Sunday, September 05, 2010

De Laude Novae Militae--Revisted


by James Pawlak

7 January 2004
1st Revision: 2 August 2004
2nd Revision: 28 November 2005

Benedictus dominus deus meus qui docet manus meas ad proelium.

“IN PRAISE OF THE NEW KNIGHTHOOD”--INTRODUCTION:: This work was written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux one of the few declared “Doctors of the Church” in the year of our Lord, 1129 and was addressed to the first Master General of the Military Order of Templars. Although almost 1,000-years old, this document can still speak to us at a time when the Churches and Peoples of God are under external and internal attack by those who would destroy them and leave only a desolation of moral and intellectual emptiness as is the apparent goal of the Evil One.

THE AUTHOR AND HIS AUTHORITY: Saint Bernard was born in 1070 and died in August, 1153. As a “Doctor of the Church” his writings have great weight in the definitions of what is the correct view of the Church and its teachings. It applies to all Christians in all subsequent times, especially those under attack by the followers of that false pseudo-prophet Mohamed.

DE LAUDE NOVAE MILITAE-THEN: This work addressed the spiritual direction of what was then a new order of knights, the Templars, who were pristine in their commitment to the Church and their willingness to physically protect it in the Holy Land. If that Order became corrupt at a later date (The downfall of the Templars may have been caused by the greed of a French king and jealousy within the Church), that does not detract from the teachings of St. Bernard and the value of such knighthood in 1129AD; And for all who are, formally or informally, knights who protect us from evil, even to this time..

This direction was specially needed after the misbehavior of some crusaders in both Constantinople and in the Holy Land.

DE LAUDE NOVAE MILITAE—NOW AND IN THE FUTURE: At the very least and at this time the Church is being attacked by external enemies, generally “muslims”, in the Sudan, the Philippines and in other places. Many of those who support the teachings of the Koran and the Hadith are attacking (Directly or by giving active support to those who do) all civilization every where, even in “islamic” nations. This is not a new conflict as those who follow the teachings of that false and pernicious prophet Mohamed have, for more than 1400-years, have continued their adherence to the Koran's commands for aggressive war (Jihad) against all others and, thereby, work the evil of retail murder, genocide, rape, pillage, the destruction of cultures and the social, political, legal and economic subjugation of those not “muslims” and of all women.
It seems reasonable that we need a new military order of knights who will have that same commitment as did the early Templars and will follow the teachings of St. Bernard as to the proper way in which to be knights and to “fight the good fight”. Why?
Because, with the exception of too few in the USA and even fewer in other places, no one in this world is willing to declare the truth about the danger of “islam” (Perhaps motivated to silence by Arab controlled oil or pathological pacifism or “political correctness” or (Like France} a large and aggressive “muslim” community or a hate of the Churches' moral teachings (Which teachings confront their self-centered, fragile and meaningless senses-of-self-worth).

Therefore, we now require some organized force or agreeable class of unorganized persons who will defend the Churches of God and civilization from such attacks as now exist and have existed for almost 1500-years.

What then did Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church, write about the proper way of being a Christian knight?

SAINT BERNARD'S STATEMENTS: I have reviewed the translation of De Laude Novae Militae available to me, edited out those parts which were specific to only the time in which they were wrote, made slightly free with the translation (To suit modern usage) and am left with the following, given as if there were such a new military order in this time and already at work in this world, especially the Middle East.

“It seems that a New Knighthood has recently appeared on the earth, precisely in that part of it, the Orient (nb The Middle East), in which He visited
from on high in the flesh. As He then troubled the princes of darkness in the
strength of His Mighty Hand,so there he now wipes out their followers, the
children of disbelief, scattering them by the hands of His mighty ones. ... This
is, I say, a new kind of knighthood and one unknown to the ages gone by. It
ceaselessly wages a twofold war both against flesh and blood and against a
spiritual army of evil ....

Go forth confidently then, you knights, and repel the foes of the cross of
Christ with a stalwart heart. Know that neither death nor life can separate you from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ; And in every peril repeat, “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.” What a glory to return from in victory from such a battle! How blessed to die there as a martyr! Rejoice, brave athlete! If you live and conquer in the Lord; But, glory
and exult even more if you die and join your Lord. Life indeed is a fruitful
thing and victory is glorious, but a holy death is more important than either.
If they are blessed who die in the Lord, how much more are they blessed who die
for the Lord! ....

