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Archive for November, 2015

We Need to Love Our Earth

“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”. Pope Francis from Laudato Si

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There has been much written and debated about Pope Francis’ encylical, Laudato Si. As he eloquently describes, the economic focus of all countries is destroying biodiversity, dangerously altering the climate and undermining the life-support systems of the planet for humanity and millions of other species. On all of this, Pope Francis offers a compelling summary of the scientific evidence, presented with clarity and precision. I do not intend to get political at all – my intent here is to reflect on the beautiful gift we have been given, the gift of creation.IMG_0527

The human family has received from the Creator a common gift: Nature. At St. Patrick School, we are spending the whole month of November focused on respecting the gift of nature, particularly water. Through our STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), we are giving our students hands-on experiences with the Water Cycle, conservation, acid rain, hydroponics, infrastructure and filtration, and watersheds. Our 5th,6th, 7th, and 8th graders are reading Laudato Si in class as well as participating in The Water Project, a non-profit organization that provides reliable water projects to communities in sub-Saharan Africa. These communities suffer needlessly from a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation.

Our goals: to instill respect for all creation, to provide deep and meaningful learning experiences for our students and teachers, to provide service opportunities that will impact our school community for the rest of our lives.

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Pope Francis has asked  this: Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.

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Go Warriors!

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The Life-Long Quest to be a Saint

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When I was a principal in Virginia Beach, VA, I would go to Oceana Naval Air Station every Tuesday afternoon to teach religious education to 7th graders. I remember one year preparing a lesson on the Saints. I wanted to get some real discussion going so I asked: What do we need to do to become a saint? One boy immediately answered: “We need to be dead.” I do not remember my response, but I have never forgotten his answer.

As I have grown older, yes, and wiser,?, – I have come to know that we must be alive and also die if we are going to become a saint. God made us for living so that we can honor and praise him. I was not taught the Baltimore Catechism, but over the years I have heard people quote a question like this. I “Googled” it – Q6: Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

During his pontificate, Pope Francis has often spoken about living and being happy. He tells us to “live and let live,” to “give yourselves to others,” to “have a healthy sense of leisure.” He has written a whole book entitled: Pope Francis and Our Call to Joy.” We live to make the world a better place, we live to have fun and create wonderful memories, we live to be in relationship with others, we live so we can share our gifts, – – we live so we can love.

And yet, if we do not “die” to selfishness, self-involvement, impatience, gossip, and the like, we may not have the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest – to become the Saints God intends for us to be. Go Warriors!

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