Recently Father Cory Mayer, Parish Administrator of the Ave Maria Quasi-Parish, announced a new capital campaign to establish a parish center on Annunciation Circle next to the Oratory. The goal is to raise $250,000.00, and at this point the parish is about $62,000.00 short of that goal. According to the campaign brochure:
By providing a place for fellowship, faith formation classes and presentations, parish group meetings and more, we can better fulfill our mission to build the kingdom of God in and through our Parish Community.
The projected Parish Center will have 1,716 square feet of space and include a main hall, accommodating 100, a reception area, lavatories and storage. It will have a serving section, tables and chairs, but no food preparation facilities.
Well, we have a problem. In our liturgical calendar, this Sunday is known as “Gaudete Sunday”, which may be very loosely translated as “Rejoicing Sunday.” In my copy of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, I read that, “On this day the Church urges us to gladness in the middle of this time of expectation and penance.”
Now, those who know me can tell you that I am not prone to spontaneous outbursts of rejoicing and gladness, and achieving rejoicing and gladness on a schedule, even a liturgical one, would take a significant act of the will on my part. And while I do frequently experience expectation, what I most often expect is best not spoken of in the presence of impressionable young children such as we have here among us this morning.
Now, in fairness, I must say that I think that I and those like me—we have earned our gloom. Some among the chronically gloomy would say that they have earned their gloom by making the effort to keep abreast of what’s going on in politics near and far. Some such folks have concluded that the rule of law is in tatters in this country and beyond whatever borders may still be said to remain. They remind us that the veneer of law that covers underlying lawlessness, sooner or later, inevitably fades away. Lawlessness, as both history and headlines teach us—for those who care to learn—they teach us that lawlessness and the tyranny that precedes it do not protect the vulnerable, promote the common good, or secure the rights of the Church.
Other folks say that they have earned their gloom as they observe the present state of the Church’s life. These folks call “apostasy” what one prominent Catholic described as “miscues” during the recently-concluded Extraordinary Synod on the Family. These same folks also use the word “persecution” as they look at those circling the Church around the world and closer to home. Beheadings abroad and local legislation show that nowadays those with access to either to power or force tend to have no love for Holy Mother Church.
So, for those who are more inclined to count clouds during the day rather than count stars at night, Gaudete Sunday seems a bit…incongruous.
Nonetheless, duty calls. Saint Paul exhorts us with these words: “Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say, rejoice!” Saint Paul is right, and whatever dark, brooding, Irish melancholics you may know, and those like him, are wrong. Let me explain why.
The Mass is the source and summit of Christian life. It is both worship and a re-presentation of His gift to us of salvation. As a thank you to the readers of this blog, we are passing along a free treat that would make a great stocking stuffer. The original source is here. While this obviously would be nice for children, it is also very informative for adults. Perfect for altar boys or catechumens or people who simply love to learn about our faith. We combined the images into one pdf booklet that you can download and print on sturdy paper. Gaudete!
What do you think of when I say the words, “Oil Well Road”? Well, if you have spent any time here in Ave Maria, you know that Oil Well Road is the link to the city of Naples and to the great world beyond. If you have been around for more than just a few couple of years, you probably know that Oil Well Road has been expanded by a massive construction project. And you know that the project of widening, straightening and leveling Oil Well Road took a lot of time, effort and money.
I mention the construction project at Oil Well Road because of what we read about John the Baptist in Mark’s gospel this afternoon. Borrowing from the prophet Isaiah, the Baptist calls upon his hearers to, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Well, gosh—how hard can that be? I mean, if the Lord wants to go somewhere, it should not be difficult for Him to get the roads He wants. I mean, He is God, after all….He just needs to snap His fingers and “POOF!” Instant 12-lane superhighway! Right? Well…no….
The way of the Lord that John the Baptist spoke of, the way of the Lord Who is coming into the world, is the way into our hearts. And that road is a mess. About the human heart the prophet Jeremiah said, “More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?” To which I would add, “Amen!” We know he is right. The road into our hearts is crooked, with plenty of detours, dead ends, littered with the debris of idols and cratered by sin.
But the reason that the season of Advent is a season of hope is because the Church proclaims that our Lord will walk into our hearts if the way is prepared for Him. Yes, yes, I know—easier said than done. I am reminded now of a friend whose little boy spilled grape juice on a white carpet. As his mother gasped in horror, he said, “Don’t worry Mommy! I’ll just magic it away!” We cannot have recourse to magic or to wishful thinking to make straight the way of the Lord into our hearts. So, how shall it be done? How about by prayer? The short answer to that question is, “Yes and No.”
