Monday, February 27, 2006

Ave Maria, FL

So the wealthy Catholic Tom Monaghan, founder of Dominos Pizza, is building a city.

Here's where it'll be.

It will focus around the first new Catholic University to be built in America in 40 years. It is to be a city welcoming Catholic families and businesses, which means the landowners will be free to impose religious clauses in their leases. Thus a landlord could say to a pharmacy, "In order to do business on this property, you must agree not to sell contraceptives or pornography."

Naturally this has the ACLU & Company up in arms. We couldn't just expect them to sit by, could we? But their objections are rather hollow, and a grade 7 debate class student could debunk them. Example:

Frances Kissling, president of a liberal Catholic group supporting women's rights to contraception and abortion, said the idea of a Catholic town was "very disturbing."

"We have to learn to tolerate the fact that there are other religions - as well as non-believers - and the interplay of cultures helps make each of us more productive members of society. A Catholic-only town goes totally against that."

How exactly does allowing like-minded believers to associate freely in a community - that doesn't yet exist - harm diversity? I could possibly see an argument if Catholics swarmed into say, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in an effort to drive out the pagans, Protesants, atheists, etc, but there is no group of people here being displaced. The population of Ave Maria will be starting from scratch. The worst thing that will happen is that somebody will move to this new town completely ignorant of the purpose of its founding, and then one day it'll suddenly click that there aren't enough hookers, used condoms, or gangs on the streets, and they'll want to leave for browner pastures.

Still, don't think for an instant that I'm a fan of this idea. I can understand the appeal of it, sure, and I'm a great admirer of Monaghan's targetted philanthropy. But if we as Christians are to be salt and light to our world, I fear that southern Florida is about to become home to an impractical saltblock, lit for the light bearers. If hiding one's light under a bushel is a sin, what about hiding it in the middle of the sun?

The concept of a new university, however, is an interesting one. But I'd go about this in a different way. The town of Steubenville, OH, home of Franciscan University, is by no means a Catholic haven. Yet the university is thriving, and from all accounts its Catholic character is quite authentic. So why not put this new university in the middle of a bustling left-wing metropolis? The students will have a meal for their salt to season. They will have darkness for their light to conquer. Why not New York City? Why not Boston? Why not San Francisco? Fighting for the existing Catholic colleges in these cities is almost a lost cause, as they are so deeply entrenched in schismatic thought that it'd be easier for the Church to cut her losses and start anew.

In his homily at Marienfeld during World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI urged young people:

Form communities based on faith!

In recent decades, movements and communities have come to birth in which the power of the Gospel is keenly felt. Seek communion in faith, like fellow travellers who continue together to follow the path of the great pilgrimage that the Magi from the East first pointed out to us.

I don't believe he was referring to literal communities, or cities/towns, when he said this. He is urging for a connection with each other as Catholics, one which is faithful to the magisterium and is practical in its mission. He adds:

Since we receive the same Lord and he gathers us together and draws us into himself, we ourselves are one.

This must be evident in our lives. It must be seen in our capacity to forgive. It must be seen in our sensitivity to the needs of others. It must be seen in our willingness to share. It must be seen in our commitment to our neighbours, both those close at hand and those physically far away, whom we nevertheless consider to be close.Today, there are many forms of voluntary assistance, models of mutual service, of which our society has urgent need. We must not, for example, abandon the elderly to their solitude, we must not pass by when we meet people who are suffering. If we think and live according to our communion with Christ, then our eyes will be opened. Then we will no longer be content to scrape a living just for ourselves, but we will see where and how we are needed.

Living and acting thus, we will soon realize that it is much better to be useful and at the disposal of others than to be concerned only with the comforts that are offered to us.

The Pope is tapping into the call of every Christian to evangelize; not just to live the faith, but to spread it.

Freedom and acceptance cause our faith to languish. Persecution & challenge cause us to grow, because we are held to account for it, which weeds out those who aren't willing to make the sacrifice. I know, I was bullied an account of my faith in school, and my torment, while unpleasant at the time, shaped my faith in the love of Jesus with a profound reality. His presence isn't just a reassuring concept, but is a true element of life.

Why on earth would an evangelist hide that reality among the like-minded?


  1. As the Prayer of Jaywho was the prosperity gospel for Baptists maybe Ave Maria city will be theme park for Catholics. Yech.

    Ever hear DA's CD Bible Land - a gem.

  2. I agree with everything you said. I am a freshman at Franciscan and a huge part of our school's identity is bringing our light to others. Personally, I am a sidewalk counselor on the streets of Pittsburgh. We also have homeless ministry, prison ministry, retirement home ministry, chastity outreach, etc. etc. The list goes on.

    Not sure being in an all-Catholic town will give the students the same oppurtunities we have here at Franciscan.


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