Saving Manhood

It seems inevitable.  The Boy Scouts are now “rethinking” their ban on members and leaders being openly gay.  How long did we really think that the actual oath of the Scouts with the words “morally straight” would remain unchallenged?

We have all heard the “evolution of thought” argument made, that, for example, public opinion is shifting in favor of same-sex marriage, and that it is only a matter of time before it is mainstreamed.  The same sex lobby has used a very effective strategy of gradualism.

The advocates of same-sex marriage insist at the beginning of legislative sessions that nothing but the full recognition of marriage equality is acceptable, and then when a proposed bill comes up to a vote they accept whatever they can get.  The whole process starts over again year after year until same-sex marriage is legalized.  In this way, they alternate from defending full legal recognition as the only constitutional remedy for discrimination to pretending that they are only looking for basic protections. FInally, if this is not successful, judicial malpractice solves the problem.

Some call this a “slippery slope.”  I call it “erosion.”  “Slippery slope” denotes a present condition that will lead to a future repercussion (bad precedent leads to worse consequences).  “Erosion” denotes an ongoing process in which present and future only differs by the degree of deterioration (the longer the cause is applied the worse the effect). One might say I am splitting hairs, but it is a better explanation as to why we should all know what is coming. Continue reading

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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.

Cardinal and Bishop Support Christopher West

Support for Christopher West from Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop Kevin Rhoades

Cardinal Justin Rigali, as Chairman of the Episcopal Advisory Board for the Theology of the Body Institute and as local ordinary of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia where the Institute is located, and Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Christopher West’s local ordinary in the Diocese of Harrisburg, have stated that they are pleased to express strong support for the important work of the Theology of the Body Institute and, in particular, that of Christopher West.

We are convinced that John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a treasure for the Church, indeed a gift of the Holy Spirit for our time. Yet, its scholarly language needs to be “translated” into more accessible categories if the average person is to benefit from it. To do this is the specific mission of the Theology of the Body Institute, and we believe that Christopher West, the Institute’s popular lecturer and spokesman, has been given a particular charism to carry out this mission. With great skill as a presenter, with keen insight as a thinker, and with profound reverence for the mystery of human sexuality, he has been able to reach thousands in our sexually wounded culture with the Gospel of salvation in Christ.

In light of recent discussions, we are happy to state our full confidence in Christopher, who continues to show great responsibility and openness in listening carefully to various observations and reflections on his work and in taking them into account. He and the Theology of the Body Institute are in communication with us, their local ordinaries. They work with our episcopal blessing. In our view their programs, courses, and materials reflect strong fidelity to the teaching of the Church and to the thought of Pope John Paul II. As such, we consider them of superb value for promoting the New Evangelization.

We sincerely hope that Christopher will continue his much needed work in the Church. He does so with our enthusiastic encouragement. It is also or hope that more and more men and women — priests, deacons, religious and laity alike — will avail themselves of the valuable training and resources offered by the Theology of the Body Institute.

August 10, 2009

Cardinal Justin Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia

Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades
Bishop of Harrisburg

Summer Encampment Opening Ceremony and Conference

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Gloria.tv: Shield Procession“, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Gloria.tv: Choosing To Follow The Truth“, posted with vodpod

First Knights

I here re-post my entry for July 2, 2008 on this the first anniversary of Thom Girard’s passing.  The accident occurred on June 30, but Marc survived into very early in the morning of July 1.  May our good knights rest in peace. I offered Mass for the repose of their souls this morning.

And when the last arrow
Was fitted and was flown,
When the broken shield hung on the breast,
And the hopeless lance was laid in rest,
And the hopeless horn blown,

The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

*******

Thom was one of our finest knights and a first rate example of all I wanted the knights to be: courageous, committed, kind, genuine and loyal.  Mark was his father’s son.

Thom has been the Grand Master of all our encampments, both last year and this year.  He had many years experience as a scout master, but more than that he had really imbibed the Spirit of Lepanto and understood how to communicate it to others.  He really was what I wanted all the knights to be.

Marc was inducted into the Knights at the spring encampment this year, after having been among the squires since we began the Knights several years ago.  When Thom became distressed as he was swimming with his daughter Hanna, Marc, who was swimming with his younger brother Lucas, told his brother to continue to the other side, went to the rescue and saved Hanna’s life and then attempted to save his father also.  Marc died a hero, a true knight.  He was his father’s son.

