A Call to Chivalry in the Modern World: 2019 European Summer Camp
In the beautiful Lorraine region of France at the Villa Notre-Dame de la Clairière, the 3rd annual European Call to Chivalry camp took place from June 29th to July 7th. Thirteen boys from around the world participated in this camp to grow in their faith, to learn from the examples of great Catholic heroes, and to learn how to combat the world which yearns for the destruction of Holy Mother Church.
Every morning the participants would wake up to the rousing sound of bagpipes and gather to pray the St. Michael prayer, asking him to aid them throughout the day. Soon afterward was inspection of the rooms which helped the participants to practice self-discipline and combat laziness. Each of the beds must be properly made and the rooms must be in order or push-ups would be given.
To strongly reaffirm their faith, every morning before breakfast, the Credo was sung during a ceremony, raising the standard of the TFP. Throughout the day, talks about examples of militant Catholics in history, the modern crisis of society, and other subjects intermingled with the praying of the rosary, medieval games and other activities. At the end of each day the participants would sing the Salve Regina, after which there was “Grand Silence”, a period in which the participants did not talk and could contemplate the day’s actions, pray and make an examination of conscience.
This year many of the talks focused on the Mexican Catholic resistance to the Marxist revolution of the early 20th century. The participants learned of the heroic Cristeros, their many battles and the crusading spirit in which they were fought. They also learned of the saints that physically and spiritually fought in this war such as the fourteen-year-old martyr, St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, and Bl. Miguel Pro.
After learning of these great heroes the participants enthusiastically took the Cristero battle cry for their own, “Viva Cristo Rey!” “Long Live Christ the King!”
Throughout the camp the young men were separated into two teams each under the patronage of St. Jose Sanchez or Bl. Miguel Pro. These two teams vigorously competed in different events for a final prize. One of the major events was a grueling treasure hunt which included difficult riddles and mindboggling codes. Throughout the hunt, the participants constantly invoked the saints and shouted “Viva Cristo Rey!” At the end of two or three hours one of the teams finally found the treasure and happily engaged in distributing the candy and chocolates which were the spoils of war.
To inspire the participants with the ideals of medieval man, a few trips were made to visit the remnants of Christian Civilization from this time period. The participants were able to marvel at the beautiful catechesis in stone of Metz cathedral and to climb to the heights of ruined castles in the mountains of Lorraine.
Another highlight of the camp was the “Via Crucis” the Way of the Cross. At the end of one of the days, when darkness fell, the participants made a solemn procession around the property with torches and a large wooden cross. The participants would process to each station of the cross while singing and each participant would in turn read a meditation on the station.
This year the camp was especially blessed with a most important visit. The miraculous international pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima was brought for most of the camp. This statue is miraculous because She shed real tears in New Orleans in 1972. To honor Our Lady, a 24-hour vigil took place every day the statue was present at the camp, in which the participants and TFP members took one hour shifts. There is no doubt that many graces were received in the long hours of vigil before this most honored guest.
To end this camp, the young men participated in a day of conquest in which the two teams faced off in medieval games which consisted of shield ball, French football, sword battles and other unique games. After this was an exhilarating obstacle course. At the end of this day of conquest, all participated in a great medieval banquet in which elevated conversations and high spirits brought thoughts of Catholic heroes of the past and the great fight in which these young men of the Call to Chivalry camp must engage in today against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
May Our Lady bless all those who participated in the camp so that they remember what they learned and to use this knowledge to make them modern day crusaders.
“Youth was not made for pleasure but for heroism!” Paul Claudel