Comforting the Afflicted and Afflicting the Comfortable

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 29 November 2016)

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

As we begin Advent and attempt to revere God and reform our lives in that spirit, we have a great model in the spirit of Christmas in today’s remembrance of Dorothy Day. As we meditate on the story of Jesus’s mother, Mary, and father, Joseph, we see them desperately looking for a place to stay, but being turned down everywhere. In a reflection by Dorothy Day on “Welcoming the Stranger” on which this prayer is based, we ask ourselves if we would have opened our doors to the strangers, Mary and Joseph. It’s easy to say yes, of course, but as Dorothy said, “if everyone was holy and handsome…it would be easy to see Christ in them.” Instead, those living in poverty or foreigners may not be attractive to us – as Mary and Joseph must have seemed to those in Bethlehem.


Although all popes from Pope St. John the XXIII through Pope Francis have admired Dorothy Day, she wasn’t always living an admirable life. However, she had a conversion of heart, converted to Catholicism and had a daughter whom she baptized into the faith. She continued to fight for those in need and for the preservation of the Earth. Dorothy first started a newspaper called The Catholic Worker, which preaches Catholic social justice and is still in wide circulation. This was followed by “knocks on the door” by those living in desperate situations asking if she would follow through on her views and requesting if they could have a room. This began her work in welcoming all in homes for the needy and calling on everyone to a Christian practice of hospitality for all, by being attentive to the Christ knocking on our door!


A few years before her death on this date in 1980, she received much recognition for her Christ-like ways, causing the Church to begin the canonization process. The Laetare medal award that she received from the University of Notre Dame, thanked her for “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” Dorothy Day said, “if I have achieved anything in my life, it is because I have not been embarrassed to talk about God.” May we, too, remember to be as courageous throughout our life and practice it in our words and our actions. Listen to Christ knocking!


Let us pray.    Lord of all, both the comfortable and the afflicted, help us to start fresh this Advent to really practice Christian hospitality as Mary and Joseph needed that special night. May we remember your words, which Dorothy Day never forgot, “Did you give me food when I was hungry, a drink when I was thirsty, or clothes when mine were all rags?” Christ will say that every time we did this for the least among us, we did it for Him! May we be bearers of love and hope to all.

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

Live, Jesus, in our heart…forever.

Leslie Martinelli–Science Teacher

There Is No Such Thing As Doing Nothing

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 16 November 2016)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

Toward the end of August, San Francisco 49er back-up quarterback Colin Kaepernick made national news as he sat, and in subsequent football games, knelt during the playing of the National Anthem.  Regardless of whether we agree or disagree with the action, there is one thing that we all can agree upon—he caught the attention of the nation for the message he wanted to deliver.  No number of newspaper interviews or blogs or tweets could have delivered his message more strongly or clearly than his action.


Each evening before I go to bed, I reflect on a short inspirational message for the following day.  The message for today, November 16th is this: There is no such thing as doing nothing.  We are all doing something to shape the world, even by doing nothing at all.  In fact, that is precisely the point.  Or, as Dr. Albert Schweitzer (the great humanitarian), put it: “Example is not the main thing in influencing others.  It is the only thing.”


So, how do my actions, the example I set influence others?

This coming Sunday marks the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  Lots of words have been written and spoken about mercy and what one could do to make the Year of Mercy a special one.  I wonder sometimes if all those words spoken and written had any impact on us.  For me, the greatest impact of this year has been the actions of Pope Francis, the example set by him.  Once a month during the past year he has left Vatican City to perform a work of mercy.  He visited developmentally disabled adults and chatted and prayed with them; he visited the victims of the recent Italian earthquakes and played with the children and hugged those who had lost loved ones; he traveled to an island off the coast of Greece and listened to the plight of refugees, bringing a dozen Muslim Syrian refugees back to Rome with him on the papal plane.  I don’t remember what he said at each of those moments but the images are seared in my memory—the faces of those hurting being comforted.  The strongest image I have though is that of Pope Francis, a 79 year old man with bad knees and half a lung, in a prison kneeling at the feet of juvenile delinquents of different races and religions—gently washing their feet, lovingly drying them, and then humbly kissing those feet as part of the Holy Thursday ceremony.  Young women and men alike, discards of society, the forgotten, the bad kids, weeping as an elderly man showed them what mercy and forgiveness is all about.


So, how do my actions, the example I set influence others?

