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September 17, 2017

JMJ

I hope some of you were able to join us for The Knights of Columbus Breakfast this Sunday morning. We Knights are an organization of Catholic men, along with the support of their families, who are social, patriotic, and service oriented. It’s an international organization that was founded in the 19th century by an American priest, Fr.  Michael McGivney from Connecticut.

The “K of C ” has accomplished many great things over the years. Locally, they have supported seminarians (myself included), provided assistance for the poor and marginalized, supported youth activities, purchased ultrasound machines for pregnancy help clinics, and helped our church in many different ways. In addition, the Knights were instrumental in getting Columbus Day designated a national holiday and were also influential in adding the words “under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance.

You may have heard that our namesake, Christopher Columbus, the great Italian explorer, has been getting a pretty bad rap lately. In fact, there has been a movement afoot for quite some time now to no longer celebrate Columbus Day, maybe even to remove his statue from public squares. Many maintain that he and all those who followed him were a bunch of scoundrels who mistreated the indigenous peoples,  brought diseases with them, and forced Christianity down their throats.* In addition, there is also evidence that he was not the first one to discover North America. The Scandinavians claim that they arrived much earlier by way of the north, advancing as far as the area we now call Minnesota.

I can’t dispute these claims, but I can say that those who protest a bit too much, about this and many other things, are all too often quite shortsighted, choosing to cling to their own “myths” while condemning those of others.

A few nights ago I listened to an interesting discussion on EWTN between Raymond Arroyo and Bill Donohue of The Catholic League. Bill is a scholarly guy who looks deeply into questions like these and makes sure that everybody is exposed to all the facts, and to a hopefully more balanced perspective. One of the points that he made was that nobody is innocent; everybody comes with a history (to put it biblically, “all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God”). So then, he said, why not celebrate history for what it is; history, truthfully, honestly, with all of its blemishes, be it good or bad?

I don’t know if Robert E. Lee had slaves, but I do know that Thomas Jefferson did, and he even fathered a child with one of them. Will they, that is the mob of protesters, next demand that the Jefferson Memorial be dismantled? And how about many of our country’s other dignitaries, politicians, presidents, generals, and yes, even some very prominent religious civil-rights leaders? Many of them had secret lives that were not very commendable.

And as badly as the indigenous peoples were treated in the early years of our country, we should not forget how badly they treated each other. The Aztecs used to sacrifice their slaves by the thousands to their pagan gods by cutting out their still-beating hearts. The Spanish conquistadors, accompanied by Franciscan missionary priests and with a lot of help from The Lady of Guadalupe, brought that ghastly practice to an end and introduced Christian values to the New World. And at least we Catholics still think that was a good thing to do.

Yes, indeed, we are in politically correct times, but we can look forward to Jesus sorting this all out when He comes again. And I’m thinking that more and more people are now wondering if that is going to be sometime soon.

But remember this, when that Great and Terrible day comes, the secrets of everyone’s heart will be made manifest for all to see.

*The Catholic priest/historian Bartolomé de las Casas wrote of these things back in Columbus’s times.

~Fr. John

Addenda:

Congratulations to all-around-good-guy, Chuck Dumiller (pictured above), for being this year’s recipient of the Stella Maris Award.

We had a great picnic last week. Thanks for coming, everyone. Thank you, Jesus, for the wonderful weather. And thank you Bev St. Thomas and crew (including our Parish Council members) for all the hard work that went into making this such a special event.

Our Knights of Columbus council are currently recruiting new members. If you are interested, please talk to a Knight at the breakfast or drop in on a meeting the first Wednesday of the month. Fr. J

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