Indeed, danger or victory for a Christian depends on the dispositions of his
heart and not on the fortunes of war. If he fights for a good reason, the issue
of his fight can never be evil; And, likewise, the results can never be considered
good if the reason were evil and the intentions perverse. If you happen to be
killed while you are seeking only to kill another, you die a murderer. If you
succeed, and by your will to overcome and to conquer you perchance kill a man,
you live a murderer. Not it will not do to be a murderer, living or dead, victorious
or vanquished. What an unhappy victory---To have conquered a man while yielding to vice and to indulge in an empty glory at his fall when wrath and
pride have gotten the better of you. ...

But, the Knights of Christ may safely fight the battles of their Lord, fearing neither sin if they smite the enemy, nor danger at their own death, since to
inflict death or the die for Christ is no sin, but rather, an abundant claim to
glory. In the first case, one gains for Christ, and in the second, on gains
Christ Himself. The Lord freely accepts the death of the foe who has offended
Him, and yet more freely gives Himself for the consolation of the fallen knight.

The knights of Christ, I say, may strike with confidence and die yet more
confidently, for he serves Christ when he strikes and serves himself when he
falls. Neither does he bear his sword in vain, for he is God's minister, for the
punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good. If he kills an evildoer, he
is not a mankiller; But, if I may so put it, a killer of evil. He is evidently the avenger of Christ towards evildoers and he is rightly considered a defender
of Christians. ... When he inflicts death it is for Christ's profit and when he
suffers death, it is for his own gain. The Christian glories in the death of
the pagan (nb At that time, “muslims” were considered pagans), because
Christ is glorified ....

I do not mean to say that the pagans are to be slaughtered when there is
any other way to prevent them from harassing and persecuting the faithful,
but only that it now seems better to destroy them than evil should come to theirjust and that the righteous be tempted into wrongdoing (i.e. Converting to
“islam” for economic or social or status reasons OR by force?).

What then? If it is never permissible for a Christian to strike with the sword, why
did the Savior's precursor (nb St. John the Baptist) bid the soldiers to be content with their pay, and not forbid them to follow their calling? ...

Thus when the transgressors of divine law have been expelled, the righteous
nation that keeps the truth may enter in security. Certainly it is proper that
nations who love war should be scattered, and those who trouble us should be
cut off and that all the workers of iniquity should be dispersed .... Let both
swords (Emphasis added; Probably a reference to: Luke 22: 35-38) of the faithful fall upon the necks of the foe, in order to destroy every high thing exalting citself against the knowledge of God, which is the Christian faith ....”

FURTHER COMMENTS: The language of this document is, by modern standards, very elaborate and convoluted. Much of this document applies only to the time in which it was written and to the Jerusalem and Templars of that time.

However, much of the teaching applies to all ages and to the use of military force by Christians. If the Christian warrior avoids pride, vengeance and other like weaknesses and battles only for justice, for the punishment of evildoers and for the protection of innocents (e.g. Christians in “islamic” nations), then killing incidental to such noble activities is not sinful and is not murder.

The calm, without-hate, professional and focused waging of war by the forces of the USA, Poland, the UK and a few other nations in Iraq and Afghanistan appear to generally meet the standards set by this noted Doctor of the Church. The reflective person might compare such knightly waging of war with the emotional, hateful, vengeful and assassin-like behaviors of such organizations as Hitler's SS {Einsatzgruppen}, Serbian genocidists, Latin American death squads, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbullah, Black September, the insane persons who follow Osama bin Laden, those who directed the Iraq-Iran war of a few years ago and too many others to name.

If the modern, Christian, knight now serves under the flag of a secular nation, it does not matter. If such a knight serves privately, it does not matter. What does matter is service up to the standards set by St. Bernard and what is in the mind and heart of every such knightly person.

I note that those who, in Iraq, did not come up to these standards are being punished.

Although St. Bernard questions the propriety of killing to defend ones self, the Catechism Of The Catholic Church declares the ultimate right to self-defense and the duty to defend others to be proper and does not put excessive limits on the use of force to do so; And, by extension and so as to not make that teaching meaningless, on the access to effective and individual weapons when the civil authorities cannot provide effective and immediate protection.

Of course, such a knighthood as is described above cannot flourish in an unjust society (This lack may have been at the base of the failure of the Templars and of the Crusades of ancient times). Therefore, our posited and new knighthood must look to their own society as to instilling justice and morality. By preference, this should be done by the persuasion of others to just and moral ways OR by prayer OR by political and economic actions. Lacking success by those methods, the use of force is justified AND necessary!

CREDITS: The translation, of De Laude Novae Militae, used can be found at the “ORB Online Encyclopedia”. No copyright notices was seen at that site. In any case, this essay is a “fair use” of that material.
This essay is not copyrighted and may be used as the reader sees fit.


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