Lecture 4 October 2023

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Lecture 4 October 2023

Most of you, my brother Knights, went through your initiation into the degrees (first/ second/ third) of our order years ago.  Some of us went through three ceremonies, each one separate from the others.  Some of us went through the Second- and Third-degree ceremony on the same day.  Today’s Exemplification combines all three-degree ceremonies into one evening.  What once were “secret” ceremonies are now pretty much open to the public with family and friends invited to attend.  The robes that were once worn have been replaced with a yellow and white baldric and a suit and tie. Although the ceremonies have changed the three basic principles of the order have not – Charity, Unity, and Fraternity.  That is not to say that they have not evolved. 

When the Knights were founded in 1882 Charity, the first principle of our order, meant to care for the widows and orphans of deceased members.  Today our works of charity extend beyond those widows and orphans to include members of our parish.  Our Knight Hands program helps those who lack the skills, knowledge, tools, strength and/or funds to maintain a reasonable standard of living.  Some of our brother Knights are active in the Meals on Wheels program delivering healthy meals to people who cannot prepare meals for themselves.  Others work with the Boy Scouts programs.  Some deliver the Eucharist to parishioners who are home bound or in the hospital.  Several are Hospitality Ministers and serve during the masses at church.  The rendering of each service is an act of charity.  Although they are not specifically a council activity each act of service demonstrates the Knights principle of charity.  In the exemplification lesson on charity, we are told that charity is not simply the donation of money but is also a donation of our time.  That it may be as simple as just taking the time to listen to someone as they unload their cares on an understanding friend.

The second principle of our order in Unity.  The Blessed Father McGivney recognized that alone a person could accomplish only to the limits of his skills, knowledge or strength, acting together, we could accomplish so much more.  Initially, when a member died, his brother Knights were requested to contribute a dollar toward the surviving family members.   Today that does not sound like much but in the 1880’s it meant survival.  Without those dollars the family could be thrown out of their home, forced to live on the streets, children could be seized and put up for adoption.  Mothers could be forced to work hours for menial wages. 

Unity does not always mean working as a group to accomplish a goal although Knights often do that.  Our Lenten fish fry dinners are a perfect example.  Working alone we could never hope to prepare the 200 plus meals we serve on those Friday nights.  Working as a team with each knight performing a specific task or tasks, we can successfully feed hundreds of members of our community.  Unity also means a common purpose or goal.  We do not agree on politics, our choice of music varies, we root for different sports teams, in hundreds of ways we are individuals and differ with each other but as knights we all share a common interest in preserving, protecting, defending, and improving our parish and the community.  Above all else we are unified in our faith.   During our initiation into the order, we made a promise to “continue to form yourself in the Catholic Faith, to live in accord with the precepts of the Catholic Church, and to participate in its sacramental life, especially through attendance at Sunday Mass.” 

The third principle of our order is Fraternity.  The word is from Latin ‘frater’ meaning brother.  A fraternity is therefore a brotherhood, an organization, society, club, or fraternal order.  Traditionally composed of men associated together for various religious or secular aims.  Our experience is probably influenced by our college experience where there were several social fraternities.  The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal organization of Catholic men joined together by our common religious beliefs for common purposes.  We are brothers, united by choice not joined by blood.  

Fraternities evolved during the Middle Ages.  We have been led to believe that a knight was a warrior.  He adhered to a code of ethics, defender of the church, the kingdom, and his earthly lord.  The title of “Knight” was conferred usually by a king after a long period of training in the use of various weapons.  The title of “Knight” was selected based on belief that Knights were especially qualified as defenders of the faith, men held in high esteem and worthy of special recognition.  In the 1880s Christopher Columbus was a hero, the discoverer of the New World.  The choice of “Columbus” was to emphasize that the Catholic faith was instrumental in the discovery and colonization of the Americas. 

As Knights of Columbus, we are called to live in fraternal communion, to encourage one another, to support each other and to live our lives as Catholic gentlemen.  Christ gave us several examples as to how to act as a brother.  His story of the Samaritan who cared for the man who was robbed and beaten on the road, his answer about how often should I forgive someone “Seven times?”  “No, seventy times seven times.”  There are many other examples. 

I would suggest that you consider attending an exemplification for the First, Second and Third degrees of the order as a refresher.  They are currently scheduled for every second Tuesday of the month when we have a candidate.  If you have not made your Second or Third degree, we encourage you to do so.