Like all those who encountered Our Lord and from whom He asked a personal commitment of their faith, the Knight has also encountered Our Lord, most notably in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist; he has bowed down before Him; he has adored Him, like Zacchaeus, like the man who was blind from birth, like the paralytic, and, like Peter, he has attested: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
The Knight believes in Our Lord Jesus Christ, Word of God, Who revealed His Father and His Charity toward sinful men, as well as the Mission that He entrusted to His Son and to the Holy Ghost. He believes that all these truths were handed down by the Apostles, that is to say, by the Church. With the Church, he believes that Public Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle and that, as a consequence, the subject matter of his Faith is that doctrine which has been passed down from generation to generation by the successors of the Apostles, that is to say, by Tradition. Imitating Saint Paul, all the Fathers of the Church, all the saints, and the whole Church, the Knight has a duty to safeguard this sacred deposit of the Faith. Therefore, he flees novelty and all that might look like an evolution of the Faith. His Creed is immutable.
Consequently, due to the nature of the Faith, the Knight hates infidelity, as well as heresy, schism, and all that interferes with safeguarding the sacred deposit of the Faith. He is ready to do all in his power to prevent heretics from harming the faithful or turning him away from his Faith. He tolerates heretics only insofar as intolerance of them would be a source of greater evils. However, he does not forget that there is nothing more precious than the gift of the Catholic Faith, without which one cannot be saved. It is also in this sense that the Knight believes that he has a God-given mission to protect the poor and the weak from any errors threatening their Catholic Faith. His own lively and militant Faith, the result of ceaseless combat, makes him suspicious of the enemies of that Faith. After the example of Saint Paul, he does not put his trust in conferences, discussions or dialogue, which scandalize the humble and always favor error. In fact, the only type of contact he has with the enemies of the Faith is one imbued with a zeal for their conversion to the Catholic Faith. On this point of doctrine, he adheres faithfully to the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, expressed with luminous clarity by Pope Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Satis Cognitum (Pontifical Teachings, Solemnes. The Church, I. no. 53 & sq.).
His zeal for the integrity of the Catholic Faith causes the Knight to be suspicious, and he takes great care to avoid any opinion or current thinking that would attempt a forced alliance of the Catholic Faith with the errors of heretics or freemasons. Liberalism has attempted, and continues its attempt, to show that the ideology of the 18th century philosophers, that of the French Revolution, and that of all subsequent errors, is not incompatible with the Catholic Faith.
In this connection, and resting upon the most solemn and irrefutable Church teachings, such as that of Gregory XVI in his Encyclical Mirari Vos, Pius IX in his Encyclical Quanta Cura and the Syllabus, Leo XIII condemning the “novel conception of law” in his Encyclical Immortale Dei, Saint Pius X condemning Sillonism and Modernism, Benedict XV, Pius XI in his Encyclical Ubi Arcano, Pius XII in his Encyclical Humani Generis, the Knight is ready to fight, using all the means at his disposal, to dispel these errors, which destroy the family and civil society, ruin the Church, and lead to the most atrocious wars.
In order to sustain his Faith and its integrity, he would do well to study Church Tradition and the unremitting battles fought by the Church to protect the Catholic Faith. In order to fortify his Faith in the midst of any trials it might have to undergo these days, he should read the Fathers and Councils of the Church.
He is deeply attached to what has become, over the course of history, a witness to the Catholic Faith: churches, monasteries, pilgrimages, wayside crosses. He is happy to know about them, to make them known to others, and to safeguard them. Conscious that he would thus be promoting the reign of his King, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Queen of Heaven, the most gracious Virgin Mary, he should encourage pilgrimages, and even bring them into being himself and lead them, if necessary.
Just because Faith is one of the virtues that best characterizes the Knight, it does not mean that he should not develop the virtues of Hope and Charity. Moreover, they are so interconnected, that zealously seeking to practice the virtue of Faith produces an immediate increase in Hope and Charity.
This virtue is also particularly well suited to the Knight in combat, certain of the final victory, but who is not surprised by numerous apparent failures that may occur during his struggle. “In te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum.”—“O Lord, in Thee have I hoped: let me not be confounded forever.”
The Knight knows that Charity is queen of the virtues, but he does not forget that this virtue is very demanding and does not merely consist in some vague sentimentality, but in a more or less sensible affection vis-à-vis God or one’s neighbor. “If ye love me,” says Our Lord, “keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). That is why, in order not to be deceived by false Charity, the Knight fully expects to prove his Charity by deeds, that is to say, by practicing the virtue of Justice, which also characterizes Charity, as does Faith.
“Justus ex fide vivit.” The just man liveth by Faith. The virtue of Justice has its source in the Faith. Now the virtue of Justice is the practical application of Charity towards God and towards our neighbor.
“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill” (Mt. 5:6).
Justice is Order, assigning every person and thing to its true and rightful place, according to God’s Will. The Knight hungers and thirsts for Order. He instinctively detests disorder. Now, it was by sin, which is disorder itself, that disorder entered Man, society and the world.
