A man owned a stand of sugar maple trees. It was a family business passed down from father to son and from brother to brother. The man, his family and his workers tended the forest year-round.
In the spring, they collected sap and boiled it to make and sell maple syrup and candies. They were careful not to over-tap the trees, lest they weaken and die. In the summer, they harvested the straightest trees for lumber to make furniture, firewood and other uses. Craftsmen made all sorts of maple products for sale.
Every fall, the leaves turned yellow, orange and red. People travelled for miles around to see the beautiful trees – large and small, young and old - and to buy syrup and souvenirs. In the winter, they sold the seasoned wood for fuel and to smoke food.
In good years there were many seeds and seedlings. It takes years for these seedlings to become tall trees. The workers kept the deer away from eating the seedlings; they removed the poorly formed, diseased and dead trees to make room for healthy growth.
All was kept in balance, and all was well.
What does this story mean? The owner is the Faithful Navigator, the workers are the assembly officers and chairs and the trees are the members. A healthy assembly uses everyone’s talents in a balanced manner. A member gives of himself – as a tree in charity gives its sap, its leaves and even its wood. Everyone can help, as even showing up at Mass with a nametag – a brightly colored leaf if you will – attracts potential members. We need new members to sustain the council, lest we “sap” our most active member’s strength. Do your part to sustain the forest.
July is a time filled with expressions of patriotism -- flags flying, parades, Sousa marches, firework displays accompanied by martial music, and recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. How often have we placed our hands over our hearts, faced the nation's flag, and recited this brief statement of fealty? Do we understand, however, what we are saying, or has the recital become a ritual, a mere collection of words, a formality before certain public events?
The Pledge is an outward declaration of fidelity to a nation uniquely conceived and to the values and beliefs for which it stands. Consider the significance of what is being expressed in the brief 31 words.
I pledge allegiance – This says that it is a personal and individual promise of loyalty. It is a continuation of the oath made by the signers of the Declaration of Independence who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to create this nation. It is a commitment to the patrimony that has been handed down from generations past and a vow to maintain the nation’s precepts for generations to come.
to the flag – The banner is not a mere piece of colorful bunting, but a symbol of the nation, a memorial to the sacrifices that were made to create, maintain, protect and develop this country. It is a reminder of the nation’s history, traditions, culture, the principles upon which it was founded, and the values which it espouses.
of the United States of America – It does not refer to any country, but only this country, which is an embodiment of fifty states and tens of thousands of communities, each with its individual character. It is a country composed of people with heritages from every corner of the earth.
The armistice (cessation of hostilities) between the Allies and Germany in WWI (then 'The Great War') took place on November 11, 1918 - at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Since that time, beginning with the declaration by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) has been celebrated each November 11th beginning at 11am. The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 am.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a Concurrent Resolution on June 4, 1926, and Armistice Day was created as a legal holiday by an Act of Congress on May 13, 1938. On June 1st, 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Public Law 380 renaming the day Veterans Day, a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs points out that many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty.
As Catholic American Citizens and Knights of Columbus, we should seek prayers of thanksgiving for our Veterans - and attendance at Mass is a particularly great way to honor those who have served. Prayers of healing for those who have suffered service-related injuries - whether visible, catastrophic, or invisible, is a particular charism of the Knights of Columbus' 4th Degree - especially through our Warriors to Lourdes Program. Be sure to take time out of your day - particularly at 11am - to remember those who have fought and to thank those who have served our nation in uniform and who now live with us as fellow civilians and citizens.
Remarks by State Deputy Tim Saccoccia following Columbus Day 2015 Mass Christopher Columbus Statue at the Church of Holy Rosary
October 11, 2015
Father Marchetto, Fr. DeRosa, Brother Knights, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today, and on behalf of the more than 2,900 Knights of Columbus in the District of Columbia, I wish to express my deep gratitude to our friends at the Lido Civic Club for being our partners in this very special day. I also wish to express my gratitude to Fr. Marchetto and the Holy Rosary family for your continued and gracious hospitality and to Fr. DeRosa for taking the time today to celebrate the beautiful Mass. Finally, I wish to thank the National Columbus Day Association for their continued commitment to celebrating the legacy of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea.
Last week, the Knights of Columbus celebrated, not our official founding, but rather that night in 1881 when the Venerable Michael McGivney assembled the men of St. Mary’s parish to discuss the founding of a new organization of Catholic families who would stand united for the ideals of their faith in a hostile world. In this way, these working class men and their parish priest established an organization which exemplified what Saint John Paul II would call nearly a century later – the new evangelization.
But, for their name and their focus, these men looked back four centuries to a hero of one of the last chapters of the old evangelization – Christopher Columbus, the Christ-bearer to the New World.
Indeed, Columbus knew that a successful expedition would open new trade routes and increase the economic prosperity of Western Europe. However, he also knew that these same trade routes would open the way for the Gospel. It was for this very reason that, prior to his expedition, Columbus wrote to Pope Alexander VI requesting missionaries by saying, “I trust that, by God’s help, I may spread the Holy Name and Gospel of Jesus Christ as widely as may be.”
As Knights of Columbus, we too follow this model of our patron. That is to say that our service to our parishes and communities can provide great temporal benefits – we feed and clothe the poor, we assist our churches with various tasks, we volunteer at charitable events. However, in doing this, we are an example of what it is to be a Christian. In doing this, we are living as true agents of the new evangelization.
Four hundred years after Columbus’ triumphant expedition, and 10 years after the chartering of the Knights of Columbus, Pope Leo XIII recognized the important contribution of Columbus is his encyclical, Quarto Abeunte Saeculo, writing:
“…it is fitting that we should confess and celebrate in an especial manner the will and designs of the Eternal Wisdom, under whose guidance the discoverer of the New World placed himself with a devotion so touching”.
Let us then, Knights of the great Christopher Columbus, and all Christian men and women of good will, celebrate the example of Christopher Columbus, both this weekend and throughout the year, by placing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, at the center of all our endeavors.
May Mary, the Star of the New Evangelization, and her blessed spouse Joseph pray for us and intercede in all our efforts.