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Archived Online Discussion
Topic: The Gift of Black Folk & The Faith We Profess
Date: 5-6 pm (ET)
on Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Carl Anderson
Supreme Knight
Msgr. Vaghi
Author of The Faith We Profess
Carl Anderson:
Thank you all for joining us this evening as we discuss two important books!

Former District Deputy Robert B. Camilleri
Las Vegas, Nevada
What is the Knights of Columbus doing to encourage more Catholic African Americans men to become members of the Order? What can local councils do to encourage more Catholic African American men to join the Order?
Carl Anderson:
On the day I became Supreme Knight in 2000, I said we had a moral obligation to invite every eligible Catholic man to join the Knights of Columbus. I continue to encourage my brother knights to do that. Also, I have encouraged the establishment of a K of C council in every parish, so that whatever he racial makeup of a parish is, the Knights of Columbus will have a welcoming presence.

Compton, CA
What other prayers would you recommend in addition to the apostles' creed?
Msgr. Vaghi:
Of course, the Our Father, which is the perfect prayer. The last section of the Catechism is on Prayer. It opens up the Our Father, the prayer composed by Jesus, in a very beautiful way. This section is very helpful spiritually. Everything in the Our Father reflects what is in our hearts when we think about or contemplate prayer.

Former District Deputy Robert B. Camilleri
Las Vegas, Nevada
Could you please speak to your own experience with members of the Order in the predominately African American District of Columbia? Did the book "The Gift of Black Folk" resonate with you because of your experience in the District of Columbia?
Carl Anderson:
My experience as DC State Deputy made clear the vitality and the relevance of the K of C especially in inner-city parishes and communities. That coupled with the Order's role in commissioning and publishing this book 85 years ago made it a very easy decision to re-publish this book, which helps us to be conscious of - not only the accomplishments of the past - but the accomplishments people are making every day.

I believe that it is very difficult for us as Catholics to reflect on our human lives as it relates to Christ's life in the human perspective. In one of your suggested reflections you asked "What aspect of Jesus’ humanity is most important for you at this time in your life?" What feedback have you received from your readers on this question?
Msgr. Vaghi:
Very good question. This has been asked often, and it goes back to Council's document Gaudium et Spes #22. Jesus worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, he acted with a human will, loved with a human heart. He had deep emotions, he wept at the grave of Lazarus. Ultimately he suffered, and that is the one thing particularly during Lent upon which we meditate, he died, and his death gave death meaning. When you consider that God became man, ennobling human flesh, there is a great deal of humility in our God.

Sioux City
Why are these books being discussed together? Is there a link between them? I must confess I have not read either, so maybe you can make a connection for me.
Carl Anderson:
Well, we certainly you read both. It is precisely because of the faith we profess that the Knights took the initiative 85 years ago to commission and publish Du Bois's book as an act of solidarity.

Detroit, Michigan
Why is it the Apostles' Creed?
Msgr. Vaghi:
It reflects the faith of the Apostles, and each article and tradition has it that each Apostle is related to one article. The important thing is that it reflects the faith of the Apostles, who were called by Jesus himself. It's a faithful summary of the Apostles' faith.

Jacob M.
Dearborn Hts, MI
At Mass today, during the recitation of the Nicene Creed for the feast of the Annunciation, we were asked to genuflect during the words referring to Jesus' incarnation -- just as we do at Christmas. After all, the Incarnation is central to our faith and salvation. In this light, why (in the United States at least) is the Annunciation not a holy day of obligation? If the Immaculate Conception of Mary is a holy day, it only makes sense that the conception of Christ ought to be one as well.
Carl Anderson:
I think Msgr. Vaghi has the answer here, although, personally, it would be fine with me if it were a holy day.

Msgr. Vaghi:
That's a decision of the Bishops in the USA. Certainly, it is very important, it is a Solemnity. We wear white vestments and pray the Creed and Gloria. The question of making it a Holy Day is left to the bishops of each country. The fact that it's not a Holy Day of Obligation in no way detracts from importance of this Solemnity.

James J Corbett
Why reprint this book "Gift of Black Folk" now. What message does it have for us today?
Carl Anderson:
The book was a watershed moment in black history. The republication coincides with the 100th anniversary of the NAACP - which DuBois helped found - with the 85th anniversary of the original publication of the book, and, as it happens, with the inauguration of America's first African American president. But most important, was the fact that this historic work be returned to publication and be available for scholars and students, and that we recognize that the Knights of Columbus did make an important contribution at a decisive moment in history.

Columbus, OH
Why is a "profession" of our faith such a key element of the Apostles' Creed? Why must we "profess" it, what does this mean exactly?
Msgr. Vaghi:
It goes to the word, what is faith. Faith is a response to God and to his love for us. It is both a response to the Person of Jesus, and it is a response to the message of Jesus given in and through the Church. The Creed is what I believe, the content of the faith. And it's a surrender to the person of God, in a free human act to believe.

