Why Modern Knighthood?
When most people think about knights, they think of feudal knights serving a sovereign. Probably the most famous knights in the English speaking world were King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. These knights served their king and also went on sacred quests to find the Holy Grai. The German writer Wolfram von Eschenbach, in his immortal medieval work Parzifal, equated the Grail Knights with the Knights Templar. Both the Grail Knights of Arthur’s realm and the Knights Templar were dedicated to achieving purity of heart: the spiritual attribute that would allow one to have a vision of the Grail—or to see God, as the Beatitudes stated.
The essential quality of knighthood was complete devotion to one’s sovereign, in the case of secular knights, or complete devotion to Jesus Christ and His church, in the case of knights belonging to one of the religious Orders. Knights of both types devoted themselves to skill of arms. Whether religious or secular, however, a knight was expected to be unrelenting in battle, fearless in the face of hopeless odds, and magnanimous in victory.
Knights are not just a thing of the past, however. There are a number of chivalric Orders that exist today. The British monarchy still grants knighthoods, as does the Papacy with the Order of Christ. Two religious Orders that still grant knighthoods are the Knights of Malta (Order of St. John) and this Order, The Supreme Military Order of the Jerusalem Temple. In all cases where a secular knighthood is granted, it is for exceptional service to the sovereign or to certain worthwhile causes, while knighthoods granted by religious Orders are in recognition of service to God and one’s fellow man.
The traditional role of the knight was to defend the defenseless, to be pious in worship and in dealings with others, and to maintain one’s personal honor above all costs. Such knightly values might seem out of place in the 21st century, with so much emphasis on “me,” money, and materialism—but a few individuals still believe life is truly not worth living unless it serves a higher purpose. Such individuals believe that “living a holy life,” and not material success, is the most important thing to which we can aspire. These are the kind of men and women that we are seeking to join the Knights Templar!
What are the reasons for having knights in the 21st century?
First, there is the matter of commitment. As opposed to the past, most modern institutions do not ask much in the way of commitment. In the past, people were asked to give more of themselves to the church and to the community; in many cases today, all that we are asked to give is money. There are few things in the modern age that ask for personal loyalty, or that reciprocate loyalty in turn. Seemingly, there is little expectation that people want to commit themselves to anything, or to receive a commitment in return. The man or woman who would become a knight, however, feels unfulfilled in such a world. These men and women are looking for something to give themselves to wholeheartedly, something in which to invest all of their heart, mind, and soul. Just as importantly, they are looking for something that will reciprocate their loyalty and devotion.
Those who become knights know that although there are government agencies and private charities to fight poverty, and military or police to fight the enemies of our country and its citizens, these are not enough. They know that unless good men and good women take personal responsibility for making the world a better place to live, none of the organizations and agencies in existence will be enough to keep the forces of darkness at bay.
Knighthood takes the concept of personal responsibility to the “next level.” Knowing that many of their fellow men and women will do nothing, those who aspire to knighthood believe that it is incumbent upon them to do that much more.
One example is poverty. As our Lord said, “The poor you will always have with you.” For all of the programs administered by the government, and charities operated by the churches and other organizations, there will always be the poor. We should not, however, let the existence of “programs” give us an excuse for inaction. The true knight has internalized the story about the “Good Samaritan,” and helps the poor or disadvantaged whenever he or she can. It is not necessary to always give money—a knight’s most precious gift may be his or her time, which may be spent teaching the illiterate how to read, or driving elderly persons to a doctor’s appointment. A true knight should never walk past someone who is truly in need without trying to help! Never. That is a knight’s creed.
A knight however, is distinguished from those who merely dispense aid to the poor and disadvantaged. That distinguishing feature is the willingness to engage in “knightly combat,” the battle against evil.
It will take men and women with the dedication of true knights to make the changes that are needed. It will take men and women with the courage of true knights to stand up and be counted, and to demand accountability from our respective governments on their relations with countries that persecute Christians. It will take men and woman like those of the Supreme Military Order of the Jerusalem Temple.
Our Order was founded in 1118 A.D. to protect Christians journeying to and from the Holy Land. Later, the Order was responsible for protecting Christians in the Holy Land itself. We have stayed true to our original charter by defending the persecuted church in foreign lands. Our mission is just as compelling today, if not more so, than it was 886 years ago.
Our Order believes that there is still a place for knights in the 21st century. We believe there will always be a place for knights as long as there is poverty, the needs of the elderly, the sick, the helpless, and the persecution of the church. This is not a question: “Do I have time?” Or, “I will get to that soon.” This is not subject to negotiation or scheduling. Fellowship and aid to the less fortunate, the helpless are a Templar’s duty, his sworn duty. His code of honor demands the core of knighthood in it’s unquestionable obligation to help the poor, the sick, the persecuted, the old, the needy, the helpless, the hungry, the cold, the unprotected. These duties are not stipulations; they are a code gladly taken by a Knight Templar. If one attempts to join our Order merely as a fraternity “club”, or for a title, that or anything else could never make he or she a “Knight Templar.” Being a Knight Templar is not a remnant of the past, it is a way of life.