December 16, 2009

Where is a Knight When You Need One?

This past weekend the local 4th Order of the Knights of Columbus honored us with their presence at the Installation Mass for our Pastor. A Bishop was, also, in attendance. We even had a Deacon! It was a big deal for our humble parish. The Knights have appeared at our parish before and we have a member of our parish who is a 4th Order.

My knowledge of the Knights structure is poor so someone correct me if I’ve totally goofed anything up! But, from speaking with the Knights, I was told that only a 4th Order Knight can be in an Honor Guard. The Honor Guards I’ve been privileged to see wear the black suits, dress shoes (highly polished), white gloves, the plumed hat, the sash, and carry a sword. Now, you know me and my love of fine attire so you can probably guess that I think this is just fantastic! ‘course I’m excited to even see a man in a SUIT these days. Heck, I’m excited to see anyone even halfway dressed these days!

The Knights have fundraisers throughout the year. I’ve never seen them collect money for themselves but I’ve seen them collect for others. I seem to recall they did a collection at our parish to support a home for mentally challenged adults. I remember this collection because they stood outside in the rain after a Mass and collected. Granted, it was not pouring but, still, I was impressed.

We’ve probably all heard how we have the Knights to thank for getting the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. They lobbied hard for that addition.

You may have Knights stories as well. Please share them in the combox.

Anyway, I was honored to be able to speak with some of these fine men and their wives during the after Mass hospitality. The Knights are human treasures of this Archdiocese! They had all kinds of stories and memories of the North End of St. Paul, the parish histories, the former pastors, the monsignors, the Catholic schools. Someone needs to collect these memories before they are lost.

The Archdiocese may be undergoing a major reconstruction in the coming year. The memories of these Knights may be critical to our future understanding of our past. Some of the parishes and schools that these Knights remember may be gone soon (if they are not gone already)

However, what worries me even more is that not a one of the Knights 4th Order appeared to be under 65. When these gentlemen pass on, then what? I don’t perceive the young men making the kind of commitment it takes to be a 4th Order. Not enough of them anyway. Maybe the Honor Guards will, too, pass into history.

What I really like about the Honor Guards, no it’s not the clothes, it’s how they protect the Eucharist. If you’ve ever seen the Honor Guard, they line the aisle during the Consecration and draw their swords. I think of them as ready to die or take someone out to protect Christ. We can joke about how fit some of them may be to actually do this or how sharp those swords really are but the vision remains and the question stands: Are you willing to give your life for Him? Here are men standing between possible danger and the Lord. In true Knight fashion, they serve and are willing to give their lives for their Lord.

Where is a Knight when you need one? Maybe the question should be: Will there be a Knight when you need one?


Blogger Shirley said...

Good post. I think we won't get a lot of young men in the Knights until we get more young men going to Mass regularly. There are old men at Mass here, but only a small handful of young ones. Not many families either.

December 16, 2009 9:07 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Don't take this to the bank but I believe only 4th Degree Knights can serve as honor or color guard.

My father was a 4th degree and served as one of many for the honor guard at the funeral of Archbishop John Murray in 1956.

They used all the 4th degree Knights available because the honor guard kept watch 24 hours. They stayed one hour and were relieved by 6 other Knights. I remember my Dad being at the Cathedral all night.

Here is a pic from the MN historical society of the honor guard and the bishop.

The official dress for a member of the Fourth Degree is as follows:
Black Tuxedo
Plain White Tuxedo Shirt
Black Tie
Black Shoes
Black Socks
Black Cummerbund or Black Vest
Social Baldric (worn under the coat, from right shoulder to left hip.)

When a friend from our parish became a 4th degree Knight, I gifted him with my Dad's cape, sword, and Baldric. His son could barely wait until he was 18 to become a Knight.

The Knights will not attract young men until the fathers become Knights themselves and guide their sons to join when they become 18.

December 16, 2009 9:39 PM  
Blogger Nan said...

Cape. What about the cape? And why do they have different color linings?

My grandpa was a Knight, but I don't know what degree; he was buried in his cape and my uncle got the sword. The grampa Munsterish casket photo is one of my faves.

A young guy who became Catholic at Easter joined the Knights immediately and was showing off his lapel pin, so I think they're out there, just not that visible; they're not going to be around for ceremonial occasions and much like the American Legion, the guys who have time for daytime events are retired.

I can't tell you how many funerals my dad attended, as part of the Legion Honor Guard until he got sick. He went to someone else's funeral the day before he died. He'd have been 72 today.

December 16, 2009 10:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 16, 2009 10:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The times, they are a-changing. A person could blog on that every week.

It's not just religion. I've read that the VFW, the Legion and other veterans' units have a difficult time getting men to volunteer for their honor guards for funerals (firing squads).

Society is breaking down. Another tradition that is being lost is that of "godparent." Oh, yes, the Church still requires them. But only one is necessary if few of the parents' pals are confirmed Catholics.

But more so, and I plead guilty to this, few godparents play any kind of a role in the upbringing and moral education of their godchildren.

I have one godson (by proxy), a cousin, who I might have said no more than ten words to in my life.

Another I know well, but I have consciously refrained from being active in his religious upbringing.

Most of us probably feel that the parents have that responsibility, even if they don't do anything about the religious aspect of education.

December 16, 2009 10:47 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adrienne: Great photo and story! Thanks for sharing. I'm happy to see the old photo of the Cathedral without the freestanding altar table which breaks the entire "line" of the sanctuary.

Ray: Good points.

Nan: Oh, I forgot the cape!

December 17, 2009 8:29 AM  
Blogger Nan said...

Ray, my dad's legion post had trouble finding guys for the honor guard because the retired guys were dying.

Cathy, the cape is a key element!

December 17, 2009 3:14 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Nan: I know. I'm so ashamed that I forgot about it!

December 17, 2009 5:49 PM  
Blogger Tom in Vegas said...

I'm a K of C. I went through the 4th degree many years ago (I believe it was 1998) and I credit them for bringing me back in the Church. I've met some fabulous men in this organization and, in some cases, the friendships become stronger over time.

I wish I could devote more time to them but with school, work, and taking care of my parents it’s simply too difficult.

December 17, 2009 7:27 PM  
Blogger Melody K said...

We are fortunate in our town to have a very active K of C group which does a lot of good deeds; one of the things they do is help the priests move whenever one of them gets transfered.
My husband is a 4th degree Knight; what attracted him to doing that was the fact that upon a 4th degree Knight's death, a chalice is donated in his name for a priest, often in the mission field, who can't afford one. He doesn't have the chapeau, a cape or any of that gear; he figures he would seldom or ever get a chance to wear it.

December 19, 2009 3:50 PM  

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