These are not easy times for young people to understand the concepts of “discernment” and “vocation.” They think in terms of “careers.” And career ideas come from the latest “trending topic” portrayed in popular shows. In the 1990s, law enforcement was the subject of television, then it was health care, and now it’s CSI. At the time when these are career fads, the media has linked the priesthood and religious vocations with scandals.
But in Hanceville, Alabama, a man who was previously successful by worldly standards has given up that success to join a relatively new religious community. Brother David Mary is advocating for true discernment.
“Discernment means listening, slowing down, and recognizing that God has special work for you to do,” says Brother David Mary. He is a consecrated lay brother, a Knight of the Holy Eucharist. “We invite men 18-30 years of age to come here and discover what it means to live in community. Come and devote yourself to our Eucharistic King.”
The community to which Brother David Mary belongs was founded by Mother Angelica in 1998. “We live in a time of great persecution. But this is a time for great glory as well,” Mother Angelica said on her EWTN program (“Mother Angelica Live Classics”—”Mother Angelica on Vocations”—on EWTN’s YouTube page). “It’s a time for battles and I love battles. Stand up; don’t be wishy-washy!”
St. Francis of Assisi was a “knight errant” figure, and he is the model for the new Knights. Francis wandered the countryside defending truth and preaching love for the King of kings. St. Francis lived an itinerant lifestyle of poverty, and he was never ordained a priest. He chose instead to be a “lesser brother” preaching repentance and conversion. His simple rule for the life of his followers was to “imitate Christ.” In this same vein of virtue and simplicity, the Knights of the Holy Eucharist teach and give witness to their adoration for the Lord of hosts.
In the words of the fifth-century St. Peter Chrysologus, the Eucharist is powerfully portrayed. “He is the bread sown in the Virgin, leavened in the Flesh, molded in His Passion, baked in the furnace of the sepulcher, placed in the churches, and set upon the altars, which daily supplies heavenly food to the faithful.”
“Young men 18 and older are welcome to come and visit our community for up to two weeks at no charge in order to understand more about our life,” says Brother David Mary. The process of formation takes eight years. Candidates begin with manual labor and study. At the end of the periods of postulancy, novitiate, and five years of a temporary commitment, Knights make perpetual promises. Their “investiture” includes these powerful words:
“I entrust to thee the Sword of zeal for the salvation of all…Continual prayer is thy Shield…thy Gauntlet is courage…Go forward into battle, O Knight; fear not to be bold…Thy trusty Steed is perseverance…for God and the Church!”
For more information about the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, visit their website, www.knights.org.
Copyright 2013 Judith Costello, OCDS