Monthly Archives: May 2010

Political Miscellania 5/25/10

A roundup of recent political news.

1.  Rule one of a sex scandal:  Do not have your mistress interview you on the topic of abstinence education as Congressman Mark Souder (R.Ind) did in the above video.  Souder had the common sense to resign , and the Republicans should be able to hold the seat.  As for Mr. Souder, when you preach social conservatism, the first person you must convince is yourself.

 2.  Republicans lose Pennsylvania 12 special election.  I always thought this one was a long shot.  The Democrats enjoy a 2-1 voter advantage, and the corrupt Jack Murtha who had held the seat since 74 won re-election in 2008 in spite of being under investigation and calling his voters racist.  Perhaps there is some truth in this old Saturday Night Live video from 2008.

3.  Republicans win Hawaii 1.  Charles Djou is going to Congress as the first Republican congressman from Hawaii in 20 years.  Djou got in because the Democrats fielded two candidates and neither one would bow out.  The Democrats are confident that they will take the seat back in November.  I am not so sure.  Djou is a formidable campaigner and the Democrat vote may still be fractured come November with all the bad blood that has been generated, with a fair amount of Democrats deciding to sit out the vote or crossing over to vote for Djou.

4.  Best political campaign ad thus far in this cycle:

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Texas, Textbooks, the Washington Post and Ann Althouse

The Left in this country has been having a hissy fit over conservatives on the Texas State School Board amending the social studies standards in that state.  For example, California State Senator Leland Yee (D. San Francisco) has introduced a bill that would require the California Board of Education to be on the lookout for any Texas content in reviewing public school textbooks.  He also makes the hilarious statement that the Texas curriculum changes pose a threat “to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”  This in a state where the legislature has instituted a Harvey Milk Day to propagandize students in the gay rights agenda, and where the California Education Association, the teacher’s union, is the largest spender on politics in the state.

To support the meme of the Left that evil conservatives were perverting educational standards in Texas, the Washington Post wrote a hit piece that may be read here.  Ann Althouse, law professor and blogger decided to compare the claims of the Washington Post to the new standards.  Here is what she found:

Let me embarrass the Washington Post. Below, the material from the WaPo article, written by Michael Birnbaum, is indented. After the indented part, I’ve located the relevant quote from the Board of Education text, found here. (I’m searching 3 PDF documents: Economics with Emphasis on the Free Enterprise System and Its Benefits Subchapter A. High School; Social Studies Subchapter B. Middle School; Social Studies Subchapter C. High School.)

The Washington Post writes:

The Texas state school board gave final approval Friday to controversial social studies standards….

The new standards say that the McCarthyism of the 1950s was later vindicated — something most historians deny –…
The students are required to “describe how McCarthyism, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the arms race, and the space race increased Cold War tensions and how the later release of the Venona Papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government…” The word “vindicated” is inflammatory and unfair. What is the Washington Post saying historians deny? One can be informed of the reality of what the Venona Papers revealed about communist infiltration into the U.S. government and still understand and deplore the excesses of “McCarthyism.”

…draw an equivalency between Jefferson Davis’s and Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural addresses…
Students are required to “analyze the ideas contained in Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address and Abraham Lincoln’s ideas about liberty, equality, union, and government as contained in his first and second inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address.” The word “equivalency” is uncalled for. The requirement is to analyze, not to be indoctrinated that the ideas are the same.

… say that international institutions such as the United Nations imperil American sovereignty…
What I’m seeing is “explain the significance of the League of Nations and the United Nations” and “analyze the human and physical factors that influence the power to control territory, create conflict/war, and impact international political relations such as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), or the control of resources.” Where is the language that can be paraphrased “imperil American sovereignty”?

…. and include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn.
Students are required to “explain the roles played by significant individuals and heroes during the Civil War, including Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and congressional Medal of Honor recipients William Carney and Philip Bazaar.” Only Davis and Lee were Confederate officials! There is also this: “describe the role of individuals such as governors George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and Lester Maddox and groups, including the Congressional bloc of southern Democrats, that sought to maintain the status quo [in the Civil Rights Era].” That’s obviously not from the Civil War, but I can see why it’s annoying to Democrats.

They also removed references to capitalism and replaced them with the term “free-enterprise system.”
The document on economics does use the term “free enterprise system” throughout, but students are required to “understand that the terms free enterprise, free market, and capitalism are synonymous terms to describe the U.S. economic system,” so what is the problem?

Virtually everything cited in the article to make the curriculum seem controversial is misstated! Appalling!

