Every year the HNOJ KC’s are privileged to be invited here to give away the Holy Rosary to the Passion Play actors and staff. People often think about us KC’s carrying swords and wearing fancy hats and capes, but our biggest weapon against Catholic adversaries is the Holy Rosary. Back in the late 1800’s a Catholic Parish Priest in Connecticut received a vision leading him to create the KC’s. He had a Parish full of emigrant Catholic widows and orphans because so many of the jobs available to the bread winners were so very dangerous; police, firemen, foundry workers, canal builders and far away rail road workers, etc. and many dad’s died prematurely. Back then, Catholics were not allowed to enroll the kids in public schools, own homes, buy insurance, etc. My Grandfather told of signs in windows that said, “NOW HIRING-NO CATHOLICS”. Fr. McGivney and his KC’s fed, clothed and educated the orphan families. It was similar to your opening scene when the crowd was against us Catholics. “CRUCIFY THEM, CRUCIFY THEM!”
You will always be part of a crowd. When you’re old enough to vote, you’ll do it as a crowd; Dem., Rep, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-gay marriage, in work you will be pro-labor or pro-management, etc. As a crowd you can holler at the refs, the opposing teams, protest various causes, however, you won’t always be on the right side. Group leaders won’t always be truthful. The media will rarely cover it without putting a slanted spin. Catholics rarely get a fair shake in the public eye. As Catholic’s we are always swimming against the media current.
My crowd scene is now the KC’s. As a crowd, we are stronger than we would be alone. There are just under two million Knight’s of Columbus members in the world. About 50,000 reside in Minnesota. Our HNOJ KC council has 120 members, including all of our current and past priests and deacons and many of the church committee leaders. In 1954, we successfully petitioned President Eisenhower to add, “Under God”, to the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1956 the KC’s challenged and overturned a Supreme Court ruling to abolish parochial schools in the State of Oregon, creating an explosion in new Catholic schools being built throughout the USA.
In high school AP European History class, you’ll learn that all of Europe was in a total self-destruct mode in and around the 1200’s, due to barbarians and marauding hordes, disease, plagues, war on all fronts of all different countries, cities and religious beliefs. Most of the various “Orders” of Catholic priesthood were created in the 1200’s, (the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Benedictines, the Carmelites, and more) as the Church was also in disarray from corrupt lay leadership appointing Popes who acted in their favor. The Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Dominic in 1208 and instructed him to teach people how to pray the Rosary for cures from all the chaos. Today, St Dominic is portrayed with a hound carrying a torch in his mouth and their motto is, ”we set the world on fire”, referring to their evangelizing Europe with the Holy Rosary. More miracles are attributed to the Rosary than any other prayer form. If there’s chaos in your life, try the Rosary to calm things down.
When praying the Rosary, we are supposed to imagine ourselves to be present during specific events surrounding the birth, gospel life, passion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ when we meditate on the Rosary. Those events are called “Mysteries” and are recommended by the Vatican in four sets of five mysteries. They are: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious. There’s even an APP for it. We are instructed to pray ten Hail Mary’s for each Mystery we meditate on. With each Rosary we give to you, we ask you to take one of these tiny, wallet size guides on how to pray it correctly.
The biggest misconception with the Rosary is we don’t pray to the Blessed Virgin, we pray it with her. It’s legit to invite people you believe to be in heaven to pray with you as advocates. The Hail Mary prayer is a two part rote prayer. Next year, in tenth grade Confirmation class, there is a whole section dedicated to “rote prayer”. The first half is two quotes out of the gospel, surrounding the Immaculate Conception with Mary, the Angel Gabriel and the Holy Spirit and the Visitation of Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. “Hail, Mary! Blessed are you…..blessed is the fruit of your womb…” The second is a petition to Mary, asking her to put in a good word to God now and on your death bed, sometime in the future. It’s not all that different from asking a dead relative or patron saint to pray for you about a specific problem. Hey Grampa, Gramma, aunt Cecelia, Fr. Arnie, St. Patrick, etc., if you can hear me, tell God about my issue and it’s no different than asking a living friend to pray for you or someone you know to be in need.
In order for you to learn your role in the Passion play, you probably had to imagine being present 2000 years ago, to best act out the parts you were assigned. That’s the same procedure for meditating on a specific “Mystery”. You HNOJ 9th graders really have an advantage over most when it comes to contemplating the Sorrowful Mysteries as they become the Passion Play. For most, it’s a lot like creating a controlled daydream, but for you folks, it’s just reliving the play from memory. Throughout your life, you will run into times of trouble and the Rosary is a great way to calm down and get back on track. If you ever become overwhelmed, remember, worry is the unproductive use of imagination and a huge waste of time. Test out the Rosary when that happens. Who knows, some day YOU might be the miracle or the answer to someone else’s prayer request.
Some of you will take physics class and discover that every action has an equal or greater reaction when it comes to energy in motion. That applies to everything, physically, emotionally, verbally, and spiritually. Technology has enabled us to create much more energy, both positive and negative, much faster. Once you hit send, you don’t get a do-over. I’ll bet that many of the original crowd members, who crucified Christ, realized that they were wrong, long after it was too late to change the outcome. That’s the way God wanted it. If we weren’t sinners, we wouldn’t need a Savior. A good deed, a kind word, a prayer, can lead to a positive energy reaction, so let’s work in that direction. An old HNOJ Pastor, Fr. Arnold Weber told the parishioners that, in your lifetime, you will have more temptations to do good rather than evil. Think about that.
What you probably don’t realize now is this Passion Play event that you are all part of will leave an indelible mark on your soul and a memory in your brain that will stay with you forever. Even though we all know how it begins and ends, even though we have now watched this play every year for 22 years, it’s slightly different each year, because it’s your personal version, acted out by you as individuals and it makes for interesting variety for us HNOJ parishioners. Every year, someone or perhaps even several folks in the audience will be dramatically affected by your group (crowd) effort, so thank you.