Under the welcome shade of the outreaching arms of live oaks trimmed with Spanish moss, a call to chivalry rang out. In the small city of Ocala, the first Florida Call to Chivalry camp for boys was held. The importance of chivalry was highlighted by the fact that only a few days before the camp started, the local Catholic Church, Queen of Peace, was firebombed.
The theme of the three-day camp focused on the rich history of America’s Catholic roots in Florida. Boys learned about the exploits of Don Pedro Menendez de Avila, the Adelantado and founder of the city of St. Augustine. They also discovered the history of hundreds of martyrs who died in the land of La Florida in the 16th and 17th centuries. Other talks covered the medieval order and devotion to Our Lady. More than a dry history lesson, the presentations gave the young men tangible Catholic heroes to look up to and follow in our trying times.
Throughout the camp, the boys were encouraged to have greater devotion to Our Lady in the nightly rosary processions.
The night before the medieval games, the boys solemnly processed to a small Spanish style chapel in the midst of pine and oak trees decorated with the dangling Spanish moss. The candle-lit chapel evoked the spirit of the old missionaries and brave conquistadors. Inside this ambience, medieval tunics were placed in front of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and ceremoniously given to each participant, followed by the recitation of the rosary.
The final day was full of activity. After an early start, the participants and a few families headed to the local police station for a rosary rally for America’s return to order and in gratitude to the police officers and firemen who saved Queen of Peace Catholic Church from total destruction. After the rosary, the young men did a “honk” campaign with signs such as “Honk for our police” and “Honk against anarchy.” It was a great success.
After the campaign, the boys went to the much-anticipated medieval games under waving flags and standards. Two teams clashed on the game field with cries of “Viva Cristo Rey!” and “Viva Maria Santisima.”
That evening about sixty guests entered the banquet hall where a splendid roast pig awaited, followed by the arrival of a castle cake ushered in with a brass fanfare and applause. The cake was a copy of the Castillo San Marcos of St. Augustine, Florida. As a parting memento, each boy received a statue of St. Louis de Montfort, a good reminder of the graces received during the camp. Finally, as a final farewell, salvos of fireworks illuminated the sky.
Today’s world is in chaos: Truth and virtue are rejected and error and vice promoted. Catholic churches and monuments are attacked and desecrated. In such times, there is a need for the authentic spirit of Catholic chivalry.
At the Call to Chivalry camps, a new generation of young Catholic leaders are being formed to fight for Christian Civilization. Like the crusader saints of old, let’s pray and fight for America’s conversion, counting on God’s grace and Our Lady’s powerful protection.