Getting Blown Up for the Immaculate

Who’s first?

I received the following is a message from a reader of my blog, who is commenting on my last post and graciously consented to have his words published here:

Great Blog, Father. Dicey subject. I agree that if a healthy amount of men could don chivalry– chivalry that tips its cap at all times to the Immaculate–we’d be able to cure a lot of what ails us. A cultural mine field has been planted between us and the armory, unfortunately. Only a mass charge with plenty of men will get enough of us over to the other side to do any good. A certain number of us are going to get blown up. The first wave, mainly. No one wants that honor, just yet. I wonder when critical mass will actually be arrived at, forcing the issue.

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More on the Secrets of the Temple

Thanks for all those who participated in the discussion last night.

I have decided to make some videos on the subject. I will be posting the first in the next couple of days. Here is what to expect (a video on each topic):

  • Introduction: True Templar Secrets
  • The Temple of the Order
  • The Templars and the Two Swords
  • The Templars and the Holy Grail
  • The Templars and the Holy Sepulcher

Fatima and Priestly Chivalry

The Holy Father has been taking a beating lately on behalf of his sinful sons in the priesthood.  “The pope will have much to suffer,” Our Lady told the children at Fatima.  This has been realized in every pope since the time of the apparitions, but we wonder if Our Lady had these days and this pope particularly in mind.

None of us should be particularly surprised or even disturbed by the assaults of the enemies of the Church.  This is nothing new or unexpected.  For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry? Our Lord said on the day he died (Lk23:31).  History has played itself out, just as he predicted.

It is the height of hypocrisy for secularists to act horrified by unnatural vice within the Church when they are its biggest advocates.  But it is even worse for a wolf to cloth himself in the robes of a shepherd.  We have put the rope in our enemies’ hands.

En route to Portugal on Tuesday, Benedict was asked if the suffering of John Paul contained in Fatima’s third secret could be extended to encompass the suffering of the church today concerning the clerical abuse scandal.

Benedict affirmed it could, arguing that the Fatima message doesn’t respond to a particular situation or time but offers a “fundamental response” to the constant need for penance and prayer.

“In terms of what we today can discover in this message, attacks against the pope or the church don’t come just from outside the church,” he told reporters. “The suffering of the church also comes from within the church, because sin exists in the church. This, too, has always been known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way.”

The evil within the Church is especially terrifying because it has not done more to restore our militancy.  Where has been the outrage?  Why did the Church not protect the innocent once pastors knew what was happening?  Leon Podles has written on the subject of anger and the sex scandal.  Katie van Schaijik at The Linde has an interesting commentary on Podles’ article.

The ethics of chivalry originally arose out of the need to moderate the ferociousness of masculine aggressiveness.  Today it needs to be restored in order to validate masculine authority and the role of fathers.  This is not to say that the moderation of chivalry is not necessary today.  Militancy and Chivalry are not necessarily identical and there are many divisions within the Church that exist because of arrogance and a lack of charity.  But child molestation is a no-brainer.

The way of Chivarly is the hard road.  It admits of no extremes and makes demands on all sides.  No rest for the weary.  No convalescing for the wounded.  On your feet and fight.  On your feet and tend to the needy.

Here is an interesting take on the culture of Twitter which is appropriate to this subject.  Fight the good fight, with the emphasis on good.

Spring Encampment 2010

Happy Feast of St. Pius V, Pope of Lepanto!

I am in the process of creating a new website for The Knights of Lepanto Encampments.  That should be up in a few days.  Meanwhile, I will just announce the dates again for this years events and provide pertinent information.

  • Spring Encampment: May 28-30
  • Summer Encampment: July 30- August 1
  • Fall Encampment: October 8-10

The Spring Encampment will feature a talk by MSG Michael M. Cutone on the Leadership of Jesus.  Here is an Airmaria interview with Michael.

And here are some PDF documents pertinent to the Spring Encampment that will be helpful:

Please print the Advertising Flyer and post wherever you can.  Thanks.