That is why the Knight closely follows the advice of Our Lord and is always ready to fight sin and the occasions of sin, both in himself and in his environment. He rises up in opposition to impiety, which is contempt for God and for His Holy Religion; like Saint Michael, he exclaims: “Quis ut Deus!” Who is like unto God! He works to restore authority in society, in the family, in schools, and in social institutions. He is ever ready to fight against the scandals caused by public immorality. However, he never forgets that the most effective weapon of combat is the Holy Cross and the Holy Passion of Our Lord. That is why he is especially devoted to the Cross, which he venerates with respect, and to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Its continuation.
Uniting his life to that of Christ crucified is an honor, a grace, a glory for him. That is why he accepts suffering as a sign of Our Lord’s predilection.
After this brief outline of the depth and the importance of the virtue of Justice, we will take a look at the fields of activity in which it is practiced and how the Knight strives to be faithful to it, so as to merit the most beautiful praise of all, and only given to holy souls, like that of Saint Joseph. “Joseph erat vir justus.”—“Joseph was a just man.” Does Saint Peter not attribute this title to Our Lord Himself, when he says: “Sanctum et Justum negastis.”—“But you denied the Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14).
The Knight is devout, in the ancient and original meaning of the word. He recognizes that the first duty in Justice for every spiritual creature is to adore God, to love Him, and to serve Him faithfully. The godless man lives in the most profound injustice, in the most extreme disorder. Order demands that God, the Creator and Redeemer of the human race, be honored, praised and adored.
That is why the Knight will dedicate the better part of his life to the service of his God and King, Our Lord Jesus Christ. He will honor Him publicly and in the solitary depths of his soul. It will be a great joy for him to act as honor guard for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, thereby making reparation for the outrages and the indifference to which He is subjected. He will take care to set aside moments for prayer, to attend Holy Mass and to receive Holy Communion, daily, if possible. Kneeling to receive Holy Communion, he will recollect this passage of Holy Writ: “In nomine Jesu omne genu flectatur, coelestium, terrestrium et infernorum.”—“That in the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10). He will regularly approach the sacrament of Penance, in which he will find the consoling graces needed for his spiritual combat.
He will especially love all the ceremonies and prayers in honor of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary, toward whom he should have a profound and tender devotion. He will see her as his Sovereign and will strive to extend her Reign everywhere. He will regard the Rosary as a most effective weapon against heretics and against Satan.
He will be mindful to make his home a place characterized by its reverence for God, by decorating the walls with crucifixes and pictures that elevate the soul to God.
The Church, being essentially of a priestly nature, which is to say, made for the continuation of the Sacrifice of Our Lord, the Knight should have the most profound respect for the Supreme Pontiff, for bishops and for priests, because of their priestly character, being the selfsame character as that of The Priest par excellence, Our Lord Jesus Christ. He will refrain from showing this kind of respect to Protestant pastors, even if they call themselves bishops, whereas they possess no priestly character whatsoever.
He will refresh his soul in the company of contemplative religious, who have kept all the nobility and grandeur of Divine Worship. If it is at all possible, he should pursue the study of the Latin language and of Gregorian chant, which remain the best means of conveying our enlightened and prayerful Faith.
The Knight will rejoice at being able to pray with his brethren-at-arms, thereby uniting his Faith, his piety and his devotion to theirs. It is in this common prayer that the brethren will find the source of fraternal unity around their Grand Master, and from which they will draw the graces essential to co-ordinated and disciplined action.
Piety is the gift of the Holy Ghost that crowns the virtue of Justice.
Unquestionably, this gift is practiced in the most excellent way through the virtue of Religion, of which we have just spoken, but it also extends to our behaviour in the various kinds of societies to which we belong: family, homeland, Church, and any other association.
In particular, Piety is practiced with respect to all authority and paternity. Filial piety is what makes possible the kind of respect that only a deep Faith in God can give to relations of authority and obedience.
Indeed, contrary to liberal ideology, which names the people as the source of authority, reason and Faith teach us that all authority comes from God, “Omnis potestas a Deo,” even in cases where someone in authority is appointed by members of society. No human being has the innate power to command another human being. All authority is a participation in the authority of God. This basic concept is essential to the good ordering of society, because it is a reminder to the man holding a position of authority that this power does not belong to him, and that he will have to render an account of it to God. It is an invitation to practice humility and discretion. On the other hand, it makes obedience easier, since obedience, when understood in this way, is made to God and for the sake of God. It leads to respect for the person vested with this authority. Now, respect is the flower of Charity. It brings about truly Christian relations, raising them to the level of heavenly relations, because the reason for, and the gift of, filial piety come from God.
Therefore, the Knight should have a sense of respect, fruit of the gift of Piety, and will endeavor to restore this all-important concept in his family, in all social relations, and wherever else he can. Nothing has been, nor continues to be, more corruptive of societies than the false notion that authority resides in the masses. For the past two centuries, this has led societies into anarchy and tyranny.
