In Heaven We Feed Each Other

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy school community on Thursday morning, 30 October 2014)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

There is an ancient Chinese parable about an old man who knew he would soon die. He wanted to know what Heaven and hell were like. So, he visited a wise man in his village to ask “Can you tell me what Heaven and hell are like?” The wise man led him down a strange path, deep into the countryside. Finally, they came upon a large house with many rooms and went inside. Inside they found lots of people and many enormous tables with an incredible array of food, all sorts of meats and fish, piles of rice, fruits and vegetables, and wonderful desserts. Then the old man noticed a strange thing, the people, all thin and hungry, were holding chopsticks 3 feet long. They tried to feed themselves, but of course could not get the food to their mouths with such long chopsticks.



The old man then said to the wise man “Now I know what hell looks like, will you please show me what Heaven looks like?” The wise man led him down the same path a little further until they came upon another large house similar to the first. They went inside and saw almost the same scene: bountiful food and people with chopsticks 3 feet long.  However, in this house the many people were well fed and happy, despite the long chopsticks. This puzzled the old man and he asked, “I see all of these people have 3 foot chopsticks too, yet they are well fed and happy, please explain this to me.” The wise man replied, “In Heaven we feed each other.”


In Heaven we feed each other.

If we want to experience the joy of heaven here on earth we must do likewise—reaching out to assist those in need—a kind word to a classmate who seems to be feeling down and out of sorts, a visit to an elderly relative who is homebound, an e-mail to a friend who is out of school sick, a favor for a parent or a teacher or a student.  Yes, Heaven is as simple as reaching out to another with love and compassion and care.



And Hell–Hell is as simple as living as self-absorbed, self-centered persons whose eyes are fixed only on the rich food and the 3 foot long chopsticks, lost in their own frustration, blinded to what can bring them relief.

My dear friends, the choice is ours—today, tomorrow, and for all eternity.

Let us pray.


God of all good things, You surround us with your bounty, all the blessings of life.  Help us to remember that, unable to take hold of these blessings by ourselves, it is in loving each other, in assisting each other, that these blessings become available to each one of us.  AMEN.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

A Fire to be Kindled

The September 2014 edition of Educational Leadership, published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, has as its theme “Motivation Matters.”  On its cover is a striking quote from Plutarch:


Motivation is a significant aspect of life if it is to be lived to the full.  Even more important is motivation for learning. Learning just does not happen if the learner is unmotivated.

school assemblies -motivational

Motivation cannot be forced–that is compliance–and compliance does not work for learning in the long run.  Neither do rewards, punishments, threats or incentives.   These can improve performance but not long-term learning. Students must be invited to become engaged.  Such engagement happens when learning relates to students’ interests or to students’ experiences, when students adopt as their own the goal of the learning, when students have  a hand in choosing something to do with the learning, when the environment of the classroom makes it safe for trying (and for failing and for retrying), when students view the teacher as supporting them in their efforts, when students develop a passion for the learning because they are challenged.


The best teachers try to challenge, to foster success, to promote problem-solving and creativity and independent thinking, to search for ways to make learning relevant to student experience, to stand alongside students as they learn so to affirm or to offer correction, and to find ways to make learning enjoyable, i.e. not necessarily fun but a positive experience.  The best teachers try to keep the fire kindled!


Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

Doing What Is Right—Because It is Right to Do!!!

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 21 October 2014)

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

Once upon a time – believe it or not – there was no such thing as the Providence Place Mall. Thus, the Lincoln Mall was the venue of choice for many Smith Family shopping needs.


It was here, at the gateway of the now non-existent Caldors Department store (kind of like a Target for those of you who don’t remember) that I learned an important life lesson from my father.

I was eight years old and dad was taking my two oldest brothers and me into various stores at the Lincoln Mall and keeping us generally amused as mom took care of the necessary shopping. We had just entered the department store when my father stopped abruptly. We looked at him and followed his eyes to see a man, exiting the store, clearly carrying something under his short brown jacket. My father approached an employee, “Excuse me,” he said, “I think that man may be shop lifting.”

The employee scowled at my father and shrugged. The thief began to quicken his pace; he was just to the store line when my father whipped around and stated, “Stay with your brothers.”

With that he took off after the thief. We watched, as they sprinted out of the store and disappeared around the corner.


