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British Catholic Scouts’ Pilgrimage to Rome, 1925

Boy Scouts for Rome

This article originally appeared on p. 12 of The Tablet on September 5, 1925. I have modernized some of the punctuation.

I can’t recall where I originally found the included photograph, which appears to record the event.


Amid scenes of enthusiasm the contingent of 756 British Boy Scouts who go to take part in the International Pilgrimage to Rome, left Victoria Station on Saturday evening. For half an hour before the departure of the special train at 8 o’clock the platform was packed, many Catholics coming from long distances to wish the Scout pilgrims and their leaders God-speed on their memorable journey. The occasion and its significance led to many touching scenes, and not a few were deeply affected as the train moved out with its load of cheerful Catholic boys on their way to Rome.

Earlier in the evening the Scouts assembled in the Choir School grounds of Westminster Cathedral, where large numbers of clergy and laity came to greet them. They gave an enthusiastic reception to the Cardinal Archbishop when His Eminence appeared, accompanied by the Italian Ambassador, the Marquis della Torretta, and Sir Robert Baden-Powell (Chief Scout) with a guard of honour composed of Scouts representative of all parts of the Kingdom. A special flag made for the pilgrims and inscribed “British Empire Catholic Boy Scouts. Be Prepared. Rome, 1925,” and a Union Jack, carried by two Scouts of the “Cardinal’s Own” troop (8th Westminster), were blessed by His Eminence, assisted by Father Joseph Collings.

Archbishop of Westminster Francis Cardinal Bourne (with Lord Baden-Powell to his left) blessing the flags

Archbishop of Westminster Francis Cardinal Bourne (with Lord Baden-Powell to his left) blessing the flags

The clergy present included Mgr. Canon Howlett, Admr. of Westminster Cathedral, Mgri. Canon Jackman and Coote (Private Secretaries to the Cardinal), Father Bradley, C.SS.R. (who escorted the contingent from Edmonton), Fathers O’Brien England, Wood, Dove, McKenna, and G. Craven. The Catholic Association, which is directing the pilgrimage, was represented by Father Ernest Hanifin (Chairman), Mr. H. Wallack, organizing secretary, Mr. W. A. Stuart, hon. secretary, and by many members of the Committee.

The pilgrimage was divided into eight groups. The names of the commanders and chaplains, and the total strength of each group, are as follows:

  • Group A — Leader: Thomas McQuillan; Chaplain, Rev. P. M. Butler, C.SS.R. (94).
  • Group B — Leader: Rev. G. Tindall, M.A.; Chaplain, Rev. G. Brunner (96).
  • Group C — Leader: W. K. Buckley; Chaplains, Rev. T. A. Reardon and Rev. Thomas Eastham, S.J. (96)
  • Group D — Leader: Rev. J. Higham; Chaplain, Rev. Dom Parker, O.S.B. (96).
  • Group E — Leader: Rev. J. P. Haslip; Chaplain, Rev. J. M. Tucker, O.S.M. (94).
  • Group F — Leader: Rev. E. C. Messenger, Ph.D.; Chaplain, Rev. G. W. H. Webb (84).
  • Group G — Leader: G. E. Wheeler; Chaplain, Rev. J. Blundell (96).
  • Group H — Leader: Rev. C. Westlake (87).

Father James Mahoney, Ph.D., of Deptford, who travelled as the representative of the Catholic Association, and Father Joseph Collings, are also acting as Chaplains. The pilgrimage is under the command of Mr. F. F. Corballis, Chief Scout’s Commissioner, with Lieut.-Colonel J. L. Sleeman, C.M.G., as Assistant Commissioner; and the other officers include Mr. M. G. Dunlop (Cardinal’s Own Troop), with Dr. R. Power, F.R.C.S., M.D., and Captain Mullins, M.D., R.A.M.C., medical officers.

His lordship Bishop Butt accompanies the party as spiritual director.


