The boy grew up in a Catholic home. As far as his parents were concerned, the only type of home there was to have, was a Catholic home. It was how they were raised, and how their parents before them had been raised. His grandmother had been a church organist, and her mother a church secretary. His father’s father had helped with St. Vincent DePaul. And then there was his grandpa and his uncle (both for whom he had been named) who had been members of the Knights of Columbus. The young boy had no idea what that was, or what they did, but he looked at the shiny K of C sword that had belonged to his uncle and wished it was his.
Living as a Catholic was all he ever knew. From the time he was little he remembered saying grace before meals, and saying the Rosary and going to Mass every Sunday.
His parents referred to themselves as “reverted” Catholics. He didn’t really know what that meant. He knew that they became enthusiastic when learning new things about the Bible and he knew they wanted him to learn too.
“To avoid our mistakes,” they said.
“To start out your life closer to God than we were when we started out,” they said.
He didn’t know what any of that meant. But he learned the lessons his mother taught him in his home school, and he watched the other Catholic families they associated with. It seemed normal to him to celebrate All Saints Day when the rest of the world did Halloween. He knew what an indulgence was. And when he was old enough, his parents made sure that he served every Mass he had the opportunity to serve.
He grew older. Some of his long-time friends started to mock their mothers in secret for their Catholicity. Celebrating the feast days was for babies (although he enjoyed the cakes and goodies that went along with certain feast days)! When he got old enough to drive and get a job he started missing Mass here and there.
“Too busy,” he said.
“Not interesting,” he complained.
The parents began to get worried and set certain conditions on his living in their home–one of which included going to weekly Mass. Sometimes he could fool them into thinking that he went. But his mother was smart. She would ask him about the mass readings for the week and he couldn’t answer her. Or his Dad would drive around the church looking for his car at the mass he said he went to and couldn’t find it there.
When he finally moved out, he was free of that annoying obligation. The boy started living his life on his own terms, in his own way. Mass never entered into it, although he would still go on Easter and Christmas.
Yet, he couldn’t quite break away completely. His friends would talk against the Church and he would defend it. When a girlfriend urged him to join her church, he knew that he could never, ever be anything but Catholic – even if he or wouldn’t live it just yet.
The boy was now a full-fledged man – done with his education and ready to take a wife and start a family of his own. At his Pre-Cana day he was amused to hear his parents give a talk. He knew they agonized over their part of the presentation every year and was interested to hear what they had to say. The part of the talk that delved into his family history surprised him. And he remembered that his grandmother had played the organ and that her mother had been a church secretary. He remembered that his father’s father had helped with the St. Vincent DePaul – but he didn’t remember hearing that his father had helped them too. Or that the St. Vincent DePaul had bought a casket for the little brother who had died all those years before.
As his parents continued to speak, he remembered that the men for which he was a namesake had been Knights of Columbus and had helped at the fish fry, or as ushers, or pretty much anything else that the parish needed them to do. And he started to feel something about it. But he wasn’t sure what.
The day came when he would move far away from his family home and the Catholic parish he had grown up in. As young men sometimes do he didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to move from one place to another. He had lots of help from friends and family for packing up, but when he got to his new home he would be hard pressed to unpack all of the boxes and furniture.
His mom knew where to find help, though. And she started to make calls to intercede for her son.
When he arrived as a stranger in a strange land, two Knights of Columbus were there to help him with the task. They worked hard unpacking the loaded trailer, and other than good conversation and some refreshment, they didn’t ask anything for their labors. They also left the young man with information about the nearest parish and about the local K of C Council.
The next morning after the move was a Sunday. The young man was alone in his new home. He unpacked boxes, screwed his dining room table together and did some laundry. He thought about the kindness that had been shown to him by the two Knights. He thought about how his parents and siblings back home were probably attending church.
And then for the first time in a long time – he went to mass.