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Updating the code of chivalry: You will be generous to all


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Arthur Herlin - Fr. Guillaume Soury-Lavergne - published on 10/20/21

An ancient code from the 12th century may offer a useful guide for the modern age.

What does a modern-day knight look like? To answer this thorny question, Aleteia has revived an ancient code of chivalry from the 12th century. These rules dictated the conduct of knights who wished to cultivate holy virtues and awaken the noblest feelings in themselves.

At first glance, such a code may seem outdated or inappropriate for the modern age. But is it really? Aleteia has asked priests to revisit and update for us the precepts of this code—something from which our modern society could gain great inspiration. Together let’s foster a new spirit of chivalry! 

This week, Fr. Guillaume Soury-Lavergne shares his meditation on this precept: Thou shalt be generous and give liberally to all.

Those who wish to be like modern knights should have nothing less than holiness as their ideal. Such knights remember with humor—and clarity—that a fish that follows the current of the river is a dead fish!

They are well aware that one of the outstanding features of our generation is that of worldliness, a deadly attitude that leads to conforming to the majority without daring to witness to Christ and his Gospel, to acting like a chameleon in society and wallowing complacently in the murky waters of superficiality.

Big-hearted and truly chivalrous people cannot tolerate anything in their life that does not make them a “great soul.” In the face of political pirouettes, opportunism on all sides, and calculations that are daily displayed in the media to the point of nausea, they have only their generous and helpful hearts to offer in order to change the world and reverse the course of history. Strengthened by their baptism, they know, in the words of Bernanos, that “in the affairs of God, the supreme resource is the sacrifice of consecrated souls.”

To put an end to the sterile ideological spiral of those who think that talking is the same thing as taking concrete action, modern knights take pride in truly giving their life to others. They aren’t good and generous “in spirit”: they exercise these virtues simply and concretely, with whatever resources they may have, great or small. For them, offering their life isn’t a matter of a theoretical plan, but the very substance of their daily existence. They offer their life by helping others with their own means, by “wasting time” for God in prayer; they offer their life for their spouse, the one person they have chosen among all.

Following Jesus, they want to love their spouse “to the end,” knowing well that “there is more joy in giving than in receiving.” Their prayer could be summarized by this one, attributed to St. Ignatius:

Lord Jesus,

Teach us to be generous,

To serve You as You deserve

To give without counting the cost,

To fight without fearing wounds,

To work without seeking rest,

To spend ourselves, without expecting any other reward,

but to know that we are doing Your Holy Will.

In their expression of the most liberal generosity, they follow the example of the saints, who acted much more than they spoke. St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face summarized her own existence, and theirs, in these words: “To love is to give everything and to give oneself.”

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