The Cardinal Archbishop, in addressing the Scouts, said: “I want in the first place to congratulate you all most heartily on the wonderful journey on which you are about to set forth. There are hundreds and thousands who would willingly make the journey that you are going to undertake — many of them much older than yourselves — who would willingly have made this journey, who probably will never make it. It is only to a very few that it is given in boyhood to make the journey which I suppose appeals to the Catholic heart more than any other. To every one of you Rome has been a sacred name; a sacred name because it contains the shrines of those who at the cost of their lives built up in the early days of Christianity that world-wide organization known as the Catholic Church to which you all belong; a sacred name because Rome is also the dwelling place of him wham we are taught to regard as the most sacred person upon This earth, him in whom are verified the words of our Divine Master, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’

“To every Catholic, to every Catholic boy, the name of Rome means something which is deep down in his very heart, something that he loves and cherishes with all his being. You are asked to make a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage such as our forefathers in days long ago made whenever they had the opportunity, to see him in whom Peter lives again, to see him in whom the Catholic Church finds her centre. Well, my dear boys, there are two things that you must bear in mind. You go, remember, in a spirit of faith, in a spirit of prayer. You go in a spirit of faith for the reasons that I have already rehearsed before you; you go to proclaim your faith in the teaching authority of God’s Catholic Church. You go, too, in the spirit of prayer; because you are going to gain the great jubilee pardon, but only in a spirit of penance, in a spirit of penitence, at those sacred shrines in Rome, begging God’s forgiveness for all transgressions in the past, and seeking His charity and protection for your whole future lives. That is the spirit in which you will set forth and must never forget. You go not only as individuals, but in the far higher capacity of representatives. Large as you numbers are, you are only a handful of those whom you represent, and you go carrying with you in the spirit of prayer the intentions of all your fellow Scouts all over the United Kingdom, and of all of those who made your going possible — your parents who gave their consent, and those friends who have provided for the journey. Be brave and courageous under the inevitable fatigue and discomfort of so long a journey.

“It is a special satisfaction to me to have present beside me, first, His Excellency the Italian Ambassador, whose beautiful country you are about to visit, a country united by so many ties to our own land. You will be a new link binding England to Italy and Italy to England. And then I can hardly say how glad I am to have beside me the Chief Scout. I was saying to him only a moment ago that it is given to few men, as it has been given to him, to see the full realization of a magnificent vision. All over the world there are now Boy Scouts, united — though they may be divided by languages and by religious faith — in the pursuit of certain great ideals which he has set before them, ideals which will do, as he desires them to do, an immense work, to bring together all the nations of the earth in mutual peace and understanding. It is, as yoa know, to his genius and foresight and wonderful power of organization that the world owes the Boy Scouts. So, from my heart, I bid you all God-speed, a pleasant and happy journey, and a safe return. May God bless you all.”


Sir Robert Baden-Powell then addressed the Scouts. He said: “I do thank His Eminence most cordially for his kindness in taking the trouble to receive us all here and to give us these inspiring words. Now, you fellows, I only wish I was going with you; but, as my doctor says, I am too much of a crock. You are going off to have a really good time, seeing a foreign land, and meeting your brother Scouts. It will be just like any jamboree in one way, but, as His Eminence said, you must look on this with another eye. It is not a mere scouting ‘hike,’ but a pilgrimage. You are going with a far better idea than meeting other boys; you are going for what will be the greatest event in the life of any of you — the great privilege of going to Rome and seeing with your own eyes, and being seen by, the Holy Father. That is a privilege which a very large number of Scouts would wish to have with you. You certainly have to think that over; and when you say your prayers just think of what His Eminence has told you of the serious side of it. You will meet 10,000 other Catholic Scouts from different countries, and they will look to you as coming from the home of scouting to teach them what is the true method of scouting and what true Scouts are. They will watch in every way all that you do, how you dress, how you behave, how far you carry out your good turns, how far you are cheerful, and they will do accordingly. So you have a big responsibility upon you; because you have got to keep up the good name of the British Scouts among all those who come from other parts. Be brothers to them, help them; but above all I want you to do one great thing, and that is by your behaviour and conduct to show to the heads of your Church there in Rome that as Scouts you have not two masters, but that your only master is God and your Church. Your scoutmasters are merely your elder brothers, showing you how better to do your duty as good Catholics. I want you to remember that and to obey the discipline of your Church. Remember this is the great day of your lives. It is the spirit that counts, and what you do in the right spirit. I want you to remember that, now and while you are abroad. Try and make the most of these coming days in the right spirit; and come back from Rome better men for having been there.” The Chief Scout concluded by asking God’s blessing on his hearers.

