A Kiss That Lasts Forever–A Christmas Reflection

(A Christmas Gift for the La Salle Academy educational community)

A three year old is found by her Dad placing a box under the Christmas tree. It is decorated with gold wrapping paper. Money is tight and the man discovers anger erupting within him as he suspects that his daughter has wasted expensive paper; and he allows his anger toward the child to show.


The next morning, however, the little girl brings the gold wrapped box to her Dad and says, ‘This is for you, Daddy.’

He is embarrassed and mollified by his overreaction the previous night, but his anger flares again when he finds that the box is empty. He yells at her, ‘Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside it?’

The little girl looks up at him with tears in her eyes and says, ‘Oh, Daddy, the box is not empty. I blew kisses into the box. They are all for you, Daddy.’


The father is crushed. He puts his arms around his little girl, and he begs for her forgiveness.

It is said that the man keeps that gold wrapped box by his bed for years, and whenever he is discouraged, he takes out a kiss and remembers the love of the child who had placed it in the gold wrapped box.

We have eyes to see, but do not see, until a child explains the simplicity of love to us. Christmas is our receiving a gift that many misunderstand and can sometimes make us angry. Concerns and anxieties can cloud our vision and cause us to place security – be it personal or financial – above the beautifully wrapped gift being offered to us.

The wastefulness, inefficiency and extravagance of God’s gift of mercy can offend and infuriate us. We can understand mercy as something given to people who we feel are deserving of mercy. We cannot understand – and often become angry – when we hear that God’s gift of mercy is also offered to people who we feel are undeserving. This way of seeing only has the possibility of changing when we glimpse that we too are undeserving – like the Dad in our opening story – and mercy is still offered to us too.

god of mercy

Then, we are caught-up short, and we are momentarily freed from the illusion that we are separate and different from other people, and briefly discover that we can no longer judge – ourselves or others. Like the man in our opening story, when he hears his daughter’s explanation, we – for a time – have the opportunity to stand in awe and embrace with tearful recognition that mercy is offered not to the deserving but to the undeserving!


We can – and often do – continue to resist this all-embracing knowing that draws us into union with God and all people. We can also – and sometimes at the same time – experience with surprise that we are open to be less judgmental, less driven by fear, and more secure in our insecurity. This is the joy that Christmas brings to us: an invisible kiss that reminds us that God creates us in and for union… a kiss that lasts forever.


Used with the permission of Reverend Timothy Lemlin (in gratitude)

La Salle Academy–All About Community

(Prayer offered for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 18 December 2015)

Let Us Remember that We are in The Holy Presence of God

Back in colonial days there was a man who was punished for stealing sheep. His punishment was a harsh one: ST was stamped on his forehead. ST stood for sheep thief. However after this he experienced a conversion and was known for his many charitable deeds. Little children marveled at his goodness but were puzzled by the ST on his forehead. What did it stand for they would ask their parents? All the parents in town stated it meant Saint.


The journey from sheep thief to saint is really the Advent journey. We travel from darkness to light, fear to trust, hate to love during this season. John the Baptist urges us to straighten out our crooked ways, smooth over our rough edges. By doing so we prepare the way for Jesus to be born in our world.


La Salle Academy is all about community. It is all about the family that we build on a day to day basis during the course of the year. How well we build that community determines the depth of the experience and the quality of the exchange among us.

First and foremost, we are a community of believers. Our school values and guiding principles are grounded in the belief in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior and our guide.


Each day at La Salle Academy we begin our day with a school wide morning prayer prepared by a variety of teachers, staff, administrators and students. Everyone and everything stops for 3 – 5 minutes as we recall that we are in God’s holy presence reminding us that the message of Jesus among us and with us is what animates and focuses our time together each day. Each day at the beginning of each class period the words LET US REMEMBER WE ARE IN THE HOLY PRESENCE OF GOD and LIVE JESUS IN OUR HEARTS – FOREVER, become a mantra of praise throughout the course of our days together.


Christmas is a time for prayer, gratitude and remembrance. We pray that God’s presence in our lives and in our world will sustain us in addressing what divides us in seeking common ground and peace-filled solutions. We pray in gratitude that we have the opportunity and privilege to come together in celebration of the miracle of Jesus in our lives. A privilege denied to many! We pray in remembrance of those gone before, of family and of those special people in our lives who indeed were the presence of God for us.

Best wishes for a Happy and Holy Celebration of Christmas to the entire La Salle Academy Community!

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Donald Kavanagh–Principal

A La Salle Night Before Christmas

(Prayer offered for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 17 December 2015)

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

“Twas the Night Before Christmas”
“A Visit from St. Nicholas”
Rewritten by Voices Ink, LSA’s creative writing club

T’was two days before Christmas break, when all through the Academy,
Ugly Christmas sweaters were worn for all to see.
Students were anticipating vacation, though still in good cheer,
Hoping Friday’s dismissal bell they would soon hear.


