Last Tuesday, I had the privilege of attending the annual Knights of Columbus Prayer Rally in Albany. Knights, their families and friends came from around the state to give public witness to our Catholic faith, and to call on our elected officials to defend life and the family.
Many groups come to Albany during the legislative session to lobby their Assembly and Senate representatives. Virtually every day, you can see people from a wide variety of organizations and interest groups, patrolling the halls of the Capitol, and speaking to the elected officials. That’s the regular course of business in Albany.
The Knights’ rally, though, is fundamentally different.
Yes, it’s about public policy. We heard speeches about issues of grave concern to Catholics and to the common good, particularly about abortion and same-sex “marriage”. I even said a few words to the crowd about the dangers to religious liberty that would come from redefining marriage. A number of Assembly representatives and Senators spoke, and the crowd responded enthusiastically. Again, that’s pretty typical for Albany.
What makes this rally stand out though, is the most important item on the agenda for the day — prayer. The entire rally was centered on the public communal recitation of the Rosary. Yes, public prayer, not just public advocacy. That makes all the difference.
Mary holds a special place in the heart of a Knight. We truly look upon her as Our Lady. Much as the knights of old were invested with their war gear, in a similar way we look upon Mary’s Rosary as our weapon of spiritual warfare. Ask a Knight of Columbus, and chances are pretty good that he’s armed with a Rosary in his pocket, and he knows how to use it.
My favorite part of the rally is the devout hush that descend on the assembly when the time for speeches has ended and the time for prayer has come. Further conversations are halted, or are muted. Passersby stare in curiosity, perhaps in disbelief, but with respect. All those present have lifted their hearts and minds to God, through the intercession of our Mother. The fervent prayers echo in the cavern created by the surrounding state office buildings — giving witness to our faith, and, in a sense, sanctifying the halls of secular authority.
We gathered together in a place of power to give courageous witness to the power of faith, and to proclaim that all public activism by Christians must be rooted in prayer. We came to do what the Lord commanded us, through the prophet Micah:
“Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.” (Mic 6:1)
Heeding that command, Mary’s Knights came to Albany, offered our prayers to God through her never-failing intercession, and were confident that our prayers were heard.