What Direction in 2017?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 4 January 2017)

Good Morning and welcome back to school from Christmas vacation. Happy New Year!

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

Herman was driving on Route 95 when his cell phone rang.  It was his wife, Rose.

“Herman, I just saw on the news that there is a crazy person driving the wrong way on I-95.  Be careful”

“Rose, I’m driving on I-95 right now and believe it or not, it’s not just one person; it’s hundreds?”

The start of a new year is a good time to consider whether we are going in the right direction.

My son, Matthew, gave a book to me just before the Christmas Holidays.  He said that he thought I might enjoy reading it.  I figured he was cleaning out a bookcase and needed some space for another bookend – an elephant, or whale, or tiger.

The book title is “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.  Now I have to admit that I hadn’t read anything with the word Zen in it for quite a number of years.  I had heard of the book and began reading it over the vacation.  Some people have said that it’s one of the most important and influential books written in the past half-century. Written by Robert Pirsig,  it’s a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live . . . and a meditation on how to live better.  It’s a narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America’s Northwest, undertaken by a father and his young son.  It is a story of love and fear — of growth, discovery, and acceptance — that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life’s fundamental questions.

The author carefully intertwines philosophical thought from Plato, Aristotle, and many other great philosophers with the careful fine tuning and care of their means of transportation – the motorcycle.  There is an in depth discussion about the idea of “quality”.   How do you define the word – “quality”? Can it even be defined?  How do you know if something has “quality”?  Is it something that can be defined as  – “Well, I know it when I see it! But I can’t define it.”

Pirsig goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks in his research and finds the word ARETE which can be translated as excellence or goodness.  That’s an interesting interpretation – quality – can it be defined as excellence or goodness?

It was in these two hundred pages that I paused and thought about quality, excellence and goodness and where do I see them in my world today.  I couldn’t help but think of La Salle Academy where we are surrounded by people who exhibit goodness and excellence on a daily basis.  Our students work toward excellence every day in the classroom, in the theater, on the dance floor, in Mock Trial, on the athletic field, court, track, mat, circle, ice and pool.  Students constantly rise to the occasion when representing the school in so many different ways and we are so proud and impressed by their work and performances and actions.  We are surrounded by students who demonstrate excellence or who are singled out by the press as being excellent – locally, regionally, and nationally.

Our teachers and staff work consistently with our students to guide you, help you, encourage you, to give a quality effort in every undertaking.

So here we are in January, 2017 – It is a time to set goals and to establish patterns of behavior that will carry us through the second semester.  Remembering and recognizing the presence of God is a distinguishing mark of a Lasallian school.  In an age in which so many young people struggle with the poverty of low self-esteem, one of the greatest gifts we can give our students is to see their goodness before they even see it in themselves, to name their goodness, and to love them so effectively that they begin to believe in their own goodness.  Remembering the presence of God reminds us of the limitless goodness and potential for excellence in each person we encounter.  It keeps us focused on the goodness.  Every encounter with another person is an encounter with God.

Author Dov Seidman points out that when you press “pause” on a computer, it stops.  When a human being pauses, it can signal a new start.  Let us pause and reflect on the positive ways we can touch the world with caring and compassion for others.  Let us pause to recalculate the direction in which we are presently going, so that we may acquire a heart of wisdom, quality, excellence, and goodness in the school year ahead.

Let us pray:

It is said that De La Salle encouraged his Brothers to remember the presence of God every time they walked through a doorway.  Pay attention to the number of doorways you walk through in the next six hours, and you will understand De La Salle’s point:  we are always and everywhere in the presence of God, and we must find ways to be mindful of God’s presence.  AMEN

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Donald Kavanagh–Principal