As I write, two events are on the horizon for the religious here at Saint Benedict Center.
The first is the annual Pilgrimage for Restoration (September 23-25), a three-day, sixty-five mile walking pilgrimage from Lake George, New York, to Auriesville, New York, where we will pray in the spot sanctified by the martyrdom of three of the eight holy Jesuits known collectively as the “North American Martyrs”: Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Lalande, and René Goupil.
The next event on the horizon — some of us will still be limping! — is our annual Saint Benedict Center conference (September 30-October 1.)
Now I would like to profile one of this year’s speakers by way of telling readers about him and promoting a new work he is starting for the glory of God.
Brother Alexis Bugnolo is many things at once: Franciscan hermit Brother, translator of the works of Saint Bonaventure, Registrar of the Scholasticum, author of the Italian language L’osservanza antica, and editor of the scholarly and voluminous Franciscan Archive (and its associated blog). He last spoke at our Saint Benedict Center conference two years ago on the subject of “Creation and the Divine Order of Things,” and will speak this year on “A True Work of Mercy: A New Order of Crusaders.”
This year’s talk will be about the new work he is starting.
I interviewed Brother Alexis for Reconquest 42 on this new project, which he has called Ordo Militaris Catholicus (“Catholic Military Order”). This is not an honorary knighthood, but an organization establishing itself as an actual fighting force of armed Catholic men dedicated to defending the persecuted faithful, initially in those areas where they are beset by the jihadis of ISIS, but subsequently, wherever else they they may be needed. This is an organization that will have real men with real guns shooting and being shot at by fanatical anti-Christians who have been destroying some of the most ancient Christian populations on earth.
There are already current and former military personnel signed up, men from the U.S., Canada, and Spain. Contacts are presently being established in other European countries.
The Order’s military operations would be run by competent military personnel, not clergy or religious, and real combat training will be provided by such men to new recruits. This will not be a Children’s Crusade or a coterie of video-gamers pursuing their delusions of grandeur.
In light of the indifference of many Western nations to the plight of the suffering Christian populations of Iraq and Syria, this is a real need. Actually, the Western role — at least as far as Western governments go — is much worse than indifferentism, since U.S. and British foreign policy (for example), inspired both by a liberal-masonic ideology and a capitalist agenda (think British Petroleum), have made the rise of ISIS possible. Without the power vacuum created by recent ill-advised wars, ISIS would could not have created its “caliphate” in the region. Moreover, since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Christian population has been cut by eighty percent! (Catholics were not only safe but favored by Saddam Hussein. Tariq Aziz, Hussein’s deputy Prime Minister, was a Chaldean Rite Catholic.)
No, our government is not going to fix the problem it helped create. Moreover, even if it attempted to do so, do we really want our Catholic young men signing up for a military which is becoming a tool of corrupt “LGBTQ” ideology? Or one that puts the cause of feminism before military effectiveness and the safety of the troops? And those questions do not even touch upon the grave problem of tragically high suicide rates and pandemic pornography use in the modern military. As if that is not enough, I reiterate the fact that our previous involvement in Iraq greatly contributed to the near eradication of historical Christian populations of Iraq. The liberal-masonic ideology that led to this is not likely to change soon, no matter who wins the November elections.
Whether we are considering morale or morals (which are connected), the U.S. military has made itself an inappropriate option for Catholics who want to serve. Yet many men crave and need the “rites of passage” afforded by the military life. And the soldiering profession is noble, has historically produced numerous saints, and gives us the very notion of Christian chivalry. So it would be a terrible shame if there were no place where Catholics could take up arms for an honorable cause, receive adequate military training, and be inducted into the structured and hierarchical life of high adventure that has attracted men to military service for millennia.
Members of the Ordo Militaris will be doing what many other Americans and Europeans are already doing, namely going abroad to Iraq or Syria and fighting alongside those who are already combatting ISIS. They would constitute foreign volunteers fighting in their own uniforms as part of duly constituted lawful armies. (Hence, they are not mercenaries, or vigilantes.) But this first mission is not intended to define the Order exclusively. Their missions could extend to other areas where Catholics are persecuted and where the Just War Doctrine would allow for lawful intervention.
Speaking of which, is this lawful? (By which I mean lawful according to U.S. civil law.) Yes. Brother Alexis informs me that the new endeavor will be legally incorporated and will function in total conformity to U.S. laws governing private security firms. Of course, it will differ from other such firms — both in its religious motivations, and in its higher ethical code. That code is embodied in the Rule penned by Brother Alexis himself, and based upon that of the Knights Templar.
Recruiting, fundraising, and purchasing property in New Mexico for a desert training camp are all part of the early efforts of establishing the Ordo Militaris, but the first step is to get the word out. Virtually everyone online can help with that, and Brother has spelled out ways it can be done on the Order’s website.
If this new Order interests you, please listen to the Reconquest interview, prayerfully discern involvement at whatever level is appropriate to you, and circulate this message to others. I personally would like to see as many current and former servicemen as possible get involved in this noble undertaking.