“Good-night, Sweet Prince….”

(Prayer offered on the Pubic Address system for the La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 9 May 2014–day of the wake for Brother Amian Paul Goodwin, FSC)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

It is the Fall of 1962 and a young Freshman, 14 years old, sits in Room 103 among his 47 classmates awaiting his English teacher.  In walks a young dark-haired medium-sized Brother with a sprightly gait, his black robe following him through the door.  His complexion ruddy, neither a smile nor scowl on his face, he is carrying a number of books and, they notice, a copy of the New York Times.  As he asks the students to stand for prayer they note an accent different from their Rhode Island accent—is it British? Irish? New York?  They cannot be sure.  Each day this Brother was a dominant presence in the classroom.  He was bright, articulate, quick with a quip or a correction; he was demanding; he did not take to foolishness or laziness.  AND the students worked: they wrote and wrote and wrote; they memorized poetry and stood around the classroom spelling and defining words; they read—a lot—a book a week in the second semester.  I was that Freshman and the teacher a 26 year old Brother Amian Paul Goodwin.  He was absolutely the best teacher I ever had in all my schooling.

young Brother Paul

Brother Amian Paul was not simply a master English teacher, but he also was a teacher in the model of Saint John Baptist de La Salle.  He took seriously the injunction given by the Founder to his first teaching Brothers—“To touch the minds and hearts of your students is the greatest miracle that you can perform and one that God requires of you.”  Yes, Brother Paul challenged and stretched and touched minds, but he also touched hearts.  He loved his students—not in a warm, fuzzy, sentimental way (he never tolerated sloppy sentimentality), but in a deeply caring way, recognizing goodness and potential and pulling it out of his students, sometimes like a dentist pulling teeth, but always with love.

Brother Paul was a lover of words.  He was a brilliant writer (if you listened to his prayers on the PA or had him in AP English class you know that his prose was crisp and to the point).  However, he was also a poet who loved to play with words and their meanings.  He was a master of the NY Times crossword puzzle and did the Providence Journal Sudoku religiously.  He used to look forward to reading William Safire’s weekly column in the NY Times Sunday Magazine on language and he delighted at the morning breakfast table in critiquing faulty word choice in the newspaper headlines and articles.  He was a voracious reader—from New Yorker Magazine to the classics of Shakespeare to new authors like The Road’s Cormac McCarthy.

However, Brother Paul was also a lover of The Word, the Word of God.  Each day he meditated on that Word alive in his life and each morning with us, his Brothers, he worshipped the living Word in the Eucharist, daily Mass.  This living Word, Jesus, was alive in his heart till his very last breath.

Frequently Brother Paul would walk the upper hallway of the Brothers’ Community in the late evening, looking for a snack or a can of diet soda.  Brother Paul did not go to bed early.  As he would pass my room and saw that I was getting ready to retire he would either greet me with his endearing, “Fritz Kinder” (which means Child Freddy), or bid me goodnight using Shakespeare’s words from Hamlet: “Good-night, Sweet Prince And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

quote-now-cracks-a-noble-heart-good-night-sweet-prince-and-flights-of-angels-sing-thee-to-thy-rest-william-shakespeare-286854

This morning we say to Brother Amian Paul: “Good-night, Sweet Prince And flights of angels sing thee to thy eternal rest.”

Let us pray—

In the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of Brother Paul’s favorite poets: “Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east…”  And may the soul of Brother Paul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.  AMEN.

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

Live, Jesus, in our hearts…forever.

Paul tribute

Afternoon Reflection

Friday, 9 May 2014

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

This morning we reflected on the life of Brother Paul—teacher, lover of words, and lover of the Word of God.  A question for us to ponder:

Will someone say of me at my death that I was a lover of the Word of God, that Jesus lived in my heart to my last breath?

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

Live, Jesus, in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller

 

 

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