Archive for the ‘Knights of Columbus’ Category

Mary and Her Knights

Monday, May 16th, 2011

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.


Friday, November 12th, 2010

The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Msgr. Charles Pope of Washington makes clear that abortion is not a political issue.
  • Contrary to the media presentation, Americans are actually surprisingly united on moral issues.  Hence Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson’s new book: Beyond a House Divided. Here’s Kathryn Jean Lopez’s interview with the Supreme Knight.
  • USCCB’s staff, including pro-life ace Richard Doerflinger, give an outlook on the new Congress.
  • New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie vetoed three bills the other day, with the effect of de-funding the Temple of Moloch, er, I mean Planned Parenthood.
  • The Times recognizes that miscarriage can leave a psychological effect.  Of course, they continue to deny that abortion does so too.  Meanwhile, Prof. Michael New provides an important response to a biased news report that denied the mental health effects of abortion on women.  Why won’t they just listen to post-abortive women?
  • No doubt realizing that the democratic process won’t give them what they want, same-sex “marriage” activists turn to our Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the courts, and file more challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • A quirky ad campaign in the UK to keep Christ in Christmas features a sonogram picture of a baby with a halo, and the message “He’s on His Way”.  Naturally, all the usual suspects are taking umbrage.
  • Today is the anniversary of the day on which former fetus Harry Blackmun emerged from the penumbras and emanations of his mother’s womb and became a “person” with rights which people are bound to respect.  He was destined to serve as one of our worst-ever Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Supreme Court.  His execrable decision in Roe v. Wade doomed millions of his fellow human beings to death.
  • Pentecost in Albany

    Sunday, May 16th, 2010

    The men came came forth from where they were, and prayed aloud in the public areas of the town, proclaiming the love of God and the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ.  And the people of that place were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another “What does this mean?”

    The day of Pentecost was the first time when the Apostles of Christ proclaimed the Good News.  Heedless of the confusion and opposition of the world, the first bishops of our Church stood before the world, knowing that they would be opposed, and proclaimed our faith in Jesus.

    In a sense, all of us are called to do the same — to emulate the Apostles on the first Pentecost.

    And just so, the Knights of Columbus went to Albany on Tuesday, May 11, to hold the annual Prayer Rally. The purpose of the day was to pray publicly for our government, to encourage our elected officials to respect human life, to honor marriage, and to treat people of faith fairly.

    But it was not at all a political event.  More than anything, it was a Pentecost day.

    The setting of the Rally was striking.  We gathered in a small park in the center of Albany.  On one side was the New York State Capitol Building, one of the most striking works of public architecture in America, but which houses one of the worst, most dysfunctional, and most anti-life legislatures in our nation.  Around the other sides were government buildings, from the imposing classical-style Education Department to the modern Legislative Office Building.

    There was no mistaking that we were gathering to pray in the midst of the powers and principalities of this world.  Indeed, throughout the Rally, government workers and legislators passed through the park, enjoying the beautiful day, and no doubt amazed and perplexed by what they were seeing.

    The agenda for the Rally was simple.  The entire Rally was organized around the public recitation of the Most Holy Rosary.  There were some speeches interspersed among the Mysteries,  but the entire focus of the Rally remained fixed upon our prayers to God, with the intercession of Mary.

    The most striking part was that you could hear the sacred words of the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be reverberating against the government buildings, calling to mind the words of the prophet: “Hear what the LORD says: ‘Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.‘” (Mic 6:1)

    There is a unique power in the joined prayer of Christian people.  There is special strength when that prayer is offered in public by men.  The world shuns prayer, looking upon it as a peculiar habit.  The world cannot make sense of the prayers of men, and considers it a weakness.

    But on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles were unafraid to give witness to the faith that gave them life.  Filled with the Spirit, they strode into the public square and shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Last Tuesday, together with my brother Knights of Columbus, I was privileged to participate in a modern-day echo of that first great day of Pentecost.