After tea, the Scout pilgrims formed up and marched round by Ambrosden Avenue, Francis Street, and Vauxhall Bridge Road to Victoria. Their departure was witnessed from the balcony of Archbishop’s House by the Cardinal, and as each troop passed His Eminence its flag was dipped. It was intended that, on the return from Rome, the party should spend three days in camp at Chamarande, but advice has been received from Paris that the camp arrangements at Chamarande (which is thirty miles from Paris, and is conducted by Père Sevin, the Chief Scout of France) have had to be cancelled. It is hoped, therefore, to keep the Scout-pilgrims in Rome three days extra, leaving Rome on the evening of September 10, and following out the original itinerary back to London direct.

A telegram from Rome announces the safe arrival of the Scouts on Tuesday morning.

Catholic Scouting, “World Scouting,” and the Church

Catholic Scouting, “World Scouting,” and the Church: A response to Dr. Eduard Vallory

World Scouting: Educating for Global CitizenshipOccasionally when one is searching the Internet for a specific purpose, an unexpected result will turn up. That is exactly what happened to me yesterday; as I was searching for a specific document (the 2003 decree of recognition of the UIGSE-FSE) I came across the doctoral dissertation (“Global Citizenship Education”) of Eduard Vallory. Dr. Vallory is the author of the book World Scouting: Educating for Global Citizenship, a book that is alternately edifying (such as when the history of the scouting movement is recounted) and enraging (such as when the author refers to non-mainstream scouting associations as “fake scouts” without ever defining the term* — the Scouts of Europe seem to be singled out for particular opprobrium).

It would not be fair to say that Dr. Vallory doubles down on the Scouts of Europe (UIGSE-FSE) in his dissertation, but only because that work preceded his book by about four years. We are told, for example [p.147]:

Back in 1977, the Vatican approved the Catholic Scouting Charter drawn up by the International Catholic Conference of Scouting, thus giving official approval to an organization that accepts the authority of World Scouting above any other. Later on, however, the Vatican discovered that Scouts d’Europe was an aesthetically similar organization but did not accept any authority other than the Catholic Church, as established in its Statutes

I am not so sure there was a nefarious plot by the Holy See to find a scouting association that was more amenable to Church control than the ICCS! Equally disturbing is the idea that the ICCS (which was once known as the International Catholic Scouters Conference) accepts the authority of “World Scouting” (that is, WOSM/WAGGGS) over that of the Catholic Church. In what way does such an organization have a claim to the title “Catholic”? If one’s highest authority is something other than the Church Christ founded, then one isn’t Catholic at all, but something else entirely. But (in charity to the ICCS) perhaps Dr. Vallory is reading something into the ICCS Statutes that isn’t there.

Various articles in the Statutes reveal that its actions are an instrument of the Church [p. 148]

The UIGSE-FSE is an international private association of the faithful of pontifical right, with juridical personality, according to canons 298-311 and 321-329 of the Code of Canon Law. We read in c. 298:

§1. In the Church there are associations distinct from institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life; in these associations the Christian faithful, whether clerics, lay persons, or clerics and lay persons together, strive in a common endeavor to foster a more perfect life, to promote public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit.

In other words, any private association of the faithful is “an instrument of the Church.” Ironically, this is the same status that has been accorded to the ICCS! So perhaps the UIGSE-FSE is simply more open and honest about its purpose.

The Statutes also establish that ‘chiefs’ must belong to the Church, an obligation that does not exist in Catholic World Scouting associations:
1.2.13. The youth’s full religious development requires that their chiefs should belong to the same Church or Community as theirs, should profess the same doctrine, should take part in the same liturgical and sacramental life. [p. 148]

Dr. Vallory has misread the Statutes of the UIGSE-FSE here; it is not the case that chiefs (leaders) must belong to the Catholic Church, only that they belong to the same Church or ecclesial community of the youth that they serve. (Fr. Sevin, in one of his “Scout Meditations on the Gospel,” explains the reason for this.) In other words, it is a requirement that groups not be mixed confessionally except perhaps in some exceptional circumstances; a Catholic group should have Catholic leaders, an Orthodox group Orthodox leaders, and a Protestant group Protestant leaders. This is clear from the previous statute:

1.2.12. In a country where several Christian confessions exist, scout or guides units belonging to the various Churches or Communities may cohabit within a same association, each group welcoming the young people belonging to the same Church or Community, according to the norms of the Rules.

