The Knights of the Holy Eucharist is a Franciscan Religious community who live six basic Franciscan Principles of Prayer, Penance, Poverty, Minority, Fraternity, and Apostolate in a spiritual accord with the TOR Rule approved on December 8, 1982. The primary focus of this service is the fostering of reverent devotion to Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is the mission of the Knights to spread authentic devotion to Christ truly and substantially present in the Eucharist. They zealously encourage the Christian faithful to participate in Eucharistic adoration, which by its very nature will increase reverence. All efforts should be made through whatever licit means are available to promote faith in the Real Presence of our Eucharistic King.
The Knights were founded by Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, P.C.P.A., on July 25, 1998, feast day of St. James the Greater. This feast is associated with the knightly ideal of the Christian man, his life of spiritual pilgrimage, his duty to protect and serve the needy, and his call to self-sacrifice.
The Knights have chosen St. Joseph as their patron and protector. St. Joseph was a holy knight and adorer of Jesus Christ. He devoted himself completely to guarding the Treasure of all treasures, Jesus Christ.
The Holy House at Nazareth was the first shrine honoring the life of Jesus Christ. It was a shrine in which the Word Incarnate was adored by His Most Holy Mother and her Most Chaste Spouse. St. Joseph was united with her in this work of adoration, while actively protecting, guarding, and providing for this shrine in Nazareth.
St. Joseph was “not afraid to take Mary into his home” (Mt. 1:20). In the most perfect manner possible, he lived true devotion to Mary. He was the first and greatest devotee of her Immaculate Heart.
A Knight is called to unite his heart in a special way with the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph and to model his life of adoration and service after him. In union with St. Joseph, the Knight is called to consecrate himself totally to our Blessed Mother and to be devoted to the Child Jesus, El Divino Niño.
The community is animated by the spirit and example of St. Francis, “the Knight-Errant of Assisi.” With him as their model, the Knights are directed toward incarnating the noble virtues of spiritual knighthood in themselves. St. Francis’s spirit is one of deep faith, fiery enthusiasm for Christ, and readiness to battle spiritually for His kingdom on earth.
Devotion to the Holy Eucharist is one of the characteristic elements of the Franciscan movement. This is clearly manifested in the writings and devotion of St. Francis himself and in those of his followers throughout the centuries. The Knights especially take to heart the first of his Admonitions where, speaking of the devotion his followers are to have for the Body and Blood of the Lord, he said that we seeing “bread and wine with our bodily eyes, see and firmly believe that they are His most holy Body and Blood living and true. And in this way the Lord is always with His faithful, as He Himself says, ‘Behold, I am with you until the end of the age’ [cf. Mt. 28:20]”
Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “Every great reform has in some way been linked to the rediscovery of belief in the Lord’s Eucharistic presence among his people.” The Knights, like St. Francis, strive to be instruments of renewal and reform by helping others become aware of and experience the Lord’s Eucharistic presence among us. “As He revealed Himself to the holy apostles in true flesh, so He reveals Himself to us now in sacred bread.”
The Knights strive, above all, to live out their awareness of Christ’s presence in the Holy Eucharist with great faith, to study and understand this divine mystery ever more deeply, and to communicate this truth to others. Since St. Francis wrote of the necessity of cleanliness for the things of the altar, the Knights place special value on their service as sacristans and servers for Masses and other liturgies. Even beyond the confines of the sanctuary and of the church building, they work so that all things will reveal the beauty and holiness of God.
St. Francis, who had a great love and respect for the priesthood, was ordained a deacon. In imitation of their holy model, the Knights are open to the call of their members being ordained as deacons in accordance with the desires and needs of the local Ordinary.
St. Francis says in the Admonitions that the brothers are not to look down on priests, “even though they be sinners”, since “their ministry is greater in that it concerns the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ”; rather, the Knights are to help priests through good example and charity. The Knights strengthen and support priests in their vocations through their continued prayer and offering of assistance.
