A letter to Mr. Trump from an American citizen

Mr. Trump:

In one of your recent speeches you assured the American people that you were highly educated and that you know words, and that you have the best words.

It seems your favorite word is “I” – something that should give cause for concern to every American voter – but I wonder if you also know some more challenging words, words like nobility, dignity, truth, courage or freedom.

I ask because those words, and their meanings, are not evident in anything you say or do, which is a repeated slap in the face to the American people you are campaigning to serve… or maybe you don’t know the meaning of that word either.

Serve … it’s what presidents do. It’s what presidential leadership is all about. It’s what good leadership is all about.

But apparently that’s not what Trump leadership is all about. You have made it clear that your leadership will amount to “jump when I say jump,” and if that jump isn’t high enough there will be hell to pay.

I’m wondering how that will translate when you are in negotiations with prominent world leaders.

Then there’s the word great. You use it a lot, like when you said you’d be great for women. I can’t imagine that, based on so much of what you’ve said recently, so I would like to ask you a one-word question that you seem to have trouble answering: “How?”

How will you be great for women, and most importantly, how do you plan to make America great?

What does that very subjective word “great” mean to Donald Trump? It would be helpful if you would translate it for the rest of the American public.

You see, many of us already believe America to be great, most often when, through her laws, her leaders and her people, the virtues of nobility, dignity, truth, courage and freedom are woven into the fabric of her identity.

 The American people are deserving of such highly principled values. What you have presented during your campaign is a far cry from anything that resembles virtues or values.

You have assaulted the American people with your turgid rhetoric and cemented political discourse into the world of reality TV. In doing so, you have attempted to manipulate voters into supporting you without providing anything concrete to support.

In the words of an astute philosopher, “Rhetoric without reason, persuasion without argument is manipulation.”

If you really care about America, you will put your gargantuan ego aside and go back to the business world before our country becomes another failed attempt at success under the Trump brand, or worse, is destroyed completely by your political incompetence and infantile petulance.

Shine purple for prayer...for victory and peace

 As our leaders around the world look for answers and actions to defeat terrorism, most of us are left trying to live our daily lives in spite of our fears. Our safety and our Puplestainglassfutures are in the hands of others. But I am certain that we all want to feel as if we are doing our part to stem the tide of evil that manifests itself in terrorism.

 As you might expect, I am suggesting that we turn to pray for the answers, to thwart evil, to impart wisdom to our leaders and to continue to develop the communities of love that will be the “something bigger” our youth need so they do not look for belonging within the nest of terrorists.

 There are an estimated 173 million Christians in the United States alone, along with millions more who belong to one of the great religious traditions of the world – all of which affirm that life is sacred, something to be nurtured and protected, not destroyed.

 Together, people of all faiths, need to provide prayer support to our leaders, our military, our law enforcement members at home, and our communities in every part of the world … imagine more than 200 million people sending out prayers to cover the earth, every day.

 It’s the least…and the most…we can do. Join me in putting a light in the window - purple for prayer.


Prayer to Overcome Our Enemies

You are my king and my God,

who bestows victories on Jacob.

 Through you we batter our foes;

through your name we trample our adversaries.

 Not in my bow do I trust,

nor does my sword bring me victory.

 You have brought us victory over our enemies,

shamed those who hate us.

 In God we have boasted all the day long;

your name we will praise forever.

                                                    ~Psalm 44:5

Historic Preservation: The Road to Remembering

HIGH ABOVE THE PATCHWORK QUILT FARMLANDS OF the Hudson Valley near Albany, New 120px-Indian_Ladder_2 York, sits John Boyd Thacher State Park, cresting miles of limestone cliff face and traveling deep into forests, down rocky slopes to grassy fields. It was here, as a child, where I first walked the Indian Ladder Trail with my dad. It was here where my love for the past was nurtured by the stories of the Mohawk Iroquois Indians who, several hundred years earlier, had walked a trail back and forth to Henry Hudson’s trading post. To scale the cliffs they felled tall trees against the cliff wall and cut back the branches, creating what the early settlers called Indian ladders.