The employee stood next to us, even more shocked than my brothers and I at the sudden action of my father. After a few moments, he returned, out of breath. He hadn’t caught the thief, who’d left his car idling just outside the mall perhaps suspecting he’d have to make a quick getaway. Dad seemed disappointed. “Sorry,” he said to the still stunned employee, “There weren’t even plates on his car.”

For some time after I always imagined how cool it would have been if my dad had caught the thief – I pictured him tackling the man just before they got to the corner, the stolen item falling to the tile floor. I pictured the police jogging in, stopping short in awe of my father’s skill, shaking his hand, and congratulating him on his bravery. But my dad got no such reward. No congratulations. No rescued stolen object. No glory.

It took me a while to realize that it didn’t matter that he failed to catch the thief. What mattered was that he had the courage to chase him. For me, this incident has come to represent an element of our faith that society seems to have forgotten: doing what is right for the sake of doing what is right. You see, many people would view my father’s actions as foolish, crazy, or even dangerous. What if the thief had a weapon? What if he had cover or back up in the car? My father risked his life but he didn’t catch the thief. But that shouldn’t matter.


It seems, ever more increasingly, people take action only if they know they will get something out of it – be it victory, fame, or money. They do what is safe, and what will yield the best personal outcome. But how often are we willing to speak out, stand up, or take action knowing that we will most likely fail? Do we stay silent when we think no one will listen? Do we not try because odds are we won’t succeed? Or do we have courage to do what is right even when there are no tangible results?


As much as our culture will have you believe, life is not about being good at something, it is about being something good. You will not always be recognized for it by those who hand out medals, or rewards. But someone will always see what you do. You see, if my dad hadn’t chased the thief that day he never would have succeeded in passing an important lesson to the watching eyes of his children. And for my father, that was the most important reward he could receive.

Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, let us look to you as the ultimate example. What could seem to us more of a failure than death? Yet through Jesus’ death, we know how we are to live. We are to live in loving service to each other. We are to live without seeking reward for ourselves. We are to live through humble example before the watching eyes of future generations. We are to live with the courage to chase thieves.


Saint John Baptist de La Salle …Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Emily Smith–English Teacher

“No More War, Never Again War….”

As we near the end of the International Lasallian Days for Peace, we are reminded today of the plea made in October of 1965 by Pope Paul VI in a speech before the United Nations.

“No more war, never again war. Peace, it is peace that must guide the destinies of people and of all mankind.”

Today in Saint Peter’s Square that same Pope Paul VI was beatified, named Blessed, by Pope Francis.


While in New York City on that day in October some 49 years ago, Pope Paul VI celebrated Mass at the old Yankee Stadium.  That evening he spoke powerful words to all those gathered.  Those words ring as true today as they did that evening:

We have, then, three things to say to you.

First of all, you must love peace. Here We can use the words of Christ: «Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the son of God» (Matthew 5, 9). If we truly wish to be Christians, we must love peace, we must make our own the cause of peace, we must meditate on the real meaning of peace, we must conform our minds to the thought of peace. In the past, it was not always so in the education of minds and the training of citizens; but today it must be so; we must love peace, because its dwelling is first in men’s hearts, and only afterwards in the external condition of society. Peace must live and reign in men’s consciences, as Holy Scripture teaches us: «May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts» (Col. 3, 15). Peace is order, in relation to God and in relation to men; it is wisdom, it is justice, it is civilization. Whoever loves peace loves mankind, without distinction of race or of colour.

Second thought: You must serve the cause of peace. Serve it, and not make use of it for aims other than the true aims of peace. Serve it, and not use this noble standard as a cover for cowardice or selfishness, which refuses to make sacrifices for the common good; not debilitate and pervert the spirit, by evading the call of duty and seeking one’s own interests and pleasure. Peace is not a state which can be acquired and made permanent. Peace must be built; it must be built up every day by works of peace. These works of peace are, first of all, social order; then, aid to the poor, who still make up an immense multitude of the world population, aid to the needy, the weak, the sick, the ignorant. Peace must be like a garden, in which public and private beneficence cultivates the choicest flowers of friendship, of solidarity, of charity and love.

