A ‘Prophetic Flame’ of Charity
8/1/2016by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson
The ongoing work of the Order testifies to the laity’s vocation and mission in the Church
THIS PAST JUNE, I had the privilege of attending the 28th plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. I had been appointed a member of the council by Pope John Paul II and reappointed by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
At the start of the meeting, the president of the council, Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, observed that Pope Francis recently reminded us of a phrase that was popular following the Second Vatican Council: “The hour of the laity has come.” But then, the pope added, “it seems that the clock has stopped.”
In his direct and often provocative way, the Holy Father was raising the issue of whether the laity today lives up to its vocation and mission in the Church. He went on to say that the laity is called to many initiatives exhibiting “the necessary boldness to enable the Good News of the Gospel to be brought to all areas of the social and, above all, political sphere.”
Pope Francis rejects a view that minimizes the role of the laity and “gradually extinguishes the prophetic flame to which the entire Church is called to bear witness.”
Reflecting on these words, Cardinal Ryłko stated, “The missionary Church, a Church that goes out with courage toward the peripheries of the world, sees the urgent need to rekindle the flame that animated the life of the prophets. In order to do this, lay Christians must rediscover the beauty of their prophetic vocation in the world! They must allow themselves to be inflamed by this fire and missionary zeal.”
Obviously, there is much here for us to think about. But the first thing we may say is that the clock has not stopped for the Knights of Columbus. To the contrary, as the world’s premier organization of Catholic men, we are in many ways ahead of time.
That is to say, we continue to hold high “the prophetic flame” to which Catholics are called to bear witness.
Our Ultrasound Initiative, for instance, has placed 600 state-of-the-art ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers that are saving thousands of lives every month.
Our programs to strengthen Catholic family life, such as Building the Domestic Church, the Holy Family Holy Hour, and family consecration to the Holy Family, will help develop a network of family-friendly parishes in all the countries where we are active. These programs will encourage millions of families – many of whom are wounded and struggling – to more fully live the joy of the Gospel.
Our efforts to protect religious liberty and end the scourge of Christian genocide have already achieved important results, not only in the courts but also in the U.S. Congress and the State Department. And we have become a leader in providing direct aid to and raising awareness about persecuted Christian refugees in the Middle East.
Each year, our councils undertake many thousands of locally inspired programs at the parish level, making life better for millions of people. And all of this is the legacy of our founder, Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, whose spiritual genius inspired generations of Catholic men to step forward with courage to confront the challenges of their day by living out the principles of charity, unity and fraternity in a distinctly Catholic way.
The prophetic flame that Pope Francis speaks about continues to burn bright in the hearts of our brother Knights around the world. That flame ignites in them a true sense of Catholic charity – a charity that evangelizes and that brings, in a very concrete way, a light to the nations.