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.

Theology of the Tango?

Huh?

I kid you not.  I would have thought it was satire, if I did not know better.  It is an old piece from Crisis Magazine, regurgitated, I guess, to capitalize on the  interest drummed up by West’s reply.  From my point of view it could not come at a better time because it is perfect example of how Team TOB USA has wandered off the track and got lost in the wild.  Too much.

In the new covenant, Jesus elevates marriage to a sacramental sign. Marriage no longer simply represents the natural union of man and woman but makes visible Christ’s total and irrevocable gift of Himself to the Church. Just as He gave Himself away to the Church so that He could be one with her (cf. Ephesians 5:31-32), so husband and wife are called to give themselves away so as to image the oneness of Christ and the Church. This self-gift doesn’t happen in some ultraspiritual realm but in the body. Christ said, “This is my body, given up for you.” So, too, man and woman say to each other, “This is my body, given up for you.”

How could this possibly apply to tango? Danced in all its beauty and artistry, Argentine tango expresses the theology of the body: The man gives himself away to the woman, the woman gives herself away to the man, and suddenly the two are no longer dancing as two but as one. Right before our eyes we see union and communion, two and one, giving and receiving. The man and woman are a visible sign of the self-giving union between Christ and the Church.

Despite the many times I’ve been tempted to throw in the tango towel, this is why I continue: Tango is not just a dance, it’s sacramental. It constantly propels me toward my heavenly calling — union and communion with Christ through a total gift of self.

Every time I re-read it I scratch my head.  I am in that sort of surreal state, where I know this stuff is nothing to be surprised at, but then I wonder if the very sense of commonness is an indication that I must be dreaming, or hallucinating.

But my real reason for posting this is the gem of a comment  from Father George Rutler:

I respond to a request that I comment on the religious significance of the tango dance. First, I have found that the “theology of the body” is widely perceived as an unsystematic melange of theology, philosophy, and frail romantic poetry, which can be problematic even in skilled hands and is commonly invoked by people who are limited in their knowledge of the subject, Secondly, I am relatively ignorant myself of social activities which cause perspiration. With those advisories, I think I may assume that all of us are familiar with the Kaiser’s condemnation of the tango in 1913, for fear of its effects on his Crown Princess. More pertinent to the theological aspect, is Pope St. Pius X’s informal condemnation of the tango after he had watched an exhibition performance at the request of Cardinal Merry del Val who thought the Pontiff might approve a sober version of it as choreographed by the Roman dance master Professor Pichetti. The Pope did not at all approve and recommended instead the “Furlana,” an Italian folk dance which goes back to the early seventeenth century in Friuli Venezia Giulia and with which he had been familiar in his youth.

Good thing I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that.  That second sentence is about the best and most concise summary of the situation I have read.

Capuche tip to Terry.

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.

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.”