Third thought: Peace must be based on moral and religious principles, which will make it sincere and stable. Politics do not suffice to sustain a durable peace. The absence of conflict does not suffice to make of peace a source of happiness and of true human progress. Peace must have its roots anchored in wisdom, and this wisdom must draw nourishment from the true concept of life, that is the Christian concept. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus: «Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you» (John 14, 27). Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isiah 9, 6), has His own original and characteristic peace, which can regulate every human relationship because, in the very first place, it regulates the relationship with God.

As our International Lasallian Days for Peace come to an end we remember the words of Blessed Pope Paul VI written in his Message for the Day of Peace 1972 and we try to make these words our own:


Brother Frederick Mueller

“For I was hungry…”

The following is a letter received from the Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools reminding Lasallians around the world about the International Lasallian Days for Peace and the connection between peace and social justice (the right to food and nutrition).

16 October 2014

For I was hungry and you gave me food.” Mt 25:35

Dear Lasallians,

FB - World Food Day Picture-ENI write to you on the occasion of the World Food Day, 2014.  The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) chose Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth as this year’s focus for the event.  As a Lasallian Family, we also are celebrating the International Lasallian Days for Peace (ILDP), during which we are highlighting five nutrition-centered projects.  On this special day, I would like to bring one of these projects to your attention.

Project C.L.I.M.A. (Centre Lasallien d’Initiation aux Métiers de l’Agriculture) in Bérégadougou, Burkina Faso, is an agricultural training center for young families ( The goal of C.L.I.M.A. is to provide these families with the skills, experiences, and understanding necessary to master their own future through financial self-sufficiency and constant and safe access to food.

The program admits married couples between 22 and 35 years of age who have access to agricultural land and who wish to dedicate two years to agricultural training. During the program, these 24 families are also instructed in carpentry, mechanics, sewing and cooking. Their children attend a well-staffed nursery school located in the same

farm compound.  In addition DSCN9719to these skills, what they appreciate most is the practical experience of solidarity. In fact, when the families arrive, they eat thanks to the harvest produced by the families that have just graduated. Needless to say, by the time of their own graduation, the now skillful farmers are proud of leaving behind a good harvest for the benefit of their successors.

This project is only one of the countless examples of how Lasallian groups and institutions promote human dignity in diverse social contexts. In fact, this agricultural project is modeled on another Lasallian program in northern Togo that has been running for a long time. We are called to adapt and respond to the needs around us, always striving to provide the most vulnerable with the necessary skills to enjoy life at its fullest.

I am confident that our international Lasallian Family recognizes the need to intensify its prayer, study, and action to enhance our role in “feeding the world, and caring for the earth”.



Bother Robert Schieler, FSC
Superior General

Peace–A Universal Religious Call

(Prayer offered through school-wide Internet connectivity for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 14 October 2014)

As part of La Salle Academy’s response to the month-long Lasallian Days for Peace, as sponsored by the International Council of Young Lasallians, and to the call to recognize the multi-religious reality of our world, this original video was offered as Morning Reflection and Prayer.


Ed Sirois (Religious Studies Department)

The Challenge of Forgiveness

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 10 October 2014)

Let us remember we are in God’s holy presence.


Projected on the screen in front of you is a painting entitled “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by the 17th century Dutch artist Rembrandt. It was inspired by the story about the lost son from Luke’s Gospel. Apparently, Rembrandt was quite taken with the story and there are multiple sketches of different scenes from this story in Rembrandt’s archives from throughout his life. This fascination with the story culminated in this painting, one of Rembrandt’s final masterpieces, the work of an old man who could look back on his life and sympathize with all of the main characters of the story in some way.

For those not familiar with the story, I will summarize. A wealthy man has two sons. The younger one, who by law has no right to his father’s inheritance, asks for his share of the inheritance while his father is still living. He then takes the money and spends it on booze and prostitutes. Broke, with nowhere to stay, the young man takes a job working with swine, an animal Luke’s audience knew was unclean under Jewish law. To emphasize the young man’s desperation, Luke tells us that he envies the pigs and the food that they eat. Eventually, he decides to go home and beg his father’s forgiveness – not because he is sorry but because he is hungry. As he is walking up the road to his father’s house, rehearsing his sob story in his head, the father sees him, runs to him, embraces him, forgives him, and calls for a celebratory feast for the lost son who has returned. The older brother sees this happen and throws a fit, which is completely understandable, since he has been a good son his whole life and his rotten little brother is having a party thrown for him.