What message am I giving when I interrupt a conversation with a supposed friend to check my phone for a call or text message coming in?  What message am I giving when I walk through the hallways never looking a stranger in the eye or saying Hello?  What message am I giving if I am so preoccupied with my own concerns that I am unaware of or, even worse, trying to avoid another in need? What message I am giving when I almost always come late to school, late to class, late to practice, late to rehearsal, late to a meeting?  What message am I giving when I spend the whole day out of dress code, shirt or blouse tails hanging out, no ID, trying to get away with wearing whatever shoes I wish?  What message am I giving when my report card is filled with comments like: Needs to be more attentive in class—Does not do homework—Does not study for tests?  Words are cheap—words like: I’m sorry, Brother, for being out of dress code or not having my ID or leaving my shoes in my locker or at home.  Or words like: I have these grades under control; already they are a few points higher; my grades will get better, I promise.  Words are cheap (you know that as well as I do) unless we walk the walk!  It is not enough to simply talk the talk—we must walk the walk!


So, how do my actions, the example I set influence others?  Do I influence others for good?  Do I serve as a positive role model?

Another famous Francis, Saint Francis of Assisi, has said: Preach the Gospel, the Good News, AND if necessary, use words!


Let us pray:

Lord, each of us has been called to spread the Good News of your love to all with whom we come in contact.  Help us today to act in such a way that the example we give others is life-giving, is positive, and is reflective of love and care.  Help us to remember that when we do nothing we really are doing something to shape the world.  What is the legacy I want to leave to others and to the world today?

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller

All Shapes–Colors–Sizes

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 15 November 2016)

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


I think the best way to start off this prayer is with a cheesy and overused quote.

People come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

Let me say that again.

People come in all shapes. Colors. And sizes.


When I was little, my mom used to take me to a park after school. And one day, I found myself playing with a girl who had a skin pigmentation disorder. So, my naturally loud, outgoing, and very questioning self, without any knowledge of the word “Rude”,  went up to my mom, and asked:
“What’s wrong with her skin?” …

I was six years old, and innocently asking, just like any other kid would. But I was loud enough that the girl and her mother turned to look, waiting for my mom’s response.

And this is what she said.

“Madeline, God makes people in all shapes, colors and sizes, with all different gifts. And her gift was beautiful skin.”


I can’t imagine what that girl has gone through, or even still going through, today.

Is she confident in herself?

Is she happy?

It’s sad to think that society today body-shames everyone into this idea of an “Ideal” beauty. The problem is that the standards are unrealistic and unachievable at best and at worst can be a tool we use to be self-abusive, sexist, and shallow.

We are so forcefully pressured into wanting This Ideal that society has created an entire generation of people who are uncomfortable with their own reflections in the mirror.


Think about this:

Society’s forced idea of Ideal beauty changes as fast as the seasons.

Meaning, over ALL the time humanity has existed, it still hasn’t found and established a set idea of what beautiful actually means.

This is because there is no standard for beauty.

Beauty is not something you can learn from a magazine. Beauty comes from the soul.

And since I don’t think I’ve met a person without a soul, I guess I have enough proof to say:
Everyone. Is. Beautiful.

Real Beauty Analogue Hand-Lettering by Yaansoon Illustration

Let us pray.

Dear Lord, help us to realize how beautiful we really are as individuals, and to see the beauty in the people around us, and the world we live in, every day.


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

Live Jesus in our hearts— Forever.

Thank you, and

I hope you have a day as beautiful as you are.

Madeline Hopkins–Class of 2018

Said No Child Ever…

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 3 November 2016)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
When I grow up I want to be a drug addict. Or: When I grow up I want to be a prostitute.
Or: I can’t wait to leave my home and family, my whole identity for a 3000 mile trek to
the United States. Or: I am happy I’m poor and that I am homeless.


Said no child ever.
I have been fortunate enough to spend time during 2 summers in Lasallian Social
Justice institutes on immigration and human trafficking. This was a small but powerful
glimpse into worlds that I had only read about. There is some serious truth to the saying
that you don’t know what it’s like until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I
actually did this across the border into Mexico.


In our society we have little empathy for victims of painful circumstance. Victim
blaming is prevalent, criminalization a common practice. And I ask myself why?
Is reaching out to someone in need that difficult? Why do we feel so threatened by
another’s pain and suffering that putting them in prison seems like a viable option?
According to psychologists, victims of circumstance make us feel vulnerable. They
threaten our sense that the world is a safe place, that as long as we follow the rules
nothing bad will happen to us. Living our lives believing that misfortune can strike at
any moment is absolutely terrifying and so we look at victims of poverty, addiction and
human trafficking as somehow deserving of their fate. However, rationalizing the
suffering of others does nothing to change our world for the better. It reduces our
empathy. We dehumanize. And we blame.


Being able to put ourselves in another’s shoes may make us uncomfortable but certainly
the way to combat an unjust world is to open our hearts and have compassion.


Dear God,
Let us pray for all those deprived of their human needs, that they may find dignity.
For those who are forgotten or thrown away in our society, the sick, the poor, the aged.
For those who are lonely or afraid, teenagers on the street, war refugees, migrants.
God help us open our hearts and show us the value in all human life
St. John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Kristine Chapman–Social Studies Teacher