Last month I spoke about some reasons why I joined the Knights of Columbus, and what I have gained thus far from the experience. Relatively quickly I took the second and third degrees. It took a few years and some thought but eventually decided to take the 4th degree as well. Why did I become a 4th degree Knight? Was it the sword? Well, the sword is really cool, I have to admit…and my boys don’t mind the fact that Dad carries around a sword. As I explain to them though, it is a sword for Faith, not one for blood. Nah, it really wasn’t just the sword. I decided to join the 4th degree because I wanted to participate in the visible arm of the Knights. When I am in regalia (tux, cape, chapeau, baldric, sword), there is no question that I am a Catholic man. To be honest, I was at first a little apprehensive about being so publicly visible and unquestionably Catholic. I wasn’t quite sure why, perhaps I was concerned about reactions from those who are not Catholic. I am glad to say, the reactions I get are overwhelmingly positive, supportive, and appreciative. I am humbled when people thank me for participating in this, that or the other function. They forget it is my honor to stand up for them and attempt to “add to” and support them through our color guard.
Not surprisingly, I have received more blessings than I anticipated through the 4th degree. You see, when I stand in regalia, visibly and unmistakably a Catholic gentleman in Mass, I feel compelled to be more astute to what is going on in the Mass. I participate more fully, sing with each response (even if those around me wish I didn’t!) and generally try to set a positive example in demeanor, solemnity and celebration of the Mass. The next logical step then was realizing, “okay Pat, it is good to step it up at Mass while in regalia…but why the heck don’t you step it up all the time”. So that is my blessing. It is the realization that the Mass in its full celebration is worthy of my full participation at all times, regardless of whether I am in regalia or not. For that I am grateful, and it is one more unanticipated blessing that helps in the ongoing quest to become a better Catholic, a better and more fitting recipient of God’s love and mercy.
Lastly, the visibility and responsibility that comes with taking part in the 4th degree color guard events allows you to be an influence…knowingly or unknowingly. This was brought home to me quite clearly at the last color guard event I participated in at St. Michael. It was pretty crowded, and we took our place in the back of the church as usual. The Mass went as usual and the color guard performed without incident. When Mass ended we headed out towards Marian Hall from the back of the church after being part of the exiting procession. As we came around by the door, a little boy and his Dad stood in the aisle. As we walked by, the little boy handed each of us one of these (holding up a page from a notebook with a stick figure of a Knight with the “fluffy hat” and sword). I said thank you with a smile to the little guy, probably about 4 or 5, and the impact to me was immediate. Here was someone, a young impressionable child who was watching me and I had no clue. I was participating in Mass in the manner I talked about above, and by doing so I unwittingly became a potentially positive influence in this young man’s life. What will come of that impact to this young man, I haven’t a clued and likely will never know…but I do know it is an event I can be proud of, and am humbled to think I may have unknowingly allowed God’s plan to work through me just by doing what I should be doing at any Mass.
It just goes to show, you just never know who is watching you. ☺ If anyone is interested in taking the fourth degree, or just have some questions, feel free to let me or any other 4th degree member know and we will be glad to talk with you.