Knights adapt to better equip and witness

I joined the Knights of Columbus, the leading Catholic fraternal society, five years ago. Initiation into the Knights took place through three “exemplifications” meant to introduce men to the Knights’ principles of charity, unity, and fraternity. These ceremonies took place in private and generally with men whom I had just met, since the ceremonies took place across the Greater Philadelphia area at various points throughout the year.

I’m honored to be a Knight, but I also recognized that the ceremonials would likely have to change if they were to continue achieving their purpose of equipping Knights to embody their principles. Now, the Knights are doing that:

The Knights of Columbus has announced a major revision to its longtime initiation ceremonies and for the first time will open them to the public, saying the changes are needed to become more appealing to prospective members and to respond to a “crisis” in church membership.

“Today, we need an exemplification of our principles that presents, in a clear and convincing way, how charity, unity and fraternity can come together to form a Catholic way of life for today’s man and his family,” Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said in the January 2020 issue of Columbia magazine.

The rituals of the Knights, sometimes called ceremonies or exemplifications, have for decades been separated into first, second and third degrees focused respectively on the principles of Charity, Unity and Fraternity, the first three principles of the Catholic men’s fraternity founded in Connecticut in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney.

The Knights of Columbus now claim about 1.9 million members in 15,900 local councils in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Poland, Ukraine, South Korea and several other countries.

I think it’s especially important that new Knights will be welcomed in the presence of their families.

Dumbarton home

There’s this house on Dumbarton Street. I walk past it a few times every week. It’s one of my favorites because it looks not just like a house, but a real home—with all the old thoughtfulness and attentions to little detail that seems so lacking in more contemporary architecture. And it has some of that country/Southern aura to it, ensconced in a little yard of greenery. In the warmer months the bushes by the fence flower and animals nest in the greenery.

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I think this is what a good home looks like.

‘Kansas City has a lot going for it’

In light of Kansas City, Missouri’s Super Bowl victory, friend, colleague, and St. Louis-native Noah Brandt ribs Kansas City as Missouri’s second-greatest city:

St. Louis is Missouri’s flagship city. When outsiders from across the country hear Missouri, they think of a Gateway Arch, blue Bud Light, and two red birds on a bat. While Kansas City has its virtues, Jack Stack Barbecue first among them, it is still firmly in the No. 2 spot compared to its more mature sister to the east. On every front, St. Louis continues to reign supreme as the leading city in our great state.

St. Louis has a larger economy and is the home of more large and important corporations. The Cardinals and Blues have more championships between them than all of the professional sports teams in Kansas City combined. The fine arts scene in St. Louis is out of this world, with the symphony and the Muny setting national standards. Highly ranked universities. Killer beer scene.

You get the picture. St. Louis rules.

All of this is really not meant to demean Kansas City. Kansas City has a lot going for it, and the city is a shining jewel in Missouri’s crown, just not the crown jewel right in the middle. Kansas City is firmly in second place (maybe third if you count the glorious Broadway in the Ozarks utopia that is Branson). But seriously, the friendly rivalry between St. Louis and Kansas City benefits everyone and encourages both sides to strive to do better. Iron sharpens iron.

Great inter-state rivalries like this, like Philadelphia/Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, really are the best.

Rock Creek Parkway motorcade

A small perk of the habit of walking to/from work in the winter came in the form of last night’s motorcade sighting, heading north up Rock Creek Parkway. We typically get at least one motorcade down Connecticut past our offices every day. I hope I never get so familiar with Washington that I’m anesthetized to how strange and impressive these are, in the way they communicate power and public priorities in this Federal City.

What’s the point of living in a place like this if you become blasé about it?

‘A national appeal to build a culture of life’

President Trump delivers the State of the Union address tonight:

Ahead of President Donald Trump’s annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 4, pro-life activists and Christian leaders say they hope the president will use his address to advocate for the right to life and to protect religious minorities.

“I hope President Trump takes the opportunity to call Americans to unity on the human right to life. We need to move beyond partisanship and rally around a shared vision for Americans who especially need solidarity, love, and care,” said Tom Shakely, chief engagement officer at Americans United for Life.

Trump could offer, “a national appeal to build a culture of life, a real spectrum of life-affirming choices that rejects violence and self-harm, in every state, city, and town,” said Shakely. This potential message “would be a powerful and important moment in our history.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the White House revealed that two of the guests at the State of the Union would be Ellie and Robin Schneider, from Kansas City, Missouri. Ellie, who is two years old, was born to her mother Robin at just 21 weeks and six days gestation.

“With the help of an incredible medical team–and the prayers of her parents and their community–Ellie kept beating the odds, exceeding milestones, and fighting for life,” said a press release announcing guests attending the address.

Across the country, there were 36 state laws passed in 2019 that sought to preserve a legal right to abortion. This number is an increase from just five in 2018. Many states passed laws that legalizes abortion in the third trimester.

In this election year, I hope that at least parts of this address can be received in a spirit of unity by Americans who are hostile to this president.

Sunny Rose Park

I got back to Washington yesterday in the early afternoon after visiting Philadelphia this weekend. This morning’s walk to work from Georgetown to Dupont Circle was beautiful, and the weather today is spring-like mid-60s:

That’s Rose Park, near the M Street Bridge.

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

It’s early in the afternoon and I’m on Amtrak back to Washington. I attended the 11am Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Center City. Today was the last Mass with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput I’ll experience before he retires in a few weeks.

I met Archbishop Chaput in the Cathedral Basilica’s narthex when he arrived here from Denver nine years ago.

It was a gift to be there this morning, alongside so many others, including the Dominicans and the Sisters of Life, who now call Philadelphia home and who renew the Christian community here because of the work of this retiring Archbishop.

Remote from Philadelphia

I took Amtrak to Philadelphia yesterday to visit family and friends this weekend. It feels like Christmas was simultaneously months ago and yesterday. When I got in yesterday, I worked from Center City and attended Mass at noon at the Cathedral Basilica chapel. They were celebrating National Catholic Schools Week.

Afterwards I worked from Starbucks near City Hall, where I finished prepping for an upcoming work meeting. It was the same Starbucks I stopped in the morning of Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia five years ago, and I thought of that as I sat there.