The main event of the physical activities will be a massive Capture the Flag Game! Hope to see you for the chivalrous fun.

I am creating a “Testimonies” page on the website and would be grateful for all contributions from the men–and boys–who have attended. In terms of the men, I am especially interested in those who are not among the organizers. Please send your contributions of three or four sentences to mv@figuadalupe.com or leave your response in the comment section.

I would also be grateful for suggestions for the “Frequently Asked Questions” page. Please let me know what should be included there, especially if you had a confusing time and would have liked to have something answered before you arrived. Send your responses by leaving a comment.  Thanks again.

The Anthem of Lepanto

The stanzas below I wrote to be sung to the tune Thaxted by Gustav Holst, adapted from a section of Jupiter from his suite The Planets as a setting for the patriotic poem by Cecil Spring-Rice, I vow to Thee my Country.  This exquisitely beautiful and sad melody has a special significance for me, since it was by providence used by Fra Didacus for the memorial video about our deceased knights, Thom and Marc Girard.  At that time it was pointed out to me what the original lyrics where and how appropriate a choice the tune was.

Eternal rest grant to Thom and Marc, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

For your consideration:

I cast myself before Thee, Thy bondsman and Thy fool;
Thy patronage is freedom, Thy slavery my school.
I offer Thee my sword hilt and wait for Thy command
To serve among Thy servants who pledge to take a stand.
That I might die in battle, a victim of Thy love:
My wish, my prayer, my promise, thus written in my blood.

I saw the bark of Peter ride dark into the sun,
But darker still the marking of crescent, hoard and gun.
Her sails lay flat and mellow, Her men had pledged their troth,
Left hand on beaded psalter, the right to keep their oath.
The haughty fiend had counted on fear to win the day,
But Thine own breath has countered to turn the wind their way.

My Queen, to Thee be honor and praise through all Thy knights
Who toiled and bled and parted Thy martyrs robed in white.
All courtesy and prowess, all strength and gentleness,
Thy heart a pyx of virtue, Thy face all loveliness.
Then at the hour of judgment my colors Thou may see,
Thy Son upon His white steed, Thou pray to come for me.

Real Templars

Here is some information that is real news to me, provided by Noah and Ryan, in regard to a legimate claiment to the title Militia Templi Christi Pauperum Millitum Ordo, or Knights Templar.  And yes, this is very legit, a fact which I was not inclined to accept, until it was proven to me.  Mind you, the members of this brotherhood in arms are very clear to disclaim any connection with the historical order, since any such claim, if and when made—as it often is by pretenders—is always false.  The knights already have a well established presence in the United States.

The professed members have a fourth promise of “public testimony of faith.”  Excellent!

Here is some background from Noah and I invite him to respond if anyone has any questions.

First, we do not claim to be descended from the original order.  Many of the people making that claimare Freemasons.

We are a canonically legal Lay Order who live according to the Rule of the Militia Templi which is a close replica of the Primative Rule of the Templare written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux.  Like the ancient Order, the Militia Templi consists of Catholic Lay Faithful binding ourselves to much of the aethetics of the monk, but living in the secular world as knights, in effect a restoration of the order.

We are recognized as a private association of lay faithful and our Constitution and Rule are approved by the Archdiocese of Siena.  The Magistral See of the Militia Templi is located in Poggibonsi Italy.  The Magistral See consists of a 12th Century Templar castle which is the See of the Grand Master of the Order.  The Abbot Protector of the Militia is HE Abbot Philip Lawrence OSB of Christ in the Desert Monastery.  Like the ancient Order, the Militia Templi is divided into Preceptories and the North American Preceptory now consists of eight Professed Knights, two Dames and approximately 25 Novices.  In the North  American Preceptory we have four Chaplains to include our senior Chaplain, HE Bishop Kevin Vann, Bishop of Ft. Worth Tx.  The Militia Templi is in full communion with the Holy See and with the local Ordinary.

