Matthew Brown ’24 provided the Student Reflection at Mass on Wednesday, November 1, 2023.
Good morning everyone. My name is Matthew Brown from the Class of 2024 and I would like to welcome you to today’s Mass.
Today is the Solemnity of All Saints Day. All Saints Day originated in the year 609 A.D. during May, when Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Later, Pope Gregory III changed the date to November 1 and shortly thereafter Pope Gregory the fourth extended this celebration to the universal church. Catholics view saints as anyone who makes it to Heaven. Today we celebrate all saints, whether they were formally canonized Saints (with a capital “S”) within the Church, or simply those who made it to Heaven.
In Theology class this year when learning about the world’s different religions, we discuss who the exemplars are for the various faiths we study. Exemplars are people who serve as role models. For Catholics, saints are our exemplars. Saints lead by example and show us how we should devote our lives to God. Yet, we also oftentimes have exemplars who aren’t saints that still lead by example and show us how we can worship God.
I am a devout Catholic, but even devout Catholics struggle with their faith in many different ways. Whether it is struggling with praying, attending Mass, or believing in God, each and every person has struggled with their faith at least once. I am no different. High school has not been easy for me, and I think it’s safe to say that each of us has felt that way at some point or another. Personally, I had a very tough sophomore year, oftentimes feeling very alone, and as a result my relationship with God struggled. I didn’t understand why these bad things were happening to me and it felt like God was punishing me for reasons I didn’t understand. But throughout this entire time, my older brothers kept showing me how to remain faithful and grow in my relationship with God. We’d go to church together, pray together, and talk about our faith together. They encouraged me to pray and to ask for the saints to intercede for me and help me with the struggles I was going through. My brothers were the perfect exemplars that I needed to remind me that God is always with us and that He deeply loves and cares for us.
As my brothers were exemplars for me, there are people in your life that are exemplars for you, people who hope to help you grow in your faith. I encourage all of you to consider who your exemplar is. It could be one of your siblings, parents, grandparents, or even your friends.
And if you truly believe that you do not have an exemplar, someone who will show you the way, then the saints are perfect for you. I can guarantee that each and every one of you will relate to at least one saint in some way shape or form. There are an estimated 11,000 saints, so there are plenty to choose from when considering who your exemplar will be. As we enter into this Mass, I encourage you to ask God for the strength to go out and set a good example; to be an exemplar. We are called to imitate the lives of saints and lead by example with our worship of God. Now I leave you with one parting question that I’d like you to think about. How can you go out and be an exemplar for those around you?
Anna Androsyuk ’24 provided the Student Reflection at Mass on Friday, October 20, 2023.
Good morning everyone. My name is Anna Androsyuk from the class of 2024 and I want to welcome you to today’s mass.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul discusses Abraham, the founding father of the first covenant between God and His people. Paul explains that according to Scripture, Abraham’s belief was the reason he was credited as righteous, not because of his work. Despite the fact that Abraham had done countless good deeds and had a profound impact, he was chosen by God solely because of his steadfast faith.
There are many ways to attain the spiritual gift God offers us. At times you may doubt yourself and wonder: am I doing this right? Do I really live as Jesus taught? But all God asks is for you to put your faith into Him.
There are multiple ways we, as students, can exhibit our steadfast faith. Following the four Dominican pillars is a path that will lead you to righteousness, but more importantly also grows and solidifies your relationship with God. Through prayer, community, study, and preaching we can learn how God wants us to live out our lives. However, these pillars cannot simply produce righteousness. Our actions are fruitless if not fueled by faith — belief in God and His promise. These pillars help us to embody our faith and connect it through our heart, mind, and soul — only then can God give us this spiritual gift.
My faith has not always been steadfast. I, too, have had low moments when I didn’t feel the presence of God. In middle school, I didn’t understand the importance of having a relationship with God. Just like most of my peers, I was preoccupied with other things like when I would spend time with my friends, what grade I got on a test, or what my plans were the following weekend. But regardless of whether I was focused on God, He was there even when I was too blind to see it. Especially when you feel an absence of God, Jesus reminds us, “Do not be afraid.” Looking back now, I realize that He was there to guide me every step of the way. Even when we stray from God and good deeds, God still wants us to return to him. We don’t need to be afraid of God if we have made mistakes. God was there through all my triumphs and my failures. He was there then just as He is now. He was there for me and He is there for each of you. God offers salvation as a gift to each and every one of us. He is forgiving, sins can be cured, and there is always a path to God.
