Lecture 9, March 2024


Lecture #9 – March 2024



The title of a popular song by Aretha Franklin and others.  Respect is defined as a noun meaning (1) a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements: or (2) due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others: or (3) a particular aspect, point, or detail.  It is also a verb defined as to admire (someone or something) deeply, because of their abilities, qualities, or achievements:


Tradition is also a song.  It is from the score of “Fiddler on the Roof” a Broadway musical and movie about a Jewish family living in Czarist Russia in the late 1800s.  Tradition is a noun meaning (1) the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way, (2) a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another or (3) an artistic or literary method or style established by an artist, writer, or movement, and subsequently followed by others.

When I joined the Knights, the council was starting to form a First-Degree team.  I joined the team and over a few years served as the Warden and occasionally as the Financial Secretary.  I served on the team until Supreme revised the ceremony and issued the current format.  While serving as Grand Knight I took part in the revised ceremony presenting each new member with a rosary and the emblem of the order.  Since Brother Ramon Presas moved out of the area, I have been taking his place and presenting the lesson on Unity.

I do not remember much of my First-Degree initiation.  I do recall I was one of about two dozen candidates, the only one from Holy Spirit.  I do recall that the degree team wore special robes, and the room was dark.  Taking part in Council 8157’s team reinforced several specific points about the principle of charity, the primary principle of our order.  Over the years the First-Degree team initiated over 200 men into the order.  Many from parishes other than Holy Spirit. 

The ceremony was conducted in a room at the parish.  The lights were dimmed, and the team wore the special robes dictated by Supreme.  Each candidate was required to sign the constitutional roll, agreeing to obey the rules of the organization.  They were also required to take an oath, answering several questions.  They were then instructed in the principle of Charity.  After the lesson they were presented with a rosary and given the pin, the emblem of the order.   The team member representing the Financial Secretary then instructed the new member(s) on how to participate in a council meeting.  They were told that the gavel was used by the Grand Knight to conduct the meeting.   One rap of the gavel was used to call the meeting to order, two raps are used to have the council officers stand.  Three raps were used to have all the council members stand, and four raps were used to have the membership kneel for prayers.  The Secretary’s instructions included that when wishing to speak the member would raise their hand.  When recognized by the Grand Knight the member was to salute the Grand Knight by making the vertical sign of the tree of the cross.  The Grand Knight would respond with a horizontal gesture representing the beam of the cross thus recognizing the member who was then free to speak.  The Grand Knight was to be addressed as “Worthy Grand Knight.”  In fact, all elected officers were to be addressed as “Worthy” recognizing that their brother knights had chosen them as worthy to fill the office to which they had been elected.  The current Degree Exemplification ceremony omits the Financial Secretary’s instructions.

Since the Council has resumed in-person meetings, I have noticed that these courtesies have begun to fade into obscurity.  While our older members continue to follow these traditions many of our newer members do not, possibly because they never received the Secretary’s instructions. 

This March brings the season of Lent.  Traditions surrounding Lent include fasting and abstinence.  Church or Cannon Law stipulates two days of fasting, Ash Wednesday, and Good Friday.  When I was a child there seemed to be several more.  The Church also requires we abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.  Again, not as many days as when I was a child.  Canon law defines fasting and abstinence as: 

“Everyone 14 years of age or older is bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, all the Fridays of Lent and Good Friday.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59.

When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.”

 Medical and other exceptions also apply.  The “ages” are requirements but are not limitations.  Catholics younger or older than the ages stipulated may observe the rules.

March also brings St. Patrick’s Day, the seventeenth.  Ireland has three patron Saints, Saint Briged, St Columba, and St. Patrick.  Saint Brigid (4514-525 AD) founded the abbey of Kildare as well as several other abbeys during her lifetime.  She is thought to have been buried at the high alter of the original Kildare Cathedral.  Saint Columba (521-597 AD) fled Ireland as one of the 12 Irish Apostles and founded a monastery on Iona.  He is credited with the conversion of several Pictish tribes in Scotland.  His feast day is June 9th.  His reason for fleeing Ireland is debatable but has something to do with his killing a brother or failing to protect someone.  Iona was selected as the first place where he landed and after climbing its highest peak could no longer see Ireland. St. Columba died at the monastery on Iona.  His relics were later divided between Ireland and Scotland.

Saint Patrick was probably born in western Britain about the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain.  The dates of his birth and his death are unknown but references in his writings place them in the fifth century.  He was captured by some Irish raiders, taken to Ireland and sold into slavery.  He served as a shepherd for several years before a dream resulted in his escape and his fleeing the island.  He studied and became a priest.  The Pope sent him to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.   He was not the first nor the last to be sent on this mission but the most famous. Legend has him ‘driving the snakes out of Ireland’ when in fact there never were any snakes in the island. He is supposedly buried at Downpatrick in the County Down in Northern Ireland.  “Downpatrick” is the English version of the Irish wording for “Patrick’s Fort.”

Each of these Saints have various traditions that are celebrated in Ireland and Scotland and across the globe wherever the Irish and Scots have settled.  Traditions and celebrations that extend back to the beginnings of our church and in many cases go far beyond the births of those Saints.  By observing those traditions, we show respect for their accomplishments, honor their memory, and enrich our own lives.