The answer is “No” if we think that prayer will allow us to “magic away” what separates us from God. For example, if I think that all I need to do is to say my prayers and then, presto-change-o, abracadabra, hocus-pocus, all my attachments to sin will simply disappear, and then the Lord can just sprint into my heart and there begin His reign, then the answer is surely “No.” Prayer does not work that way. We all know that. And we all know that because we have all tried it.
So, I will ask again: Can we prepare the way of the Lord by prayer? The answer is surely, “Yes,” if we understand prayer properly. We must understand that prayer is the fuel for the engine of our discipleship, which means that prayer is the power behind apostolic action. Filling up the tank and then leaving the car in the garage gets us nowhere.
Prayer gives disciples the fuel needed to begin the necessary and hard work of reforming our lives. Prayer gives us the desire and energy we need to remove the obstacles of sin that keep our Lord from entering our hearts and from exercising His authority over our lives. To make straight the way of the Lord is a project that requires prayer, and then reform, which is a clearing away of whatever impedes to progress of God into our lives.
Today, I will mention just one impediment, one great obstacle that keeps God from realizing His reign over our lives. That obstacle is the illusion, the subtle and persistent illusion that we believe we ought to be allowed to take for granted, because we have deserve it, an ordinary life of routine, comfort and plenty.
Next week, the third movie installment of Tolkien’s great novel, “The Hobbit” will be in the theaters. I am sure that many folks here will see the movie; I will probably see it myself. While you are watching that movie, I would like you to
STEPHEN JAMES DOWELL
Stephen James Dowell, father to Shane (Chiara) and Thomas, grandfather to Bothilde and Una, husband to Valoree, Mr. Steve to all the neighbor kids, and longtime friend of a fortunate few, has passed from earthly life. He began his star-spangled journey to Heaven, guided by the endless prayers of his family, friends and neighbors on November 25, 2014. Steve was born in San Francisco on October 12, 1949, spent his adult life in Seattle, Washington and retired to Ave Maria, Florida, where cancer won a hard-fought battle. He loved his sons and granddaughters most of all, but still had room in his heart to appreciate a fine tee shot, homemade cherry pie, San Marco Island, Raymond Chandler, cold beer on a hot day, geraniums under sculpted shrubbery, the 49ers and German engineering. Steve served in the United States Navy, graduated from the University of Utah, and was an accomplished salesman. Thanks to the blessed neighbors in Ave Maria who graciously made room in their hearts for him and cared for him to his very last breath. Funeral Mass at the Ave Maria Oratory Friday December 5, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.
Vatican’s Humanum marriage colloquium: Pope Francis presides, AMU alum’s films featured, AMU faculty attend
This past week Pope Francis made headlines as he presided over the opening of a Vatican sponsored event called “Humanum” by unreservedly reaffirming that the complementarity of man and woman is at the very root of marriage and family and that each child has the right to be nurtured by both a mother and a father. The Humanum event is described as “An International Interreligious Colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman”:
The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.
Each session of the colloquium began with the screening of one of a series of six short films that were created by Ave Maria University alumnus RG Delgado (AMU ’06). One of the films features AMU professor Maria Fedoryka. Present at the colloquium as an invited participant was AMU professor Catherine Pakaluk.
If you don’t have any new neighbors today, just be patient and you’ll have some by tomorrow. Every 1.9 days there is a closing on a new home in Ave Maria, Florida. That’s more than 15 closings every month. Those are very impressive numbers, and that figure doesn’t include the many re-sales of existing homes in Ave Maria.
It’s been less than seven months since Maple Ridge builder CC Ave Maria closed its first new home sale in Ave Maria, and already they have sold 72 homes. If the pace of construction visible to anyone who visits Maple Ridge is any indicator, homes will continue to close at the rate of over 10 each month in Maple Ridge alone. The average closing price for those 72 sold homes has been just shy of $308,000.
During the period April 1 to November 13, 2014, there were 38 new home closings in Del Webb at Ave Maria, with an average price of almost $285,000. During the same period, there were 119 new home closings in all of Ave Maria, at an average sales price of about $295,000. While none of the other neighborhoods have had significant sales, we can report that there are about five homes under construction in Hampton Village (which does not have many more lots available), and the developer has sold the last of the Residences at La Piazza condominiums at the center of town.
A recap of these sales numbers for the period April 1 through November 13, 2014:
- 119 total new home closings in all of Ave Maria at an average sales price of $295,000;
- 72 Maple Ridge new home closings at an average sales price of about $308,000;
- 38 Del Webb Naples new home closings at an average sales price just under $285,000;
- 1 Emerson Park new home closing at a sales price of $290,000;
- 4 Hampton Village new home closings at a sales price of about $301,000;
- 4 LaPiazza new condominium closings at an average sales price of $160,000.
These figures include only new home sales from the various builders to the public. April is used as a starting point because that is the first month that Maple Ridge began selling homes.