My Secret Knight In Shining Armor
LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary
Published: April 23, 2009 night
My husband and I hardly ever keep secrets. We unburden our hearts to each other on our date nights, which occur quite regularly each week.
We have rarely missed a date night during our 26 years of marriage. We relax by the fireplace during winter, and in the warmer months, we head out to the deck. There, we sip wine, have supper and talk. We cover a smorgasbord of topics: his art, my writing, family, near and far, and our faith journeys.
Last night, though, my husband came home with a secret. He was away for the evening, and when I asked him how it had gone, he said, “I can’t say.”
Oddly enough, this response didn’t bother me at all. Instead, it rather thrilled me.
You see, I think men should harbor some secrets from their wives, at least when it comes to devotion to their family, their religion and their country. I think there are things women might not want to know about the weapons our men wield, for example, or the plans they make, as they endeavor to protect us. I also think men sequester secrets in their hearts as they try to become more like Jesus Christ.
Last night my husband became a member of the Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic fraternal service organization in the world. Its initiation ritual is a well-guarded secret, so I will not ask him again what happened. Instead, I will continue to be delighted that he has taken this step.
The Knights were born in the basement of a church in 1881 in New Haven, Conn., at a time when there was much anti-Catholic prejudice. Gathered together by Father Michael J. McGivney, the group of men vowed to defend their countries, their families and their faith. Today, the Knights boast more than 1.7 million members worldwide.
I knew none of this when I spotted my first Knight at a Confirmation ceremony at St. Thomas More many years ago. I realize this sounds quite superficial, but I was enthralled by the Knights’ manly and medieval appearance. There is something very compelling about a man with a cape, a hat with plumes—and, of course, a sword!
Since then, I have discovered there is much more to these men than meets the eye. The Knights are very family oriented. They visit the sick and the bereaved, and offer excellent insurance policies to help widows and orphans. Devoted to Our Lady, they are an extremely pro-life group, raising money for organizations like Birthright, which helps women in crisis pregnancies keep their children.
During the past decade alone, the Knights have donated nearly $1.2 billion to charity and provided more than 612 million hours of service.
The Knights are men of various sizes, shapes, colors and ages. They are teachers, policemen, computer programmers and laborers. At St. Thomas More, a cheerful crew shows up faithfully to host fish fries during the Fridays in Lent. I’ll admit I’ve grumbled now and then when the fish is too crunchy, but in my heart of hearts, I’m thrilled the men are serving the congregation in a humble and heartfelt way.
What I especially admire is that the Knights defend the solid values of family, traditional Catholicism and country. There is none of this wishy-washy, cafeteria-line approach to faith.
I also like the fact that it is a men-only group. Men need a place to get together, have a beer and maybe shoot some pool—and just be men. They need to find their own definition of what following Jesus means because the masculine tie to Jesus will always be a different flavor from the feminine style. They also need to be real men in a world that too often tries to diminish their masculinity and make everyone unisex.
I’ve always thought of my husband as my knight in shining armor because he rescued me many years ago from a life of loneliness. He also was at my side when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and stayed steadfast and true throughout the difficult months that followed.
That was almost nine years ago, and we have had many fireside suppers since then. I love this man with a great fervor, but I have my own secret to confess: Now that he is a Knight in the service of Jesus Christ, I love him even more.
Lorraine V. Murray's most recent books are "The Abbess of Andalusia: Flannery O'Connor's Spiritual Journey" and "Death in the Choir," a mystery set in Decatur. Artwork is by Jef Murray (www.jefmurray.com).