(One can read the full text of the Statutes in English here.)

If we analyse the Statutes of Scouts d’Europe, we can see that it is actually a movement designed to be a tool for the Catholic Church’s action as an organization and that it has simply taken the elements of Scouting that it has considered useful and discarded those that it does not require. It has adopted the name, appearance, elements of the method, and even part of the text of the Promise and the Law of World Scouting (on the basis that Scouting is a programme that can be freely adapted), and interpreted the writings and positions of Robert Baden-Powell as it has seen fit. [p. 148]

Fr. Sevin with some of his chiefs

Fr. Sevin with some of his chiefs

Actually, the version of the Promise (with one minor addition) and the Law used by the UIGSE-FSE come not from WOSM/WAGGS, but from the work of Fr. Jacques Sevin, SJ, whose initial labors preceded the formation of WOSM and indeed that of its predecessor organization, the Boy Scouts International Bureau (BSIB). Second, many mainstream scouting associations have modernized and moved away from the work of Lord Baden-Powell, and are still members of WOSM/WAGGGS in good standing, rendering any claim of exclusivity on B-P’s work (including the Promise and the Law) by “World Scouting” rather tenuous. For example, the version of the Scout Law used by The Scout Association (TSA) in the United Kingdom reads as follows:

  1. A Scout is to be trusted.
  2. A Scout is loyal.
  3. A Scout is friendly and considerate.
  4. A Scout belongs to the worldwide family of Scouts.
  5. A Scout has courage in all difficulties.
  6. A Scout makes good use of time and is careful of possessions and property.
  7. A Scout has self-respect and respect for others.

The Scout Law as established by Lord Baden-Powell (Cf. the 1911 version of Scouting for Boys) has ten articles, not seven; gone are references to service (article 3), courtesy (article 5), friendship toward animals (article 6), obedience (article 7), and cleanliness (article 10). The original fourth article, “A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other scout, no matter to what social class the other belongs,” seems to have been split into two articles, “A Scout is friendly and considerate,” and “A Scout belongs to the worldwide family of Scouts”; while the last article, “A Scout has self-respect and respect for others,” appears to be new, but possibly based on the original fifth article, “A Scout is courteous.”

Compare the above with the version of the Law used by the member associations of the UIGSE-FSE (N.B. a particular member association might use slightly different wording):

  1. A scout’s honour is to be trusted.
  2. A scout is loyal to his country, his parents, his leaders and to those who depend on him.
  3. A scout is made to serve and save his neighbour.
  4. A scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other scout.
  5. A scout is courteous and chivalrous.
  6. A scout sees in nature the work of God: he likes plants and animals.
  7. A scout obeys willingly and does not half do things.
  8. A scout controls himself: he smiles and sings even under difficulties.
  9. A scout is thrifty and takes care of his own possessions and those of others’.
  10. A scout is pure in his thoughts, his words and his acts.

One can see that this version of the Law has a more explicit link with the work of Lord Baden-Powell than the one in use by the mainstream UK scouting association. Of course, as can be seen in the link given above, other mainstream scouting associations also use a version of the Law that has only a sketchy relationship with B-P’s version.

Similarly, some mainstream scouting associations have made the “duty to God” portion of the Promise optional, or have done away with it entirely. For example, in Great Britain there is an “alternative” version of the Promise for atheists and humanists that reads,

On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to uphold our Scout values, to do my duty to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law.

(As an aside, British republicans — that is, those who are opposed to monarchy — do not have an “alternative” form of the Promise; “duty to the Queen” is more important than “duty to God”!)

And Guides in the UK no longer have even the option to promise to do their duty to God:

I promise that I will do my best: To be true to myself and develop my beliefs, To serve the Queen and my community, To help other people and To keep the Guide Law.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Baden-Powell, and Cardinal Bourne of Westminster

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Baden-Powell, and Cardinal Bourne of Westminster

It is worth pointing out here that the constitutions of WOSM and WAGGGS both make reference to “duty to God” being part of the Promise (allowing that one is free to interpret “God” in any way), and that Baden-Powell himself had a dim view of atheists (see, for example, the discussion on religion in Rovering to Success). It is difficult to see how the above promises are based on that established by B-P:

On my honour I promise that I will do my best:

  1. To do my duty to God and the King.
  2. To help other people at all times.
  3. To obey the Scout Law.

Compare this version with the version used by the UIGSE-FSE:

On my honour, and with God’s grace, I promise to do my best to serve God, the Church, my country, and Europe; to aid my neighbor in all circumstances; and to observe the scout law.

