New Sherwood

Front Royal, Virginia

“Finally, I would like to say a few words about Front Royal, Virginia. Within a stretch of about a mile in Front Royal are located the campus of Christendom College, as well as the world headquarters of Seton Home Study School and Human Life International. There are many stories about the origin of the name Front Royal. It is believed that during the Revolutionary War, when captains were mustering their troops, they called the men to ‘Front the Royal Oak Tree’.

If we look carefully, however, there is another meaning for the term Front Royal. When a country is at war and the king has gone to battle, the area or ‘front’ where the king is located to lead his soldiers, that area is called the Royal Front or Front Royale. So we believe it is no coincidence that Seton, Christendom, and Human Life International, certainly in the forefront of the Catholic battle against the secular culture, are to be found at the Front Royale. Because we are engaged in a battle royal, with the Heavenly King of Kings at our side.

St. Peter tells us to be ready to give reasons for the hope that is in us. If you would like to see more reasons for hope, I invite you to come to the Front Royale and visit us. You will find it is worth your effort to visit the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and drive down the stretch of road where Jesus Christ is King.”

– Dr. Mary Kay Clark, President of Seton Home School 

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October 9, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

11 Comments

  1. During my visit in the late 90’s, I felt that a safe escape from the world was the primary motive for most people living there. Evangelization of the culture had been reduced to a profitable enterprise. This was most evident at Human Life International . The company, uh sorry, organization occupies a beautiful, well-appointed building with the kind of accoutrements one finds at a successful corporation. In short, it is a scandalous waste of the private donations given to HLI and the destructive institutionalization of the prol-life movement. As an orthodox Catholic, I found the whole place kind of creepy. I hope it has improved.

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    Comment by Kevin | October 10, 2007

  2. Despite the appearance of the town, the area itself is gorgeous–too bad it isn’t more agrarian.

    If evangelization of culture must be local and done primarily through the local parish or ecclesial community, then the Shores isn’t the only place that is taking the wrong approach. But if it is supplementing local efforts, then organizations do have a place. Ultimately discerning what sort of apostolate one should be involved with, and how one should exercise it is up to the individual Christians. One can’t second guess the Holy Spirit, even if one thinks one has some legitimate critiques. (And may even wish to make them known, in the name of charity.)

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    Comment by T. Chan | October 11, 2007

  3. B-16 has urged us to develop “creatice communities” to engage and hopefully transform the world. At Front Royale
    I found a fortress mentality combined with the commercialization of a noble cause.

    Should the ravages of the new Dark Ages take their toll we may wind-up there, but the first thing I would do is sell-off the brick & mortar of HLI’s “world headquaters” and give the proceeds directly to the moms and babies who need it.

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    Comment by Kevin | October 11, 2007

  4. “At Front Royale I found a fortress mentality combined with the commercialization of a noble cause.”

    The fortress mentality is good news, in my opinion. I’m in favor of building little “Catholic fortresses” across the land. The Church has always done this when evangelizing a hostile culture. California’s early mission communities are a good example.

    As for the commercialization of the pro-life movement, that isn’t good news – but it isn’t really news at all. I used to work in direct mail and have some insight into what these fundraising campaigns actually cost. They cost a lot, but they bring in much more. I’m not sure what to think about it, to tell you the truth. It would be better if people could find a way to spend their pro-life money locally, but Catholics are busy (and often lazy) and find it easier to send a check across the country to someone who is actually doing something. That’s not so bad, human nature being what it is. I’m sorry to hear about HLI’s headquarters appearing to be wasteful, but the organization does a lot of good.

    “Should the ravages of the new Dark Ages take their toll we may wind-up there …”

    Precisely. That’s why we need new “fortresses” like Front Royal. I hope we never have to leave Orland, but one never knows. Our culture is collapsing in every direction, anti-Catholicism is becoming more virulent and hateful, and Catholic orthodoxy is evaporating among the laity. It’s good to know that there may still be a flicker of Christian civilization in Front Royal – warts and all – when the lights go out everywhere else.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | October 12, 2007

  5. “B-16 has urged us to develop ‘creative communities’ to engage and hopefully transform the world.”

    I would argue that such is precisely what Front Royal is doing today. There are Christendom College graduates here in California who are engaging the communities in which they live. There are hundreds of California home schooling families who have been “engaged and transformed” by Seton’s materials and services. HLI’s research and influence has been important for the Catholic pro-life movement in California.

