George Wilhelm Frederick Hegel was a German philosopher who coined the term Zeitgeist. The meaning of this term in German is “Spirit of the age”. Hegel Argued that various ages of man excelled at certain things whilst failed at others.
The Knights of Columbus was founded in an age of general Orthodoxy within the Latin church. Laity were generally submissive to the teachings of the church and trusted in their clergy. At the time though in the United States Catholics generally were not well to do. Among laity the corporal works of mercy were in dire need of revival. As American Catholics were a poor underclass they often found themselves lacking in filial charity due to a need to protect themselves against a protestant culture that vehemently wanted to see them fail.
So Father Mcgivney established the Knights of Columbus to encourage this charity among catholic men and to build a safety net for those less fortunate, namely widows and children. Today the Knight are one of the greatest Charitable organizations in the world. Indeed we live in a world that is far more charitable than it was in the past. There is a charity or non-profit for just about any cause imaginable. Yet today we as a world do not so much suffer from a lack of charity, but a lack of faith. Orthodoxy among Catholics is in stiff decline and ignorant cultural Catholicism is on the rise.
In chapter 2 of the Epistle of James we hear that faith without works are dead. This by the way is a great refutation against protestant doctrines. But if we understand that faith without works are dead then surely we must recognize that the inverse is true as well. Works without faith are dead. They go hand in hand.
Too often, do we find Catholics who believe that by doing good deeds they will buy their ticket to heaven. They let their spiritual needs go unfulfilled while convincing themselves that the faith is simply a collection of charitable works. We cannot rely so heavily on the corporal works of mercy to keep us straight, we must steer our self not only to righteous act, but righteous thought. We must hone our orthodoxy by reading the Church fathers, studying the churches history and becoming not only a witness in action, but a witness in word to the truth of the faith. If we allow ourselves to lean too strongly on our works then we can easily have the metaphorical rug pulled out from beneath us.
Many times good catholic parents who are well engaged in parochial activities yet are lacking a through knowledge of the faith. Is it any surprise when the children of these Catholics leave the faith? Often these people do not understand what had went wrong or what could have been done to prevent such a breakdown. Without a proper catechesis, the faith has very little legs to stand on. As men we must be not only be a source of Catholic virtue for our families, but a source of Catholic wisdom.
So I call each man to not only delve into the works of the faith which we as Knights of Columbus excel at, but to become immersed in an understanding of the faith. Her theology, her scripture, her history, her tradition and of course her sacraments.
Lastly I would like to give a reminder that Advent is approaching. In the modern day many Catholics view Advent in the same way as the secular would does. Many believe advent to be the “Christmas season” when we are to engage in cheer and celebration. This could not be further from the truth. Advent is a season of fasting and penance, it, alongside Lent is one of the great fasts of the church. This is not a time of celebration, but of anticipation. We are waiting for Christ for he has to come into the world for our salvation. Next month I will speak more on advent since we will be in it already, but I encourage you to keep in fasting and prayer in mind as we go into advent in a similar way in which you would lent.