I have been reflecting lately on the notion of Dom Chautard concerning that aspect of the interior life that is Englished in his book “custody of the heart.” Perhaps a more militant way of translating this notion in modern English would be “guarding the heart.”
It is the duty of a knight to guard and protect, and we often associate this role with his perennial preoccupation with the Damsel in Distress. Elsewhere I have noted that the Blessed Virgin is the personification of the Damsel in Distress–not so much because She is helpless, which She is not, nor is that an essential quality of any such damsel, but because She personifies everything true, good and beautiful. She does this precisely at the foot of the cross as the personification of the Bride of Christ and as Mother and exemplar of the Church. Ultimately the Christian Knight must be at Her service.
But the curious fact is that the knight, while an image of Christ, the Bridegroom and Savior, is first of all a sinner and one who must identify with the needy Bride as much as any woman should. This is not to say that the knight must become a woman spiritually, but that his masculinity need not be threatened by whole-hearted honesty about his dependence on God.
In fact, nothing could be more important. In order to stand fast in the breach that has been blasted in the wall of the City of God, Our Lady’s knight must first repair the breach in his own heart. How can a knight defend the City of God, how can he fight for the honor of the Immaculate Heart and guard it from the dishonor of the heathens, if he has not first mastered the art of guarding his own heart? In fact, there is nothing more urgent than the attention we pay to our own vulnerabilities.
To this end, I would like to associate the notion of Dom Chautard with that of St. Paul concerning the Armor of God.