ADDED: Birnbaum had an article in the previous day’s Washington Post that does contain quotes, and these have to do with changes that went through on Thursday (and which do not — but should! — appear in the documents that are available at the Board of Education website):

Students will now study “efforts by global organizations to undermine U.S. sovereignty,” an addition late Thursday evening encouraged by board member Don McLeroy (R), who has put forward many of the most contentious changes….

Another one of the seven conservative board members, David Bradley (R), added a list of Confederate generals and officials to the list of topics that students must study.

This provides support for Birnbaum’s statement that the standards “include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn.” And it answers my question “Where is the language that can be paraphrased ‘imperil American sovereignty’?” My criticisms about “vindicating” McCarthyism, “the equivalency between Jefferson Davis’s and Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural addresses,” and the term “free-enterprise system” remain.

I have not been defending the Texas standards, only attacking the quality of the journalism that fails to quote or link to a text that is referred to. Birnbaum’s Friday article contains some useful quotes (though still not a link to the whole text). The Saturday article was unanchored to text and forced me to look for what I could find on line. I’m also criticizing inaccurate paraphrasing, like the use of the words “vindicating” and “equivalency.” Birnbaum’s take on the standards might be true, but in an article that refers to a text, I do need to see the text. Paraphrasing, without the text, raises suspicions, and I don’t apologize for having those suspicions.

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Pope Benedict on Pentecost

Homily given by Pope Benedict on Pentecost Sunday on May 15, 2005:

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Ordinandi,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The First Reading and the Gospel of Pentecost Sunday offer us two great images of the mission of the Holy Spirit. The reading from the Acts of the Apostles speaks of how, on the day of Pentecost, under the signs of a strong wind and fire, the Holy Spirit sweeps into the community of the disciples of Jesus who are in prayer, thus bringing the Church into being.

For Israel, Pentecost – celebration of the harvest – had become the celebration marking the conclusion of the Covenant on Mt Sinai. In wind and fire, God made his presence known to the people and then gave them the gift of his Law, the Ten Commandments. In this singular way was the work of liberation, begun with the Exodus from Egypt, brought to fulfilment: human freedom is always a shared freedom, a “togetherness” of liberty. Common freedom lasts only in an ordered harmony of freedom that reveals to each person his or her limits.

In this way the gift of the Law on Mt Sinai was not a restriction nor an abolition of freedom, but the foundation of true liberty. And since a correct human ordering finds stability only if it comes from God and if it unites men and women in the perspective of God, the Commandments that God himself gives us cannot be lacking in a correct ordering of human freedom.

In this way, Israel fully became a people, through the Covenant with God on Mt Sinai. Israel’s encounter with God on Sinai could be considered to be the foundation and the guarantee of its existence as a people. The wind and fire, which enveloped the community of Christ’s disciples gathered in the Upper Room, becomes a further development of the event of Mt Sinai and gives it new fullness.

They were gathered in Jerusalem on that day, according to what is written in the Acts of the Apostles: “devout Jews of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2: 5). Here is made manifest the characteristic gift of the Holy Spirit: all understood the words of the Apostles: “each one heard these men speaking his own language” (Acts 2: 6). The Holy Spirit gives understanding.

Overcoming the “breach” begun in Babel – the confusion of hearts, putting us one against the other – the Spirit opens borders.

The People of God who found its first configuration on Mt Sinai, now becomes enlarged to the point of recognizing no limitations. The new People of God, the Church, is a people that derives from all peoples. The Church is catholic from her beginning and this is her deepest essence.

St Paul explains and underlines this in the Second Reading when he says: “It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body. All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit” (I Cor 12: 13).

The Church must always become anew what she already is; she must open the borders between peoples and break down the barriers between class and race. In her, there cannot be those who are forgotten or looked down upon. In the Church there are only free brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. The wind and fire of the Holy Spirit must continually break down those barriers that we men and women continue to build between us; we must continually pass from Babel – being closed in on ourselves – to Pentecost.

Thus, we must continually pray that the Holy Spirit opens us and gives us the grace of understanding, so that we become the People of God deriving from all peoples. St Paul tells us more along these lines: in Christ, who as the one Bread feeds all of us in the Eucharist and draws us to him in his Body wracked on the Cross, we must become only one body and one spirit.

The second image of the sending of the Spirit that we find in the Gospel is much more hidden. Exactly in this way, however, all of the greatness of the Pentecost event is perceived. The Risen Lord passes through the closed doors and enters the place where the disciples are, and greets them twice with the words: “Peace be with you”.