Please pray for the repose of their souls.  The one consolation I keep returning to is that now we have two knights who, in the words of St. Maximilian, have both hands free.

Thom and  Marc leave behind Carol, wife and mother, Jacqueline, daughter and sister, Adam, son and brother, Lucas, son and brother and little Hanna, daughter and sister.  Please pray for them also.  They are strong, full of faith and hope, but their suffering is hard to imagine.

Thom wrote an elaborate knight’s “ritual” by which we could induct the older boys into the Knights of Lepanto.  We have used it only once, for the induction of Marc back at the Spring Encampment.  I reproduce part of it here.  The words of the “Father” were pronounced by me, but the whole “ritual” was written by Thom.  This was a dialoque between father and son:

The Candidate then kneels before the priest.

Father:  In days gone by, there existed many orders of knighthood which recognized the skill and honor of their members.  In the service of their King, and in the defense of the noble ideals of chivalry, embodied in their Queen, did these orders achieve their exalted ranks. . .You have now been brought face to face with the Order of the Knights of Lepanto and have been adequately impressed with the seriousness of this obligation which you are about to take upon yourself.  As God is our King of Kings and Mary our Queen are you prepared to take the vow of the brotherhood?

Candidate:  In the name of God, I am.

Father:  Guards remove his penance . . .[after the penance is removed]  Will you be loyal to the Catholic Church, the Pope, to the Order of the Knights of Lepanto, and your brother Knights?

Candidate:  In the name of God, I will.

Father:  Good Brother, in our company you must not seek lordship or riches, nor honor, nor bodily ease.  You must seek three things:  to renounce and reject the sins of this world; to do the service of Our Lord and Our Lady; and to be poor and penitent according to your means.  Will you promise to God and Our Lady that henceforth, all the days of your life that you will do these things?

Candidate:  In the name of God, I will.

Father:  That you will live in chastity according to your means in life?

Candidate:  In the name of God, I will.

Father:  That you will uphold the good customs of this house?

Candidate:  In the name of God, I will.

Father:  That you will never leave the Order, neither through strength or weakness, niether in worse time or better?

Candidate:  In the name of God, I will.

Father:  In the name of God, of Our Lady, of St. Francis and St. Maximilian Kolbe and of our father Pope Benedict XVI, from its beginning and until its end, we accord you all the benefits of this house.  We promise you bread and water, hardship, work and the poor robe of this house.  Knight of the Patrocinium, bring forth the Great Sword of our order. . . .

Father: [holding the sword as the cross in front of the candidate] Acknowledge this sword, its brightness stands for faith, its point for hope, and its guard for charity.  Remember well that the sword of Chivalry should be drawn only in defense of God, or of those weaker than yourself. Do you acknowledge the values of this sword?

Candidate:  In the name of God, I do.

Father:  [returning the sword] Let the scroll be read.

Herald:  To all who can hear:  Whereas Marc has dedicated himself to high and noble service to God and the Kingdom of Heaven in war and in peace, we are minded to enroll him into the Knights of Lepanto.  We do hereby elevate and affirm Marc for his unique talents soon to be known throughout the world.  To which we set our hands this 24th day of May, as Christ is our King and Mary our Queen.

Thom gave all the speaking roles to the other knights and to myself during the ritual, but all the words were his, and it was all meant for Marc.

When we performed the induction of Mark, I had only had the time to glance at the ritual very quickly.  I had  complete trust that what Thom had come up with would be appropriate.

But when I read the words out loud to Marc:  “as God is our King of Kings and Mary our Queen are you prepared to take the vow of the brotherhood?” I thought to myself, “I hadn’t planned on anyone taking a vow right now.”  And then when I heard myself saying: “Will you promise to God and Our Lady that henceforth, all the days of your life that you will do these things?”  and Marc said yes both times, I thought, “I will have to revise this for next time.”  In any case, I figured that it was all intended in the right spirit, and expressed the Spirit of Lepanto so perfectly, so I said nothing.

Little did I know that Thom and Mark had providentially entered into the Knightly order together and were to seal their promise in this tragic and yet heroic event.  Thom and Marc used exactly the right words and they meant what they said.

Thom will be buried with the Great Sword of our order.  Similar arrangements are being made for Marc as well.  They promised to be true knights of Our Lady, and,

In the name of God, they were.

The Secret of Knighthood

I am cross-posting the following reflection of Master Paul Xavier from his Catholic Discussion Group blog.

