(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?
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)