We continually close our doors; we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God. And so, we can continually implore the Lord just for this, that he come to us, overcoming our closure, to bring us his greeting: “Peace be with you”.

This greeting of the Lord is a bridge that he builds between heaven and earth. He descends to this bridge, reaching us, and we can climb up on this bridge of peace to reach him. On this bridge, always together with him, we too must reach our neighbour, reach the one who needs us. It is in lowering ourselves, together with Christ, that we rise up to him and up to God. God is Love, and so the descent, the lowering that love demands of us, is at the same time the true ascent. Exactly in this way, lowering ourselves, coming out of ourselves, we reach the dignity of Jesus Christ, the human being’s true dignity.

The Lord’s greeting of peace is followed by two gestures that are decisive for Pentecost: the Lord wants the disciples to continue his mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20: 21).

After this, he breathes on them and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound” (Jn 20: 23). The Lord breathes on the disciples, giving them the Holy Spirit, his own Spirit. The breath of Jesus is the Holy Spirit.

We recognize here, in the first place, an allusion made to the story of creation in the Book of Genesis, where it is written: “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gn 2: 7). Man is this mysterious creature who comes entirely from the earth, but in whom has been placed the breath of God. Jesus breathes on the Apostles and gives them the breath of God in a new and greater way.

In people, notwithstanding all of their limitations, there is now something absolutely new: the breath of God. The life of God lives in us. The breath of his love, of his truth and of his goodness. In this way we can see here too an allusion to Baptism and Confirmation, this new belonging to God that the Lord gives to us. The Gospel Reading invites us to this: to live always within the breath of Jesus Christ, receiving life from him, so that he may inspire in us authentic life, the life that no death may ever take away.

To his breath, to the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord joins the power of forgiveness. We heard earlier that the Holy Spirit unites, breaks down barriers, leads us one to the other. The strength that opens up and overcomes Babel is the strength of forgiveness.

Jesus can grant forgiveness and the power to forgive because he himself suffered the consequences of sin and dispelled them in the flame of his love. Forgiveness comes from the Cross; he transforms the world with the love that is offered. His heart opened on the Cross is the door through which the grace of forgiveness enters into the world. And this grace alone is able to transform the world and build peace.

If we compare the two events of Pentecost – the strong wind of the 50th day and the gentle breath of Jesus on the evening of Easter – we might think about this contrast between the two episodes that took place on Mt Sinai, spoken of in the Old Testament. Continue reading

When You Believe

Something for the weekend.  When You Believe  from the Prince of Egypt.  Whenever I see this video I always recall my favorite poem by William Blake:

Mock On, Mock On, Voltaire, Rousseau 

Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
Mock on, mock on; ’tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.
And every sand becomes a gem
Reflected in the beams divine;
Blown back they blind the mocking eye,
But still in Israel’s paths they shine.

The Atoms of Democritus
And Newton’s Particles of Light
Are sands upon the Red Sea shore,
Where Israel’s tents do shine so bright. 

Booming Traditional Religious Orders!

What has been an open secret is now backed by empirical evidence:

The most successful institutes in terms of attracting and retaining new members at this time are those that follow a more traditional style of religious life in which members live together in community and participate in daily Eucharist, pray the Divine Office, and engage in devotional practices together. They also wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium. All of these characteristics are especially attractive to the young people who are entering religious life today.*

As I have been reading through the website of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) I came across this nugget of information [Emphases Mine]:

Myth #4:  Women entering religious life want to wear habits.Fact:  Both men and women seem to be drawn to habited communities. About two thirds of the newer members say they belong to a religious institute that wears a habit. Among those that responded affirmatively, a little more than half indicate that the habit is required in all or most circumstances.

Interestingly, almost half of the men who belong to an institute that does not wear a habit say they would wear it if it were an option [and those that don’t wear habits are obviously being disobedient and committing a mortal sin], compared to nearly a quarter of the women respondents.

Ann Carey of The Catholic World Report wrote that the study found several “best practices”:

  1. Involving membership and leadership in concerted vocation promotion efforts.
  2. Having a full-time vocation director.
  3. Using new media like the Internet.
  4. Offering discernment or “come-and-see” opportunities for potential members.
  5. Exposing young people to the idea of religious life from grade school through young adulthood.

What stuck out and confirmed what I’ve always thought in attracting people to religious vocations, as well as bringing in converts to the Catholic faith is:

“the example of members and the characteristics of the institute…have the most influence on the decision to enter a particular institute.”

Sister Elsa Garcia Practicing a Pagan Ritual

When you see a habitless nun walking around in her pants or muumuu’s you wonder what the attraction is when you could lead the same life without living in poverty.