The children were all sitting stiff in their chairs,
While their eyes glossed over into blank white stares.
Students and teachers alike wished that time would hasten.
As we prepared our brains for a much needed vacation.

When in the classrooms arose such a clatter.
Each teacher, confused, asked what was the matter.
“We can’t wait for Christmas!” the students did shout.
“We want to spend time with our family and friends!” they cried out.


The face of each student gave off a glow
Awaiting the end of these two days they had to undergo
When, what to their waiting ears should they hear,
But a long and loud beep, following cheers from their peers.
Christmas spirit filled the halls, so lively and quick,
They knew that they’d be home faster than the sleigh of St. Nick.
They burst through the doors and into the parking lot, they came,
And with whistles and shouts, they left, all the same


“Now dash and now dance. Now, prance and now quicken!
On, students! On, teachers! Your warm houses beckon.
To the top of the stairs and right out the door
Now dash away! Dash away! And take no detour.”

Students soon forgot that last period quiz or test,
Only thinking that soon they’d enjoy a good Winter’s rest,
Keys in hand to their cars, it seemed as if they flew,
With hearts full of joy, and anticipation too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard outside
The sweet, joyous voices of each little child.
Quickly, I realized I was alone, so I turned around,
Out the school I ran, as vacation came with a bound.

The world was covered in snow as far as the eye could see
And pine trees that glistened with ice surrounded me.
My eyes, still wide, were starting to roam,
For I was very excited during my drive home.

The flakes, how they twinkled! And the people- how merry!
Rushing about with their boxes, and pies full of berries.
My car rolled forward on the fresh, white snow,
While the street-lights lit up with a bright golden glow.

The winter cold made me shiver and chatter my teeth,
As I drove past houses adorned with nice wreaths.
At the corner stood Santa with a big, round belly,
Which shook as he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He rang his bell as I dropped in some change
And my thoughts were stopped by this simple exchange.
I realized we may have forgotten the true Christmas meaning
It’s not about wanting and getting, but giving and healing.
So, I dropped to my knees and decided to pray,
“Lord, send us peace,” I started to say.
“Let us give to the needy and always show love,
And let us live like you. Like you, God, above.”


Then I sprang to my feet, and made a split-second decision,
I grabbed my Christmas list and made some revisions.
No iPhone, no Xbox, and certainly no sled.
I’ll give to those in our world who are most needy instead.



Let us pray…

Heavenly Father, please help us not to rush through this Advent season. Give us the patience to wait in joyful anticipation for the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to remember the true meaning of Christmas and open our eyes and our hearts to the wonder and joy that surrounds us.

St. John Baptist de La Salle… Pray for us.
Live Jesus in Our Hearts… Forever.

Writers & Readers (2 stanzas each):

Amanda Foley- Writer, reader, and editor
Driany Galvao- Writer, reader, and editor
Ryan McWeeney- Writer
Annie Sheil- Writer
Jonathan Izzard- Writer and reader
Katie Friedemann- Reader
Annie Rogers- Reader
Chae McConaghy- Reader

Ms. Broccoli (1 stanza and reflection)- Writer, reader, and final editor
Ms. Frega- Reader


(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy school community on Thursday morning, 10 December 2015)

Good morning La Salle. Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of a loving God.

Just a few weeks ago, an attack was carried out against Paris, France. Over one hundred innocent lives were lost. Most recently, an attack on the Planned Parenthood in Colorado and the attack in San Bernardino, California further reminded us of the terror that exists throughout the world. In addition, though we may not have been well aware of them, many other attacks occurred recently throughout the world- Beirut, Baghdad, and Alexandria just to name a few. As we will do at the vigil tonight, let us take a moment of silence to remember the victims of all of these senseless attacks. *Silence* The ramifications of these events are profound in that these events tend to divide people- fingers are pointed at entire ethnic groups, politicians pick sides to appease their followers, and the media clouds our perspectives. It is our moral obligation to counteract this negative change- to unite rather than to divide.


A common answer which we often hear to alleviate prejudices is to pretend not to see color, ethnicity, or a cultural background. To be “colorblind.” For a moment, imagine a world where everyone was the same. You, the person on your right and on your left, in front of you and in back of you, looked identical. The true answer to alleviating prejudices is quite the opposite from being colorblind. New ideas and perspectives (the products of diversity) fundamentally lead to the progress of the world. Rather than pretend not to see color, to fail to acknowledge the immense diversity of the human race, we must open our eyes, because it is there. We may then accept our differences, educate ourselves from unique perspectives, and love others simply because they exist.

Religious tolerance illustration

Every Advent season, emphasis is put on renewing ourselves as people under God. Let us seek to put this goal into practice by working to accept, to understand, and to appreciate others of all socio-cultural and ethnic backgrounds before passing judgement.


Today, posters have been hung in the halls which will remind us of some of the places affected by the recent attacks. Notice how, if we refuse to be colorblind, we will see a message on the poster which is written in red ink.


