Homily San Salvatore de Ossibus
Knights of Columbus; Misisonaries of Charity
October 23, 2021
A Convergence of Place
It is an honor and a blessing for the leadership of the Knights of Columbus to join with you, the Missionaries of Charity, and those who are gathered with you, for the celebration of Holy Mass.
Nearly a hundred years ago, the Knights of Columbus provided for a restoration of this venerable 9th century church at the Western edge of Vatican City State. The Knights arranged for and funded this restoration in conjunction with its work of building the Oratory of St. Peter, a project that included much needed sporting and recreational facilities for disadvantaged youth here in the City of Rome. This church served as the chapel for the Oratory. In testament of which, the insignia of the Knights of Columbus is emblazoned on the pews and the stain glass windows of this beautiful place of worship.
For many years, this small but precious church has served, dear sisters, as your oratory, your special place of prayer, for Holy Mass and for Adoration; it is the “powerhouse” of your works of charity. How often St. Teresa of Calcutta visited this church and prayed in it. We sense her presence among us today.
Convergence of Charity
So, this afternoon, we have gathered in a place that is sacred both to you, the Missionaries of Charity and the to us, the Knights of Columbus, a convergence of place and a place of convergence, one might say. But there is a much more wonderful convergence taking place this afternoon, a convergence, a confluence of charity, that charity which is at the very heart of both the Missionaries of Charity and the Knights of Columbus.
The immense and unrelenting charity of Mother Teresa is known the world over. From the Holy Spirit she received a charism of charity, a burning love for the poorest of the poor upon which she founded your Order. As a young priest in Washington, I witnessed her fearless and unrelenting charity as against all odds, she opened a large hospice for homeless victims of AIDS. Her charity lives on in you, dear sisters, who love and care for those who are left behind in what Pope Francis calls ‘a throwaway culture’. It cannot be said too often: in loving the poor, you are loving Jesus himself, ‘in his distressing disguises.’
So too the pastoral charity of the parish priest, Bl. Michael McGivney, for the widow, the orphan, and the outcast is the heart and soul of the Knights of Columbus. He founded a fraternity of men, banded together in a fraternity of charity that now numbers more than two million members, faithful men, engaging in works of charity throughout the world.
The Source of Charity
Both St. Teresa of Calcutta and Bl. Michael McGivney are interceding for us as we enter into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the source and font of our charity. St. Paul today reminds us that Christ has freed us “from the law of sin and death” precisely so that we might live “according to the spirit” . . . the spirit of “life and of peace”, indeed the spirit of charity . . . the immense charity by which Christ laid down his life to redeem us from sin and death. This is the charity the Holy Spirit lavishes upon us as we celebrate Holy Mass; this is the Love Incarnate, whom we receive in the intimacy of Holy Communion. This charity, this love unites the Missionaries of Charity and the Knights of Columbus, and is the inexhaustible source of all we strive to do in the service of poor, and in the practice of a charity that evangelizes.
Finally, as Saturday gives way to Sunday, we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, who stands for all times, not only as a model of faith but also as a model of charity, whether to Elizabeth in her time of need or at the wedding feast of Cana or among the apostles and disciples as they began their mission of evangelization. Through Mary’s intercession, may we be living reflections of Christ’s own charity after the example of St. Teresa of Calcutta and Bl. Michael McGivney, and may God bless us and keep us always in his love!