Fellow Brother Knights. I wish you all a Happy New Year! OK, check that…. I really mean to say, “I’ll be praying for you all this New Year that you will become closer to God and that His blessings flow abundantly to you”. I’ll leave the ‘wishes’ for fairy tales and Disney movies. The Second reading we heard in Mass today was from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. It tells us that we have heard of God’s grace through revelation. Paul takes it as his personal responsibility to pass that knowledge on to others, the Church in Ephesus in particular but in general to the whole world. We too now know that all peoples (the gentiles too) are “coheirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus”. That means we too have to go spread the word to others, both in our words and actions.
The Church has taken that role onto itself over the centuries largely as a consequence of history. In times of mass conversions, where whole countries were ‘converted’, the citizens often didn’t have much actual knowledge of the religion they were following. They were simply following it because everyone else did too. Only the educated and knowledgeable people actually had the time and expertise to study and know what they were believing in. As a result, it was often up to the Church to re-educate the faithful on the true practice of Catholicism. Many times, incorrect teachings had to be weeded out. Many of those incorrect teachings came from outside the Church and influenced how people believed within the Church. Many heresies had to be weeded out over time. Today is no different.
I believe that one of today’s greatest heresies is the belief that the “Church” will maintain our faith for us, that we have only to attend mass weekly (if that often) and all will go well. Unfortunately, that is wishful thinking again and holds no more water than Cinderella expecting some woman she never met before to give her a chance to go to the ball. To be a Christian, and a Catholic, we need to practice. I remind you that I have al-ready told you that thinking that we only need to go to church once a week is wishful thinking. It will not, in and of itself, save us. In fact, I believe this is the root of what is amounting to the greatest crisis our church has faced in a very long time. Our parent’s generation were likely the last generation that could just count on the Church to do these things for us. People had limited access to the greater world and competing messages from other sources didn’t influence us the way we are not inundated with information from all sides. They just knew that their kids would be taught ‘the faith’ and that they would follow the ways of the Church. Yet, maybe not even then… In my family, I’m the only one who still is practicing. My parents were deeply religious and very faith filled, yet I’m the only one left. My brothers, one by one, bought into the idea, I think, that they only needed to ‘go to church’ and then that became old and they stopped.
I think the Devil’s greatest ploy to destroy our faith it to make us believe that we don’t have to do anything. That the Church will do it all for us. Our Parish, unfortunately, is declining because of this belief. We still have a very active parish and a very active Knights of Columbus council, but both the parish and the Knights are in essentially a holding pattern. By that, I mean that we are merely doing the same things with the same people over and over again. But those people all have a limit. Their ability to keep on doing what they do is not infinite. As one member steps down from their duties, few step up to replace them. Our numbers of active members are dropping rapidly now, as some of the members get older and can no longer participate as they once did. In our parish, we see many gray heads in the pews but fewer and fewer children and young families. We cannot maintain this holding pattern any longer. We need to step up and realize that our full participation in the faith life of our parish and our Knights of Columbus council is absolutely necessary if we expect to be able to reap the rewards of their continued works. Please, brother knights, especially if you are thinking you don’t have anything to contribute or if you are thinking there’s somebody already doing ‘that’. I bet a lot of those “somebodies” would gladly welcome the help or even would welcome having someone else take over. We need you all to participate fully in our council to keep it functioning. We need you all to help bring new young members into the fold so they can eventually take over from us. To put it bluntly, We need your help. We cannot just maintain. We must grow.
I hope you can make greater participation in your Church, your KofC Council, your faith life in general the first and most important New Year’s resolution this year. I pray you all have a great and faith-filled new year and that you all find deep and lasting joy in actively participating in our Church, Parish and Council.
Grand Knight Michael