(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 3 September 2019)
Good morning La Salle and De La Salle.
Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God:
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this out loud, but last Friday morning, while driving to Lasalle Academy for our first day of school, I felt… well, I felt “lonely.” I felt a strange sensation of absence, in my mind and heart. You see, for the past 15 years, I’ve always driven to school with one of my four children who were Lasalle students in grades 7-12, depending on the school year. And each daughter or son brought a different perspective to the car-ride in to school each morning.
Fifteen years ago, in August 2004, Christina (my oldest daughter) and I started Lasalle Academy together. Mr. Kavanagh and Br. Michael had hired me in late August that year to teach religion. Christina was intending to go to Classical High School in Providence, but Mr. Aldrich was able to find Christina a spot in the freshman class at the last minute, when a student dropped out of La Salle after one day of freshman orientation. It was great to have a 14-year old daughter (my personal insider) to compare notes with each day, as we shared our struggles and triumphs as student and teacher, in a school that was new for both of us.
My second daughter, Marianna who is 4 years younger, drove me nuts on the ride in. She is the most style-conscious of my children. She soon realized that dad’s 7-passenger white GMC Safari maxi-van, with the large V8 engine and extra towing capacity (imagine in your mind the big white electrician or plumber’s cargo van, but without the writing on the side) couldn’t compete with the fancy cars that her friends came to school in. After a month, she made me drop her off at the iron gate by the tennis courts, so none of her friends would see her arriving with her dad in the ugly white “cargo van”. A month later, I was dropping her off farther away from the school property at Subway and by Thanksgiving, she was abandoning ship at Lasalle Bakery. She simply didn’t want to be seen driving in with me. It wasn’t long after, that we traded in our white GMC Safari for a grey Honda Odyssey. Merry Christmas Mari.
At least my daughters got out the front door of our house by 7:20am. My sons, John and James, were impossible to wake up in the morning. John would always forget something at home-usually his sneakers and gym clothes on gym day, and we’d have to turn around and retrieve whatever he forgot. And then there was my youngest son. For four years, James would never want to talk to me because he was so moody. We tried listening to Sports talk-radio on the way in, but typically Toucher and Rich, and Greg Hill would start veering off onto inappropriate topics, so the morning news on NPR at 89.7 FM would win out. Sorry James. Our four years of morning misery finally ended last June with his graduation from La Salle Academy. He’s a freshman at Providence College and he’s no longer by my side each morning.
Anyways, this got me thinking this past Friday. Who or what will fill the void in the front passenger seat, now that all of my children are out of high school? Well, I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to invite God to drive in to school we me every morning. And maybe before I even turn on the motor, I’ll say to myself, “Let me remember that I am in the holy presence of God.” And then I’ll sit in silence in my driveway-with no radio on, just me and God.
And that got me to thinking about what we teachers do, 5 or 6 times each day, at the beginning of every class. What does that mean, to recognize that we are in God’s holy presence? Over 300 years ago, John Baptist De La Salle taught the Christian Brothers to take the following approach, every time they heard these words:
“I will be conscious that I live in the holy presence of a God who is inviting me into a deeper personal relationship.”
This presence then, is a relational presence. As if God were next to me in the front seat, interested in my every thought. Secondly, De La Salle believed that,
“God, in his presence, is inviting me
to be transformed into God’s holiness.”
In other words, God promises to change me for the better, to make me holier during the school day. And this miracle happens everyday because you– you my students, you my fellow teachers and you the La Salle staff, will help me to see God’s presence through the Eyes of Faith. And because God is riding shot-gun, giving me direction in my life, I know that any delays, obstacles, or side streets on the journey of life, are a part of God’s divine plan, God’s Providence. So even though you can’t see God, rest assured God is there. God wants to be present in your life. And unlike my daughter, I know that God won’t bail on me when we reach Lasalle Bakery.
Let us pray:
Loving God, we thank you for your loving presence every hour of every day. Help us to see you with the Eyes of Faith; give us the courage to enter more deeply into a personal relationship with you this school year. Help us to recognize the indwelling of your Holy Spirit in each person we meet here in our school community. Jesus our brother, promise us that you will always be by our side. May we recognize your presence whenever you carry us home, even when we are unable to recognize your footprints at our side.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, PRAY FOR US
Live Jesus in our Hearts, FOREVER!
Prayer offered by: David Martinez, Religion Teacher