Let us pray
Dear Father, help us learn to love others.
Help us to appreciate and accept color, race, and ethnicity.
Let us learn to love and treat each other with respect and dignity.
Give us the wisdom to celebrate diversity and rise above stereotypes.
Allow us to come together in our school community, our local community, our national community, and our global community, so that we may accept each other as we should- as a family.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle—
Pray for Us .
Live Jesus in Our Hearts—

Student Members of the La Salle Academy Diversity Committee

With Open Arms

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 4 December 2015)

Good morning, La Salle.

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

Senior year is filled with an abundant amount of excitement, enjoyment, and obstacles.
My Senior year has been consumed by school work, college decisions, and football.
One of my brightest highlights this year has been Christian Service.


Every Wednesday during the first quarter, Jake, Avien, Mike, and I would make the ride to Tides up 95 north to Pawtucket. There we played basketball with kids like us who at a first glance could be seen as “bad kids.” Some of them have been convicted of crimes and some have been thrown out of their schools. However, I was excited to meet them. A Senior, I know that it could have been easily one of us in that car changing places with the kids at Tides.

Their mission statement is: “The mission of Tides Family Services, a Lasallian agency committed to service the poor, is to provide high risk youth with comprehensive and preventative services that foster personal growth and stability to better connect them with their families and in their communities”. Some of the students take their high school classes there because of expulsion or they have a better chance to thrive at Tides, so I got to tell them about my high school experience which really helped me appreciate the gift of my years here at La Salle. The students we met did chores and took care of the center because they knew that they needed to appreciate what they had, which helped me to appreciate the things my mom gives me and what I work for. There is also counseling services for those that need it and help for kids who needed transportation to and from activities. Those “bad kids” at Tides were the ones that taught me how to play ping pong, introduced me to all types of music and have allowed me to almost recite the lines of “The Dark Knight” which is their favorite movie.

I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to have spent my Christian Service days at Tides Family Services in Pawtucket.


Let us pray,
Lord allow us as people to approach every situation in life with open arms. Let us not judge those who are less fortunate than we. And let us ultimately be able to fulfill our call to help those in need.

St John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us
Live Jesus in our hearts… Forever

Elijah McLean–Class of 2016

A New Shoot

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 1 December 2015)

Let us pause and remember we are in God’s holy presence.
A few years ago Mr. Papitto, after many conversations about gardening, gave me a small fig tree to bring home and plant. For two years the tree grew in a large pot which I kept inside in the winter, and moved outside in the summer. At first the tree grew pretty quickly and even produced a few figs, but when it reached three feet tall it plateaued. So in the summer of 2014 I planted the tree in a small corner of my yard. By the end of the summer it was over four feet tall and I had high hopes that it would eventually grow into a fully mature tree that bore good fruit for my family to eat. During the fall I wrapped the tree in burlap and piled up leaves and grass clippings around it for insulation. But then the winter of 2014-2015 came with its record snow and record cold. When the snow finally melted and the weather finally turned, I went out to that small corner of my yard to unwrap my fig tree. It’s brittle branches had snapped off under the weight of the snow. The buds which appeared on the tip of its branches in the fall, giving hope for the spring, had shriveled up. My tree was dead. After years of pruning and watering and caring for that tree, it would no longer bear good fruit.


On the board in front of you is “Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem,” by the famous Dutch artist Rembrandt.


Jeremiah is one of the major prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures and he is recognized as a great prophet by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. He lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah in the 7th Century BCE, after the Northern Kingdom had already fallen. Called by God as a young man, Jeremiah tried to get the people to stop worshiping false idols, to be a tree that bore good fruit, to live moral lives, to practice justice, and to return to the living God before Judah, and its capitol, Jerusalem, suffered the same fate as the north. Jeremiah’s warnings, however, fell on deaf ears. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, and thousands of people were moved from Judah to live in exile in Babylon. Jeremiah had failed in his mission. And it is this realization of failure that Rembrandt captured in this painting. Called by God in his youth, Jeremiah is now an old man. His whole life’s work, like the temple pictured to the left, is going up in flames. He has let down his people. He has let down himself. He has let down his God.

The first reading from yesterday, the first Sunday of Advent, comes from the 33rd chapter of Jeremiah – the very end of the book. While Rembrandt’s masterpiece seems to be bereft of hope, the final chapters of Jeremiah point with hope to a future for the people in exile. Jeremiah spends his final days encouraging the people to hold tight to their faith, to turn away from idols, and to practice the compassion and justice that God desires. And only then, Jeremiah prophecies, will God save them and bring them home again.
“The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”

Jeremiah shoot
Late last April, after Easter, I was doing some yardwork outside, when I noticed a patch of green in the corner of my yard where the fig tree had been. Out of the dead leaves and dead grass, sprouting from the base of the old dead tree, a new shoot had sprouted.

life fig tree

Let us pray.
This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. “ Lord, give us the strength and the desire to walk in these ancient paths, to turn away from whatever false gods tempt us, and to depend on you alone. Amen.
St. John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.
Matt Daly–Director of Campus Ministry