As Saint John said in his epistle:

Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever. (1 Jn 2:15-17)

The rest of this posting will be an excerpt of Ann Carey‘s article on The Catholic World Report where she sights some examples of booming traditional religious orders:

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Venerable Pierre Toussaint

Born a slave in Haiti on a sugar plantation owned by Jean Berard on June 27, 1766, the few who marked Pierre Toussaint’s entry into this world could not  have guessed the destiny that awaited him.  Taught to read and write by his grandmother, Toussaint’s master early recognized his intelligence and opened his fine library to the boy.  In 1787 his master emigrated to New York City and took Toussaint and Toussaint’s sister Rosalie with him.

Berard apprenticed Toussaint to a hairdresser, and Toussaint quickly proved himself a master at that trade.  Berard went back to Haiti in 1791 after the Haitian revolution to check on his plantation that now lay in ruins.  Berard died in Haiti.  His young widow Marie was now left in New York  with slender resources.

With incredible charity, Toussaint  decided to care for the widow of the master who had been kind to him.  He quickly became the most sought after hairdresser in New York, earning enough to buy his sister’s freedom and to pay the expenses of the household.  He did not buy his own freedom for fear that Marie would not then allow him to support her.  In 1807 on her death, Marie Berard freed Toussaint.

By this time Toussaint was not only a hairdresser to the rich but also a counselor to many of the rich, who referred to him, no doubt to his distress, as “our Saint Pierre”.  He was noted for his extreme charity, giving away most of his earnings to the poor of the city.  Each morning he would also attend the early mass at Saint Peter’s on Barclay Street. Continue reading

A Meek Response to Pro-Choice Rage

Thaddeus M. Baklinski of reported on a verbally violent encounter in Vancouver, Canada of  presumably a pro-choice/pro-abortion proponent yelling derisive invectives towards pro-life protesters.

The pro-life protesters did not respond to the taunts and intimidation.

They humbly took the abuse until the violent abuser left the scene.

What these protesters did by responding the way they did is a fine example of being meek.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.

— Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 5:4

The following is from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907 explaining this Second Beatitude:

Inasmuch as poverty is a state of humble subjection, the “poor in spirit“, come near to the “meek”, the subject of the second blessing. The anawim, they who humbly and meekly bend themselves down before God and man, shall “inherit the land” and possess their inheritance in peace. This is a phrase taken from Psalm 36:11, where it refers to the Promised Land of Israel, but here in the words of Christ, it is of course but a symbol of the Kingdom of Heaven, the spiritual realm of the Messiah. Not a few interpreters, however, understand “the earth”. But they overlook the original meaning of Psalm 36:11, and unless, by a far-fetched expedient, they take the earth also to be a symbol of the Messianic kingdom, it will be hard to explain the possession of the earth in a satisfactory way.

[Warning:  The YouTube video below this fold is full of profanity and other disturbing language.]

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A Brief Thought on Immigration

Conservatives are fairly comfortable with the point that if you ban or severely restrict guns, than only the criminals will be armed.

Let’s then ask ourselves: If we ban or severely restrict immigration (most especially from a right-next-door country with a much poorer economy, such as Mexico) aren’t we assuring that only criminals immigrate?

If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?

Can You Trust Your Phone?

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  The sad thing about this video is I do not find it very far fetched at all.  We live in a constant fog of commercials and having them whispered in our ears seems like an all too likely next step.

A Second Look at Weapons of Mass Destruction

Last year I posted a column title, Weapons of Mass Destruction.  In it I lampooned many of the abuses that arose out of the Second Vatican Council.

I revisit that post only to shed some light on how the abuses came about referencing Church documents, councils, and prelates.

Holy Communion in the Hand is allowed only as an indult, ie, a concession.  In May 29, 1969 the Congregation for Divine Worship issued a document allowing for, but not to displace the traditional practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.

The correct reception of Holy Communion has always been and still is on the tongue.

Unfortunately this has become the norm which has resulted in the desacrelization of the Eucharist.

Ad Populum, or facing the congregation during Mass was recently allowed in Pope Paul VI’s Missale Romanum in 1969 (fully released in 1970).  Meaning it was not mandatory to face the congregation in all parts of the Mass, but only in certain instances.

Altar Girls, were allowed to serve in Mass by the Congregation for Divine Worship in a letter by Cardinal Ortas on March 15, 1994.

Basically there was a “reinterpretation” of Canon 230 that allowed a loophole for female altar servers.

