Posts Tagged ‘Knights of Columbus’

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.

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.