frmark_headshot_150x150My first contact with the Knights of Columbus here at STM was, unfortunately, not very positive.  I and my brother Jesuits had just moved into the STM rectory.  There were (and still are) six of us; there were five bedrooms in the rectory.

This was not a good situation, obviously.  We clearly needed one more bedroom, and ideally, at least one other bedroom for guests.  Unless we put bunk beds in the living room, the only space in the rectory where this could happen was the basement area.  Unfortunately, that space was occupied by the school’s Admissions Office and the Knights of Columbus.

I met with the leadership of the Knights and explained the situation.  I said that we needed the space the Knights were using, and I asked that the Knights give up that space so that we could convert it to necessary bedrooms.

The Knights were disappointed, but they graciously agreed to relocate to the Youth Room in the gym, at least for the time being.

The school’s Admissions Office relocated to new space in the parish office area just west of the church.

We have indeed converted that rectory basement area to three suitable bedrooms.  Fr. Rudy, who has just begun service at STM as a parochial vicar, is living in one of the new rooms. The other rooms are available for use by guests.

Fortunately, since then, my contacts with the Knights have been pretty good.  I am their official chaplain, and I have attended a number of their meetings.  For their part, the Knights have responded generously when I have asked them for some particular service to the parish.

I admit to not having had much contact with the Knights before coming to STM. There was no Knights Council in any of my previous parishes.  Being pastor at STM has given me a chance to get to know them better.  They are a fine group of men, and they have a long history of service to the Church in general and to STM in particular.  For example, a group of Knights recently put in several hours of volunteer work at the Missionaries of Charity Gift of Grace facility, and a couple weeks ago, several Knights spent a morning at an elderly parishioner’s home doing much needed yardwork and maintenance. The Knights also regularly help the women at Beacon of Hope, a local pregnancy aid center, and will also be of major assistance at the upcoming parish picnic in late September.

I was at the Knights’ regular meeting a couple weeks ago to see Philip Lee, a parishioner, be sworn in as the Grand Knight of the local Knights Council.  Philip replaced parishioner Dennis McCarthy who had just finished his term of office. At that time, I was able to address the Knights who were present.  I told the Knights that I was not able to restore the rectory basement to them, but I did encourage them to be true to their mission by providing an opportunity for Catholic men to gather and grow in friendship; by serving the needy in the local community; and by being of service here at STM.  If the Knights were faithful to this mission, I said, STM would be the better for it.

I am grateful to the Knights for their presence at STM, and to Dennis and Philip for their leadership.

On another matter, I recently spoke to a parishioner who wondered aloud to me whether she should be taking Communion on the tongue.  She had been receiving in her hand, but another parishioner had just told her that the proper, more reverent way was to receive the host on her tongue.  I reassured her that the Church permits one to receive either in the hand or on the tongue, and that receiving on the tongue does not indicate greater devotion to the Eucharist.  Indeed, the more ancient practice of the Church is to receive the host in one’s hand.  In recently allowing persons to resume receiving the host in one’s hand, the Church was returning to an earlier practice that arguably better reflects “taking and eating” that Jesus commended at the Last Supper.

What a shame that that this parishioner was made to feel less holy, less devout, because she chooses to take Communion in her hand.  On the other hand, I was not surprised that she was told not do this.  There is an awful lot of stuff on the internet and in print about the manner of receiving Communion that is simply not what the Church teaches.  A very brief tour of the internet on this topic will expose one to claims that by receiving Communion in the hand, one “degrades the divinity of Jesus” and is “trying to be equal to God,” and that persons who receive Communion on the tongue while kneeling “receive more graces” than the one who receives Communion in the hand.  None of this is true, of course.  The Church teaches none of this.

Still, there is considerable room for improvement in how we receive Eucharist whether we choose to do so by hand or on the tongue.  I commend all of you to view a short video, Sacraments 101: Eucharist (How We Receive), produced by the Paulists.   If you follow the instructions there, you will not only show due reverence for the Eucharist; you will also make things much easier for the priest or minister who offers you Communion.