Pope John Paul II gave plenary indulgences to the order 1989 for certain special liturgical feast days and the days of our novitiate and investiture, etc.  In 1991 the Militia received an indult from the Holy See to use

the liturgy in place by 1962.  Accordingly, the Militia has a preference for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and prays the Divine Office per the Breviary of Blessed John XXIII.

The Militia Templi consists of both celibate and married knights as well as dames.  As laity, knights take perpetual private vows of obedience to the Rule and the Superiors of our Order, chastity according to our station in life, spiritual poverty, and to defend the Holy Faith.  Under the discipline of the Rule, knights and novices are bound to pray certain parts of the Divine Office, assist Holy Mass frequently, receive the sacrament of penance at least once a month and pray the Holy Rosary daily.  As such, the Militia is a vocation which is the gift of God.  Our hope is to achieve heaven, and holiness and sanctification on earth by a life of work, prayer and self-sacrifice.   We pray and work so that we may live a life of heroic virtue and prefer nothing to the love of Christ.  For me it is my weakness that makes me need to live under such a rule and which allows Christ to be our strength and Mary to be our consolation.

As Knights living in the world we offer ourselves as the victims of the secular battlefield as the priest offers himself as the victim of the Mass. It is the charism of the Order to protect  what remains of Christendom against secularism with its attendant erred philosophies threatening our culture, and to work towards the restoration of Christendom.  The Militia defends and supports the traditional Liturgy and the social dogmas of the Church per the Magisterium.  We have a special focus on the teaching of the Holy Faith and knightly virtue to the young in an age of relativism and practical atheism.

I am a huge fan of MaryVictrix, Standing Fast, AirMaria and the FI.

Thanks, Noah.

Getting Something Done this Lent

On Ash Wednesday our lives round the bend on the road to Jerusalem only to find the hordes of Babylon blocking our way. We are marked with the cross and there can be no avoidance of the fight.  This is the imagery used by the nineteenth century Anglican, Father Congreve, SSJE to describe the “advance of Lent.” I can hardly think of anything more appropriate for our meditation:

Lent awakens spiritual hope in us, just as the sight of the enemy awakes the spirit of an army. They were lagging just now, tired with the march, dispirited; but a sudden signal, one turn in the road, shows them the enemy’s lines stretching right across their way. How the men’s hearts leap up: who is [wearied] now? So Lent awakes the energy of hope by showing us our enemy, the reality of the battle of life, of our conflict with evil. We all know that our fifty or seventy years in this world were given to us for a great achievement–to conquer the world, the flesh, and the devil, to win holiness for eternity; but we easily forget this, and slip out of range. But Lent rallies us, reminds us of the seriousness of our moral life, of the reality of sin, of bad tendencies of our childhood not conquered yet, of the strength of sins of the flesh, of pride and temper, of love of the world, of cowardice in confessing Christ, of sloth and depression, of neglect of prayer and the sacraments.

The Two Standards

Though Congreve was not Catholic, his imagery reflects one of the most important metaphors used by St. Ignatius in The Spiritual Exercises, namely, the two standards.   Christ and Satan are captains of two immense armies that rally around them in the respective regions of Jerusalem and Babylon.  For St. Ignatius, this a fundamental image of the spiritual life: mortal strife, that can have only one of two outcomes, heaven or hell.

The strategy of Satan is as simple as it is deadly.  St. Ignatius tells us that the demons are sent forth by the Prince of Darkness to tempt us with love for the world:  a “longing for riches,” “vain honor” and “vast pride.”  He says that it is this love for the world  by which he opens the door to every other vice.

But the assets laid to bear against Satan by the Lord are more powerful: “highest poverty,”contumely and contempt, and “humility.”  As with the “beatitudes.”  This is an inversion of values, the paradox of the gospel:  life through death, going up by being brought down.

