Knighthood - Then and Now
is a concept that was born in the age of the crusades. Long before that,
beginning with Saint Augustine (354-430), and later continued by Saint
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and even by Martin Luther (1483-1546), the
question of the relationship between Christianity and warfare has been
relevant, and it continues to be.
During the crusades this question took a unique shape. Moved by the desire to
walk in their Lord's footsteps, Christians had been making pilgrimages to the
Holy Land for centuries, when in 1099 Jerusalem was taken by Muslim forces.
There was not enough manpower for the defence of the Christian-held lands
and to patrol the pilgrim routes, nor to escort new arrivals from the ports. Many
pilgrims lost their lives in the attempt to reach Jerusalem. As a remedy, a group
of French knights, led by Hugues de Payens, formed a religious community
that was given quarters at the site of the former Jewish Temple, and was thus
called the Order of the Temple or the Knights Templar.
of Christian chivalry had in common, was this unique dual role. They were both
men of prayer and men of action, and this translates into our times.
We live in times which are very difficult, and we fight battles that, humanly
speaking, are almost impossible to win, like e.g. the fight against abortion or
the re-defining of marriage. In the face of these issues, we cannot back down
and be quiet. We need to stand up and speak up. Saint Paul calls us to speak
the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). This increasingly requires courage which is
so often lacking today. Where can we find this courage? In Philippians 4:13,
Saint Paul says: "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."
In order to be strengthened by Christ, we need to have a contemplative life. We
need to be like a monk, in a sense, and yet, that has to be translated into a
militant spirit by which we are willing to stand up, and to speak the truth in love.
We are called to do what is right, even when faced with great adversities.
The struggles of our time may appear as new,
but Christians have always found themselves
in the midst of spiritual battles. Whenever the
truth, as it has been revealed to us in the Word
of God, has been under attack, we are dealing
with a battle of a spiritual nature. Saint Paul
informs us about this battle in Ephesians 6:
"For our struggle is not against enemies of
blood and flesh, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the cosmic
powers of this present darkness, against the
spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
All it takes for evil to win, is for good men to
do nothing (Edmund Burke). We cannot afford
that. We need to get into the thick of it and
remain there, knowing that our Lord is with
us always, until the end of the age (Matthew
Knightly virtues like honor, courage, and commitment are very much needed
today, as in any age. Just like the Teutonic Knights of old, we have to be men
(and today also women) of faith and of action. We find this mindset beautifully
expressed in the poem "The Fellowship of the Unashamed" by Patrick Madrid:
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) took great
interest in this new order and wrote the much-read
treatise In Praise of the New Knighthood. Saint
Bernard writes about two kinds of swords: Knights
have always used the physical sword to fight battles,
and monks have always used the spiritual sword to
fight spiritual battles, but in a revolutionary way, in
the Knights Templar the world has for the first time
seen the combination of both. They were at the
same time monks and soldiers and thus were best
equipped to fight battles of both kinds. In that, the
Knights Templar have become the model for many
other orders that followed their example. Knights
from the German lands formed the Teutonic Order
and initially lived by the Templar rule. What all orders
I am part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed. The die has been cast.
The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won't look
back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is in
God's hands. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking,
small planning, the bare minimum, smooth knees,
colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, frivolous living,
selfish giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions,
applause, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, the best,
recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith. I lean
on Christ's presence. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with
the power of God's Grace.
My face is set. My gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my
way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, and my
mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back,
deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in
the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at
the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up, or slow up until I have stayed up, stored
up, prayed up, paid up, and spoken up for the cause of Christ.
I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till he comes, give until I drop, speak
out until all know, and work until he stops me.
And when he returns for his own, he will have no difficulty recognizing
me. My banner is clear: I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.
|Grand Priory of the
United States of America
|The Sovereign Military and
Hospitaller Order of
Saint Mary of Jerusalem
Teutonic Dynastic of Swabia
|The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Mary
of Jerusalem Teutonic Dynastic of Swabia
Grand Priory of the United States of America
|" Pray for our
Grand Master and
all the regional
govern our lands
and people, and for
all the brothers who
exercise office in
our Order, that
they act in their
office of the Order
in such a way as not
to depart from
From the Statutes of
the Teutonic Order