LIGHT AND SHADOW

One of the many pictures painted on the Christ Cathedral campus is that of what I call “light and shadow”: the light of the sun on the fountains and flowers in the morning and the shadows and sunsets reflected on the glass in the evening; and the light reflected on the glass at night over all the many activities of Faith and encounters of art and music!

The images of light and shadow can reflect the light and shadows which come into our lives as well: grace and sin; repentance and conversion; closeness and distance from the Lord.

The Cathedral campus was recently a great place of light and celebration of the mercy of God, even in the darkness of night. We witnessed the hundreds of people who came to pray before the Blessed Sacrament at all hours of day and night; the generous service of all of the priests who came to hear confessions at all hours; the vibrant witness of Faith of our young adults in their “Waves of Mercy” praise and worship led by Francis Cabildo and band; and the dedication and work of organization and presence by Lesa Truxaw, Director of the Office of Worship and Armando Cervantes of the Office of Youth and Young Adults; and all of our many volunteers of all ages and cultures who were present on our campus for “24 Hours with the Lord” in union with our Holy Father , Pope Francis!

Around the same time we were planning this celebration of the light and love of Christ, there were also some shadows in our community. I am speaking here of the appearance of the appearance, and the accompanying violence , of the ” Klu Klux Klan” in Anaheim. How ironic and sad that this appearance of the Klan was in the face of the efforts by Mayor Tom Tait to promote Anaheim as a “City of Kindness.”

The Klu Klux Klan as a long ugly history of anti-Semitism, anti-African Americanism and anti-Catholicism. Both the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange and the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose (at St. Catherine’s Academy in Anaheim) had experienced with the Klan years ago. When I was a pastor in a small rural town years ago in central Illinois many of the immigrant families (Italian, Polish, Lithuanian, who came to work the coal mines) remember flaming crosses being burned on their lawns!

The presence of the “KKK” is a continuing manifestation of what can be termed “nativism” that shows itself to be racist and anti-foreigner and unfortunately never far from the surface it seems, ironically in a nation that has a history of “welcoming the stranger.”

The Orange County Catholic recently ran an article on the KKK, which reads in part;

The Klan rose to prominence in Anaheim with the arrival, in June 1922, of the Rev. Leon C. Myers, a transplant from Oregon who took charge of the First Christian Church in Anaheim and spread his Klan agenda, starting with a men’s Bible study.

Myers sponsored “bitter” anti-Catholic propaganda during his pastorate, according to the Orange County Illustrated story.

And the Orange Daily News, in a May 11, 1925 article, quotes Meyers saying, “The Ku Klux Klan is the only hope for America.”

Myers and his supporters were able to secure, in 1924, four of five seats on Anaheim’s equivalent of a city council, the Board of Trustees. And by then the Anaheim Police Department had 10 KKK members, including the chief of police, Bert Moody.

Throughout Anaheim, signs with the acronym KIGY were posted, for “Klansman, I Greet You.”

An estimated 20,000 people-mostly from the Inland Empire and other parts of California-flooded what is now Pearson Park in Anaheim for a huge KKK rally in July 1924 that was peaceful, but that sparked a tide of resentment that ultimately would lead to the Klan’s downfall in Orange County, historical documents show.

One of the main groups that helped defeat the Klan in Anaheim was the Knights of Columbus, which worked together with other community organizations to coordinate efforts to remove Klansmen from positions of power.

A special election on Feb. 3, 1925 ousted four members of the Ku Klux Klan from the Anaheim council. Moody then quit and the other KKK officers were fired.

And soon the KKK vanished from Anaheim and Orange County. (full article at http://occatholic.com/the-church-vs-the-klan-in-orange-county/)

As people of faith, and as members of, or descendents families that have come to here over many years, commit ourselves to live in – in this complicated age – the “light of Faith” as the Body of Christ, the local Church here in the Diocese of Orange.

Thank you for all you do and witness in this blessed season of Lent and always.

+Kevin W. Vann