Master Paul has been a Squire for several years now and has been doing battle on his blog with his friends, among whom was the Illustrious Marceg.  Last weekend, Master Paul was inducted into the Knights of Lepanto.  He has graciously consented to allow me to cross-post his extraordinary reflection.  (I have included his formatting and imagery).

chivalry This isn’t going to explore a new branch of Medieval Conspiracy about the Knights Templar, nor is it an exploration of the Code of Courtly Love which predominated European Literature; rather, I am taking this as a step from the obvious and most reconcilable ideas of Knighthood and Chivalry and focusing on something deeper and more profound.  Something which historians and experts have barely scratched the surface of, if indeed even opening up this new idea of what essentially is: The Secret of Knighthood.

The word Chivalry, and the terminology often associated with it derive from the French word Chevalier, which in translated means a mounted knight.  Over time, this word Chevalier became acquainted with the manner and conduct of such mounted knights, who were beckoned by the Church to Defend the Poor, Weak, and Defenseless.

Chivalry was a way of life for the upper class in the Medieval past, guiding men along the lines of propriety and social expectation.  That is, men who were powerful and had the means to defend, were looked at to defend those who were unable to do so themselves.  Hence the entire idea of the Feudal System: A Lord, who through power or ability ruled a certain amount of land, recruited the local populace to work for him and his needs, and in return, would provide military protection of their welfare in time of need.

The idea was quite simple and easy to understand, that those who had the ability to defend the weak and defenseless had the obligation of doing so.

kisshand2

But alas, human nature is corrupt, and twisted from its true origins by means of original sin.  Thus, all that starts off as something good often extends itself to improper and often selfish means.  Chivalry became a means to abuse the norms of proper virtue for the sake of personal glory and vice.  Generosity was rewarded with the praise and lavish decor of this world; courtesy towards women was often engaged into a means of flattery and deception, its main intention being to entice women to illicit affairs; courage and honor in themselves becoming more and more an arrogant pride, the cause of many wars and suffering for the peoples of Christendom.

This being said, we must bring this into question: Is Chivalry Dead?  Did it ever truly exist?

As an idea, Chivalry seems to have always existed, inspiring the young and spirited to strive for a greater cause above their own self and their standing in life.

Essentially, anyone can practice chivalry, or at least attempt to; but as with all things without a proper motivation (in the case of Chivalry, fame, glory, riches, and love were the motivations to do the right things) and guidance of virtue, Chivalry is a sham.

st-louis What is the necessary remedy to save Chivalry from the corruption of our failing human nature?  Is it the practice of good deeds? Championing the rights of the defenseless? Courtesy? All of these things can be abused.  Turned from their right purpose, and eventually, become outer coverings of proper thing done for the wrong reasons.

For a Knight to attain true perfection, he must work against the concupiscence of human nature which desires the praise of the world.  The pride which slowly infects the human soul when it comes to public acknowledgement of his good deeds.  The jealousy of another’s good name.  The answer to Knighthood’s Perfection is simple: Humility.

Humility is the weapon which ever knight should wield when entering into combat with the world.  For Humility allows the virtues and the good deeds which are often associated with the chivalry of knighthood to flourish into a something supernaturally beneficial, allowing a knight to gain what is most important rather than focusing on the fleeting praise and laud of this world.

The finest art of this virtue, Humility, may be found in the most profound and power of prayers.  It’s one prayer which anyone who sincerely prays it with a heart, may say that it truly works:

The Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

The Litany of Humility is one of the most perfect prayers.  Why?  Essentially, rather than the usual practice of praying for what we want, which is often against what God wants for us, we have a list of human failures due to Original Sin, which we pray to God to help vanquish, and/or overcome.

Read the Litany, and tell me, if a Knight truly is able to conquer such things, would he not be the perfect knight?

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

cr_grail_burne_jones_cuHave we not often seen the beauty of Knighthood tarnished by the cause  of  a man seeking to be loved, honored, extolled amongst his peers, consulted for his wisdom; who amid the royal court, fears to be humiliated, fears to be rebuked by his lord and his fellow knights, who fears to be forgotten when the lord deals out favors and graces to his servants.  Sin contaminates the true essence of the perfection of knighthood.  Chivalry is doing the right things, for the right reasons, at the right time.  Alas, we often find it that man is compelled into such noble actions, but namely for his own purposes and advancements.