In short, the UIGSE-FSE is hardly alone in “interpet[ing] the writings and positions of Robert Baden-Powell as it has seen fit” (although it might well be alone in admitting that it is doing so!); furthermore, the Scouts of Europe have preserved the patrimony of Lord Baden-Powell while mainstream scouting associations are rejecting it.

Besides failing to heed the premise of unity in diversity, a crucial aspect of World Scouting, and despite using its image, Scouts d’Europe fails to meet three basic requirements of the Scout Movement: being open to all, organizational independence, and the universal dimension. [p. 149]

We can ask here whether these three principles are actually “requirements” of the scouting movement. They may be “requirements” of mainstream, WOSM/WAGGGS scouting, but as Lord Baden-Powell pointed out in the July, 1921 issue of The Scouter, scouting is “a movement, not an organisation”:

A SCOUT officer came to me the other day with a scheme for organising the Movement on a better footing than heretofore. It involved a certain amount of expense in offices, whole-time secretaries, etc. But there was a plan to meet this with an adequate contribution of funds from Local Associations.

An integral part of the idea was the formation of a fully representative committee by general election to manage the whole organisation ; the advantage was that it could eliminate the present sporadic and uneven arrangement of Local Associations running their shows on different lines of their own. In this more centralised and ordered system a far more accurate record could be kept of the development, a more regular standard of efficiency among the Troops could be set up, and a better general supervision maintained.

He was going on to describe further advantages of the scheme when I felt bound to save him the trouble, and I burst in on him with the remark, “My dear chap! But you have not got the hang of Scouting. For one thing the Movement extends considerably beyond the United Kingdom. Your elected committee would have to represent all parts of the Empire. How could election supply the expert heads required for the different departments at Headquarters? Local Associations would enjoy subscribing funds to run the office — I don’t think. These are some of the minor material objections. But there is another and far greater consideration that upsets the whole caboodle. WE ARE A MOVEMENT, NOT AN ORGANISATION.

Do the above paragraphs not describe some mainstream national scouting associations, and perhaps even “World Scouting” itself? That is, the very existence of an organization purporting to represent the scout movement to the whole world is incongruous with the idea of scouting as a movement.

Let’s examine these “requirements” in a bit more detail. In the early years of the scout movement, there were a number of Catholic scouting associations formed: in France, the Scouts de France (1920), by Fr. Jacques Sevin; in Belgium, the Association of Baden-Powell Belgian Boy and Sea Scouts (1912) by Jean Corbisier; and in Italy, the Italian Catholic Scout Association (1916) by Count Mario di Carpegna. These associations were founded by and for Catholics, so in that sense were not “open to all”; and having preceded the formation of the Boy Scouts International Bureau (BISB) in 1921 they were not “universal.” Yet we don’t hesitate to call them scouting associations; Baden-Powell even lent his name to one of them. So “being open to all” and “the universal dimension,” at least, are not requirements of the scout movement per se, but rather requirements of the organization that perceives itself as the sole authority on what scouting is and isn’t. As far as the requirement of “organizational independence” is concerned, it is difficult to see how something — that is, the scouting movement — that isn’t an organization can have an organizational requirement!

Last — and I will close with this thought — it is difficult to see how the principle of being open to all can be harmonized with an exclusive to the name of “scouting.” Yet that is exactly what WOSM/WAGGGS claims, and what Dr. Vallory reiterates with rhetorical flourish [World Scouting, pp. 92-3]:

The term “scout” therefore was legally allowed to be used by fake scouting against the principles of openness, tolerance and dialog of the scout movement.

*However, Dr. Vallory defines a similar term, “false scouting” in his dissertation, and I think it likely that he uses “fake scouts” and “fake scouting” to mean the same thing. Ironically, Dr. Vallory notes [p. 156] that László Nagy (who would later become Secretary General of WOSM), in his 1967 “Report on World Scouting,” categorized non-WOSM/WAGGGS scouting associations as “nonrecognized,” “dissident,” and “exiled and refugee,” but without giving reasons for it.

