Did you know this about the IW Knights of Columbus?
This is Part 2 of the story about the interaction between G.K. Chesterton and the Knights of Columbus during his first visit to America in 1921. Shortly after his visit to New Haven, CT. Chesterton wrote to Edward O’Meara (Feb 1) from the Biltmore Hotel in New York to thank the Knights of Columbus for the gift of the so-called “Snakewood” or serpentine walking stick (as was discussed in last week’s Part 1 of the story of G.K. Chesterton and the KofC). See below the Chesterton letter which was taken from the Knights of Columbus Archives.
Dear Mr. O’Meara –
I feel sure at least that you will not attribute my delay in thanking your society, for the overpowering kindness of their gift, to any indifference; but it is really true that it is due to the very reverse. I have had a scramble of silly lectures & interviews, through all of which I have hoped & promised myself a tolerable opportunity for writing something appropriate to all that this means to me. I would rather write a worthy answer to your letter than deliver a thousand of the greatest lectures ever uttered, to all the crowds of both continents. And after all I cannot do it; and any attempt to say what I really feel would sound, like many sincere things, merely rhetorical & ridiculous. Yet it is true that I feel as if your stick were a Sword of State given me by some great senate or republic at some great historical scene or crisis. About the crisis at least we shall not differ; inadequate as I am as a figure in it. I fear that the Knights of Columbus show not only chivalry but charity, among their Christian virtues, in taking so kind a view of me or my efforts in these times. But that the times themselves are worthy of everyone’s efforts, that the historic moment would be worthy of the most heroic efforts, that at least is terribly and even tragically clear. Some say it is impossible to return to the past; but the truth is that there is now nothing before us but the choice between two paths which both return to the past. We can return to some sort of Catholic fellowship, or we can return to some sort of pagan slavery. There is no third road. It is between the old sort of freedom or servitude that the fight is already engaged; & though I only stood as a stranger among you for a moment, I feel as if you had handed me a weapon.
Yours, with renewed thanks, G.K. Chesterton
The casual observer might think that Chesterton was being flowery and overdramatic in this letter. But Chesterton always chose his words carefully, even when demonstrating his lightning-quick wit. He was deeply grateful to the tribute the Knights paid him with their gift, and he paid them high tribute in return, recognizing their role in promoting the noble and lost art of chivalry in the modern world and the equal gift of charity. He shared a fellowship with them in facing a crisis — the loss of faith and freedom. And he was especially moved to be honored by this Catholic Order.
When G.K. Chesterton received the Knights’ gift, he was not Catholic. One American observer called him “practically the greatest Catholic writer of his day,” and then added, “yet he is not Catholic.” All of that changed the following year. On July 30, 1922, in a makeshift chapel adjacent to the Railroad Hotel in Beaconsfield, England, Gilbert Keith Chesterton was received into the Catholic Church. The priest who received him was his longtime friend Father John O’Connor, the real-life inspiration for Chesterton’s famous priest-detective, Father Brown.
Read the rest of the story about GK Chesterton, the serpentine stick and his visit to the U.S. and about the Knights of Columbus at KofC.org, IWKnights9981.com/bulletin or on facebook.com/IWknights9981 and NOW on Twitter at twitter.com/IwKnights. The author of the feature story is Dale Alhquist, president of the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton and host of the EWTN series “The Apostle of Common Sense”.
Links Related to this week’s column:
The Knight Who Was Chesterton
When G.K. Chesterton entered the Catholic Church a century ago, he had a K of C “sword” ready at hand.
By Dale Ahlquist, President of the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton (6/24/2022)
Click here to read the article
THE SOCIETY OF G.K. CHESTERTON
Renewing the world through Christian joy & common sense
Our mission is to evangelize through education, inspiring people to live joyful, holy lives, with G.K. Chesterton as a model of lay spirituality. Let G.K. Chesterton be your guide to a deeper faith, intellectual clarity, and greater joy.
Click here to go to the website
G. K. Chesterton: Apostle Of Common Sense | EWTN
A study of the wit and wisdom of the great 20th Century writer, G.K. Chesterton, hosted by Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society.
By EWTN Global Catholic Network (7/1/2022)
Click here to visit the show website
Rack-in-the-Back . . . . . . . .
Please shop our book and CD Rack-in-the-Back, located in the vestibule leading to the rear parking lot.. Suggested Donation for the CD's is $3.00/title - books on the top shelf are FREE....including copies of the Prayer Book of St Joseph.
We would like to talk with you about becoming an IW Knight. Please visit us on-line at our web site at www.IWknights9981.com/AboutUs. Or call Rob Schultz at: (314) 973-2373.