Catherine Quinn ’25 provided the Student Reflection at the Votive Mass for the Most Holy Rosary on Friday, October 13, 2023.
Good morning. My name is Catherine Quinn of the Class of 2025.
When I was younger, my extended family and I spent our summers at my aunt and uncle’s house in Michigan. I created some of my fondest memories there, from being dunked in the water by my older cousins to staying up past my bedtime to enjoy s’mores. The lake was where I first learned to shuffle cards, where I first heard stories about my grandparents, where I first began to understand the blessings of family. It was my haven and my happy place. Eventually, during COVID, my aunt and uncle decided to sell their house. I was stunned and devastated, feeling that the sale marked the end of an era.
The First Reading from the Prophet Joel today explains how God’s people prepared for the end of something- the end of the world. The advice from Joel can provide us with guidance on dealing with the end of things. The People of God were advised to approach the alleged end of time with prayer, fasting, and acts of gratitude.
Every end presents its challenges, some small, like the trivial disappointment of finishing an ice cream cone or a favorite TV show, or the sale of a beach house that wasn’t even my own, and some large, like the heartbreaking anguish that accompanies the loss of a loved one.
Although we can never be fully prepared for something that abruptly comes to an end, we can try to view these experiences a little differently. We can attempt to live more fully in each moment to better treasure the various experiences that life has to offer. We can remember to give thanks for our blessings each and every day. Through God, we can recognize and appreciate the beauty of our past adventures and the people and memories we will forever hold. And, with His guiding hand, God can help us to remember that with every end comes a new beginning.
Oftentimes it is difficult to appreciate what is right in front of us when we expect it to always be there. But as a Fenwick community, we can work to embrace the occasions that bring us joy and express our gratitude towards God for gifting us these moments and opportunities.
In giving God our prayers and trust, , we can further cultivate our relationship with God and those around us so that when our own “end times” approach, we are prepared to be united with God.
During this month of October, when we celebrate the rosary, we can remember the power of prayer. Through the prayers of the rosary and Mary, the Mother of God, we can find the guidance to grow closer with our Creator and the strength to understand that some experiences are fleeting, so we must cherish them as they come.
Anna Schloss ’24 provided the Student Reflection at the Feast of the Archangels Mass on Friday, September 29, 2023.
Good Morning Friars! My name is Anna Schloss of the class of 2024 and I’d like to take a moment to welcome you to mass this Friday morning.
Today we celebrate the feast of the archangels, Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. The archangels are often viewed as heroic messengers and protectors of the Church. St. Michael’s greatest feat was defeating Satan in dragon form in the Book of Revelation, St. Gabriel’s appearing to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, and St. Raphael’s healing Tobit and Sarah when they both prayed for death. The archangels are symbols of strength, courage, and heavenly power and, while this is important, it can also seem daunting. How are we supposed to follow the example of the archangels when we aren’t powerful, divine creatures but mere humans?
When I was in kindergarten, my grade school matched us up with eighth-grade students that would be our mentors for the entire school year. These eighth graders were called our “guardian angels.” As guardian angels, they were meant to be role models of faith and goodness for the youngest students in the school. We had a special mass and ceremony, sang songs with our “guardian angels,” and received angel pins. The school made a big deal out of this as it had been a tradition for what seemed like forever. Truthfully, as a kindergartener, I didn’t understand this tradition’s importance. I never talked to my eighth grader outside of our scheduled activities and didn’t understand what it meant to have a guardian angel. My eighth grader wasn’t there to constantly protect me or teach me so the whole idea seemed pointless. However, when I entered eighth grade and finally got to be a guardian angel to a kindergartener, I began to understand the tradition’s significance.