The Hardest Road

How is a man to in the word but not of the world? How is a man to be a soldier, a knight, and a courageous man without the arrogance and pride that are the tools of Satan? How are we to fight Satan without capitulating to his manipulative and dishonorable methods? In a word, how are we to be wise as serpent and simple as doves? (cf. Mt 10:16).

The first step consists in recognizing that the road that Our Lord took is the hardest road.  He remained in the fight to the end and at the same time never sought His own glory and good, but glory of His Father and our salvation.  This is the humility of which St. Ignatius speaks.  Here is Father Hardon’s commentary on the two standards in which he recommends humility, calmness of spirit and the discernment of spirits as the particular means by which we fight under the standard of Christ and overcome the devil.

Our battle is first of all one that must take place within, but for it to be brought to a victory for Christ, it must be extended to the ends of the earth.  It is a fight that we must never concede.

The Abomination of Desolation

Anthony Esolen has written an excellent article, entitled, Where the Battle Was Not Fought, in which he chronicles the woes of the Church in Canada. (Not to pick on Canada, we have our own similar problems in the U.S.) Esolen notes that there is really no place for men, because no one wants to fight, and because virtually no effort has been made to attract men to the faith, let alone to the priesthood.

The spiritual apathy of men, and by which men no longer have a place in the Church—a fight conceded or never fought—leaves us in a desperate situation.  For far two long our leaders have largely derelict of their duty, and we are left with the extremes of effeminacy and bravado.

Battle Scars

The solution consists in the rigors of an examined life that is bold enough to make mistakes and get hurt, and humble enough to reassess and revise in order to get it right.  This has to happen both spiritually and externally.

Recently, Dawn Eden and William Doino wrote a piece for Busted Halo, in which they called into question the adaptation of Saul Alinsky’s radicalized activist philosophy by conservatives being used against the expert liberal practitioners of that philosophy.  In particular, the writers criticized activist James E. O’Keefe for his syncretistic melding of the ideas of Alinsky and that of G.K. Chesterton, and for his practical application of that thinking which included the questionable participation of a young woman who posed as a prostitute in his ACORN exposé videos.  Eden and Doino, underscored the utilitarian ethics at the heart of O’Keefe’s methods, taken right out of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: “in war the end justifies almost any means.” In a subsequent interview Dawn Eden did not fail to mention that the work of Lila Rose, with whom O’Keefe has also collaborated, and who has been given favorable treatment on AirMaria, is not above critical review.

In response, Christian Hartsock, has penned, or should I say, slashed a rather purple piece of vitriol worthy of Keith Olbermann, in which he ostensibly adopts another rule from Alinsky’s playbook: “ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”  A comparison between the Eden/Doino essay and that of Hartsock, is the difference between a consideration of principles in view of success and a disregard of them justified by success.  We can leave everyone free to consider the question, but that the question ought to be considered, seems a difficult thing to reject.  That certainty may be something that Alinsky would ridicule, but it is not something that Chesterton would make fun of. On the contrary, for Chesterton such philosophical considerations belonged to the most practical order:

But there are some people, nevertheless—and I am one of them—who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy.

The Philosophy of Light

For Chesterton, this consideration of his enemy’s philosophy was not merely a tactical necessity, but a metaphysical and moral requirement, as he infers when he considers the philosophy of George Bernard Shaw.  He says that while his intellectual enemy was  genuinely “brilliant” and “honest,” his philosophy was “quite solid, quite coherent, and quite wrong.”  A man’s philosophy has consequences in the practical order, and so the practical thing to do is

. . . revert to the doctrinal methods of the thirteenth century, inspired by the general hope of getting something done.

Activism, or better, Catholic Action, will ultimately be fruitful only if it is an examined energy, like our own moral lives.  It is the hardest road.  It is not the merely the rough and tumble road of unchecked prowess, nor is it comfy road of the false courtesy of human respect.  It is the hardest road of Christian chivalry.  And it is the only way of  really “getting something done.”

