In the previous article entitled: “Men of Honor: Masculinity and Faith“, we discussed the absence of men from moral and spiritual leadership in their families and in the Church. This, we said, was due to the denial of any real differences between men and women, and the misunderstanding of the rightful primacy given to the contemplative life. Women are natural contemplatives, and tend to dominate in environments given over to the personal and humane aspects of life. Men have much to learn from women, but in a particular way their prayer needs to be translated into action; that is, into chivalrous and fatherly defense of the common good. Men cannot merely imitate women. They need to stoke the fire in their hearts (prayer) in order to enkindle a fire in their bellies (action).
We have also acknowledged the existence of many new movements committed to re-establishing masculine commitment to faith and family. Chivalry often figures prominently into these programs. For example, the Franciscans of the Immaculate in the United States are developing, in the tradition of Chivalry, a Mission of the Immaculate Mediatrix (MIM) group for men called the Knights of Lepanto. The MIM is a spiritual movement of unlimited consecration to the Immaculate, created by our founders Father Stefano Marian Manelli and Father Gabriele Maria Pellettieri, and is based upon the spirituality of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe.
St. Maximilian’s consecration to Mary is a kind of Chivalry in and of itself, a militant and apostolic commitment to the common good, fulfilled in and through Our Lady. In fact, the movement St. Maximilian founded in his own day is called Militia Immaculatae, or Knights of the Immaculate. In his solemn act of consecration to Mary we read: “Make use of me, if such be Thy will, entirely without reserve to bring about that which was said of Thee. She will crush thy head, and again, Thou alone hast destroyed all the heresies in the whole world.” The words: She will crush thy head are from the fifteenth verse of Genesis, Chapter 3, “the First Gospel”, as theologians call it, where the promise of a Redeemer is first made after the fall of Adam and Eve. There we learn that Our Lady is predestined to participate with Her Son, in a unique way, in the defeat of the serpent-our spiritual enemy. The phrase: Thou alone hast destroyed all the heresies in the whole world, is an antiphon from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and expresses the faith of the Church in the universal mediation of Mary, the efficacy of which has preserved the faith repeatedly, throughout the ages. St. Maximilian referred to those consecrated to Mary as the “heel” of the Immaculate, lifted and ready to crush the head of the serpent in the souls of men. Consecration to Mary acknowledges that we are at war, and constitutes a knightly oath of service to our Queen.
In the Knights of Lepanto we distill this Marian Militant spirit into a pure form, in order to reinvigorate masculine spirituality. But not only is the Marian consecration of St. Maximilian a kind of Chivalry, what we might call “Marian Chivalry,” Chivalry itself is, in fact, Marian. In other words, true Chivalry begins with love for Mary, because our faith begins with Christ’s love for Mary. Mary is the Church personified for whom Christ lays down His life.