What is the solution? How does Humility tie in with Perfect Knighthood?  The answer is quite simple, yet so overlooked that we never see it happen.  Chivalry is something spiritual as well as secular, and in order to attain the highest rewards and reap the benefits of both natures of Chivalry, the knight must conquer himself.  Conquer his passions.  Conquer his lower nature which seeks to be consoled, gratified, in the most improper and ridiculous ways.  He must learn to silently bow his head, and not take the glory of this world for the sake of the praise and honor he will receive.  A true Knight serves the master, not the servant.  He knows that God is always watching, rewarding his faithful servants who follow the conduct of Chivalry for more noble purposes.

sirgalahad2 Anyone can do something good for illicit purposes.  But if we are able to silence that part of us screaming out for attention from our fellow men.  Recognizing the important of only have God as our witness.  Then we have attained true knighthood.

The selfless charisma of the Knight of Our Lady.  Like St. Maximilian, and St. Francis of Old.  True knights who did the right things, for the right reasons, regardless of what the world thought of them.  Focusing on the importance of conquering self, and realizing the true nature of knighthood as something beautiful, and meritorious of the greatest graces yet to beheld by human hands.  The idea of Sacrificial Love, like unto Christ, the Perfect Knight who gave his life in defense of the weak, in defense of the sinner, bringing joy to the sorrowful, courtesy towards his oppressors, humility when His people wished to crown Him as the Son Of David, yet most importantly, having courage in championed combat against the great dragon, Satan.

Knighthood is about humility.  Any other rendition of what knighthood and chivalry are is simply an illusion and idea the world has painted in order to satisfy our tastes and curiosities.  I would like to end this post with a quote from last July, during the Funeral of Thom and Marc Girard:

“To Arms, Then, In the Service of Our Queen.”

By Master Paul Xavier, cross-posted from Catholic Discussion.

Spring Encampment 2009 Debriefing

Group1

There were eighty-nine Fathers and Sons at the 2009 Spring encampment this past weekend.  Thanks to everyone for making it happen and making it both spiritually profitable and fun!

Here are the links to a talk I gave to the younger boys and then to one to the older boys, courtesy of AirMaria! (The beginning of the one for the older boys is cut off–sorry.)  And take a look at the Roving Reporter’s coverage of the event.

We inducted Master Paul Ethier into the fellowship of the nights during the weekend as well as Adam Girard.  Significant are the facts that Paul was Marc Girard’s best friend and Adam his brother.  Both were invested in the tunic word by Marc shortly before his heroic passing from this world.  Congratulations to both of them and welcome to our fellowship. (Video of induction ceremony to follow.) VIDEO ADDED.

Concerning Nightwatch:  relish the good news!

Special Thanks to Robert from Corpus Christianum for his kindness in donating the funds for the purchase of five longsword wasters.  He tells us that the men of Corpus Christianum are “fully in support of [our] work in forming young men in Catholic chivalry and fealty to Christ the King and his Holy Mother.”

God bless these men.  I ask the Knights, Squires and Pages to support their holy work as well.

Click on the thumbnails below for a better look.  Comments welcome.

Nightwatch Neutralizes Attackers

Night Watch 2009

By  The Stealth Bomber

GRISWOLD — Recoiling from a first-time defeat during the Fall Encampment of last year, the “Attack Team” adults of the Nightwatch Game were completely shut out by the much less experienced and younger “Defenders,” during the Spring Encampment, this Memorial Day weekend.  “We were defeated by superior group led by a mastermind,” said Mr. Dietz, the leader of the Attackers, who humbly acknowledged the tight spot in which his group now finds itself.

Shortly before the game began at 10:30 pm on Saturday night the Attackers managed to negotiate rule changes they thought would guarantee fairer odds. Instead, what they found was a group of Defenders undaunted by the sudden necessity to adjust strategy. The new “capture the flag” type objective only steeled the Defenders’ resolve to make swift work of the Attackers, which they did.

Now shaken by a two-time loss, the Attackers will be under considerable pressure to regain their prestige next time they take the field during the Summer Encampment.

The following statement has been released by the leader of the Nightwatch Defenders:

“You, men of Lepanto and diverse other lords of households, who have no right to this Watchfires of Sirs Thomas and Marc, be it known that you are here ordered and notified through me, Black Hood, to stay far from the precincts of our Watchfires, and sleep well on your soft air-mattresses; or I will produce a clash of arms to be eternally remembered. And since this is the second time you have failed to succeed in your base and wicked designs, I urge you for your own sakes to resolve upon a life of ease, since you are unsuited to a life of combat; I shall not write anything further.”