Cruz “is probably the one most people trust to do what he says he would do,” Vander Plaats said.

Before Cruz addressed the Values Voter audience, he attended a press conference organized by the Liberty Institute, a legal group that has defended Christians involved in legal disputes. The group’s leader, Texas attorney Kelly Shackelford, praised Cruz for being involved in religious liberty cases long before his political career.

“Before Sen. Cruz was ever thinking bout running for office … he was one of the best appellate attorneys in the country, and he was donating his time — literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of time — for religious freedom cases,” Shackelford said, noting their work together on legal proceedings around the case of the Mojave Memorial Cross.

Cruz stood with Navy chaplain Wes Modder, who was recently cleared by Navy Personnel Command in a case where he was accused of misconduct for counseling Marines against premarital sex and homosexuality, and with Liz Loverde, a New Jersey college student who said in 2014 that her high school forbade her to create a Christian club.

“These are real people,” Cruz said at the press conference. He spoke of a recent gathering in Iowa that he attended where a crowd of 2,500 heard from nine other individuals in religious liberty disputes. Cruz said the evidence is clear that Christians are being told they cannot exercise their faith.

“For every sneering media reporter who claims there are no threats, look in the eyes of these heroes, one after another after another, who simply stood for their faith and lost their jobs and faced persecution and faced death threats,” Cruz said.

“These threats are real. They’re growing. And yet we will stand and fight to defend our liberty. And I’ll tell you, the worse it gets the more of an awakening you’ll see,” he said.


FROM: Magnificat: Meditation of the Day:  O GOD OF LOVE, COMPASSION, AND HEALING, LOOK ON US, people of many different faiths and traditions, who gather today at this site, the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here-the heroic first-responders: our fire fighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you in your compassion to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness.  Heal too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.  Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well of those who suffered death, injury, and loss on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth.  Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events.  Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain. Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all.   by Pope Benedict SVI


(by Anthony Esolen)  IT’S A CRISP MORNING IN FEBRUARY, and the people have gathered for a joyous celebration. Men with drums and fifes pass by, playing marches, while boys and girls are waving flags, and members of churches and clubs and societies, men and women, ride on horse-drawn stages draped with red, white, and blue.  They are passing by the home of the wealthiest man in Maryland, and possibly the most beloved. He stands before them on the second story, smiling.

He’s a slight, spare man, well into his nineties, but still possessed of a keen mind….They had wanted him to speak at their celebration, but he had declined because of ill health. Still, he praised their devotion. “The event you are about to commemorate.” he wrote,” must be felt by every individual who loves his country, and who can appreciate the blessings it enjoys.  To General Washington mainly belongs, under the protection of PROVIDENCE, these blessings.” He promised to join them in prayer and gratitude to GOD for a man whose virtues were so needful in creating their beloved nation.

It was the centennial of Washington’s birthday, in 1832, and the old man was CHARLES CARROLL of Carrolton, the last survivor of the signers of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.  Carroll was American by birth, Roman by temperament and education, and Catholic by the grace of GOD, a man who endured much for the faith, and who fought for the FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION, GUARANTEEING RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND FREE RELIGIOOUS EXERCISE TO ALL BELIEVERS.


Ungrateful man is hard put to remember the benefits his country has conferred upon him, but Charles Carroll fought for a state, Maryland, that had disenfranchised Catholics, and for a young country whose intellectual and political elites were often bitterly suspicious of Rome. Indeed, one of the unbearable things that George III did, in the minds of severe New Englanders, was to pass the Quebec Act, allowing freedom of faith to French Catholics in the north…….

……….He (Carroll) had written a series of learned essays in 1773, published under the Roman pseudonym “First Citizen,” even though he had at the time no permission to vote, to recommend the principles of British common law and to argue against a fee imposed upon the citizens of Maryland by the upper house of their legislature, without the approval of the people’s representatives in the lower house.  Such a fee, Carroll said, was really a tax, and to tax people at one’s pleasure is to strike at the root of liberty itself.

