Bp. Olmsted (D. Phoenix) to K of Cs: “followers of Christ need not be afraid”

I often perk up my ears when there are things about the Knights of Columbus.

From CNA:

Phoenix bishop encourages Knights to overcome their fears

Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 4, 2009 / 03:45 pm (CNA).- Nearly 2,500 Knights and their families gathered in Phoenix’s JW Marriot Desert Ridge Resort to celebrate their annual convention’s opening Mass this morning, on the Feast of St. John Vianney.  In his homily, principal celebrant Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted called on the Knights not to fear the “demands of morality” as many of their peers do.

Concelebrated by seven cardinals, 80 bishops and 80 priests, the Mass opened the 127th Annual Convention of the Knights of Columbus.  The theme of this year’s convention, “We stand with Peter in solidarity with our bishops and priests,” takes place during the “Year for Priests,” proclaimed by Pope Benedict.

Several relics of the patron of priests, St. John Vianney, were brought to the altar during the opening procession. The saint’s feast day is celebrated today.

During his homily, Bishop Olmsted reflected on Matthew’s Gospel, which recalled Christ walking on water.  “In the Gospel passage for this Mass, a battle rages between fear and faith. The disciples in the boat, tossed about in a stormy sea, are frightened by the pounding of the waves and the violence of the wind. When Jesus comes to them, walking on the sea, they are even terrified of Him; they cry out in fear, ‘It is a ghost!’ At once Jesus speaks to them, ‘Take courage, It is I; do not be afraid’.”

Though the battle with fear is “very real,” Jesus wants us to overcome all our fear, a message that St. John Vianney echoed, the bishop reminded the Knights.

During the life of Father John Vianney, Bishop Olmsted explained, Catholics living in Ars “were ignorant of their faith and indifferent in their practice. Addictions were widespread. Marriage and the family were breaking down. Hope was running low. What they needed was a holy priest, a messenger of Christ who would help them overcome their slavish fears, and surrender with gratitude to the love of God. But they were afraid of the moral demands that faith would make upon them. And so, upon his arrival as the new parish priest in Ars, Fr. Vianney was not made welcome,” he recounted.

Turning to modern times, Bishop Olmsted said, “this fear of moral demands is the greatest fear in society today, a fear that keeps people from surrendering in faith to the Lord.”

“When our contemporaries take up the search for something more, false notions about ethical demands may frighten them away.”  This was the case for Christian author C.S. Lewis, the bishop explained.  When he converted to Christianity, “he was convinced that he would never be happy again. He said that he knew it was right for him to believe in God, that it was the ethical thing to do, that it was the thing his intellectual searching and his informed conscience were requiring him to do; it was a matter of integrity. But he never guessed that it could lead to happiness. That was God’s surprise!”

The bishop encouraged the Knights saying, “we followers of Christ need not be afraid because, as the Angel tells Mary, ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ The demands of God are not burdensome, when supported by the rich mercy of God. The law of the Lord leads us away from sin and the disorientation that it always sows; and it lead us to truth and goodness and beauty. It leads us toward full maturity in Christ.”

Reflecting on today’s Gospel reading, Bishop Olmsted explained that Peter overcame his fears when he climbed out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Jesus.  “But then, Peter’s faith wavered as he noticed the strength of the wind. He began to pay more attention to the threat of the storm than to the One who controls all storms and indeed all of creation. His fear overshadowed his faith and Peter began to sink.”

“However, even as he was sinking, Peter found enough faith to cry out, ‘Lord, save me;’ Jesus at once stretched out His hand, caught Peter, and began to walk with him back to the boat. Many years later, perhaps recalling this incident, Peter wrote in his first Epistle, “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the suffering of Christ’.”

“Are not these words timely for us today, in AD 2009 as we begin this Supreme Convention?” the bishop asked.  “Whatever ‘trial by fire’ the Lord may give us to endure, whatever fears we may have to face, let us trust the words of our Redeemer, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’”

Further information about this week’s conference can be found at www.kofc.org.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Lori Ehrman says:

    I listened to the opening of the Mass. Does anyone know the name of the hymn that was played after that classical music introduction? I love that hymn and it is playing in my head.

  2. Bishop Olmsted is a good and holy shepherd. I have been a fan of his ever since he put the kibosh on Edwina Gateley’s attempt to spend eight days indoctrinating some Franciscan nuns in his diocese in 2007 (hope you don’t mind my linking to my coverage of this event at the time). Once again, the bishop is dead-on.