Our Foundress, Mother Angelica, inspired us toward the three pillars that were so pronounced in her own life. We commit ourselves to these: wholehearted devotion to our Eucharistic King, total consecration to our Blessed Mother, and absolute loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff.
As a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration, she proposed that the center of one’s life and work must be adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament; this has been the source of her fruitfulness and must also be that of the Knights. Adoring and encouraging others to adore the Most Blessed Sacrament is essential to this community. Spending abundant time encountering the Lord in daily adoration, safeguarding the reverent atmosphere of prayer where the Lord’s Eucharistic Presence is exposed or reserved, and drawing others to His Silent Presence are all elements of the Knights’ life and spirit.
Through the use of beautiful art and architecture, sacred music and reverence, she worked to restore a sense of the sacred to the Mass. So, too, the Knights assist at and serve Mass and other liturgies with devotion and reverence as is Our Lord’s due.
Living in the present moment, the Knights imitate the readiness with which she has always carried out the will of God by making themselves available to serve in whatever way is needed to sustain or extend the Kingdom of God wherever they have been placed.
The Knights imitate Mother Angelica’s zeal for souls by welcoming and assisting all who visit any establishment in their care, in order to draw them closer to the Lord. They bring the warmth of charity to the people they meet, regardless of the vitality of their spiritual life. The Knights trust in the Lord’s ability to transform even the most hardened of hearts they encounter.
Called to serve at Masses, Healing Services, Processions, and Benediction, the Knights give public witness to the profound reverence and devotion befitting such sacred service. They also provide talks to groups and parishes. The Knights may generously serve religious communities, helping with the maintenance of their monasteries and attending to other needs.
Such a mission also focuses on the Eucharistic evangelization of parishes and organizations. Especially since Vatican II, the Church has called us to evangelization and re-evangelization. It also teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life (LG, n. 11). Therefore, our evangelization endeavors should be Eucharistic. St. Pope John Paul II declared that by his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (n. 6), he desired to “rekindle Eucharistic ‘amazement'” which was once prevalent in the Church. In a 2010 discourse, Pope Benedict spoke of a “Eucharistic springtime in every parish”. By this and many prophetic graces given to our times, such as Knock and the two pillars vision of St. John Bosco, we see that the Church is directed toward a Eucharistic future.
As part of the mission, the Knights should be well trained in serving both the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass) and the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo). They must be ready to train servers at local parishes.
The identity of this mission is an important witness that remind them of the obligation of sanctity and apostolate stemming from Baptism, the consecration as a royal priesthood and holy people, and the public manifestation of his striving for fidelity to the Church. The habit is a plain brown tunic with rosary at their waist, to constantly learn to contemplate with Mary the face of Jesus Christ which is manifested in the beauty of Creation and especially in the marvelous mystery of the Church. One is clothed in the tunic when the novitiate begins; it is supplemented by the hood and scapular for those who have made temporary profession; a crucifix is added to the habit of those who have made final profession.
The Evangelical Counsels
The evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, which flow from and intensify our baptismal call to holiness, serve to bind the Knights together in a common way of life. It is this relationship to God and one another that allows the Knights to embrace the world as their cloister and serves to bind them together in a fraternal relationship and way of life.
The Knights are intent upon living the evangelical counsels according to their state in life. They are exhorted to filially observe the means recommended by the Church for progress in the angelic virtue: custody of the eyes, caution in the use of the mass media, vigilance in conversations with persons of the opposite sex, frequent confession, fleeing occasions of sin, etc.
The Knights do not require their members to renounce all private ownership. However, the spirit of detachment should be cultivated. Material goods should be used responsibly and with the prudence and restraint that befits any sincere follower of the poor and humble Jesus. Our Lord taught detachment from the goods of this world, saying: “So, therefore, none of you can become My disciple if you do not give up all your possessions” (Lk. 14:33). As the masters of the spiritual life teach, this is an interior renunciation; and it constitutes the spirit of poverty and detachment from material goods. Of course, voluntary poverty, when inspired, can be a means to achieve this interior detachment and a great aid to advance along the path of perfection.