    Et Incarnatus Est

    Friday, March 26th, 2010

    Last night at the Church of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan, there was a significant and beautiful Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form.  The occasion was to celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation.   It was significant because of the message it conveyed, and it was beautiful because… well, every Mass is beautiful in its own way, but this one was extra special.

    The Mass was celebrated in what is known as “the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite”, which is to say according to the Missal used by the entire Church prior to the Second Vatican Council.  Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has promoted the renewed and wider use of this form of the Mass in his letter Summorum Pontificum.

    The principal celebrant was Fr. James Miara, assisted by a number of other priests, as well as a full complement of servers.  The devotion and solemn dignity with which the Mass was celebrated was a powerful focus of prayer for all those present.  There was a spectacularly beautiful choir and schola who offered the majesty of Gregorian chant and other ancient music, to help us raise our hearts and minds to the worship of our Lord. (If you’re interested in seeing pictures of the Mass, check here.)

    In many ways the high point of the Mass was that it was presided over by Edward Cardinal Egan, who also preached.  In his homily, His Eminence communicated a powerful message, stressing the Christian virtue of humble obedience to the will of God.  He explained this in terms of the feast day itself, in the humility of Mary’s “yes” to God.  He also noted that it was the fifteenth anniversary of Pope John Paul’s great encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the Gospel of Life, which calls us to obey the truths of nature and reason in support of “the incomparable worth of the human person”, made in the image of God Himself.  And he emphasized our duty of humble obedience to the Church in accepting the celebration of the traditional Mass.

    To me, the Cardinal’s presence at a pro-life Mass in the Extraordinary Form was significant in two other ways.  It served as a reminder to us all that the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life is held and professed from the most humble levels of the Church to the highest.  This is not a teaching only for popes or bishops, or for activists.  To be Catholic is, by definition, to be pro-life.  Having a “prince of the Church” at the Mass, together with all of us ordinary Catholics, spoke that truth very clearly.

    Also, it was reminder that this Extraordinary Form is an ancient liturgy of the Church, that traces its lineage back to St. Pius V in the sixteenth century, to St. Gregory the Great in the sixth century, and beyond him even to the apostolic age.  To have a successor of the apostles, an elector of a pope, preside at such an ancient expression of the rite of our faith, emphasized that the Church’s defense of human life extends back to the earliest days, to the apostles and to Our Lord Himself.

    The Mass was sponsored by my Knights of Columbus council, Agnus Dei Council (#12361), the special mission of which is to promote devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and to the traditional forms of worship, particularly the traditional Latin Mass.  This particular Mass is intended to be an annual event, an expression of a project of the Knights of Columbus to promote the Solemnity of the Annunciation as a day of prayer for the unborn.

    We wished particularly to offer the Mass as a commemoration of the Incarnation of Jesus, and thus to recall the time when Our Lord resided in humility and secret in the womb of his mother, Mary.  We hope that all Catholics will come to see this Solemnity as a profound pro-life feast day.

    By adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and by receiving Him, body, blood, soul and divinity at Mass, we Knights, and we Catholics, join with all the saints in glory and in history, to proclaim, as we do in the Creed, “et incarnatus est” — the Word of God has become man!

    A Pilgrimage for Marriage

    Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

    Another early morning departure. Pouring rain. A long trip up and back. Another pilgrimage to Albany.

    On Tuesday, I traveled to our state capital to participate in the Rally for Marriage — to show our Legislature that we oppose efforts to re-define marriage, in particular to oppose the legalization of same-sex “marriage”. This event was sponsored by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a very active evangelical organization that has long been an ally of the Church’s on issues like the defense of human life and family.

    Through the generosity of my brothers in the Knights of Columbus, the Family Life Office was able to offer two free buses to the Rally. The buses quickly filled, as people were eager to have the chance to make their position known to the Legislature.

