The domestic church

In the latest issue of the Knights of Columbus’s Colombia magazine, a piece from Archbishop William E. Lori caught my eye. Excerpting:

More than 50 years ago, the fathers of Vatican II recognized that marriage was threatened by divorce and so-called “free love,” and that “married love is too often dishonored by selfishness, hedonism, and unlawful contraceptive practices.” The council also cited the economic, social, and psychological pressures facing families in the modern world. (GS, 47).

For the past five decades, societal support for marriage and family has eroded even further. … couples must make a conscious decision to make their homes truly a domestic church—a home built on the solid rock of faith. Families are made beautiful by a self-giving love that not only endures but flourishes amid sacrifices and sufferings…”

What is the “domestic church?” A short-ish answer:

From the beginning, the Church was formed from believers “and their whole household.” New believers wanted their family to be saved (Acts 18:8).

In our modern world (often hostile to religion), religious families are extremely important centers of living faith. They are “domestic churches” in which the parents are the first heralds of faith (Second Vatican Council). In the home, father, mother, and children exercise their baptismal priesthood in a privileged way. The home is the first school of the Christian life where all learn love, repeated forgiveness, and prayerful worship.

When we separate ourselves into discrete and severable bits, we become less than ourselves. Christianity, for instance, can’t simply be something we “do” but instead has to be reflected in who we are. A holistic, integrated lifestyle is the way to go.

A stronger sense of the domestic church is an important way to live out the truth that “all great change begins at the dinner table.” If our family, friends, and children only come into contact with prayer and the sacramental life through their priest, rather than primarily in the home, the faith dies.

Knights of Columbus, Third Degree

About this time last year I wrote about joining Knights of Columbus, which I did by taking the first of three degrees through the Fr. McCafferty Council #11013 in Bucks County. About midway through last year I transferred to the Fr. John E. Doyle Council #9715 in Montgomery County.

I’d like to join somewhere in Philadelphia, but there aren’t any groups there yet. For the foreseeable future, I’m happy to be a member where I am and contribute. Small things; probably helping them relaunch their website and enable online payments.

About the three degrees: the first degree is focused on charity, the second is focused on unity, and the third on fraternity. Each are pillars of the Knights, and principles that help bring together millions of members in their local communities.

There’s a fourth degree, which is focused on patriotism. I don’t plan to take the fourth degree, for three reasons: it involves separate obligations and dues on a regional level I’m not interested in committing to, it involves dressing up in complicated garb, and I’m already committed to becoming active in some way with the Sons of the American Revolution.

I took my second degree in December in Norristown, and my third degree today in Upper Darby. It’s a great organization, bringing together regular men to do worthwhile work. I’m happy to be a part of it.

Knights of Columbus, Second Degree

Earlier this year I joined the Knights of Columbus, the world’s oldest Catholic fraternal service organization. Specifically, I joined the Fr. McCafferty Council in Yardley, PA. I was living in New York at the time, and it seemed to make sense to join in Yardley so I could stop in between visits to Philadelphia. In practice, that never really worked, so last night I joined the Fr. John E. Doyle Council closer to family.

When I was initially trying to join a year or two ago, I was amazed at the total lack of councils in Center City Philadelphia. Other than the far Northeast, there simply weren’t any. After attending council meetings, I tend to understand why. The Knights councils seem to rely on a level ofneighborliness and personal investment of time and organizational capacity that probably just doesn’t exist among the right age groups in the city right now. I hope that changes, because as beautiful as the suburbs are, the Knights should also be active in the heart of the city.

I plan to go through the second degree process before the end of the year, which I think is focused around the “unity” aspect of the Knights’ four principles.

Knights of Columbus

I’m heading to St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic parish in Yardley, Pennsylvania tonight to join the Knights of Columbus. The Knights of Columbus are the world’s oldest Catholic fraternal service organization. The Knights are driven by local councils, basically chapters, and have an enormous collective impact. I’ll be joining through the Fr. McCafferty Council #11013.

After joining the Sons of the American Revolution two years ago I’ve felt like the Knights represents a natural companion commitment as the other side of the same coin. Rod Dreher’s recent insight also comes to mind here: “It is one thing for the church to be separate from the state, but a meaningfully different thing for religion to be separate from life.”

I’m excited to be joining, and am sure I’ll write more about membership in the months and years to come. In the mean time for context, here are the Knight’s four principles:

Charity – Our Catholic faith teaches us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Members of the Knights of Columbus show love for their neighbors by conducting food drives and donating the food to local soup kitchens and food pantries, by volunteering at Special Olympics, and by supporting, both spiritually and materially, mothers who choose life for their babies. Knights recognize that our mission, and our faith in God, compels us to action. There is no better way to experience love and compassion than by helping those in need, a call we answer every day.

Unity – None of us is as good as all of us. Members of the Knights of Columbus all know that – together – we can accomplish far more than any of us could individually. So we stick together…we support one another. That doesn’t mean that we always agree or that there is never a difference of opinion. It does mean that – as a Knight of Columbus – you can count on the support and encouragement of your brother Knights as you work to make life better in your parish and community.

Fraternity – The Venerable Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, in large part, to provide assistance to the widows and children left behind when the family breadwinner died – often prematurely. The Order’s top-rated insurance program continues to do this today, as do individual Knights, who last year gave more than 10 million hours of their time to assist sick and/or disabled members and their families. In the Knights of Columbus, we watch out for and take care of one another.

Patriotism – Members of the Knights of Columbus, be they Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, Cubans, Filipinos, Poles, or Dominicans, are patriotic citizens. We are proud of our devotion to God and country, and believe in standing up for both. Whether it’s in public or private, the Knights remind the world that Catholics support their nations and are amongst the greatest citizens.