Last Saturday, “All Hallows Eve,” October 31, was a day
I had the honor and joy, with hundreds of others—the crowd would have been tens of thousands were it not for the understandable restraints due to the virus—to pray at the Mass, celebrated in St. Joseph’s Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Hartford, during which the Venerable Father Michael McGivney was beatified. We can now seek his intercession as Blessed Michael McGivney, as we continue to long for his canonization as a saint.
Indeed it was a day of grace—
—for the Church Universal, as yet another holy life is recognized as worthy of emulation and helpful to us with heavenly intercession;
—for the Catholic family of the United States, as Blessed Michael McGivney joins our impressive lineup, along with St. Kateri Tekakwitha; St. Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. John Neumann, St. Marianne Cope, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini (all of the above New Yorkers, by the way!), St. Junipero Serra, St. Théodore Guérin, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, St. Katharine Drexel, St. Damien of Molokai, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, Blessed Stanley Rother, Blessed Miriam Teresa, and Blessed Solanus Casey;
—for diocesan priests, as a simple parish priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford is raised to the altar;
—for immigrants, as the son of struggling Irish immigrants is now beatified;
—and for the Knights of Columbus, who revere now Blessed Father McGivney as their founder.
Good parish priest as he was, young Father McGivney was concerned about the young dads and husbands of his parish. Most were one paycheck away from penury, and were scorned as Irish Catholic immigrants by the culture of the time. If lucky enough to have a job, they worried about security for their wives and children should they lose their employment, get injured, or die young. They were tempted to abandon their Catholic faith and join fraternal societies that detested Catholics, just for security.
Blessed Father McGivney, sensitive to “those on the fringes” as he was, knew what was needed was a fraternal organization firm in the faith, which would encourage holiness, virtue, patriotism, charity, brotherhood, defense of the faith, and provide insurance for the laborers.
Sound familiar? Voila! The Knights of Columbus!
The phenomenal growth and effectiveness of the Knights of Columbus is itself a miracle!
Blessed Michael, shrewd catechist that he was, would blush, but rejoice that his beatification came on the eve of All Hallows, as, on November 1, the entire Church celebrates All Saints Day. For he would teach his Knights of Columbus that we are all called to heroic virtue and sanctity, prescient as he was in what the Second Vatican Council would call the “universal call to holiness”!
Prescient as well was he in his zest for evangelization, as he would encourage his new group not only to “keep the faith” but to “pass it on,” defending it in a hostile culture, preserving it in their families, striving to be “lights to the world” as fathers, husbands, patriots, brothers to one another, servants to those in need.
These days—lockdowns, Covid, rioting, division, violence, racism, tropical storms, forest fires, political bickering, job loss, apprehension about the future—leave us asking, “What else could go wrong? When is something good going to happen?
“It sure did on October 31! Blessed Father Michael McGivney, pray for us!”