Santa Fe
How can we use the Apostles Creed as a Lenten meditation?
Carl Anderson:
The Apostles' Creed is something that hopefully we say each day in our recitation of the rosary. There is a reason it comes at the beginning of the rosary, and that is, that it provides an excellent summary of Christ's life, and of our fundamental beliefs as Catholics. So it is a great prayer to set the tone for meditation on any aspect of the faith.

Msgr. Vaghi:
Well, the beautiful way to do it is go chapter by chapter in the book. Each chapter gives an article of the Creed and has questions at the end, upon which you can meditate on. You could do one chapter a day. You can use this for K of C councils, prayer groups, RCIA, and so on.

Aloysius K
For those who had no time to read the book (like me) what is the take-away? Is this just another rehash of the Catechism?
Carl Anderson:
All of us are certainly busy, but a book like this has a unique advantage in that it is very readable and I would recommend that you read it for ten minutes each day and use it as a meditation for the remainder of lent.

Msgr. Vaghi:
I hope that it would reflect a priest's 24 years of pastoral work. Certainly, it is based on the Catechism, also based on JP II and Benedict XVI and Scripture. Hopefully, it reflects my pastoral work and teaching. This book came about as a result of lectures I gave in downtown Washington DC and my suburban parish. The book talks about the Apostles' Creed which is the earliest Roman baptismal creed. It's an attempt to take the Creed, the 12 articles, and break them open pastorally. Pope Benedict referred to the Apostles Creed as an encounter with God.

Fairfield CT
I read about the Knights fighting the 1098 bill in Connecticut that would have made parishes independent of the bishop. How can people in Hartford be so bold -- how can we help?
Carl Anderson:
Luckily, because of the public outcry, the bill was tabled and the hearing cancelled. The lesson, however, going forward, is that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and that a public response is very important on issues like this.

Washington, DC
How long has the creed been part of the Mass? How old is this prayer? How is it different from the Nicene creed?
Msgr. Vaghi:
The Apostles' Creed goes back to the 3rd century, and the Nicene Creed goes back to the 4th century. The Apostles' Creed is the original. The Nicene Creed answers some of the heresies of the day. It's more of a clarification of the faith, confronting errors about Christ and the Holy Spirit. It's more embellished, answering the early errors.

Burbank, CA
Why is the Apostles Creed considered so fundamental a statement of faith?
Msgr. Vaghi:
This is the belief of the Apostles, the earliest creedal formula they used in Rome, the baptismal Roman creed. It's the same creed we say today before Baptism, in question and answer form. Our Catechism calls it the oldest Roman Catechism (#196).

John L
How are the Knights of Columbus informing their members about the important issues of our day? How can we fight the pro-abortion people in the White House?
Carl Anderson:
The important issues of the day are regularly featured on our website ( and in our monthly magazine, Columbia. Readers are referred to the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for information on the wide spectrum of pro-life issues. For daily updates, you can also check the news site we established - - because Catholics need to know.

Phoenix, Arizona
What was the reason that you wrote this book? And how well do you think people understand what they say when they pray this?
Msgr. Vaghi:
I love the Catholic faith. I love everything about the faith. I wanted to communicate as best I could the fundamentals of our faith, which is expressed in the Apostles' Creed. Also as we learn in 1 Peter 3:15, we all look for reasons to believe, and this is an effort to give us reasons for our belief, reasons for our hope.

Dave Babbitt
W Springfield
What is the Paschal Mystery?
Msgr. Vaghi:
The Paschal mystery is a fancy word for the Easter mystery. It's the dying and rising of Jesus, from Good Friday to Easter Sunday -- the Triduum. It is the central mystery of our faith.

San Antonio, TX
Why were the Knights so far ahead on the racial issue?
Carl Anderson:
We were ahead on this issue, because we too experienced persecution first hand from the nativists and know nothings. We have also always focused on helping the marginalized, whether that meant widows and orphans, or racial and religious minorities or the intellectually disabled or the unborn and elderly.

North Haven
Why is the creed a prayer we say together?
Carl Anderson:
It is the same reason that one of the pillars of the Knights of Columbus is unity. Saying this prayer together unites us in prayer - and in our common faith and belief.

Msgr. Vaghi:
It underscores that we are a community of believers and that it's a shared faith. It's not my individual belief but a faith that has been handed down for thousands of years as a shared experience.

USAFA, Colorado
A lot of times when we say the creed at Mass or at the beginning of the rosary or other prayers, it's easy to take what we're saying we believe in for granted or just not pay attention to its points. What can we do to make saying the creed more meaningful and prayerful?
Msgr. Vaghi:
Well, read this book. Yes, it can become routine, yet we need to make it a prayer, an encounter with God. We reflect on what we believe about God. I break it down and look at every article of the Creed, to explain and expound, so that it does not become rote. One way to avoid the rote recitation is to study the Creed. When you have knowledge of the creed and use it as a prayer text, you see it with new eyes.

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