19 August 2007

The Reverend Sir

Yesterday afternoon I participated in the exemplification of the Fourth Degree of the Order of the Knights of Columbus at Council 665 in Effingham. There were thirty-one of us, including one other cleric, a Franciscan priest who is the chaplain at the hospital.

The Holy Mass was celebrated after the exemplifcation (I wasn't present because I had to get ready for the evening Mass at our mission church) and a banquet was held last evening to close off the festivities.

The Knights asked me to say a few words to them after the banquet. This is something close to what I said:

We stand, as it were, at the cusp of a great moment in history.

The signs of this are all around us: Europe is uniting together in the European Union; Christianity is spreading rapidly in Asia, Africa and Oceania, while it declines in the West; militant Islam is on the rise in the East with aims throughout the world; globalization is on the forefront of most people’s minds; access to information of all kinds is now as close as our fingertips; people are beginning – ever so slowly – to question materialism and individualism which promised such great happiness, yet never produced it.

We know that the founder of this Order, Father Michael J. McGivney, lived at a time not all too different from our own, living as he did in a time of great change and upheaval, and a time in which Catholics in this country were greatly persecuted. Through the Knights of Columbus Father McGivney taught Catholic men to band together to defend the faith, to support each other, and to be patriotic citizens of the nation. He called them to rally together to show the beauty and truth of the Faith.

Today the Church in America is again under persecution, and growing persecution at that. It is time for Catholic men to again arise, to defend the faith, to support one another, and to be loyal, patriotic citizens of these United States.

In his recent Pastoral Visit to Brazil, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI said emphatically:

It is time to overcome the notable absence – in the political sphere, in the world of the media and in the universities – of the voices and initiatives of Catholic leaders with strong personalities and generous dedication, who are coherent in their ethical and religious convictions.
It is the responsibility and the duty of the Knights of Columbus to take up this call of the Holy Father.

Indeed, just ten days ago, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, S.B.D., the Vatican Secretary of State, reminded us at the 125th Supreme Convention, that “Father McGivney’s legacy lives on today in the Knights’ continuing efforts to keep themselves – and others – informed about complex issues regarding human life, justice, freedom, and the common good.”

It is time for patriotic Catholics to arise and promote the dignity of this country by lives of faith, which shine as living examples of the truth. It is time to correct the false statements of the media in humble charity; it is time to remind our politicians that they vote for us and not themselves; it is time to promote and protect the dignity of marriage; it is time to help make this country, through the grace of God, all that she can become, that the epithet of the statue of liberty may be true indeed:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teaming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Cardinal Bertone reminds us: “being a Catholic in the world today takes courage; yet it takes no more courage than it did when Jesus calls his first disciples in Galilee.” It is only by being, in the first place, true and faithful Catholics that we will be, in the second place, true and loyal patriots.

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