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Chaplain's Message

 Rev. John P. Grace Chaplain 's Message . . . 03/06/2023

March, 2023 Key # 6. Lead by example and effective teaching. The first note of this key states: # 6 A • Knights cultivate reverence and respect for the clergy — respond by providing spiritual leadership and taking seriously the educational needs and desires of your brother Knights. The Chaplain (and/or Spiritual Director) is to be Father McGivney for the Knights of his council, helping to bring spirituality to the Knights and their projects. The ‘Chaplain’s Message’ is an integral part of the council meeting, and the meeting agenda can be modified to accommodate it. The chaplain can help the men be successful as Catholic leaders. It has been said that today’s chaplains are the descendents of Blessed Father McGivney. What an inspiration and privilege that relationship is for us as Knights of Columbus chaplains. Can you imagine the reverence the people of his day had for Father McGivney? During his lifetime, the membership of the Knights of Columbus spread like “wild fire” as candidates witnessed the presence of God’s hand, offering this new organization through the inspiration of this holy priest. The same reverence still remains as an integral part of the Knights of Columbus today. It is part of the culture of being a Knight. The California State Convention was held in Fresno in 2002. That was not a good year for the Church due to the turmoil over the “scandals.” In those troubled times, priests were very self-conscious as they dressed in clerics, but as I walked into the hall where the convention was taking place, I beheld a sight that brought joy to my heart and uplifted my spirits. A drape hung across the whole front of the stage with the message “In Solidarity with our Priests,” written in large, bold letters. Now, so many years later, I don’t remember much of the proceedings of the convention, but I will never forget that statement from the Knights. Members of our Order cultivate reverence and respect for the clergy, and I’m sure you have all had firsthand experience of that. During a general audience in May 2012, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the faithful "to be aware of the great gift that priests represent for the Church and the world. Through their ministry the Lord continues to save mankind, to make Himself present, to sanctify. Give thanks to God and above all remain close to your priests with prayer and support, especially in moments of difficulty, that they may increasingly become pastors in keeping with God’s heart." Yes, we are grateful for the stance the Order continually takes on our behalf. Following on that, we come to the response by the chaplains. Our first item in this sixth key asks us to “respond by providing spiritual leadership and taking seriously the educational needs and desires of your brother Knights.” The desires of our fellow members may not always be what we might envisage as being their educational needs. In their enthusiasm some may tempt all council members to follow an individual’s personal convictions. However good these may be, at this stage of our direct involvement in the faith formation and spirituality of the council members, we need to focus on a basic and true following of all Church teaching. As priests, we need to be totally immersed in the proceedings of the Church, and enter in with all our spirit to what is being offered and what is being asked of us. To help us on the way, let us remember what our Popes have been saying to us. Pope Benedict VXI stated: “Religious communities as well as parish communities, and all ecclesial bodies old and new, are to …. arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.” Pope Francis said: “Be not afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors to Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Be not afraid. Christ knows ‘that which is in man’, He alone knows it.” And Bishop Barron wrote about Evangelization: “Friends, today Jesus instructs us to pray for laborers for the harvest, for disciples who do the work of evangelization. Everything we do ought to be related somehow to it. This doesn’t mean that we all have to become professional evangelizes. Remember, you can Evangelize big the moral quality or your life. But is does mean that nothing in our lives ought to be more important that announcing the victory of Jesus.” The Knights of Columbus must take these exhortations to heart. In fact we are well poised to take full advantage of this invitation: “To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed.” I feel confident in saying that our Knights are waiting for us to direct them in their formation. We have a golden opportunity offered to us by the Knights Councils, so let’s use it. If we initiate serious consideration of Church teaching at the council level, maybe larger groups would participate at parish level. This is certainly one way we can offer the Gospel and Church teaching in order to evangelize in a new way all who have ears to hear but have not really listened, and those who wish to know, but know not even how to go about it. Pray for us, and guide us, Blessed Father Michael McGivney, that we may continue to be imbued with your spirit. God bless and keep you all. Rev. John P. Grace, O.S.A. CA State Chaplain

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