Federation of North-American Explorers: Our Standing in the Church

As a comment on recent post on a scouting news site shows, there is some confusion about the standing of the Federation of North-American Explorers (FNE) in the Catholic Church.

Trail for [sic] Life, Troops of St George, and The Federation of North American Explorers lack approval and the support of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This is technically true, but only as far as it goes. The Federation of North-American Explorers has only existed in the United States since 2011, and it does not have the “approval and support” of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). However, as a member association of the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe – Federation of European Scouting (UIGSE-FSE), it has the approval and support of the Holy See. Specifically, the UIGSE-FSE is an international association of the faithful of pontifical right under the Pontifical Council for the Laity, a status that was granted first in 2003 (the decree of recognition can be found in Italian here) for a period of five years (ad experimentum), then permanently in 2008.

In short, the UIGSE-FSE and its member associations (of which FNE is — a very small! — one) enjoy a standing in the Church that other scouting associations, whether traditional or mainstream, Catholic or secular, do not.

Second — and this is an important point as well — the Federation of North-American Explorers should not be lumped in, so to speak, with other associations such as Trail Life USA and the Troops of St. George. The former has a Christian, but not specifically Catholic, identity; while the latter states that it is not a scouting association, and its program is not based on the work of Lord Baden-Powell (in fact, as a “father-son” program it more closely approximates family camping than anything else).

Here are some articles that might help you choose a youth association for your family:

Lord Baden-Powell: Christian Love in Scouting

Christ laid down for us in the simplest possible terms what our religion should be, namely:

  1. To love God.
  2. To love our neighbour.

These are above the “law and the prophets”, above rituals and denominations.

How to inculcate the Spirit. The point for us Scouters is to see how this basic spirit can be infused into the young people.

Identical methods are not applicable to both old and young alike. To a considerable extent a boy gains the right spirit through right action, whereas with the man action is inspired by the spirit.

So we encourage in the Cub, and continue in the Scout, the practice of doing good turns, and thus through Action the Spirit of helpfulness becomes developed in him; ultimately as a Rover and a man he is inspired by the Spirit the undertake sacrifice and Service.

A boy learns by practice, not by precept. To love is to him merely a state of mind, whereas its expression, namely, to render service, is something he can do.

So for the young we have to translate the spirit of religion into practical acts. For this reason in the Scout Law and promise we give in place of the abstract idea “Love God” the positive equivalent, “Do your duty to God”. And for the abstract “Love your neighbour” the positive equivalent, “Help other people at all times”.

Conception of God. To know his duty to God some appreciation of God is needed by the boy. As a step to this we turn to nature lore. For this, among other reasons, we make Woodcraft the special feature of the Scout training.

Through observation of the wonders, the daily miracles, the order and the beauties of nature around them, young people gain more readily a conception of God as a beneficent Creator, and they get to realise their own position and part in the universal scheme of things. The sex questions thus become easy of explanation and are given a sanctified position in the adolescent mind.

Duty of Kindness. In recognising their position as comrades with God’s other creatures, young people can realise that it is their duty to extend their protection and goodwill to animals. A gentle spirit of kindliness is thus developed which, once established, readily expands itself into his attitude towards his fellow-men. The spark of Love is kindled.

If one omits the Law “a friend to animals” one drops not only the basic training for human goodwill, but also the very important link which in the youthful mind would unite God the Creator with God who is Love.

The Soul. There is in every human individual the germ of Love, the “bit of God”, as the soul has been termed, which, if its expression is encouraged, will develop till it permeates the character of the boy. Love, once started in the boy, is never likely to die down in the man; its tendency is to go on increasing, until it permeates its whole being and its every action: till, in fact, it gives him the higher happiness of finding heaven here on earth, and brings his being on to the plane of association with God and immortality.

In the Scout training we develop the element of this Love through expression by friendship with animals and good turns to other people.

Active Love and Christianity. For the true spirit of Love, good nature is not enough. A man may be selfishness itself and yet be good-natured. We want to make our boys active Christians rather than passive church-goers or, what is even worse, dullards without a spark of spiritual thought or guidance.

Our aim should be to develop Love through service for others, to the extent of out-balancing the service of self.

