Order’s Devotion to Family Praised in Opening Mass
Calling the gathering of more than 2,000 Knights of Columbus and their families “the first chapter of the World Meeting of Families,” Archbishop Charles Chaput welcomed the 133rd Supreme Convention to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“We will have a rather larger meeting here in 49 days,” he said, referring to the World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia at the end of September, which will include the first apostolic visit to the United States of Pope Francis.
The K of C convention was a worthy preface to that Vatican-sponsored event due to the Order’s support of and devotion to Catholic family life, the archbishop noted.
He made his remarks in his homily at the convention’s Opening Mass, of which he was also the main celebrant, on Tuesday morning, Aug. 4, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia.
Offered in honor of the family, the Mass was concelebrated by 11 cardinals, 98 bishops and 100 priests from many countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Ukraine, France, and the Caribbean.
Archbishop Chaput said that the Mass readings could be read in the context of both the natural family and the supernatural family of the Church.
In the first reading, Moses’ brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, resent their brother’s status in the community as God’s sole messenger. Jealousy and envy can tear families apart, said Archbishop Chaput. Yet forgiveness and reconciliation are powerful agents of healing.
“We are called to love and serve one another and to see the gifts and talents of our family members as gifts from God that can enrich us all,” he said. “We must ask God to restore our families in love, and teach us to be more forgiving, and to cherish and nurture the unique gifts of others.”
In the Gospel, the Apostles caught in the boat during the storm symbolize the family of the Church, which is at times rocked by scandals from within and attacks from without, the archbishop continued. Yet after praying throughout the night, Jesus comes to them walking on the water to rescue them. He then shows his special relationship with the chief Apostle, Peter, whom he calls and supports in the storm.
From this account, the archbishop concluded, we can be confident and comforted that Jesus will not abandon his Church and that he holds a special place for the pope, the successor of Peter. All of these facts should give those in the Church, the bark of Peter, faith, courage and consolation as they face the cultural storms of today, he said.
After Mass, Archbishop Chaput inaugurated the Knights of Columbus’ new Holy Family Prayer Program, which features an etching of the Holy Family by the 18th century artist Giovanni Balestra. While the Order’s state deputies held framed copies of the image, the archbishop blessed and dedicated them. The state deputies will bring the images back to their jurisdictions for prayer services to be conducted in all their councils over the next few years.
The venue for the Mass and other convention events, like the city of Philadelphia itself, is a mix of the new amid the historic. Running three blocks long and as many blocks wide in the downtown area, the Pennsylvania Convention Center was constructed within the Late Renaissance façade of the Philadelphia & Reading train depot, which was opened in 1893 and served as an active transportation hub till the 1980s. The entrance to the convention center passes through the old terminal train shed, now converted to the facility’s grand hall, which features a 509-foot high, single-span arched roof, with its sturdy iron grill work showing.