I had planned to present tonight the reflections I had on the Christmas season. But the events of the past two months, culminating in the events of the past week have pushed their way to the forefront, whether we like it or not.
I fear tonight that we are at the most volatile, divided time in our country since at least the 1960’s…and perhaps, dare I say, since 1860. In a Rasmussen poll released just today (1200 respondents), fully 25% of respondents feel that the country should split into two nations…red states, and blue states. But we don’t even need that poll to know, instinctively, how divided, entrenched, Americans are against each other right now. And I fear things will get worse before they get better.
For while this nation has weathered many crises, many threats from without, this is more dangerous…because it’s threats from within. And it’s coming from all sides…from the Rs, the Ds…the radical Right, the radical Left. The moderate middle even seems to be picking sides. People’s voices are being silenced. They’re all shouting each other down, cancelling each other out. We’re unfriending each other on social media, saying things on Twitter, or Facebook that we thought we’d NEVER say to each other face-to-face, although we’re starting to see that too. We’re categorizing, compartmentalizing, ostracizing and even dehumanizing those who don’t believe the way we do. We’re ascribing the malicious or bad behaviors of our political leaders or their followers to those we know personally, whom we think follow that same policy, or party…and we’re dehumanizing each other in the process. Nobody is listening to each other any more.
This is not the America I believe we know and love. It seems that we’re allowing the essential elements of what makes the United States so special among the nations of the world throughout history to slip away…and maybe not even realizing it. But we can feel it. There are forces active in our country today that are looking to tear all of us apart. And if I’m right…and I pray that I am not…this will arrive on our front doors, in this very community, perhaps soon.
Let me share something I heard today. “Life this side of heaven yes, can be hard. Freedom, true freedom that comes only from and with obedience to Divine Providence…that is even harder. There’s a reason that we are the longest ongoing experiment in Liberty in the history of humanity. However, our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people and we’ve lost our way as a country on both fronts.”
So what do we do?
We do only what we can. It has to start, for each of us, with ourselves. So tonight, I’m calling on us as brothers to lead the way in our community to heal and reconcile in this time of turmoil. Specifically, I call on my fellow 4th degree Knights to lead in this effort. We need to remind ourselves that the principle of the degree to which we took an obligation isn’t regalia, or a uniform. It’s not standing honor guard. It is PATRIOTISM.
If you research that word, you’ll find many different definitions, both positive and negative. But I suggest we take our current situation as a call to gain, or regain, a deeper understanding of the principles and values of American patriotism, those upon which our founding fathers based our Constitution…that sacred document that our veterans among us took an oath to support and defend. We knights stand at the pivotal intersection of our Catholic Faith and our American Exceptionalism. And I believe we are called to not only acquire a deeper understanding and appreciation of both, but to make it manifest in our community and the larger world through our acts of charity, working together visibly displaying our brotherhood and unity, despite our own political differences.
Gentlemen, we are knights. Knights are noble and chivalrous. They stand as beacons to those around them; examplars of what is good and true. So in this time of turmoil, I pray and exhort us all to be true knights. Put on the armor of God, band together, and with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…make manifest our Faith and true Patriotism to our community and our world.
Lecturer, KofC Council #11666
January 12, 2021
This new documentary explores the life, legacy and impact of Father Michael McGivney, apostle of spiritual brotherhood and unity, who founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882. Watch the full McGivney documentary on the Supreme Knights of Columbus YouTube channel!
The Knights of Columbus will participate in a National Day of Prayer and Fasting to End Racism on Sept. 9, the Feast of St. Peter Claver, a 16th century Catholic saint revered for his ministry to slaves.
Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, called for a day of fasting and prayer in response to the violence and unrest that has taken place in Kenosha, Wis, and other cities across the U.S.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said, “We are proud to join our bishops and all Catholics in this important day of prayer and penance. As men of faith, we are committed to defending the dignity of every person—regardless of race, color, ethnicity or ability. I urge all Knights to draw upon our principles of unity and fraternity to help guide our nation through this time of racial unrest through prayer and fasting.”
In June, the Knights of Columbus called for a Novena for National Unity & An End to Racism. At that time, Anderson stressed that injustice to a Black person is injustice to all as all are made in the likeness of God. He also called for people to express “their anger and cries for justice” peacefully, following the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the teachings of Pope Francis. The upcoming National Day of Prayer and Fasting offers such an opportunity.
Anderson also addressed the issue of racism in his report to the Knights’ annual convention in August:
“Many of our fellow citizens are still treated differently because of the color of their skin,” said Anderson. “Whenever and wherever this happens, it is wrong. And it must be righted. Where others tear down, let us build up with charity. Where others seek to divide, let us promote unity. And where racism festers, let us build fraternity.”
Dear Brother Knight,
As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the actions and responses taken by the Knights of Columbus.
The coronavirus disease is not the first pandemic the Knights of Columbus has faced. In the late nineteenth century, and again in 1918, the Knights remained strong and active despite such situations. And together, we will do so again this time.
We know that this period will be difficult in various ways for everyone, and we want to assure you that the Knights of Columbus is fully committed to you and your family, and has taken the steps necessary to continue our important work on your behalf – from protecting the faith and financial stability of members’ families, to helping members put their faith into action by providing important charitable service within their communities.
Although to our knowledge, no staff at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council or Museum in New Haven or at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., have tested positive for COVID-19, we have implemented remote operations for most staff, allowing our business processes, customer service and fraternal support to continue their important work uninterrupted, while simultaneously protecting the health of our employees and reducing the risk of community spread of this illness, which is often facilitated by having large groups of people in close proximity to one another.
Furthermore, our sustainable investment strategy means that our exposure to current stock market volatility is limited, and we remain extremely strong financially. With that strength, and the strength that comes from committed employees, we remain positioned and ready to serve our brother Knights. Of course, our agents and our customer service team also remain available to help you with any insurance or related financial needs that you may have. As we implement new systems to serve you and respond to a higher volume of inquiries than usual during this period, it is possible that wait and turnaround times may increase.
In addition to what we are doing at the Supreme Council headquarters, many brother Knights have asked how they can help in their own communities. We suggest the following:
As we move through this pandemic together, you can rest assured that the Knights of Columbus will be there for you. We will provide regular updates in the days ahead, and we will remain joined with you in prayer and in service to our neighbors in need.
May God bless you, and keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,