With October comes the changing of the seasons, the falling of the leaves, and the coming of the holiday season. Some of us are already making plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. And with those plans, we’re already thinking of who we’re going to be seeing, and when thinking of some of those people we wince a little. Maybe it’s the uncle who is loud and makes fun of everyone. Or the cousin who corners you and insists on telling you way more than you wanted to know about their latest weird hobby. Perhaps it’s a niece or a nephew or an in-law or a sibling. Maybe it’s the one who gets offended way too easily or the one who is the family topper. One thing is for certain: Every family tree has its own unique collection of nuts.
And every family tree also has roots. Regardless what that tree looks like, whenever the time comes to say grace, everyone is quiet if only for a moment, and bows their head… even the ones who don’t believe a lot, or don’t believe at all. Everyone is still family after all, and in that moment of prayer everyone puts their baggage aside out of respect and love for each other despite differences and annoying quirks.
While it’s easy to come together in times of joy, it is times of strife that truly test the mettle of a family. Some find reasons to be driven away while others see those same moments as a reason to draw closer together and mend old wounds. A family that has been through the fire of stress or heartache and come out the other side still intact is always stronger than before the ordeal. Like tempering steel, the fire of adversity can bond a family closer together.
Our family at church is much the same. We come together to celebrate the Eucharist, in times of joy to join friends at parish gatherings and events, and to work together to build and expand our parish community and school. We come together in times of sadness, to honor the lives of our departed and to help and comfort those who are left behind. And we come together in times of shared hardship, when events beyond our control take our otherwise mildly chaotic lives and make them wildly chaotic. We come together to help each other out, to lend a hand, to be there for one another. We do these things as Christians. We do them as Catholics. We do them as part of our parish family. And we do them as Knights.
Let us remember that the principle of the First Degree of our Order is charity. Volunteering our time and energy to help out the Church and our fellow man is the first principle because it is the one principle that we share as men of Christ. And the Knights of Columbus wouldn’t be the Knights of Columbus were it not for our Fraternity. Aside from our socials, we get together to do good works as friends helping friends as much as we do it for the good of the works themselves. But charity and fraternity are held together by our second principle: Unity. Unity is what bonds us together as a brotherhood in the name of Jesus Christ. Unity is the tempering of our brotherhood in times of shared adversity. And Unity is what keeps each Council together as part of a larger family.
Like every family, each council has that uncle or that cousin or that in-law. Certainly, we are each that person to someone else in this very room. Whether you’re one of the nuts or whether you’re one of the leafs depends entirely on your vantage point. But we are all part of the same tree, the same tree that is rooted in Jesus Christ and the charitable works we do in His name.