Eighth grade was the year I was confirmed and happened to be the year I began to take hold of my faith and actively work to grow in my relationship with God. As I spent more time focusing on my faith and my role in the church, I realized how important my mentorship was to the youngest students in our school and our parish community. As an eighth-grade guardian angel, it wasn’t my job to fight dragons. It wasn’t my job to perform miracles or be a divinely powerful being. I was called to be a symbol of God’s strength and courage in humanity by showing the kindergarteners how to participate in mass and by doing acts of service with them. This guardian angel tradition shows us that the angels and archangels are there to protect us and that we can model their values in our own lives. This doesn’t need to be done in a matter of grandeur but rather by having the courage to practice our faith when it is challenged and by having the strength to continually reach out to God even when we don’t feel close to Him. The angels and archangels are symbols of God’s love and serve as our guides as we navigate both our lives on earth and our spiritual lives.
I would like to leave you with the lyrics of the guardian angel song we’d always sing during the ceremony. I invite you to open your hearts to feel the presence of God and the angels. I invite you to open your minds so that we can imitate their values of strength and courage. And now we pray:
“Angels before me, guide and direct me. Angels behind me, guard and protect me. Angels above me, keep watching over me. Angels beside me, care for and comfort me. Amen.”
Xahil Gonzalez ’24 provided the Student Reflection at the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows Mass on Friday, September 15, 2023.
Good Morning. My name is Xahil Gonzalez from the class of 2024. I would like to welcome all of you to this Mass celebrating the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The name “Our Lady of Sorrows” was given to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Often depicted mourning the loss of her son, this name was meant to exemplify the immense pain and suffering she had gone through during the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Full of the sorrow and grief that comes along with the loss of a son, through the hurt she rejoiced his death as she knew what was to come of it. Our Lord sent his only son to be born from the Blessed Mary, only to suffer and die for our sins. She knew his suffering was necessary for Salvation. She knew he was our inheritance.
When we hear the word inheritance, we may find ourselves imagining a distant relative we may have never met, or even heard of, who might leave us an estate or castle in a foreign country. We might imagine hearing the news of a great uncle or aunt leaving us a sizable amount of money that would allow us a lavish existence for the rest of our lives. But that is not the definition I mean as today’s responsorial psalm says, “you are my inheritance, O Lord.” When he died for us, we were given an undeserved favor in the form of Grace, something not earned but given freely. We were forgiven from our sins and granted mercy in order to achieve salvation. Sometimes it may seem as if we do not deserve the infinite love and mercy of Our God, but that is the thing about inheritances: one receives it regardless of their worthiness.
Sometimes it can feel as if we are isolated in life, but I can assure you that we are never alone because the Lord is always with us. There have been times where I have felt that I was alone, hopelessly walking, feeling as if there was no actual light at the end of the tunnel; however, I could not have been more wrong.
Last year I lost someone who I was very close to and I was deeply affected by it. The pain of knowing I’d never see them again caused me to lash out and just feel angry all the time. I felt unworthy of any forgiveness and kept pushing away my faith. But I knew that in those moments, I had to remember that His undying love and mercy was my inheritance, whether I felt I deserved it or not. I remembered that through my baptism I had placed my faith and my heart in the hands of God as I knew to trust whatever he had planned for me. I knew he would lead me to the light. As the psalmist says, we are to turn to the Lord for answers, and He will provide them.
Our Lady stood by her son while he suffered and died for our sins. Even when faced with his death, He was not alone. Our Lady suffered alongside Him. She was mourning her son just like anyone would for someone they loved. We must remember to take refuge in the Lord, as she did, for he is our shelter. We must learn to seek counsel from Him, for he is our teacher. He is always with us and in our presence, for he is the path to life. It is important to remember that no matter what we may be going through, He will always be with us to guide us, teach us, console us for the Lord is our inheritance.
And now, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and Our Lady, if you know it and would like to, please join me in saying the “Dios te salve, Maria.”
“Dios te salve, María,
Llena eres de gracia,
el Señor está contigo.
Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres,
y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús.
Santa María, Madre de Dios,
ruega por nosotros, pecadores,
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.