Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chivalry

SOME OF THE Catholic Restorationists have been discussing chivalry lately. This code of behavior dates from the Middle Ages when Europe was Catholic and it was known that morality is not a social convention, but rather is a part of greater reality. Chivalry is a masculine spirituality, which comes from a time when most men took their faith seriously and needed courage for military service.

Chivalry towards others comes ultimately from the virtue of agape love, or charity, which is love which seeks the best for the other with no expectation of anything in return. This is quite in contrast to the only kind of love our society seems to know, that of eros love, or desire for the other.

The purest agape love is a free gift, totally undeserved. So the perfectly chivalrous gentleman seeks absolutely nothing in return for his chivalry, and gives it to those who do not deserve it. But this type of purity is only possible in the supernatural order, by the action of divine grace.

In the natural order, it seems that a small amount of deservedness, and the slightest acknowledgment of the chivalrous act is needed, and this perhaps is why we have a problem with some women rejecting chivalrous behavior nowadays. Maybe they reject the idea that they ought to be the recipient of random acts of love, and think there must be ulterior motives of the man who is chivalrous. If so, then we can see why chivalry is suspect: instead, we need to be saints, and pray for the grace to restore chivalry to its purest, divine form.

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