I have been out of circulation in the blogosphere due to preparations for the Encampment and recovery from it. My plan was to make sure that the Encampment was at least as successful as it has been in the past with Thom’s direction and to make sure that we remembered our departed friends in a fitting way. I think we succeeded.
I have much to blog on regarding the Encampment. I will get it posted as I am able.
First of all, I have an oath that the Knights asked me to write for the squires and pages. Actually the idea was Thom’s and he had planned to write it himself. As a former scout master he wanted to model our oath on the Boy Scout Oath. Well, he never got an opportunity to write it so I did.
But before I get to that, I want to say a little about what I taught the boys over the weekend. I spoke about virtue and how the Latin root vir means both virtue and man. In other words, virtue is manliness. Men are supposed to be strong.
I also told them that virtue is a habit, a good habit. Bad habits are easy to form. They are usually pleasurable and we repeat them frequently without any effort until they become second nature. Virtue is also second nature, but the formation of the habit of virtue is difficult, because its consistent repetition is difficult. Virtue most often goes against our ease and requires us not to seek our immediate pleasure but a goal difficult to obtain.
Just as with anything else, our success in matters of virtue depends on our motivation. If we are motivated to become a good athlete, we will put ourselves through all kinds of inconvenience, as St. Paul says: Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one (1 Corinthians 9:25). How often are we willing to torture ourselves for ephemeral goals, when for eternal life we are willing to do so little?
True manliness is something that has to be cultivated. It takes practice. Much more effort is required to be virtuous than to ride a skateboard, play a video game, or excel in baseball.
Men and boys need to be challenged. They need to see the adventure of ordinary life. Real manliness means to be responsible for one’s actions.
I pointed out to the boys that virtue was second nature to Marc Girard, so that when he had no time to think, his first instinct was to save his sister and go back into the water for his father. He was going to come up with his father or not come up at all. He died a hero, because he lived a life of virtue.
So conclude my talk with the boys, I told them to do four simple things, consistently, as a matter of virtue: 1) make a morning offering everyday; 2) examine your conscience and make an act of contrition every evening; 3) treat your mothers with respect; 4) treat your sisters and other girls with respect. I told them that if they did these four things, they would acquire virtue. I also told them that these four things were not a synthesis of the spiritual life, but that I knew these things are particularly what they need to do as boys who are becoming men, and that if they did do them, then other important matters would fall into place.
On Saturday night after they recited the oath, I asked them to tell me the four things I had asked them to do. Then I said that the oath was the fifth thing, a kind of sacramental by which they could supernaturalize their motives and seek the grace of God.
So here is the oath:
The following is to be recited by both pages and squires:
By my honor I will strive to the utmost
To live according the ideals of Marian Chivalry;
To serve Christ and His Most Holy Mother,
And to defend the faith and the Church;
To seek the fellowship of good men,
And to hearken to their words;
To be humble and courteous,
And to serve the weak and the needy.
The following should be added by squires only:
To be chaste in thought, word and deed;
To see to it that no lady or damsel be brought to reproach through my fault;
To draw my sword only in the interests of truth and righteousness.
And then with courage and without retreat.
Pages are the boys from ages 6-12 and squires are the boys from 13-17.
I know that the oath is long. It is a synthesis of our Marian spirituality and an medieval knights oath. I am interested in your comments. I suppose it could be synthesized further, but not too much further. This oath cannot be as generic as the Boy Scout oath, since our organization is not as generic as the Boy Scouts.
In any case, the oath as it stands does embody the spirit that should belong to the Pages and Squires.
We have to turn boys into men–real men.