WITH THE BEATIFICATION last fall of our founder, Blessed Michael McGivney, a feast day in the Church’s liturgical calendar was assigned to him — namely, Aug. 13. Officially, his feast day is reserved to the liturgical calendar of the Archdiocese of Hartford, where he served as a diocesan priest and where he was beatified. Nonetheless, the entire family of the Knights of Columbus can and should observe this day of joy and grace. Permit me to offer some suggestions for doing so.
First, I suggest that we prayerfully reflect on Father McGivney’s life and holiness. Recent issues of Columbia have featured beautiful reflections on our founder — on the life of his hardworking family, his journey to the priesthood, his extraordinary ministry as a parish priest and his vision in founding the Knights of Columbus. As members of the Order, each of us should be thoroughly familiar with our founder, for his life and holiness continue to animate the spirituality, programs and charities of the Knights. I recommend reading the 2006 biography Parish Priest: Father Michael McGivney and American Catholicism by Douglas Brinkley and Julie M. Fenster.
Second, we should pray for Blessed Michael McGivney’s canonization with fervor and attention. Since we recite the prayer for his canonization so often, we may find ourselves not giving adequate thought to what we are saying (this is true of many prayers!). Especially on Father McGivney’s feast day, we should linger over this prayer, which is really a brief summary of his life and ministry. This prayer helps us reflect on how our founder reached out to the poor and to families devastated by the loss of husbands and fathers; on all he did to foster family life; and on his love for young people, leading them to engage in charity.
‘As members of the Order, each of us should be thoroughly familiar with our founder, for his life and holiness continue to animate the spirituality, programs and charities of the Knights.’
Even as we pray for Blessed Michael McGivney’s canonization, we also pray for ourselves, that we might “continue his work of caring for the needy and the outcast.” What a good occasion to reflect on whether we are serving the poor and vulnerable in our communities and participating in the many charitable programs of the Knights. In this prayer, we also ask Blessed Michael’s intercession for some favor that is particularly important to us. May we never lose an opportunity to ask him to pray for those spiritual and material blessings that will help our Order to build a civilization of truth and love. We all look toward that happy day when, God willing, our Blessed Founder will be declared a saint!
Third, let us not forget the litany of Blessed Michael McGivney, issued on the occasion of his beatification. After we invoke the Blessed Trinity, Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. Michael, the litany turns our attention to the attributes of our founder. We ask him to pray for us as we address him by titles such as “Humble Servant of God,” “Gentle Shepherd of Souls,” “Protector of the Poor,” “Apostle of Christian Family Life,” “Exemplar of Charity,” “Model of Unity,” “Builder of Catholic Fraternity,” “Instructor of Christian Patriotism,” and, of course, “Founder of the Knights of Columbus.” Invoking Blessed Michael under these and other titles draws us closer to him and invites him to accompany us spiritually as we seek to live the principles of the Order.
Finally, if you can do so, please plan to participate in holy Mass on Aug. 13, even if Blessed Michael’s feast day is not celebrated in your locality. The Mass was truly “the source and summit” of Father McGivney’s life, and there is no better way to honor our founder than by entering into the mystery of faith in which his entire life and ministry was rooted. While at Mass, let us ask Father McGivney’s intercession that God raise up an abundance of priestly vocations — priests who will follow our founder’s lead in their life and ministry.
And let me conclude by wishing each of you a blessed and happy feast day!
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