Welcome! This blog celebrates both the local and the catholic -- that is, universal -- aspects of the Roman Catholic Church by sharing reflections on experiences of the Church in a variety of settings and cultures. Postings will come from around the world and around the corner. You don't have to be a Catholic to come along.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Where Knighthood is Still in Flower

If you think knighthood is a thing of the past -- except maybe in jolly old England -- then you don't know the Catholic Church.

We have all kinds of knights in the Church, some not well known. There are the Knights of Malta, the Knights of St. John, the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of Peter Claver. And that's not a complete list. They all do wonderful work. I even know a Knight of St. Gregory, which is a rare papal honor (and a really cool uniform).

Recently I had the honor of being invested into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which includes knights and ladies on an equal basis. I was knighted by the Grand Master, Cardinal John Foley, seen above flanked by other luminaries of our six-state lieutenancy. To his immediate left is Grand Magisterium member Sir Thomas E. McKiernan of Cincinnati.

According to its mission statement, our Order "(a) fosters in its members the practice of the Christian life; (b) is zealous for the spread of the Christian faith in Palestine; (c) champions the defense of the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, the cradle of our Order."

The Order traces its origins to 1099 and Sir Godfrey de Bouillon, leader of the first crusade. Its symbol, the Jerusalem Cross, was taken from his shield.

In preparing to become a member of the Order, I read a lot about it. One of the stirring statements that I came across was from Edmund Cardinal Szoka, former archbishop of Detroit and former president of the Vatican City State. He wrote:

"Investiture as a Knight or Lady of the Holy Sepulchre is not simply an honor, but a calling. Just as baptism itself brings with it not only the grace of salvation, but also an obligation to live a life of faith, so too joining this fraternal and charitable society entails a commitment of Christian service. Pageantry is not really for its own sake, but to inspire us to action."

I was even more taken by the Scripture passage from St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians (6, 10-18) read at the very moving Vigil the night before my investiture. That passage said, in part:

"Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, hold your ground."

Now that's the kind of knight that every Christian can be -- even ladies.

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