For its development the boy would be encouraged to practise honesty and honour in business, chivalry to women and large-minded Brotherhood with mankind. He could be led ultimately to practice habitually some form of social service side by side with his daily work or profession. Beginning in small items, this would lead as he grew up in power and experience to his helping to raise the standard of living for the poorer masses round him.

Almost any boy, including the boy in the slums, can be brought to regard Christ as his hero provided that Christ is presented to him in a way that appeals to boy nature: not so much a pathetic figure as one of manliness, courage, chivalry, humour, humility, and even of very human indignation (with the money changers).

With Christ as his hero, the boy can be encouraged, in what he says and does, especially when in a difficulty, to think to himself: “What would Christ have done?”, and do the same as nearly as he can.

Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), Founder of the Scout Mouvement. From “Jamboree”, July 1928.

Fr. Sevin: Meditation on the Denial of St. Peter

Cf. John 18:15-27

This meditation is taken from Fr. Sevin’s book Scout Meditations on the Gospel. I have Americanized the spellings and made a couple of things clearer that may have suffered in the translation from the French.

Beware of campfires where you fraternize with unknown troops. Before the logs are out, you may have denied me three times. No, you say, My scout. “Maybe the others, but not I! Even though I should have to die with You, I will not deny!”


So spoke Peter My apostle!

And while Caiaphas was questioning Me, he sat among the solders and the servants around a fire lit in the yard. No doubt he was there for the love of Me. He wanted to see what was going to become of Me. And here came the gatekeeper joining them. As she spotted Peter, she said, “This man was with the Nazorean.”

And Peter answered: “The Nazorean, I don’t know him, and I don’t understand what you are talking about.”

He had not been afraid of fighting to defend me, but he was afraid of a gossiper.

She was not accusing him, and she did not want to have him arrested.

She was simply saying: “You were with Jesus the Galilean.”

And that is what is scary. Everyone is willing to love Me, but not to follow Me. Everyone is willing to be with Me at the bottom of their hearts, but everyone is afraid of being with Me before men.

And even, alas! When you are a scout in front of other scouts.

Poor little scouts who do not dare to be with Me and who make a promise leaving out the name of God:

The name of the Father who created you

The name of the Son who died for you

The name of the Holy Spirit who gave you the strength not to blush over the Gospel when you were confirmed.

Poor little baptized ones who do not dare to act like Christians because a companion (and it might be a leader!) could say to them, as the servant said to Peter, “And you too are one of them?

Do not be afraid of being one of them for they are those I no longer call My servants, but My friends.

I will tell you a parable, My scout: Many scouts were sitting around a campfire and were warming themselves waiting for their turn to make their promise.

And a leader stood up and swore on the fire to serve his country and to be loyal and generous.

And a scout stood up and swore alike. A second stood up and swore alike, then a third, and a fourth, and so on.

It sounded as if I did not exist. And all these teenagers had been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity: they had taken first Communion, and they were going to Mass on Sundays.

And basically, they were saying: I do not know this man.

Because they were all afraid of being recognized as a disciple, they were afraid of being one of them. And their scout promise was betraying their Christian promise.

And still another little scout stood up who had sworn to himself that he would be faithful to Me; but when he saw all those eyes staring at him, and the smiles watching his words, he took fright and merely promised to serve his country and his neighbor.

He too did not know that man.

And as he sat down, one of his neighbors said to him: “Well! I thought you were a Catholic.”

And he blushed and began to say that he was not and that he never went to church.

“But I saw you going to Communion this morning,” said one of those who had seen him going to Mass.

He denied again and protested that he was not one of them.

However, when he returned to his tent, he met the gaze of a chaplain passing by.

And he burst into tears.

And I forgave this little Saint Peter.

You might be eager to say that you are not, you still think and talk every minute as a Catholic, and as the unfaithful apostle, your words betray you.


One question about FNE that seems to come up often is: “Why shorts?” (In our boys’ program not only the boys but also the leaders wears shorts.) Some seem to think that shorts are unmanly, an attitude which seems to go back many years in the United States, while others think that shorts are children’s garb and not really meant for adults.


I do admit to having thoughts on the above lines myself, especially when attendance at Holy Mass is considered. Shorts are not ordinarily appropriate attire for Mass. However, one might say the same thing about hats (on men; they are always appropriate for ladies), and yet there are men (e.g., clergy, members of knightly orders, the Knights of Columbus) who wear hats for at least a portion of the Mass. So wearing shorts at Mass is not inappropriate, if those shorts are part of a uniform.