In the late 1800s, philanthropist John Boyd Thacher established a summer residence in the area and purchased hundreds of acres of land, including more than a three-mile expanse of the cliff ledge. The Indian Ladder Trail and a number of other sites of natural and historic beauty were part of his estate; land which he made available to the public for their enjoyment. … (read the rest here:

Published in Issue 11 • March 2011

Young Catholic Authors club reveals children’s insight

It was my privilege, recently, to run an after-school Young Catholic Authors club for middle school students. The purpose of the club was to encourage children to value their own thoughts and ideas, and to develop the confidence to share them, especially in regards to their faith. It was a rewarding experience for me; helping young people discover their innate wisdom as they moved through a creative process of reflection, observation, sharing, and, of course, writing. These brief few weeks provided only a mere taste of what it is like to be an author, but it was a wonderful opportunity to unearth the remarkably deep and insightful thoughts of children who are not often credited with such wisdom.

 As Maria Montessori wrote in The Secret of  Childhood, “There is a part of a child's soul that has always been unknown but which must be known. With a spirit of sacrifice and enthusiasm we must go in search like those who travel to foreign lands and tear up mountains in their search for hidden gold. This is what the adults must do who seek the unknown factor that lies hidden in the depths of a child's soul.”  

Welcome is the hallmark of a shepherding parish

Oddly nestled between neat suburban houses on a city street in Albany, New York, stands a quaint Shepherding wooden building with a cupola bell tower, more reminiscent of a one room school house from Little House on the Prairie than a contemporary house of worship.  What catches the eye is a small hand-painted sign that invites parishioners and passersby - BELOVED OF GOD, WELCOME.

 As I drive on to the hospital where my father lays in a coma, I think about how appropriate that sign would be at the gates of heaven. I pray fervently through endless tears that my father will find Heaven to be that exquisite place of welcome for a beloved child of God.

 At the same time I become acutely aware of the role that little homespun parish must play in bringing and being God's Kingdom to its parish “family,” and how well they had made their mission known in that simple wooden sign.

 In the days following my father's death, when grief threatened to overwhelm my soul, I found myself frequently thinking about the dynamic of church community and the significant impact it has on the lives of its members. What is a parish? What is “church” for the faithful who look for Christ on earth?

 Phrases such as “Family of God,” “community of believers” and “Body of Christ” imply an entity comprised of people intimately bound together by a life grounded in the love of Christ. Ideally such a place would offer spiritual nourishment, emotional support and a special kind of love born of the Spirit.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes the role of the parish as “the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.”  To this end there is no greater gift—the promise of eternal life through the living presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Truly, the Mass and reception of Communion is a unique treasure for Catholics, as are all of the Sacraments. We know the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. Still, there are other treasures to be found within the womb of a parish community.

 The Catechism also acknowledges that the parish “teaches Christ's saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love.” It is this aspect that makes the love of Christ visible to the community.  St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, reminds the members of the early church, “You form a building which rises on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets with Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”

 As such it is imperative to consider that while Jesus continually challenged his disciples to follow him without compromising the truth, no matter the cost, he did so with an invitation to love and be loved. He expected obedience, but offered forgiveness. He desired conversion, but offered mercy.

 When Jesus washed the feet of his apostles it was not just a symbolic gesture to remind others of their obligations, but the embodiment of a reality he expected of his whole church. Serve others, be present to others, humble yourself and be like Christ.

 For me, and for many others, the shepherding parish is an extension of our family. It is a place that invites us in, with all our shortcomings, and loves us—as Jesus, the Shepherd, would love us. Catholics need to experience the love of God in the sacredness of the sacraments and in the ordinary holiness of daily life as well. Parishes that enable their people to make this connection have truly established “the household of God” (1 Tim 3:15). This need to experience the parish as family is all the more vital at a time when families everywhere are fragmented by contemporary pressures.

 A parish which extends itself in service to the community, which provides a variety of ministries for its people to undertake, a parish which offers love and compassion and forgiveness, in addition to catechesis and the sacraments, is a parish living out the call of Christ to “feed my flock.” These are shepherding parishes, parishes that have the ability to evangelize the lost in their “family” and the broader community, as well. But first they have to put out the sign:



Communication and community at the heart of mission

"Communication and community lie at the heart of the Church's mission because God's self-revelation draws every believer into the faith community. After the family, people experience the Church first in the local parish, where bonds of charity begin and where the worshiping community takes shape.

"This occurs through communication: the sharing of faith, the preaching of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments, service to the poor and marginalized, and the union of the larger body. All church communication—even her technologically or mass-mediated communication—should flow from the foundation of God’s self-revelation. Human communication in the Church mirrors the communication of the Trinity, the Divine community, in whom we discover the fullness of communion and communication" (Pastoral Plan for Church Communication, United States Catholic Conference, 1997).