Tying his homily to the day’s feast of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori said that the Order’s state deputies are called “to extend the burning charity of the Sacred Heart throughout the Church and the world.”
“It is most beautiful and most providential” that the Mass on June 7 for state deputies held in St. Mary’s Church, the birthplace of the Order, should be celebrated on the feast of the Sacred Heart, said Archbishop Lori, who is the head of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He also remarked on the symbolic character of the ceremonial jewel that the state deputies would receive at the end of Mass. Just as the Sacred Heart is a symbol of the humanity and charity of Jesus, focusing on his “total sacrificial gift for the good of mankind,” Archbishop Lori noted, so the ceremonial jewel is a symbol of the state deputy’s duty to offer his time and talents for the benefit of the Order, the Church and the community within his jurisdiction.
“All that you do, you must do with charity, with love, for the greater glory of God and for the benefit of others,” he told the state deputies, who attended the Mass with their wives.
“In doing this,” he concluded, “you will be exercising a charity that evangelizes.”
The Mass had many elements that exhibited the international character of the Knights of Columbus, including Prayers of the Faithful read in English, French, Spanish, Tagalog (Filipino) and Polish.
After Communion, newly-elected state deputies and their wives were called forward for the conferral of the ceremonial jewels by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and to receive a blessing from Archbishop Lori.
After Mass, Archbishop Lori and the other supreme officers processed to the tomb of Father Michael J. McGivney in the back of the church and led the congregation in the Prayer for Canonization of the Order’s founder. Father McGivney, whose cause for canonization is being studied by the Vatican, holds the title of Venerable Servant of God.
‘What Would Father McGivney Say?’
Later that morning, Archbishop Lori addressed the state deputies again during a general session at the Omni Hotel. He posed a provocative question: “What would Father McGivney say to you if he were here not only in spirit, but physically here?” Archbishop Lori said that he had pondered the question often and concluded that the founder of the Knights of Columbus, who served as the first supreme chaplain, “would call you and me to holiness.”
One of the main reasons Father McGivney founded the Order “was to give Catholic men a vehicle by which to take their faith seriously and live out that faith in the world,” Archbishop Lori explained. “He hoped and prayed that all his Knights would be men outstanding in holiness.”
Archbishop Lori delivered his address on June 7, the same morning that he offered Mass in St. Mary’s Church in New Haven.
In Father McGivney’s day, the second half of the 19th century, there was a widespread notion that holiness was the special preserve of clergy, religious and a few extraordinary lay persons, he observed. But Father McGivney was a priest ahead of his time who “forecast one of the foremost teachings of the Second Vatican Council — that is, the ‘Universal Call to Holiness,’” the archbishop said. “He knew that every baptized person is called to intimacy with God and fellowship with Christ.”
Calling holiness “the most important quality that you will need for your office,” Archbishop Lori warned the state deputies against thinking that holiness required detachment from the work and challenges of the world. Rather, holiness is a close relationship with God that can provide practical insights into day-to-day problems as a person learns to listen to God and follow his promptings, he explained.
He also said that state deputies need to work hard, make plans and drive ahead initiatives to be successful, but they must do these things in the context of prayer and faith. “We need to ask ourselves about the quality of our life of prayer. Does it include more than Mass on Sunday? Does it include regular confession, praying the Scriptures, praying the rosary, quietly spending some time and attention in the presence of the Lord?”
Charity, the first principle of the Order, is more than a list of projects and programs to help those in need, though it includes that. In the first instance, he noted, charity is a sharing in the charity of Christ. “If we want to drive forward the mission of the Order’s founder, we must have within ourselves the charity of Christ. Our works must reflect the God who is love.”
Holiness also will have practical results for the Order, the archbishop concluded, “because holiness attracts.” The great saints are not known for their deeds as much as for their love of and devotion to Christ, which attracted other people to their work. If people of the parishes see Knights exuding the love of Christ in their charitable works, they will want to join, Archbishop Lori said.