Pope to Knights: 125 Years of "Always Yes"
As Saint Paul wrote in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “The Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you … was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes” (2 Cor 1:19). You have chosen as the theme for your meeting: “Celebrating 125 Years of Faith in Action: Witnessing to the ‘Yes’ of Jesus Christ.” How important it is to emphasize that the message of the Gospel is one that answers “Yes” to all the deepest hopes and aspirations of humanity. Without God, the human person remains restless and unfulfilled – in Saint Augustine’s classic formulation, our hearts were made for the Lord and they find no peace until they rest in him (cf. Confessions, 1:1). Yet when we acknowledge God and welcome him into our lives, the Spirit comes to dwell within us, enkindling our hearts with divine love. Then we begin to understand the greatness of our vocation to become children of God, and we marvel at the irrevocable “Yes” that God has spoken to us in his Son Jesus Christ.Following the message, in his annual report to the order, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson announced that the KofC donated a total of $143 million to church and charitable causes in 2006. The members also devoted a cumulative 68 million volunteer hours to external activities from the parish level on upward.
For 125 years, the Knights of Columbus have sought to respond to that “Yes” by wholeheartedly accepting the summons to discipleship. The Second Vatican Council teaches that “as sharers in the mission of Christ, priest, prophet and king, the lay faithful have an active part to play in the life and activity of the Church” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 10.) This includes the mission of proclaiming the Gospel, especially by means of catechetical instruction and by leading to the Church people who are perhaps far removed from her (cf. Christifideles Laici, 33.) It includes service to society through acts of charity, care of the poor and the sick, and assistance to those in need of any kind, in the spirit of your founder, Father Michael McGivney. It includes the faithful witness of Christian marriage and family life, whereby the sanctifying presence of the “domestic Church” transforms society from within. In all these ways, and many more, the Knights of Columbus have actively built up the Kingdom of God on earth, and I know you will continue to devote your energies and your apostolic zeal to promoting the Church’s mission wherever you may be.
At the same time I urge you to be ever mindful of the need to draw sustenance for the missionary endeavor from your fidelity to prayer. As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta taught her followers, time devoted to God in prayer not only does not detract from effective and loving service to our neighbor, but is in fact its inexhaustible source (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 36). By drinking ever more deeply from the wellsprings of God’s love, you will be transformed ever more perfectly into the likeness of Christ, so that you in turn can proclaim his “Yes” to the world around you.
PHOTO: AP/Mark Humphrey