Rembrandt’s painting captures that moment when the son returns. Let’s take a look. The father and the lost son are bathed in light in what is a pretty dimly lit scene. The young son is on his knees, his head leaning against the father’s chest. Whereas the father and older son are dressed in red, a sign of their wealth, the younger is now in rags. His left shoe has fallen off, his right shoe has a giant hole near the heal, both feet beaten up by a long journey. Whereas most men of the time had longer hair, the younger barely has any, but not because he is bald or balding. It looks as if his hair was sloppily cut, maybe in an attempt to remove lice or fleas. The father embraces him even in this wretched condition. Critics often focus special attention on the father’s hands, which appear assymetrical. The left hand is wider, with thicker fingers – a man’s hand, which is gripping the young son’s shoulder the way dad’s do. The right hand, however, appears more feminine – smoother, with long thin fingers. And this hand rests lightly between the son’s shoulder blades like a mother’s gentle touch. Those hands, both mother and father, represent the love and compassion of a God who cannot be confined by gender roles or stereotypes, but who embodies the fullness of all that is good in us, whether male or female, and all we are called to be, whether male or female—a God who will welcome us home no matter how far we have gone astray. On the right of the painting, standing upright (maybe uptight) is the older brother, the good and dependable son. Notice the look on his face, the way he holds his hands. Is he touched by the moment, bowing his head and folding his hands out of reverence as he witnesses this beautiful moment…or is he enraged, clenching both his teeth and his fists, since this sinner is being rewarded with a feast? How would you feel about this situation, about this brother who lived a careless life being forgiven and welcomed back by a father who seems to be careless with his love?

Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest who wrote a book on this painting and this story, asks us to look at the painting and insert ourselves…are we more often the older brother? Or the younger? Nouwen says: “Rembrandt is as much the elder son of the parable as he is the younger. When, during the last years of his life, he painted both sons in Return of the Prodigal Son, he had lived a life in which neither the lostness of the younger son nor the lostness of the elder son was alien to him. Both needed healing and forgiveness. Both needed to come home. Both needed the embrace of a forgiving father. But from the story itself, as well as from Rembrandt’s painting, it is clear that the hardest conversion to go through is the conversion of the one who stayed home.Sometimes it is hardest to forgive. Sometimes the harder task is not to judge those who have erred. That is why Nouwen reminds us: “Whether you are the younger son or the older son, you have to realize that you are called to become the father. Look at the father in the painting and you will know who you are called to be.”


Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, please forgive us when we have taken your love for granted and when we have strayed from the path of righteousness. Bless us so we can love like you, show mercy like you, and forgive like you, so that we can  join in that celebration at the end of time when all of us return home to you. Amen.

St John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Matthew Daly (Director of Campus Ministry)

Ordinary Blessings

(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 6 October 2014)

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

What were you doing Saturday night?  I was watching my son John play in a Cumberland recreation flag football game and I was miserable.  For 2 hours, I stood behind a fence with other Cumberland parents as we watched our kids play in the pouring, and I mean pouring, rain.


I was getting over a bad cold and I was so miserable that, at one point, my husband who is also the assistant coach whispered through a forced mad smile, “Just go home.”  As often is the case, it was my 8 year Madeleine who forced me to see the grace of the moment.  She had found some friends to play with and was puddle jumping and loving every minute of it.  She came over to me, saw my scowl, and told me and I quote, “Get over it.  Look around.  Practically the whole town is here.  Just enjoy it.”   WOW.  Nothing like being put in my place by an eight year old in galoshes and a Princess Elsa raincoat.


Yesterday at Mass, we heard St. Paul remind the Philippians to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure. lovely, gracious, and excellent and, if they did, surely the God of peace would be with them.  We are promised the same. As Coach Marcone reminded us last week, the blessings and love of others are all around us.  But because they are always there, we miss them.  Or in my case, we scowl and complain all the way through them.   So for today, try looking for something true, pure, and lovely about the people in your world.  Stop long enough to appreciate graciousness.  God promises us it is not very far away.


Let us pray:

God of sun and rain.  You send us many seasons in our lives. Pour your Spirit upon us so that we may see through new eyes and really take in your presence in the incredible and ordinary blessings of our day.  And as we look for that which is pure, honorable, and lovely,  may we be filled with your peace, knowing we are exactly where you intend for us to be.

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Christine Estes (Religious Studies Department Chairperson)