So each national conference can decide to allow this, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed to.  Meaning that each diocese can decide for itself whether or not to allow female altar servers.

It is important to note that the Bishop is in line with apostolic succession and has the final say for liturgical practices in the diocese concerning female altar servers.

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Arizona Strikes Back! Ready to Cut Power to L.A.

The boycott that Los Angeles is imposing on Arizona has its first victim, the city of Los Angeles itself.

The state of Arizona is about to strike back at L.A. again to defend itself.

A letter written by one of the commissioners of the Arizona Corporate Commission is telling Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to be ready to accept the consequences of his actions:

If Los Angeles wants to boycott Arizona, it had better get used to reading by candlelight.

Basically Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s bluff has been called.

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Praying the Rosary for our Priests- A Pro-Life Proposal as Well

A nice reminder of all the positives in the Catholic priesthood- why we need our priests, and why we can’t throw them under the bus when they fail our expectations. (hattip Domenico Bettinelli of BettNet blog).

I had a thought a while back- what if a large percentage of priests went over to the nearest abortion clinic, and just camped out there, praying a silent protest? If Catholics wanted Mass they would have to go to where the priests were; and if the authorities told the priests to move on, and the priests refused, then they would all go to jail, and so the laity would not have Eucharist. Forget about denying Communion to this or that politician- why shouldn’t the priests deny all of us Communion- except for those in prison- until we got serious about stopping abortion.  The priest is not ordinarily a zealot, but when a genocide of the unwanted, unborn children gets so little notice by a very distracted society- well it would seem time for Jesus’ priests to overturn some spiritual tables outside the temples worshipping the cult of consumer choice for the life or death of  innocent children.

The priest is perfectly suited for such a protest- he isn’t a businessman, he doesn’t have a wife and children depending on his securing money for the day. Yet, he is needed by every Catholic who knows his/her duty to participate in a weekly Mass- what if the priests said – “hold on a minute- you, the laity, need to fulfill some minimal requirements yourselves- you have a primary responsibility to set the temporal order straight- you can’t keep up this killing of our children on America’s Main Street- get hold of yourselves, and take care of these women and children- for God’s sake as well as your own.” The priests and bishops have had their problems- but the laity have a greater scandal to deal with- our lack of seriousness in seeing to it that all children are able to live and thrive- inside the Superpower and in all the world.

Lying to Join The Band of Brothers

I have never served in combat or been in a warzone for which I thank God.  However, many of my friends are veterans of combat in conflicts stretching from World War II to Iraq.  Such an experience marks them.  They tell me that they have some of their best memories from their time in service, along with some of their worst.  It is a crucible that they have passed through which is hard to completely convey to someone like me who has never gone through it.  Usually they do not speak much of it, although often I have seen a quiet pride when they do speak about it:  a knowledge that they were given a test on their passage through life and made it through, mingled with sadness for their friends who were lost.  They belong to the exclusive club of those called upon to put their lives on the line for the rest of us.  They are entitled to respect for their service, whether they are given that respect by the rest of us or not.

Therefore I take a very dim view of anyone who seeks entry into their ranks under false pretences.  The New York Times has revealed that Richard Blumenthal, Democrat Attorney General of Connecticut and candidate for the Democrat nomination for the US Senate is one such person:

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

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George Weigel: Defend Religious Freedom

George Weigel wrote a timely article in National Review Online titled, Defending Religious Freedom in Full.

In it cites the extremist attacks in expressing our Catholic faith in the public square.

The forms of these attacks are egregious because they that attack us are also tearing apart the moral fabric of this nation.

Case in point is the Washington Post, and in my opinion they represent secular humanism, when it comes to natural law they painted those that hold to natural law as extremists:

This past October, in the heat of a political campaign, the nation’s political newspaper of record, the Washington Post, ran an editorial condemning what it termed the “extremist views” of a candidate for attorney general of Virginia who had suggested that the natural moral law was still a useful guide to public policy.

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EPA Rule Making Video Contest

Much of what the federal government is doing under the current administration has a surreal quality to it.  So it is with the EPA  inviting people to submit videos for the following contest.

This video contest provided an opportunity for the public to explain federal rulemaking and motivate others to participate in the rulemaking process. Entrants created a short video, not exceeding 90 seconds in length, explaining why rules are important, why the average American should care about federal regulations, and how people can participate in the rulemaking process.

The E-Rulemaking Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Regulatory and Policy Management (EPA) are reviewing entries now and plan to announce decisions in June. Should a winning video be selected, it will be posted on as well as the EPA Web site. If eligible, the winners will be awarded $2,500, as well. Continue reading

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