His opponents could not help themselves. Since Carroll spoke for the great majority of his fellow Marylanders, they had to attack the man more than the message. Amidst a barrage of ridicule and calumny, Charles Carroll stood up and proclaimed forgiveness. He and his fellow Catholics, he said, had forgotten their resentment of the treatment they had received from the Protestants. For Maryland had been founded by a Catholic family, the CALVERTS, AND HAD GUARANTEED FREEDOM OF RELIGION FOR ALL CHRISTIANS, UNTIL PROTESTANT SETTLERS TOOK OVER AND ANNULLED THE ORIGINAL CHARTER.

John Adams, no friend to popes and not free in his praise, wrote glowingly of Carroll, noting his zeal and his bravery, and how much he was risking from the vengeance of the British administration: “But he continues to hazard his all: his immense fortune, the largest in America, and his life.”  He was indefatigable. He was a member of the War Department. He spent time with Washington at Valley Forge. He helped to fund the war. Most important, without him, AMERICA MIGHT NOT HAVE SECURED HER ALLIANCE WITH CATHOLIC FRANCE: NO COUNT DE ROCHAMBEAU AND HIS FLEET, NO SURRENDER OF THE BRITISH AT YORKTOWN.


…..As Washington’s first term neared its end, many people thought that his logical successor should be Charles Carroll, deeply learned, unimpeachably honest, and devoted to the welfare of his country.

But thought there never was a President Carroll, Americans owe their presidency in part to Carroll’s ingenious compromise.  HOW SHOULD we elect our president?  Directly? By the people, or by their representatives in state legislatures?  Might the president be the winner of a plurality only, or must he have a majority? What method will respect the individuality of the states, the will of the people, and the sense of the nation as a whole?  For the president is not just the head of a party.

CARROLL, IT’S SAID, THOUGHT ABOUT HOW THE College of Cardinals select a pope-cardinals representing many nations and voting often by national blocs.  The trick is to gain a majority of those electors; and hence was born the Electoral College, that element in the Constitution that prevents American politics from degenerating into secret deals among the heads of seven or eight parties in a splintered populace.


There’s much more to say about Charles Carroll’s contributions to America as a statesman and senator. …………………………………..

After Jefferson and Adams died on July 4, 1826, the young Daniel Webster said, “Of the illustrious Signers of the Declaration of Independence there now remains only Charles Carroll……Sole survivor of an assembly of as great men as the world has witnessed….

Heaven would keep  him back another six years. He died on November 14, 1832….the last living tie to those men who staked everything they had and were, even their sacred honor, for freedom.

Information for this article came from : Bradley Birzer’s wonderful biography:  AMERICAN CICERO: THE LIFE OF CHARLES CARROLL (ISI Press).


MARK 7:32-37  AGAIN JESUS LEFT THE district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis.  And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “EPHPHATHA!”-that is, “Be opened!”- And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.  He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.  They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD, today, Sunday’s  Gospel Reading at Mass.


(By Father Robert Barron) MARK’S STORY of Jesus healing the deaf man with a speech impediment is a masterfully crafted icon of evangelization.  The man in question is from the Decapolis: the region of the “ten cities” outside the realm of Israel.  The inhabitants of this area would be relatively unfamiliar with the Word of God, deaf to it. Never having heard the Word of the Lord, they were, consequently, unable properly to articulate it. Hence the man from the ten cities, insufficient in both hearing and speech, is an apt symbol of the “Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears and groaned, “EPHPHATHA” which means, “Be opened!” It is as though the Word made flesh plugged himself into the man, establishing a sort of electric current which carried the Word to his mind and heart.  This is the process of evangelization, whereby a personal connection to Jesus is effected and a soul becomes opened to the truth.  Immediately, the man could hear, and his tongue was loosened, and he spoke plainly.  Once someone hears the Word of God clearly, he is able to speak it to others with clarity and conviction: the evangelized becomes, almost perforce, and evangelizer.

The call to Catholics today is to move, as Jesus did, into the Decapolis, into the region of those who haven’t heard the Word and hence cannot speak it.  To the citizens of that realm, they have to shout, “EPHPHATHA!”


God bless you all!