by Fr Richard Heilman | December 12, 2015 12:33 PM
On this Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, we are announcing a “Training in Holiness” campaign for the Knights of Columbus of the State of Wisconsin. This training is meant to further assist our knights to be the St. Josephs they are called to be … the holy spiritual heads of the Domestic Church.
In 2014, Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson called upon the Knights of Columbus to undertake the most critical mission of our times, Building the Domestic Church. In his initial address to all Knights, Carl Anderson began by saying …
In founding the Knights of Columbus Father Michael J. McGivney sought to respond to the crisis in family life affecting Catholics in 19th century America. As a young man he witnessed firsthand the challenges his widowed mother faced with seven children at home. Later, as a priest he confronted on a daily basis the problems affecting the families of his parish community due to poverty, violence, alcoholism, immigration, anti-Catholic prejudice and discrimination.
Father McGivney’s vision for family life was not simply that each family might find financial and material aid. He understood that holiness is the calling of all baptized Christians.
Yes! It all begins with holiness. Our world is in desperate need of holy St. Josephs. Building the Domestic Church begins by building holy St. Josephs … the spiritual heads of the Domestic Church!
Bishop Paul S. Loverde has a great reflection on St. Joseph. Here is a portion …
The role of the father in modern society has become lost or confused. A cursory glance at current day television shows and movies gives us an inside look into what contemporary culture believes fatherhood to be. Many television shows portray fathers as bumbling or inept, someone who needs his wife or children to take care of him. If not bumbling, then fathers are often portrayed as abusive or neglectful. In fact, there are very few television shows or movies that portray fatherhood as it is in the plan of God the Father. The understanding of fatherhood, in particular, has become confused with the emergence of the women’s rights movement. This is in large part due to the mistaken contemporary notion that to fully assert women, masculinity must be subverted as if the two were not complimentary but adversarial. One of the sad results of this mistaken notion can be seen in the fact that technology has made it possible that men are hardly even necessary for procreation.
But, is a father dispensable to the family? Was the role of Joseph in Bethlehem easily substituted by a family member or friend? Was the role of Joseph in the life of Jesus limited to financial support for Mary and Jesus, or was there something infinitely more important in the role of Joseph in the lives of Mary and Jesus?
To see how important Joseph’s role was, let us consider three basic elements of fatherhood. Drawing from the fatherhood of God, we learn that fathers are creators, protectors, and providers. First, fathers are co-creators with God. Through the mutual self-donation in the Sacrament of Matrimony found in the marital act, husbands fertilize the egg of their wives and create another human life. This act mirrors the creative act of God in the Garden of Eden where He creates all things out of nothing. Secondly, fathers are protectors. Fathers protect their families from the world that is sometimes dangerous. The bible recounts for us God’s protection of His people from creation through revelation. Adam was charged with protecting Eve in the garden; Joseph was charged with protecting Mary and Jesus, and all fathers share in this function of God’s paternal protection. A third expression of fatherhood is in providing for the material and spiritual needs of their families. Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, but he fulfilled the role of his earthly father by providing materially for the needs of Mary and Jesus, and by being the spiritual head of the household, guiding, along with Mary, the formation of the young Jesus.
Saint Joseph is held up for us today as a father who provided, protected and guided the Holy Family in the ways of God. Joseph’s life was most likely dramatically different than he had anticipated it to be, but because he was a man of faith and prayer, and open to God’s will, he played a significant role in God’s plan of salvation.
Echoing the words of Wisconsin Knights of Columbus State Deputy Ronald Faust, “What our world and our families need right now are saints: Saints like St. Joseph!” Don’t we know that evil people are being aggressively more evil, while far too many are not striving to be “aggressively saintly.” In all of human history we have never witnessed evil promoted so effectively, while virtue, character, and morals are roundly mocked and rejected. What “force” will keep evil at bay? What force will convert evil to good?
Well, we know what force that is … the 1.9 million devoted members of the Knights of Columbus! So, it’s time to enter into a Basic Training in Holiness! As the State Chaplain for the Wisconsin Knights of Columbus, I am calling upon all of our knights to engage in this training.
The rallying cry as we enter into this training in holiness – “Chase Perfection, Catch Excellence!” – comes from our own legendary coach Vince Lombardi, who said, “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” Of course Lombardi, a brother Knight and daily Mass goer, was himself inspired by the very words of Christ: “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
During this year of extraordinary graces – Year of Mercy – the Wisconsin Knights of Columbus will engage this training during Lent, 2016. The training will go for 54 days. Amazingly, it is exactly 54 days from Ash Wednesday to Divine Mercy Sunday, in the Year of Mercy!
Each day, our knights will be provided with a 1-2 minute reflection on the qualities of excellence. The first 27 days, they will read from passages in scripture, quotes from saints and the catechism on one of the following: Theological Virtues, Cardinal Virtues, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. The second 27 days will be excerpts from the book I wrote entitled, Church Militant Field Manual: Special Forces Training for the Life in Christ. We will also ask each knight to pray a rosary a day, as we offer our prayers together in the very powerful 54 Day Rosary Novena.
I have just completed writing a book entitled, 54 Day Basic Training in Holiness, which will be made available to all of our brother knights. I worked with the publishing company to offer these in a bulk rate of just $3.00 each, when ordered in bundles of 20 books. Order in bundles HERE.
Knights will also be able to receive these reflections in daily emails. Sign up HERE.
Also, knights can join the Special Forces Training Facebook group, to receive them each day. Sign up HERE.
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