    And let’s not forget the simple witness of what a Christian community is supposed to look like. There’s nothing wrong with slugging it out alone – or virtually alone – on the Left Coast, if that is your calling (and it seems to be mine). But it is important to have the example of what a real community “looks like” when it is permeated with the life of Christ, when the majority of its members take the Catholic Faith seriously. For most Catholics, only in this context can a real purification occur.

    For example, you would not be as quick to condemn the Red Cross for having a corporate style “world headquarters” and appearing to “commercialize” a noble cause, but in Front Royal your expectations are rightly higher, and it’s a significant flaw when a Catholic group appears to embrace the same model.

    I would expect that non-Catholics come away from Front Royal with different impressions, many of them favorable and perhaps leading to conversions.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | October 12, 2007

  6. I don’t think we’re at the point of raising the drawbridge over the moat quite yet. Opting for safety behind the fortress walls can, depending on the timing and our motives, be an abandonment of our true calling. For now exercising the discipline of place seems, at least to me, what the Spirit is saying.

    In the meantime, the folks at HLI should read Charles Peguy’s cautionary “Mystique et Politique.”

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    Comment by Kevin | October 12, 2007

  7. Charles Peguy’s cautionary;”Temporal and Eternal” is an excellent reminder against prematurely raising the drawbridge and flocking to the safety behind fortress walls. For now, discipline of place seems to be, the course of action we’re called to pursue.

    “I would expect that non-Catholics come away from Front Royal with different impressions, many of them favorable and perhaps leading to conversions.”

    Counting on folks going to Front Royal is an inversion of evangelization. We should be amongst them. Not hoping they find us in the woods.

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    Comment by Kevin | October 12, 2007

  8. “I don’t think we’re at the point of raising the drawbridge over the moat quite yet …”

    I like your metaphor, and I agree. However, I don’t think that is what Front Royal is doing at all. As previously mentioned Front Royal has influence all over the country. Most Christendom graduates leave Front Royal (though I really wish more would stay) and start families elsewhere. Many go on to religious vocations. Even on the level of simple families, I’m willing to bet a majority of the men work outside of the town. What is more, Catholics aren’t even a majority in Front Royal, so they don’t have to go far to evangelize.

    “Opting for safety behind the fortress walls can, depending on the timing and our motives, be an abandonment of our true calling.”

    Yes, it can, for some. But for others it may be just what is needed.

    “For now exercising the discipline of place seems, at least to me, what the Spirit is saying.”

    With all due respect, I think you might have a somewhat narrow vision of how the Holy Ghost works. Some – probably most – are called to exercise the discipline of place. In normal times that is the calling of the majority. But these are not normal times. It is doubtful that “the discipline of place” really means anything in the mega-cities where neighborhoods never really settle anymore. In forty years you’ll be the only one practicing the “discipline of place” and everyone around you will still be strangers. Which really defeats the whole purpose. No, you can’t practice the discipline of place in isolation. You need family and neighbors who value the same discipline.

    So I think the reality is that many are called to stay put in their present communities, and many others are called to help build those fortresses. We need both kinds of Catholics.

    “We should be amongst them. Not hoping they find us in the woods.”

    Once again: some should be amongst them, yes, but not everyone. Families with children, in particular, need to keep America’s cultural sewage out of their children’s lives in order to give them a proper Catholic formation. The places where such a life can still be lived are rapidly drying up.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | October 13, 2007

  9. All I can say about Front Royal is that it has so much to recommend it, I wish it were a nicer place.

    Despite the natural beauty of the valley, the town is unfortunately filled with trashy homes, wanna-be thugs, and hicks of the non-wholesome variety. Whenever we make a trip out there we ask ourselves, “Can we do it? Is there enough out here to make it worth the move?” The answer always seems to be that we have to think about it some more.

    Add to it the fact that all the good jobs are at least 60 miles away, and that makes it a tough sell.

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    Comment by Steve | October 20, 2007

  10. Oh, and the fact that for all of that, it isn’t exactly inexpensive.

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    Comment by Steve | October 20, 2007

  11. “Despite the natural beauty of the valley, the town is unfortunately filled with trashy homes, wanna-be thugs, and hicks of the non-wholesome variety … Add to it the fact that all the good jobs are at least 60 miles away, and that makes it a tough sell.”

    I hear you, Steve. Kind of makes starting from scratch somewhere look more attractive. But then again, maybe it’s the perfect solution for those who find Ave Maria, Florida, too shiny and affluent.

    To Kevin: With respect to evangelization, it seems Front Royal is as good a place to start as any, no?

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | October 20, 2007


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