    Here is some good news for the future of the Church on the feast of the Cure of Ars. Made a last-second decision today to attend the 12:15 Mass at my cathedral parish, just because I unexpectedly had the time to do so, and got an extra treat. The homily was given by our young transitional deacon, who talked about how St. John Vianney spent 11-16 hours a day in the confessional, bringing God’s mercy to His people, and offered up all his sufferings for them. He also talked about how the saint was in danger of not being ordained because of his poor performance as a seminary student, proving how much God can make of us even in our weakness. Then he called upon all the young, unmarried men present to think seriously about dedicating their lives to Christ as priests, in view of Jesus’ declaration that the harvest is great, but the laborers are few. That’s the kind of thing we haven’t heard very much of for a long time.

    It must be through the intercession of St. John Vianney that we are getting so many good seminarians in my diocese. If this is happening in every diocese, then we have a bright future ahead.

  3. Sedgwick says:

    Hmmm…hopefully a critical mass of those Knights, seven cardinals, 80 bishops and 80 priests will start speaking out, and SOON, against Obama’s health care “reform,” which is even more an egregious violation of and assault on our Catholic identity than was the Notre Dame scandal. So far, though, you’d never suspect we were at war.

  4. patrick_f says:

    I watched most of the Business meeting and the beginning of the States Dinner. I am always proud to see my brothers. Our worthy supreme Knight Carl Anderson is a wonderful, humble, articulate leader.

    Hearing about our defense of life, always helps me to keep up the good fight, and run the good race. It means that much more for our Supreme Chaplain to also speak with such fortitude, courage, and to be a wonderful Shepherd.

  5. patrick_f says:

    “Hmmm…hopefully a critical mass of those Knights, seven cardinals, 80 bishops and 80 priests will start speaking out, and SOON, against Obama’s health care “reform,” which is even more an egregious violation of and assault on our Catholic identity than was the Notre Dame scandal. So far, though, you’d never suspect we were at war.”

    I made the same comment to my wife. There are 1.7 million of us. If we each grabbed one person, and helped to change their heart on abortion, we could eliminate legalized abortion in this country.

    Also Phoenix atleast I believe has a good and Holy bishop. He obviously is charged with the Holy Spirit, and isnt afraid to lead.

  6. CCS says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Bishop Olmsted a few years ago when I was in RCIA. I agree with Patrick, Phoenix does have a great leader in him.

    I hope and pray that all Knights will take courage and continue to be the “strong right arm of the Church.”

  7. Central Valley says:

    The numbers of bishops and cardinals at the Mass looks good and the message of the Supreme Knight and Bishop Olmsted are inspiring. If only the Knights would clean house of the many pro abortion pro gay rights members and political leaders in their ranks. There was a time in order to join the knights you needed the approval of your parish priest. Today the Knights no longer require the endorsment of a priest, they are more concerned with quantity and not quality. Sadly you could do to council meetings and see Obama stickers on cars belonging to Knights. Some Knights even started an organization called “Knights for Obama”. Even with the publicity of the group and the scandel they bring, the Supreme Council did nothing. I am a fourth degree knight but am not very active in the organization since the last presidential campaign. I retain my membership because I have hope that the organization will one day return to the vision of servant of God Michael J. McGivney.

  8. fmhmatrix says:

    Three cheers for Bp. Olmsted for mentioning C S Lewis in his homily. As an ex-Anglican, I was nurtured in the faith by the writing of C S Lewis, and as a convert, it has amazed me how Catholic most of his thinking was. (It was Lewis that made me think about the Real Presence and Purgatory, as well as grounding me in the “basics” of incarnational belief.) It’s always a joy to turn to the index of a tome by von Balthasar – or even the Holy Father – and see references to CSL. I am aware that many American Protestants have an equally high regard for Lewis. Might I read anything political in Bp. Ormsted’s reference?

  9. mibethda says:

    With Bishop Olmstead as the principal celebrant, did the seven cardinals actually concelebrate the Mass with him as the CNA article states or were they in choir?

  10. patrick_f says:

    “I am a fourth degree knight but am not very active in the organization since the last presidential campaign. I retain my membership because I have hope that the organization will one day return to the vision of servant of God Michael J. McGivney.”

    Its important that now, more then ever, knights join together. Like I said, if 1.7 million of us, each worked to change the heart of one person on abortion, JUST ONE, we could overturn ROE V WADE. Keep the faith brother. Go to your council and assembly and be the example. If all the good knights throw in the towel, then we are left with nothing but “Knights for Obama”.

    Alas I digress, I circle back. We need a Cur of Ars again, another Fr. McGiveny. Catholics, even Catholic Knights as pointed out, are ignorant of their faith. Its important that those of us who are graced with understanding, teach both by example, and if necessary, words. That is the only way true “change” comes about.

  11. Vetdoctor says:

    When priests had to approve Knights I imagine parishes were small enough to know one another. In my diosese I’m impressed with a priest sharp enough to name 1/4 of the men

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