    Virtually every time I have traveled to Albany for these kinds of events, it rains, snows, ices, etc. That’s God’s way of reminding me that discipleship has its costs, and that pilgrimages shouldn’t be easy.

    Yet, despite the rain and the early start, the bus ride was actually very pleasant. The company was good — I was lucky enough to sit with a very fine priest, and right near two of the Sisters of Life and two of the Friars of the Renewal. The lay people on the bus were enthusiastic and happy.

    Most of the upbeat atmosphere came from prayer. We started the day off with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and we prayed the Divine Office (Morning Prayer and the Office of Readings) and the Rosary on the bus. On the way home, we watched a very entertaining soap opera-like film about the life of St. Rita of Cascia.

    That was particularly appropriate, since we were going to Albany, which many consider to be a hopeless case.

    I would be happy to explain to you what was going on in Albany on Tuesday, the day after the bizarre coup that may have resulted in a change in leadership in the Senate. However, I am not a science fiction writer, so I couldn’t do the subject justice. Suffice it to say that nobody knows what’s going on, who’s going to lead the Senate, what their agenda is, or what it means for the bills we’re concerned about. Chaos reigns.

    For our part, though, we were there to witness to our faith in God and our commitment to defend marriage. And that we did. The rally was led by a series of evangelical preachers, and it was really something to hear them testifying to their faith on the steps of the Capitol, the sounds reverberating off of the surrounding buildings as if echoing back the “Amens”. Maggie Gallagher, the national leader in the defense of marriage, also spoke. The crowd was bid, it was a real rainbow coalition of races, sexes and faiths. And God, having tested us with the rain on the way up, blessed us with good weather during the rally.

    Afterwards, we went over to the Capitol building and my fellow pilgrims visited their legislators’ offices. It was amazing to me, cynic that I am, to see the fresh enthusiasm on their faces as they got ready to speak the truth to power, and their happiness in having had the opportunity to do God’s work in such a place.

    Of course, one trip to Albany isn’t enough to get this message across, and I urge everyone to contact their State Senator through the Catholic Advocacy Network. We have to keep the effort going — one rally isn’t enough.

    Albany during legislative session can be a depressing, dispiriting place. The game is played in the corners, all the angles are used, and people have sharp elbows. Sometimes you wonder what kind of luck Abraham would have had in finding ten righteous men in the city.

    But that didn’t matter to the pilgrims that day. The rain meant nothing. The fatigue of a long day and the long bus ride didn’t matter. There was authentic joy among the travelers. God was with us, and we were speaking His truth in fidelity.

    It was a good day. Thank you, God, for giving us such an opportunity.

    My Son Is My Brother

    Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

    Last night, I had the pleasure and privilege of participating in the initiation of my 20-year-old son, Michael, into the Knights of Columbus.

    I’ve only been a Knight for about seven years now, it is a source of tremendous pride to me. I am a member of the world’s largest lay movement, the most active and effective pro-life organization, and one of the staunchest supporters of the Church and our Holy Father in particular. It is an association of Catholic gentlemen, with a stress on both parts of that — Catholic and gentlemen.

    I can’t reveal the details of the ceremony that brought my son into the First Degree of our Order, but suffice it to say that there was one proud father who was watching his son take an important step into manhood.

    In our fallen society, “manhood” is too often associated with excessive behavior (alcoholic or sexual), or with the chronic shunning of responsibility (see the phenomenon of the extende adolescence). The “masculinity” recognized by our culture is typically seen as strutting, ignorant, misogynistic machismo .

    To be a Catholic gentleman is the antithesis of that. Honor, gentleness, selfless service, patriotism, humility, integrity, kindness, courage, commitment, gift of self, loving, and religious. That is what it is to be a real man. Those are the ideals of a true Knight.

    My son certainly isn’t perfect — how can he be with such an imperfect father? But the other night a transition took place in our lives, and I’m very, very happy about it.

    My son moved further forward towards manhood.

    My son became my brother.