by Nicholas Mak
As feminists and pro-abortionists raged in the streets and outside residences of Supreme Court Justices to protest a possible overturn of Roe v Wade, a contrary event was taking place. On June 1-10, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) held one of its annual Call to Chivalry camps in Herndon, Pennsylvania. The goal was to present virtuous, Catholic role models that young men need to fight today’s Culture War.
Each year, camp directors pick a historical theme to present. This year the choice was Catholic Austria, Hungary, and the Holy Roman Empire. Over centuries, Austria faced the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which ruled over vast portions of North Africa and Eastern Europe. The Austrians stopped the Turkish armies from taking over Europe.
The talks of the Call to Chivalry Camp covered saints and Catholic heroes that defended Europe, which included:
King Saint Stephen of Hungary, who did so much to spread the Catholic Faith that the pope sent him a crown for being an apostle of the Faith. Saint Stephen later consecrated that crown to Our Lady.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, a noblewoman who was renowned for helping the sick and the poor. Other nobles persecuted her because she was a constant reminder of what they were not.
Saint John Capistrano who joined with John Hunyadi to help defend the Kingdom of Hungary and Europe from the advance of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Belgrade in the fifteenth century.
Prince Eugene of Savoy and other military figures who commanded and fought in the sieges of Vienna, Belgrade and Buda in the seventeenth century against huge Turkish hosts intent upon conquering Christian Europe.
Andreas Hofer and his fellow Austrians suffered religious persecution from Napoleon’s French and Bavarian armies in the state of Tyrol in the early nineteenth century. He led his fellow Tyroleans in a rebellion and won several battles, and eventually liberated the Tyrolean capital city of Innsbruck.
Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer, patron saint and apostle of Vienna during the reign of Joseph II.
Cardinal József Mindszenty who resisted communism in his country after World War II and was persecuted, tortured and imprisoned for his brave stand.
One special talk was given by an Austrian live from Austria via Zoom call. This talk was by Alexander Tschugguel. During the 2019 Pan Amazon synod in Rome, Mr. Tschugguel made international news when he threw three pagan "goddess" Pachamama idols that were displayed inside a Catholic Church into the Tiber River. He described the path that led to this historic act. Moreover, he finished by encouraging the young men to be brave and stand up for the Church because, in his words, “there are more good Catholics than you think.”
Classical fencing master, Roark Mitzell, enthralled camp participants. Versed in Western martial arts and sword fighting history, Mr. Mitzell teaches fencing to TFP members and students of the Saint Louis de Montfort Academy. His hands-on demonstration using actual swords and replicas allowed camp attendees to test their skills by slicing plastic jugs of water with a sword.
There were plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. One afternoon, for example, the camp went to a lookout with a magnificent overview of the Susquehanna River valley, where everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch.
The Call to Chivalry Camp also featured many outdoor and indoor games, a treasure hunt, an obstacle course and tournaments for ping-pong, chess, and archery. Foam swords were available for use during the day.
An important part of the schedule concentrated upon the spiritual life. Meetings and meals began and ended with prayers. Participants prayed two daily rosaries in common, sometimes in procession with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. In the middle of the week, a local priest heard confessions.
After the sun went down, participants gathered around a campfire where they made s’mores, while camp director Thomas Schneider read the fascinating story of Saint Eleutherius, a Roman martyr. More than once, Roman magistrates tried to burn him alive for his Faith, and he walked away unscathed! On other nights, Mr. Schneider told stories about a renowned hunter who went after the most dangerous animals on earth.
The Chivalry Camp ended with a medieval-style banquet in a decorated tent. After the feast, they enjoyed dessert in the form of a huge castle cake.
With their Faith enriched, camp participants journeyed home thinking about the stories of the role models. They were all better equipped to fight the culture war as authentic, Catholic, young men.