The life of poverty in the Franciscan tradition is an important expression of inner conversion. By placing themselves in the condition of poverty, the Knights are better able to discover their powerlessness to save themselves and the richness of God’s mercy and love. They strive, therefore, to be transformed from the illusion of being totally self-reliant to the truth of being totally dependent on God.
In the thought and life of St. Francis, poverty is intimately linked to humility. The Knights seek to be converted from being proud and clever into being little and humble, not aspiring to be over others, but subject to every human creature for the sake of the Lord (cf. 1 Pt. 2:13).
Poverty calls us, in an age of unbridled materialism and consumerism, to focus on putting people and the needs of others, especially the poor; before all else. Poverty impacts not only those material things we may use in our lives, but also any attachment that might result from such use.
Following the example of Jesus Christ, who being rich, became poor to enrich us by His poverty (cf. 2 Cor. 8:9), and imitating Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, the Knights promise to observe poverty. This promotes the liberation of their hearts from attachment to worldly goods, both material and spiritual. It leaves them completely available for the Lord in the service of the Church and all people.
All the baptized are called to the virtue of chastity; that is, an appropriate expression of our gift of sexuality according to our state in life: married, single, religious life, Holy Orders. Consecrated chastity as Franciscan Knights directs our energy and focus to the Lord and to the people of God we are called to serve. Rather than forming exclusive relationships, we open ourselves to be instruments of God’s love to all.
Knights live the evangelical counsel of chastity by striving for purity of heart. This virtue puts the powers of the soul in order, brings the intelligence to its plenitude, gives strength to the will and governs the senses and interior harmony. “Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: Either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy (cf. Sir. 1:22)” (CCC, 2339). Modesty “protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies” (CCC, 2521, 2523). Consecrated celibacy “enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner” (CCC, 2349). This makes possible a communal atmosphere where union with God and devotion to His service have primacy.
In their imitation of Christ, Knights must practice His obedience. Primarily they do so through conscientious observance of these Customs, by the zealous performance of their assigned duties, and by following the directives of the Community and Local Servants. Thus St. Francis admonished his brethren “to consider in their superior not the human person but him for whose love they are subject. The more insignificant the one who presides, the more acceptable the humility of the one who obeys.”
The Knights are joined to the Holy Catholic Church as branches to the stem, and therefore acknowledge and humbly respect the authority of her pastors, especially that of the local Ordinary.
St. Francis prized obedience above all other virtues and practiced it almost to the point of folly. Knights must recognize the hand of God in the difficulties that come to them when they are assigned duties which they would prefer not to have, and in all the setbacks that come their way through circumstances such as ill health.
“Holy obedience puts to confusion all bodily and carnal desires and keeps its body mortified for obedience to spirit and to brother, and makes a man subject to all men in this world, and not only to men, but also to all beasts and wild things, so that they can do with him whatever they want, as far as is given them by the Lord from on high” (St. Francis of Assisi, Salute to Virtues, Opuscula 20).
Seeking to foster devotion to Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Knights provide an example of reverence and devotion both in serving at the altar and in their daily hours of adoration. Although other pressing duties and scheduled activities may at times call him away from his allotted time of adoration, each Knight is asked to spend at least one complete hour before our Eucharistic King each day.
The Knights’ Residence
Friaries are the living cells of the Community. They are the primary units of the Community where its life and mission find their support and expression. They help the Knights become more prayerful and reflective and live the Gospel fully, thereby freeing them for ever-greater fidelity to their calling within a common project and in the framework of the priorities of the Community. Remembering that “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” the Knights are to keep their rooms and all common areas clean and orderly at all times.
(Recreation as “re-creation” of both body and spirit)
The free time allotted by the community schedule allows the Knights time to attend to personal obligations and necessities. It also allows individuals time for a balance of private prayer, reflection, spiritual reading and community recreational activities. Television may be watched only with the proper permission and not to the exclusion of all other forms of recreational activity. All media viewed should be assessed responsibly in keeping with the norms of Christian morality.
