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Updating the code of chivalry (through the lens of Star Wars)

Star Wars

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Arthur Herlin - Fr. Bertrand Monnier - published on 10/30/21

Thou shalt not shrink from the enemy.

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 At first glance, such a code may seem outdated or inappropriate for the modern age.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. Bertrand Monnier, a parish priest in the diocese of Verdun, France, will teach our aspiring knight how to face the enemy. It’s hard to guess from the traditional-style celebration of his services that Fr. Monnier, born in 1979, is a fan of metal music as well as fantasy and medieval worlds. It’s therefore quite natural that he chose to describe this new code of chivalry using Star Wars and Harry Potter references to better illustrate his point.

Thou shalt not shrink from the enemy

My young apprentice,

Today I will tell you about the enemy of every knight: the dark side of the Force. You know that Jedi Knights fight the dark side with courage and bravery. They’re even willing to die in battle. This is a beautiful and noble thing, and it makes this world grow. I do not doubt your courage and bravery, nor your generosity. I know how motivated you are to participate in this great adventure that is the construction of the Kingdom of Heaven.

However, you should know that the dark side of the Force knows how to play with us and use this motivation to our detriment. Thus, in the name of our courage and bravery as knights, we sometimes fall into the traps it sets for us. So, in order to better avoid the traps, I invite you today to ask yourself this question: Who is my enemy?

The answer will seem harsh, but every Jedi Knight must repeat it often: I am my own worst enemy. Remember the initiation of Luke Skywalker by Master Yoda, when he enters his inner cave to fight his enemy Darth Vader: he triumphs over him, but the mask falls off and he realizes that the face of his enemy is none other than his own. A knight’s first enemy is himself. Do not forget that it’s impossible to change others, but that one can only change oneself. The temptation to succumb to the dark side of the Force is great. It’s easier, faster, and more advantageous in many ways… especially material. But you risk losing your soul. Everyone thinks giving in to the dark side means becoming a dark Sith lord, a fighter for the dark side. But there are many more ways to succumb.

For example, here’s another temptation for a knight: to become a Muggle. The Muggle in all of us is certainly our worst enemy. He’s there, slumped in front of his computer, and he knows nothing else but to consume, to complain about things that don’t depend on him, and to make choices oriented only towards what is easy and fast, towards his own comfort and his safety. He refuses any kind of adventure and never thinks about the things that actually do depend on him. He behaves as a perfect cog in an economic machine. This is the dark temptation that inhabits every knight: to gradually fall into an easy and comfortable life, driven by ignorance and fear, consumerism and laziness.

This, my dear Padawan, is where your enemy lies. Hidden deep inside you, he whispers words that seem to be wise and prudent, but that make you slowly slide towards softness of mind. This contemporary world will turn you into a marshmallow if you don’t watch out—and you know perfectly well that it is impossible to build anything out of marshmallows. So now I’m going to give you some exercises to fight the Muggle enemy inside you, following that vital precept of knights: pray before you think, think before you act. For you know that a knight’s first weapon is not in his hand, but in his mind.

Thus, you can meditate on Psalm 32, verse 16-17, to begin with:

A king is not saved by his great army;

a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.

The war horse is a vain hope for victory,

and by its great might it cannot save.

Once everything is in the hands of the Lord, everything finds its place. Then you can start to think about what depends on you. At home, at work, or at school, in activities and hobbies: What depends on you? Where can you take action?

Fighting the Muggle in you is both simple to understand and very difficult to implement. The secret is in applying yourself. Whatever you do, whether it’s washing the dishes, finishing a report or a homework assignment, taking time to pray or participate in a sport, or helping your mother with the groceries: apply yourself! For this is the best remedy for lukewarmness—and you know how God vomits out the lukewarm (Rev 3:16). Never settle for doing anything sloppily, but do not judge those who do so. Your cowardice will be measured by the things you fail to carry through. A knight does not shrink from the enemy: so do not shrink from the need to be diligent.

There it is, my young apprentice. In your prayers, ask the Lord to help you to act with diligence wherever he sends you in daily life.

Thank you also for entrusting to God and to the Virgin Mary your Jedi masters, the priests, so that we too may help you to walk the path of the Force.

May the Force of the Holy Spirit be with you always!

Read more from Aleteia’s series on modern chivalry:

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