My Dear Brother Knights,
When I was a child, my parish was blessed to have devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every first Friday of the month. Ever since then, I have been so moved by the love of Jesus. In fact, it has occurred to me that all of the Gospel can be summed up in one word, love. That God loves us is clear. The Holy Scriptures tell us time and again that God loves us. We just completed the time of year when we consider the greatest act of love ever offered - Jesus suffering, dying, and rising for us. The Ascension is all about Jesus, in His love for us, bringing our prayers to the Father. The Pentecost gift of the Holy Spirit was a gift of the abiding presence of God given in love. And this month, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The fact that we are loved is not all that our faith is about. Christianity’s hallmark quality is that we love as we have been loved. We are called above all else to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. “This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).
The first principle of our KofC order is charity, the virtue by which we offer to another what they need. Love is the motivation behind our giving to the children at Gibault and to the athletes in Special Olympics, the support we give to our bishops, priests, and seminarians, our defense of the unborn and families, and why we pray rosaries and consecrate ourselves to the Holy Family. Love is the reason why our venerable founder Fr. Michael McGivney founded this order, to care for widows and orphans. The love of Jesus that we have known is what moves us to act as Knights of Columbus. As we celebrate how we are loved and how we are called to share in God’s love, even in times when it is difficult to share that love in the usual ways, let us recommit ourselves to the principle of charitable love. Jesus is asking us to love as He loves us. The needy are counting on us loving them in their need. Our Church, our community, our nation and our world are expecting us to be men of love. May God, through the prayers of Fr. McGivney, help us to be the Knights and disciples we are called and gifted to be.
When I lived in Indianapolis, there was a restaurant that was owned by an immigrant who deeply loved our country. Every day at 6pm, he would ask his patrons for their attention and he would proceed to sing “God bless America”. When he died, the restaurant continued (and I believe still continues) playing a recording of Kate Smith singing that song. We all know such great stories of people who loved and love this great land. Many of us have close relatives who have served in military, law enforcement and fire-fighting organizations. Some of us have been involved in the community in civil service in elected or appointed positions. Many of us honor our country each Independence Day and on other civil holidays by attending parades, speeches, and the Holy Mass.
In the Fourth Degree of our Order, the virtue of patriotism is extolled. What a great honor it is as Catholic gentlemen to honor God’s gift to us of this great nation. But, as is the case with every gift God gives us, we are called by God to be stewards of our nation, taking care of it, enjoying its benefits, making sure that it is all that God wants it to be. The first bishop in what is now the United States, +Archbishop John Carroll, composed a prayer for the inauguration of the first President, George Washington. In that prayer, he prayed that God would preserve our nation, and that the Church in our nation would continue in faith to praise God’s Name. May we as Knights of Columbus honor and bless our nation by being good citizens, good Knights, good Catholic-Christians, and good men. May God bless America.