you were looking forward to play on or receiving a failing grade or one that you expected better of?  Are you angry, in denial, depressed?  Do you feel bad for yourself or do you set your sights on getting better, rehabbing, adjusting your life? For Brother Paul the unexpected cross came in early January when he learned that he had incurable cancer.  He has accepted that cross!! What do you do when the crosses of other people become yours?  (I’m sure that Simon labored under that cross even though it was not his.)  What do you do when there is an illness in your family, your mom or dad become seriously ill or a sister or brother get hurt, your child or grandchild is physically or psychologically sick, or grandparents become sicker and sicker either physically or through Alzheimers or some other debilitating illness?  Their cross becomes your cross—are you annoyed?  Do you feel helpless?  Do you try to avoid it?  What do you do?  What do you do when one of your parents loses a job and money is tighter or when alcohol or drugs enters your family and disrupts relationships?  What do you do when you are teamed in school or sports with someone you can’t stand because they are poorer/ or richer, a different skin color, straight/ or gay?  Do you pout, refuse to make it work, just tolerate it, or grow to accept it?


There is no escaping the cross, either our own cross or the cross of another that we have to shoulder.  Jesus tells us: “If you want to be my disciple, you must take up the cross and follow me.”  Will I, will you accept the crosses of this day, the crosses of our lives, and, like Simon of Cyrene, follow Jesus to his death?  Then and only then will we experience the beauty, the wonder, the fullness of new life and Resurrection! As St. Paul tells us: “If we die with Christ, we shall also live with Christ!”


Let us pray:  We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world, you have redeemed me, you have redeemed each of us.  AMEN.


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

Live, Jesus, in our hearts…forever.

Afternoon Reflection


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

As we reflect on our day we think of Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross of Jesus.

Did I accept the little crosses that were sent my way today or did I resent them, fight them, feel put upon by them?

How can I learn to take up my own cross and those of the people around me so to follow Jesus more fully and experience his Resurrection more completely?

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

Live, Jesus, in our hearts…forever.

 Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

Maybe Snakes Aren’t That Bad After All

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the La Salle Academy school community on Tuesday morning, 8 April 2014)


Good morning, La Salle.

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

I. HATE. SNAKES.      No offense intended to you serpent-lovers out there, but I loath those slimy, cold-blooded creatures who slither along the ground, fall from trees, and glide through the water. I’ve even considered moving to Ireland just to get away from them. So every time I hear today’s first reading at Mass about snakes being sent to bite the people of Israel who complained against Moses in the desert, I get the heebeegeebees. Why couldn’t they have been punished by a pack of lions or a swarm of mosquitoes or a colony of ravenous rabbits? Why did it have to be snakes?! (GROSSED OUT SOUND) I think we can all agree that they’re such disgusting animals who should be wiped off the face of the earth.


I’ve never been attacked by a snake. I’ve never been bitten by a snake. I’ve never held a snake. Truth be told, I won’t even go near the serpent lair at Roger Williams Park Zoo, even though they’re safely behind glass. I’m afraid of snakes because when I was 3 years old, someone thought it would be a great idea to let me stay in the room while they watched the movie, “Anaconda”. The exaggerated image of a giant Amazonian anaconda suddenly flying up out of the toilet in a women’s pubic bathroom has never left me. I had nightmares about it until I was in high school. My whole life that experience when I was 3 has affected the way I look at and treat those belly-moving creatures of God.


Don’t we all do that, though? Don’t we all let the – oftentimes misguided – way we see and understand others affect how we treat them?

Seeing past someone’s race, color, age, religion, sexual orientation, social class, or gender can be difficult. There’s no doubt about that. But it’s only difficult because of our own biased worldview, the smudged lens through which each of us sees the world and the people in it. Every single one of us is called to get some good eye glass cleaner and some serious elbow grease and clean our “lens” of those smudge-like prejudices so that we can see others for what they truly are: human beings who deserve to be treated like human beings. Or snakes who deserve to be treated like God’s beloved creatures, even if our gut reaction is to avoid them and remove them from our lives.


So my challenge to you today and for the rest of Lent is to take some time to figure out what “smudges” or prejudices cause you to treat others as less than they are and then to change the way you look at them and the way you treat them. Maybe you’ll find out that snakes aren’t that bad after all.

jesus and snake and cross

Let us pray

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for the great gift of our life and for Your presence in our hearts.

You have created each of us with the same human dignity.

Help us to cleanse our minds and hearts of those things that make us treat others like snakes.

Inspire us to reach out to those who are different from us and embrace them as fellow human beings.

We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lord. Amen.


St. John Baptist de la Salle … Pray for us

Live Jesus in our Hearts …. For ever


 Afternoon Reflection Question: As we near the end of Lent, what are two or three practical ways we can reach out to those we see as “snakes”?

Charles da Silva (Teacher in the Religion Department)

The Art of Forgiveness

(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the La Salle educational community on Wednesday morning, 2 April 2014)

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

When I was younger, I always approached Lent in a traditional way but always seemed to fail. I would give up ice cream and then my friends would want to go to Newport Creamery and I would take that as a cosmic sign that God was giving me the okay to partake in some Crazy Vanilla with Oreo crumbs on top. I would give up fighting with my sisters and then one of them would inevitably steal my shirt and World War 3 would break out in the Dillon household.

newport creamery

When I got to Holy Cross one of the chaplains challenged us to approach Lent in a different way. Rather than giving up something trivial, they asked us to focus on ourselves, to attempt to become our best selves in preparation for the resurrection of Christ.  As I searched for ways to become a better friend, student, sister, and daughter, I realized that for me that generally meant granting the forgiveness I had been denying throughout the rest of the year. True to my Irish temper, I am the Babe Ruth of holding grudges. I have a really hard time forgetting when someone has wronged me or let me down. And I have an even harder time of letting them forget it.


Luckily, that same chaplain provided instructions for dealing with resentment. It states:

“If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them, and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it everyday for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassion, understanding and love.”


As some of the people in this building can attest to, I have not entirely mastered the art of forgiveness; but, I hope that you will join me for the remainder of Lent in attempting to forgive those who have trespassed against us.

Let us pray,


Dear Lord, help us to follow in the example of your son Jesus Christ who forgave those who crucified him. Help us to embrace everyone we meet with compassion and love. Help us to grant the forgiveness we have been denying, so that we ourselves may be forgiven.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Megan Dillon (Social Studies Teacher)