The Knights should not absent themselves from the friary without proper permission, and all Knights should have returned to their communal residence by 9:30 p.m. (except in the case of community outings). Should occasion arise when necessity or duties require departure from the grounds, members should leave written notification of their destination and the time anticipated for their return.
Personal and Communal Conduct
A Knight should be mindful, always, of the obligation he has, as both a Christian and a Knight, to bear witness to the truths of the Gospel.
He should avoid companionship, environments and activities which may confuse or scandalize those who have a right to find in him an example of authentic unworldly Christianity. Always mindful of the primacy of God in his life and his desire to serve Him with freedom and dedication, the Knight should maintain an appropriate and modest reserve in his dealings with others. Knights should, however, strive always to be cheerful and pleasant to all with whom they have contact, radiating the peace and joy that come from following Jesus.
As a means of representing the community, Knights are to wear their tunic when leaving the property. If Knights must leave the grounds for work-related reasons, they may wear their work uniform; this must be clean and presentable. The work uniform may be worn when participating in approved sporting and recreational activities.
Life in community provides many opportunities for growth in the Christian virtues. Courteousness and consideration should be exercised at all times, each member fulfilling his share of assigned household tasks conscientiously and in a spirit of fraternal charity. Duties will be allotted at the discretion of the Community or local servant.
Entrance to the Knights’ residence should be restricted to its members and visitors scheduled to stay there. Other visitors should be permitted only with proper permission. All who come seeking assistance, however, should be treated with warmth and Christian charity.
Members are asked to refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol for the duration of their participation in this community. At the discretion of local servant, wine and beer may be permitted on solemnities and days of special celebration. However, consumption must be limited to a moderate amount. Knights are also asked to keep their communal residence and private accommodations clean, neat and orderly.
The Knights strive to maintain a wholesome asceticism in their communal living. This includes simplicity in their meals, entertainment, and fasting on Fridays according to the laws of the Church (two small meals, which combined do not equal one full meal, and one full meal). On days of fasting, there is to be no snacking between meals and the consumption of sweets, sodas, etc., is not permitted. Although rest is permitted during free time, it should not be resorted to without real necessity.
Days of Retreat
Each Knight is to set aside one day a month as a day of retreat and reflection. This day should be used to assess one’s spiritual progress and to rededicate oneself to the pursuit of holiness. Days of retreat should be spent in prayer, reflection, and spiritual reading. Knights remain on the grounds during their days of retreat, but may leave the property with proper permission.
As part of their ministry of service, the Knights offer hospitality to many visiting priests, religious, and other approved guests. The Knights are asked to receive these men as they would Jesus Himself, sharing with them their fraternal life, encouragement and support. Although offering hospitality may often prevent an exact observance of scheduled activities, this should not be seen as an infringement, but rather as a privileged opportunity to serve Our Lord in His ministers.
The Knights are allotted two weeks of vacation time each year (Jan. 1-Dec. 31). New members are allowed a one-week vacation after the completion of six full months during the first year. During this time, they may travel to see relatives or make pilgrimages to holy sites. Their conduct while away from home should be consistent with their behavior while in the residence and always bear fitting witness to Christ and His Church.
Since a Knight of the Holy Eucharist has chosen to give himself to Christ more fully, he is called to sacrifice many of the legitimate goods that others enjoy. In order to maintain closer bonds with his community, times spent with family and friends outside of the scheduled vacation time should be rare and at the discretion of the local servant.
The Apostolic Life of a Knight
A Knight seeks to manifest his love for Jesus not only in the faithful fulfillment of his daily responsibilities but also, when opportunity arises, by performing works of charity not specifically prescribed. In his free time, he may choose to bring comfort and companionship to the sick or the elderly or assist the poor and underprivileged with whom he has contact.
Even amid his daily occupations, he will have many opportunities to evangelize, to comfort, to lend a willing ear to the needs of the numerous visitors or to other individuals whose paths he might cross. He should strive to be always sensitive to the opportunities for furthering the Kingdom of God that Divine Providence will present to him unexpectedly each day.