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State Chaplain 2020 - 2021

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire

January 2021

Dear Brother Knights,

Happy new year! I wish all of you and your families all the blessings of the Christmas season, which continues through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 10. I hope you haven’t taken your Christmas decorations down yet!

2020 was a rough year in many ways, and I’m sure a lot of people are beginning this new year with a lot of hope that it will be better than last year. Everyone I talk to is eager to see an end to the pandemic and a return to at least some semblance of normality, even if it doesn’t look quite exactly like the pre-COVID world.

I hear statements like, “2020 was a bummer of a year” and “2020 -- that was a waste!” People’s sentiments are expressed in this quasi-biblical question: “Can anything good come out of 2020?” 

Perhaps I exaggerate…. but maybe not.

People are sick and tired -- literally, in many cases -- of the increased hardships of life brought on by the pandemic. Strong feelings of anger and frustration are dragging many good people down and even testing their faith to the point that they forget that God is greater than this plague, and He wouldn’t be permitting it to happen if no good could come from it.

I am reminded of the “First Principle and Foundation” of St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises. He says: “God created human beings to praise, reverence, and serve God, and by doing this, to save their souls.” And he goes on to state that the rest of creation exists to help us achieve that goal. So, we should take or leave the things of this world based on whether they help or hinder us in our relationship with God.

Finally, Ignatius writes: “For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things as much as we are able, so that we do not necessarily want health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long rather than a short life, and so in all the rest, so that we ultimately desire and choose only what is most conducive for us to the end for which God created us.”

Does this not strike us as odd, or even a little bit crazy? Who wouldn’t prefer to be well instead of sick, or to be honored rather than dishonored? It seems like these types of preferences are just part of our human nature. We would rather have ease than hardship, comfort rather than suffering. This is why we’re so eager to put 2020 behind us and launch into 2021, hoping it will be an improvement over what has gone before.

However, the wisdom of St. Ignatius’ insight rests in its recognition that there is something of greater value than what riches offer over poverty or health over sickness or 2021 over 2020, namely, the eternal benefit to be derived from the person’s experience of riches, poverty, health, sickness, 2021 or 2020. The bottom line is this: we should set our hearts on growing in the love of God, and thereby welcome whatever means the Good Lord wants to use to move us in that direction, whether it suits our palate or not.

God had a purpose in all that came to us in 2020: our growth in holiness. If we missed the opportunity in 2020, let’s not miss out in 2021. God truly does make all things work for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Vivat Jesus!


Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire, State Chaplain