With more than 2,500 delegates and their families attending, the Opening Mass for the 129th Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention was concelebrated by some 100 priests and more than 70 archbishops and bishops, including 11 cardinals.
The opening procession for the Tuesday Mass, which took 15 minutes to enter the convention room, was led by a Fourth Degree honor guard from John H. Reddin Province in Colorado. Reddin was the first Supreme Master of the Fourth Degree and a pioneer for the Order in the Western United States in the early 20th century.
The principal celebrant was Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, the Archbishop-designate of Philadelphia and current diocesan administrator of Denver, where he served as archbishop for 14 years until being appointed to his new position last month by Pope Benedict XVI.
In his homily, Archbishop Chaput outlined the requirements for true reform in the Church. The first, he said, is found in Psalm 51, which was read at Mass: “For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is always before me.”
“Renewal begins not in vilifying others, but in examining ourselves honestly, repenting of our own sins and changing ourselves,” he said. This applies to clergy as well as lay people, he noted.
The second requirement for reform, Archbishop Chaput continued, is found in the Gospel reading, in which Peter walks to Jesus on the water when his faith is strong, but begins to sink when fear overtakes him. The faith needed for reform is “not faith as theology, or faith as a collection of doctrines and practices, although these are important; but rather faith as a single-minded confidence in God. Faith as the humility – and in some sense the passion and the recklessness – to give ourselves entirely to God.”
He added, “That kind of faith changes people. That kind of faith shifts the world on its axis because nothing can stand against it.”
The archbishop closed with a story about the saint of the day, Peter Julian Eymard, a French priest of the 19th century who founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. When Eymard was considering switching from the diocesan clergy to become a religious priest, his family urged him to wait longer before making such a life-changing decision, Archbishop Chaput explained. But the future saint replied: “God calls me now. Tomorrow may be too late.”
The archbishop concluded, “God is calling each of us here today – clergy, laity and religious – to love him with all our hearts and to renew the life of his Church. God is calling us now. Tomorrow will be too late. So let us pray for each other, and support each other, and let’s begin.”