Cardinal Dolan: The Witness of Marriage

Enjoy this delightful, joyful and sincere address given by our very own Cardinal Dolan to the Knights of Columbus in Anaheim. Que viva Cristo Rey!

States Dinner Address Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan Archbishop of New York President, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Anaheim, California, August 7, 2012

Supreme Knight and Mrs. Anderson; Past Supreme Knight and Mrs. Dechant; my brother knights and beloved wives;

My brother cardinals; Bishop Brown, Archbishop Viganó, my brother bishops, priests, and deacons; our consecrated women and men religious; seminarians, guests, friends one and all . . .

Que viva Cristo Rey!

To anyone who claims the Church is lackluster;

To anyone who thinks the Church has lost the dare given us by Jesus to “cast out to the deep!”

To anyone who doubts the solidarity between God’s people and His priests and bishops;

To anyone who contends that Catholics are beaten down by constant attacks on faith, the Church, our values, and our God-given freedom of religion . . .

I say, “Let them come to the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus!”

As we anticipate the Year of Faith, I thank you, brother knights, for 130 years of vibrant, salt-of-the-earth-light-to-the-world Catholic witness!

As we prepare for the upcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome on the New Evangelization, I congratulate you, brother knights, for taking that ball and running with it, in the same missionary spirit that characterized Christopher Columbus.

It’s good to be in California; they love us here in Anaheim. Heads up, though: one of the bell boys here at the hotel did complain to me that we knights don’t tip that well. “We love these Knights of Columbus,” he said, “but, they arrive with the Ten Commandments and a ten dollar bill . . . and leave without breaking either!”

Carl, thanks for giving me the “honeymoon suite.” I was a bit surprised. Let me assure you that’s the first time that’s ever happened!

I am reminded of the story told by the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Seems as if he, too, was offered the “honeymoon suite” at a hotel where he was to give a talk. It was in a southern city, at that time unfamiliar with Catholics. As Archbishop Sheen was leaving his honeymoon suite for supper, the housekeeping attendant asked if she could turn down the bed, and the archbishop told her he would appreciate such service. When he returned later that evening, sure enough, the bed was turned down, and there was a mint on both pillows. On one side of the bed was the archbishop’s pajamas laid out; on the other, apparently for Mrs. Sheen, was his beautiful lace alb he wore for Mass!

Which brings me to my topic: Marriage.

Usually, at this State’s Dinner, thousands of our knights look up in admiration to this dais, the head table, to this “crimson tide” of bishops and cardinals.

Tonight, I’m going to literally “turn the tables” as we up here look out with awe, admiration, and deep appreciation upon you, our knights and their wives, united in marriage.

For this evening, I want to salute marriage. . . and it would be tough to find anyone who has done more to defend, strengthen, and promote marriage than you, Knights of Columbus, and your cherished wives and families. In fact, as you are aware, one of the driving motives of the Venerable Father Michael McGivney in founding the Knights was to assist men better fulfill their vocation as husbands and dads.

We Catholics are hopeless romantics, you know, when it comes to married love . . .

Against all odds, we still believe that, when a man and woman vow that they’ll love and honor each other, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death do us part,” they really do mean it;

We still hold fast to the teaching of the Bible that God so esteems marriage that He compared His personal, passionate, eternal love for Israel to that between a husband and a wife; that Saint Paul tells us that the love of Jesus for us, His Church, is just like that of a groom for His bride;

We still have in our gut the Church’s timeless “Valentine’s Day card,” that the love between a husband and a wife has the same characteristics as does that of God for us: it is faithful; it is forever; it brings about new life in children.

We are such hopeless romantics that we contend the best way to get a hint of how God loves us now, and in eternity, is to look at how you, married couples, love one another. “The love of a man and woman is made holy in the sacrament of marriage, and becomes the mirror of your everlasting love . . . ,” chants the Preface in the Nuptial Mass.

You see why we, mostly celibates up here, look out upon you married couples with awe? We gaze out now at thousands of icons, reflections, mirrors of the way God loves us.

Now, you are, we are, the first to acknowledge that this romantic, poetic, lofty, divine lustre of marriage can at times be tarnished a bit in the day-in-day-out challenges of lifelong, life-giving, faithful love.

For example, I recently had the golden jubilee of a wonderful couple I’ve known for decades.

“What’s the secret to the success of your fifty years of marriage? I asked Pat.

“Well, you know Eileen and I are both of Irish background, so, for our 25th anniversary, I took her back to Ireland.”

“Pat, how thoughtful,” I remarked.

“Yeah and then, for our 50th, I went back to get her! There’s the key to our success!”

Tension, trial, temptation, turmoil – – they come indeed, but – – just as Jesus worked His first miracle, at the request of His blessed Mother, for a newly married couple at Cana by turning water into wine – – so does Jesus transform those choppy waters of tension, trial, temptation, and turmoil, into a vintage wine of tried-and-true-trust in marriage.

So, brother knights and wives, I thank you for being such metaphors of God’s love; and I exhort you, please, to continue, now, more than ever, to be so. Why, now more than ever! Let me give you a few reasons.

When I was Archbishop of Milwaukee, at an archdiocesan pastoral council meeting, we were discussing ways to increase vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life . . . yet another project, by the way, you Knights have vigorously promoted.

Well, Jan Ruidl, one of the members, commented:

“Archbishop Dolan, in talking about an increase in vocations for priests, sisters, and brothers, I think you’re barking-up-the-wrong-tree!”

Uh-oh, here it comes, I thought, buckling my bullet-proof vest, figuring Jan would begin arguing for an end to celibacy or to the male-only-priesthood.

But Jan continued:…

Please read the rest at the Knights of Columbus website.

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