By EDWARD F. J. TUCKER
I first joined the Knights in 1991 because the Catholic cadets of Council 6900 at The Citadel solicited my support as a faculty sponsor. As the son of a 33rd Degree Freemason in both the York and Scottish Rites, I was a bit scared of the kinds of hocus-pocus that one associates with secret fraternal organizations. After all, I didn’t want to risk damaging my academic reputation among colleagues.
On the other hand, the cadets seemed perfectly sane and driven by a steadfast devotion to the Catholic faith. How could I refuse? After all, one’s intellectual standing means little in the light of spiritual truth and God’s glory. I took a deep breath, put my trust in the Lord, took the plunge and have never looked back.
Indeed, I experienced sincere joy to hear the strains of “Onward Christian Soldiers” providentially guiding my footsteps toward initiation into knighthood. As a former Anglican, I knew all about the scathing criticisms directed against this magnificent hymn by those metaphorically challenged pacifists who wince about its militaristic vocabulary. Don’t they know that life in this world is, in the words of St. Fulgentius, a constant “Psychomachia,” or soul-war between the mortal sins and the cardinal virtues? St. Paul warns us about this spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-17, and he urges us all to “Put on the full armor of God,” (the breastplate, helmet, shield, and sword) needed to ward off “the burning arrows of the Evil One.” His words are not literal, of course, but intended only to suggest that we must be on our guard.
As Knights, we must “Lift High the Cross” against such evils as abortion; euthanasia; pornography; so-called safe sex; racial prejudice; poverty and disease; drug abuse; discrimination against women, children, and the underprivileged; neglect of the elderly; not to mention the effects of violence and crime.
As Christian Knights, we should take as our paradigm the poet Chaucer’s pilgrim knight, depicted as the soul of truth, honor, generosity, and courtesy, a person who never makes any kind of crude or demeaning remark to persons from any walk of life. I have been proud to march with my brother Knights in the cause of life, both physical and spiritual, and to speak out against the culture of death. I have worked beside them in the effort to raise the financial support needed by his holiness, Pope John Paul II, by our bishops and priests, by our seminarians, by our religious brothers and sisters, by the sick and needy, and for the education of our Catholic children.
I bear a daily personal witness to their selfless devotion, humble spirituality, tireless industry, and their kindness and generosity. These Knights and their ladies are committed as Christian soldiers to do unrelenting battle in this soul war that we all are engaged in. Therefore, if you, good readers, as practical Catholics in union with the Holy See, are looking for worthy goals and challenging enterprises, if you are prepared to get down into the metaphorical trenches, then on behalf of my brothers, I invite you to join us and “Fight the Good Fight With All Your Might.” I have found that in spiritual warfare, youth provides the muscle and age the wisdom and endurance. One cannot afford to look back.
Edward F. J. Tucker is Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus East Cooper Council 9475, covering the three parishes of Christ Our King, Stella Maris, and St. Benedict’s. He is the former head of the English Department at The Citadel, with a Ph.D. from Harvard University.