A “Half-Time” Prayer

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 22 January 2018)

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

Except for the 51 Super Bowls, the AFC and NFC Conference Championship games historically have featured the most memorable football games in NFL history, matching up the best teams, players and coaches.

As we finish the first semester today, I thought it would be appropriate as students, faculty and staff, to have our own academic Half-Time prayer. Not being an athlete myself, I asked some coaches, team managers and former La Salle Academy athletes about the purpose of the coach’s half-time pep talk. After listening to their stories, it became clear to me that many of the strategies and points addressed during time-outs and game-breaks by coaches might carry over to our own academic performance. Maybe we can benefit from some of these same motivational messages as we reflect on our academic performance today, when we receive our 2nd quarter, mid-term, and Semester I grades. We should use the feedback from teachers today (I think of them as your academic coaches) to scheme-up a better game plan for the second half, so that with “Divine Assistants” we can come out on top with a personal victory in every class, when the final buzzer sounds in June.

One of the coaches I talked to likes to use Half-Time as a chance to reflect briefly on the first half performance, noting how the players were successful, and where they will need to improve if they want to achieve victory at the end of the game. In hindsight, sometimes we don’t show up to play, lacking energy in our play during the 1st half. Sometimes we take the game for granted thinking we can coast to a victory, or we don’t realize our enemy’s strengths. What are your enemies when it comes to school? What kind of obstacles do you face, when you’re trying to study for a test or finish your homework every night?

Perhaps students will need to address their own weaknesses in all three phases of the game: reading, writing and arithmetic. Maybe we had the perfect game plan in place in September at the start of the season, but we will need to make some Half-Time adjustments, starting today.  The best coaches can identify the team’s and players’ weaknesses and offer a 2nd half adjustment to tilt the game in our favor. Maybe God is speaking through your teachers today, as they try to coach you to a better performance in the second half.

If Coach Belichik were here, he would probably admonish us to block out any distractions in our game preparations. Are you distracted by TV, video games or social media, when you could be putting more focus on your academic game plan? Can we see ourselves at the end of the game on the graduation podium, holding our prized diploma in hand, with the crowd cheering our academic success?

One La Salle Academy coach reminds his athletes to believe in themselves–because they’ve already put in the hard work in practice, in every drill, play or technique they’ve worked on during the week.  It was all drawn up to make the players successful in their biggest test of the season, and God desires the same for us. If we can dedicate ourselves to performing our individual jobs well, the whole class wins out! Just “Do your Job!”

Another coach wondered, “What motivates us to perform our best?” Forty years ago, one Notre Dame football coach had his players put on special Kelly-green jerseys for good luck before a big game against USC. Instead of luck, maybe we can put on the mantle of Jesus Christ and John Baptist de La Salle, that they might be with us in spirit and truth, as we play out the second half. By making some Half-Time adjustments–in the mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of the game–and with attentiveness to the encouragement and knowledge that our academic coaches bring to the game, we can achieve many academic victories in 2018 and the seasons ahead.

Let us pray… Loving God, we pray that we not be judged simply by the numbers and scores next to our names. Help us remember that we are made in your Divine image, and help us through your grace to become the best students we can be. May Christ the Teacher guide us always through the Holy Spirit, as we journey through the game of life.

St. John Baptist de La Salle, PRAY FOR US.

Our Lady of Victory, PRAY FOR US.

Live Jesus in our hearts, FOREVER.

David Martinez–Religion Teacher