This is the road we find ourselves on this Ash Wednesday, and the hellish hosts from Babylon will not part and let us pass unmolested.  The fight is on, but it begins, continues and ends first within our hearts.  Yet, it is always to be fought in the midst of the world that must be conquered for Christ.

The Knight and His Supreme Model

Dawn Eden has written an essay for Headline Bistro about Father Daniel A. Lord, S.J.(1888-1955) and his witness to the value of suffering—a valuable contribution, especially in the light of all the horrific suffering in Haiti.

From Dawn I have learned about a wonderful little book written by Father Lord,  Christ Jesus our King:  A Eucharistic Prayer Book, a kind of handbook for “The Knights and handmaids of the Blessed Sacrament.” This Eucharistic association was founded by Father Edmund Lester, S.J. in 1914  to encourage young men receive communion at least weekly in order to lead a life modeled on Christ according to the highest ideals of chivalry.  In 1917 the association was extended to women.

The little book of Father Lord deserves much attention and will get it here in time.  (I already have an unfulfilled blogging commitment.)  For now I reproduce part of a chapter entitled “Jesus Christ the Perfect Knight”:

Knighthood is not something won on the battelfield and awarded the accolade of the broadsword’s dubbing the armored shoulder.  It is not a matter of gold spurs and splendid trapping.

A knight may wear coveralls and ride an ancient coupe.  Knighthood may be as modern as the evening’s newspaper, as prosaic as a paycheck handed to a wife by her husband, as far from battle as the teller’s window in an uptown bank, as unknown to history or poetry as a single rose placed at the bedside of a new mother.

Every Knight, whatever his age occupation, or costume, has certain easily distinguishable characteristics:

A knight is dedicated to the slaying of the dragon of evil.

A knight is an individualist fighting, not in the serried ranks of a disciplined army, but alone.

A knight hates injustice and battles the unjust, loves innocence and protects human needs.

A knight may be harsh with the strong; he is gentle with the weak.

A knight knows that he is on a level with those who are better armed and with those who need the arms he carries.

A knight’s honor is high; he would rather lose a battle than win it by trickery, dishonesty or lies.

Above all a knight respects and honors women for their virginity, their motherhood, their meaning to the human race, their purpose for life today and in the future.

A knight has high courage that never admits that a cause is lost.

A knight’s ideal is to do all thing well.

Christ the Supreme Knight

Never in His life did Jesus wear armor.

Never did He wield a sword.  He did not break the bruised reed or extinguish the smoking flax.

He spoke the endless call to peace—through he knew that in the end He would bring for His followers, not peace, but the sword.

Yet His whole life conformed to our standards of truest knighthood.

Alone and far in advance of all others, Jesus is the true knight without fear or reproach,  His own knightly practice was the standard for His followers.  He challenged them to be perfect as His heavenly Father was perfect, to match His simple formula, which He lived out—to do the things that pleased His Father.

Guarding Hearts

The Kingdom of God is both an internal and external reality, the walls and ramparts of which need to be watched and guarded.  Internally that kingdom is the heart of man.  Externally it is the Church, the Christian family and, hopefully, an evangelized society.  The protection of that larger external kingdom, however, depends on the transformation of individual hearts.

Holes are torn into the walls of the Church only because the sanctuaries of individual hearts have been breached. Even though the Church is a social, external reality that communicates supernatural life to individual souls, it has no life at all unless it is animated by the interior life of the Savior.  During the itinerary of this life, the paradox remains that we cannot live without the grace of the Church, but the Church will not thrive unless we guard the grace within us.  All of this depends on our connection with the Heart of Christ.

Heart to Heart Talk

We speak of the heart as though it was the whole person.  For example, we personify Our Blessed Lord and His Mother in terms of their Hearts when we say:  “Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!  Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.”  The heart represents the moral and spiritual center, source of unity, and principle of organization and life.  It is, again, an internal reality.  Just as the physical organ is literally at the center of the body, so as a symbol the heart represents all that is central to supernatural life, the interior life of prayer and union with God.  It represents the highest part of man’s spirit that is most completely “transubstantiated” into the Trinitarian Communion by means of his cooperation with grace.

