The Gift and Task of Unity

Created: Apr 11, 2024
Category: General News

Knights are called to pray and work for the unity that Christ wills for the Church and our families

By Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly



At a time when our culture and politics are more divided than ever, so too is there polarization within the Church. The Second Vatican Council declared that the Church is “a sign and instrument” of communion with God and of unity for the whole human race. But this truth is often hard to see. We should ask ourselves, as Catholics and as Knights, what are we doing about it? Are our attitudes and actions sowing unity or division?

Unity, together with charity, is one of the Order’s first principles. At our founding, Blessed Michael McGivney stated that the purpose of the Knights is to “unite the men of our faith” in order to “gain strength and to be charitable.” In our exemplification ceremony, a new Knight hears the Lesson on Unity, which affirms, “To increase unity in our Church and our families is one of the great missions of the Knights of Columbus.”

It is Christ himself who bestows on the Church the gift of unity. Just before his passion, our Lord prayed for us: “that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (Jn 17:21).

Through our baptism, each of us has a responsibility to pray for and foster the unity that Christ wills for the Church. The simple truth is that when we are harsh or habitual in our criticisms of the Church and its leaders, we are damaging the body of Christ.

Scripture reminds us of the power of our speech. The tongue can be “a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so” (Jas 3:8-10).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2477), meanwhile, warns against rash judgment, detraction and calumny, offenses against truth that cause a cascade of even greater division. On a personal level, our cynicism can lead us into a spiritual desert that extinguishes the joy and hope we are meant to radiate as Christians. Tragically, it may even give others, including our children, a reason to abandon the faith entirely.

All of this does not mean we should turn a blind eye to real problems, but it does mean practicing charity and showing respect, especially in disagreement. We also need to recognize the limits of our personal responsibility. Rather than focusing on things we cannot change, let’s take responsibility for the things we can. And our primary aim should not be to criticize but to “build one another up” (1 Thes 5:11).

Rather than focusing on things we cannot change, let’s take responsibility for the things we can. ... Prayer from the heart, far more than criticism, has real power to change things.

We should ask ourselves: Can we do more to help our parish and our pastor? Can we turn off the noise from social media and news outlets and turn toward the voice of Christ in silent prayer? Can we offer a rosary for the health of our marriage and our family or devote an hour to Eucharistic adoration for the strength of our priests, our bishops and the pope? Prayer from the heart, far more than criticism, has real power to change things.

Christ shed his blood for his bride, the Church. We, as imitators of Christ, are called to love the Church and work for her good in thought, word and deed. Christ himself reminds us, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Mt 12:30).

Finally, consider that St. Joseph was the silent witness of the Gospel, yet his actions spoke eloquently of his fidelity to and unsurpassed love for Christ and the Blessed Mother. St. Joseph, guardian of the Redeemer and patron of the universal Church, pray for us!

Vivat Jesus!