Thus it is that the virtue of Justice would restore Order in all things: order in one’s relationship with God, through devotion; order in one’s relations with those in authority, through filial piety; order with respect to one’s neighbor, by means of great Charity, expressed above all by mercy.
Like Saint Martin, the good-hearted Knight cannot remain indifferent to misery. However, he should be particularly sensitive to moral decay, to those who are enslaved by sin. Solicitous of the conditions responsible for this slavery to sin, he will strive, with his brethren-at-arms, to remedy the situation. This means that any effort to improve legislation, the constitution, and occasionally the government, could greatly benefit the salvation of souls.
This should not exempt the Knight from making a personal effort to free souls from their slavery to the devil. This slavery extends even to the most cultured and wealthy people. By all the means at his disposal, the Knight must always be ready to drive out the enemy. Careful to act with prudence and according to the gift of Counsel, he must also be confident and courageous. His mercy should also be extended to the humble in particular, to the weak and to the forsaken. He will generously fight against all the evils that afflict men, not only those who are near and dear, but also strangers.
He should be ready to defend Catholics everywhere, oppressed and persecuted by the enemies of God and of His Church.
Meanwhile, during all these manifestations of generosity, he must not forget, first and foremost, to faithfully carry out his duty of state, which constitutes the Will of God for him. Specifically, he will take care to faithfully fulfill his duties as a husband and father. In particular, he will see to the proper education and Christian instruction of his children. This is a particularly difficult job today, given the current scandals in our midst. He will be militantly in favor of truly Catholic schools, devoid of the influence and the spirit of liberalism, which is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel.
Lastly, because he practices the virtue of Justice and is strengthened by the virtue of Fortitude, the Knight is magnanimous. He is fully aware of the dignity of his soul, baptized in the Blood of Jesus Christ, while he tries hard to imitate the nobility of soul of his Lord and Master, Who was magnanimous in all the circumstances of his Life, and particularly during the course of His Sacred Passion. Jesus was never vulgar or faint-hearted, even in the midst of the crowds that surrounded Him. Therefore, amidst the vicissitudes of daily life, the Knight must likewise keep his soul serene and brave. His conversation should always be worthy, out of respect for his soul and his entire person, bearing in mind that it is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and that his guardian angel is also present.
Regardless of how strongly he may have his heart set upon the virtues of Faith and Justice, he should not neglect the virtues of Prudence, Fortitude and Temperance.
Those holding positions of responsibility must make a special effort to cultivate the virtue of Prudence and the gift of Counsel. They should remind themselves that the three prudential acts of counsel, judgment and execution are necessary in order to act responsibly. Relying on one’s own experience, on the wisdom of other people considered prudent, reaching a decision without undue delay, and finally proceeding to the implementation of that decision, regardless of the difficulties encountered, is proper to the exercise of authority. It is one thing to consult other competent people, but quite another to wish to associate all of one’s subordinates with the exercise of power, as though this authority also belonged to them. It would be like agreeing with the liberals who say that authority lies with the people.
The virtue of Fortitude is particularly prized by the Knight, since the incessant combat which he has undertaken against the forces of evil demand of him the two attributes fundamental to this virtue: patience, which sustains him in difficulties, including failures, and courage, which permits him to undertake hardy exploits, without being presumptuous, but placing all his confidence in He Who confers victory.
Temperance, which regulates the use of worldly goods, helps the Knight to find in their proper use and in all circumstances, that measure suitable to the Christian, to his duty of state and to his responsibilities. However, he cannot forget that the disorder resulting from Original Sin is revealed especially in concupiscence, which is why he must take care not to enslave himself to worldly goods and not allow himself to be dominated by the “prudentia carnis,” but rather by the “prudentia spiritus” (Rom. 8).
Thus vested with the seven Virtues and the seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost as with an invincible armor, the Knight does not fear combat with the powers of darkness, nor with the agents of Satan in this world.
Drawing his spiritual vitality from the founts of Penance, of prayer, of the Holy Eucharist, of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to Saint Michael, and seeking true wisdom within a deep Faith, enlightened by the entire history of the Church, he remains vigilant and strong in his attachment to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to His One Holy Church.
Thus, he will discover that his membership in the Order of Knighthood, his dubbing and his personal commitment all strongly support his spiritual life. He will find therein the courage to fulfill his duties and live his entire life as a true comrade-in-arms of Our Lord, of She who is as powerful as an army in full battle array and of Saint Michael the Archangel, Prince of the Heavenly Host.
He will have thus become heir to all the martyrs, to all the saints, whose noble lineage he endeavors to continue, refusing to join those who, under any senseless pretext, betray the cause of the Church and deliver her into the hands of her enemies.
Consequently, in his last hour here below, he will be able to say with Saint Paul: “Cursum consummavi, Fidem servavi, in reliquo reposita est mihi corona justitiae quam reddit mihi Dominus in die illo justus judex.”—“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day” (II Tim 4:7 & sq.).
Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord
✠ Marcel Lefebvre
Titular Archbishop of Synnada in Phrygia