We freely personify the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, because the heart is also symbolic of an enclosed vessel in which all the treasure of life and grace are contained.  The abundance of life, promised to us by the Lord himself, is nothing other than the fullness of His own life (cf. Jn 10:10).  The fullness of grace by which the angel Gabriel names the Blessed Virgin is poured out for us in the mystery of the Incarnation and our own rebirth as children of God (Lk 1:28).  At Fatima, for instance, Our Lady makes grace-filled promise to Lucia: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that leads you to God.”

By means of the Church that Christ established, there is an open path from the fullness of grace in Christ through Mary to the vessel of our own hearts.  For those who have not yet found that grace, or who perchance, have lost it, the task is to make room, by casting out from the heart the refuse deposited there by the world, the flesh and the devil.  This is the necessary prerequisite for receiving the sacraments worthily and fruitfully.  For those have experienced that grace and seen it grown, unworthy though they are, their work is by no means over, for the Kingdom of God, which is the heart of man, is under constant attack.

Heart Attack

Spiritually, the enclosed space of our hearts is not protected by flesh and bone, but by the heavenly host and by the sword of the spirit (cf. Ep. 6:17).  Our Lord warns us:  Fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt. 10:28).  At the Cross, the enemy of hearts mockingly executes the transfixion of the Heart of Christ and the Soul of His Mother, believing falsely that in so doing he violated the very sanctum of the House of God.  But in reality what he did was to open the floodgates of grace.

One of the paradoxes of the Cross is that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary secure the Kingdom of God by suffering and seemingly succumb to the assault of the enemy.  But in reality to suffer is not to be conquered.  For the enemy, death, shall be destroyed last (1 Cor 15:26), and even now in the death of Christ we are brought to life.  The heart of man is protected, then, by incorporation into the mystery of the sacrificial love of Christ and the coredemptive love of the Immaculate.

Custody of the Heart

In The Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard (1858– 1935), we are counseled to practice custody of the heart, that is, to guard our hearts, by means of cultivating purity of intention and the practice of the presence of God.  Religious people often find themselves “swarming like an anthill with venial sins,” or justifying their own tepidity with the righteous outrage about the state of the Church, society and “sinners,” because their deep motives for practicing religion are tainted by so much self-love and self-deception (part 5, section 4).  How often do we need to stop and center ourselves on the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, begging for the strength to stay focused solely on them, to remain in their presence and to shut out every other voice to the contrary.

It is this vigilance of the heart, and only it, that brings about the rebuilding of the larger Kingdom of God.  Dom Chautard makes little of grand schemes and apostolic gimmicks as means of appealing to the masses of modern men. Together with the Church he says that “God is a hidden God, Deus absconditus,” and that deep transformations among men take place by means of the revelation of that hidden supernatural character of holiness through those already so transformed.    “How does this diffusion of the supernatural come about?” asks Dom Chautard:

It is the visible brilliance of sanctity, the shining-forth of that divine influx which theology commonly calls sanctifying grace; or, better still perhaps, we may say it is the result of the unutterable presence of the Divine Persons within those who They sanctify (part 4, section c.).

Radio-contemplative-active

Dom Chautard calls this effulgence of holiness “supernatural radiation.”  By means of its blast wave, the enemies of the heart and of the Church are flung back to hell.  Thus, real and effective vigilance on behalf of Christ’s Church and all the souls entrusted to Her care will always depend on the defenses of our own individual hearts.

Dom Chautard was a contemplative monk, who, at the behest of Holy Mother Church, left his monastery in order to conduct Church’s work of saving souls, but he was always so wary of allowing the ego to supplant the grace of Christ.  May we never fall into that trap.  May we, rather, remain vigilant in the custody of our hearts, which is the only way to place the fortification of grace around the larger, external Kingdom of God.