Shorts are essential to hard work, to hiking and to camping. They are less expensive and more hygienic than breeches or trousers. They give freedom and ventilation to the legs. Another advantage is that when the ground is wet, you can go about without stockings and none of your clothes gets damp.
— Lord Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys, Campfire Yarn #3

One might ask, then, even we can say that shorts aren’t necessarily inappropriate, and there are good reasons for youth to wear them, why should adults? The answer lies in the fact that, in the educational method created by Lord Baden-Powell, a leader doesn’t ask a youth member to do anything he wouldn’t be willing to do himself.

Personally, I put on uniform, even if I have only a Patrol to inspect, because I am certain that it raises the moral tone of the boys. It heightens their estimation of their uniform when they see it is not beneath a grown man to wear it; it heightens their estimation of themselves when they find themselves taken seriously by men who also count it of importance to be in the same brotherhood with them.

I have been in the habit of wearing shorts instead of knee-breeches when in [Explorer] uniform, but I do it intentionally, not merely because I am much more comfortable in shorts, but because it puts me more closely on a level with the boys and less on the standing of an “officer,” as we understand him in the Army.

A [Explorer] official’s line is rather that of an elder brother or a father to his boys than of an officer or a schoolmaster. And the more he assimilates his inward ideas and his outward dress with theirs, the more he is likely to be in sympathy with them and they with him.
— B.P.’s Outlook, August 1913 [emphases added]

Lord Baden-Powell on St. George and Chivalry

Adapted from Chapter IX of Yarns for Boy Scouts by Lord Baden-Powell (1909)


All Explorers should know about St. George.

St. George is the Patron Saint of England; he is also the Patron Saint of cavalry in all countries, and therefore Patron Saint of Explorers.

There is some confusion about his history, since many countries want to claim him as belonging to them, but the story which appears probable is this:

St. George was born in Cappadocia in the year 303 A.D. He became a cavalry soldier when he was seventeen, and soon became renowned for his bravery. On one occasion he came to a city, called Selem, near which lived a dragon who had to be fed daily with one of the citizens, who was chosen by lot each day to form his breakfast. The day St. George came there the lot had fallen on the King’s daughter, Cleolinda. St. George was resolved that she should not die, and so went out and attacked the dragon, who lived in a swamp close by, and killed him.

Some time afterwards he returned to his native city, and found there a proclamation had been issued by Diocletian against the Christians, and was posted up in the public place. St. George tore down the notice and trampled it under foot. For this he was arrested and tried, and was condemned and put to death on behalf of Christianity; he was made a Saint.

Four hundred years later, another good Christian named George was sent to England by the Pope of Rome to revive the Christian religion, which was not very flourishing over here at that time. He landed where Bristol now stands it was called Cealtide in those days and he worked among the people of the Severn valley there, which was at that time called the Sabrina. He did good work there and turned the whole of the inhabitants of that part into good Christians. In the stories which were always told of his good work in thus rescuing the people of Sabrina from the Devil, he came to be compared with his namesake, St. George, who rescued Cleolinda from the dragon, and thus people got mixed up between the two, and believed that St. George was an English Saint, who rescued a lady named Sabrina from the Devil in the form of a dragon.

The original St. George was one of the few Saints who was a horseman, and the English St. George was fond of horses, for he issued an order against people cropping their ears and slitting their nostrils, which, apparently, was a practice in those days; and he also told them they must not eat horseflesh as they had been accustomed to do.

(I am afraid that many good Explorers have had to break that rule since then, on active service when meat was scarce.)

The reason why St. George is the Patron Saint of cavalry is this. About 1,000 years after Christ, the Christian knights of Europe went to Asia Minor to fight the Saracens, who were heathen. They called themselves Crusaders, or “Defenders of the Cross.” Amongst the many battles which they fought, the most tremendous was, perhaps, the one in 1097, in which 70,000 knights were attacked by 250,000 mounted Saracens, and, in spite of their heroic fighting, they were very nearly overcome by force of numbers. In the end they managed to win by a final desperate charge in spite of the heavy odds against them, and two historians relate that this charge was headed by St. George and St. Demetrius, who suddenly appeared at the head of the knights mounted on white horses, and clad in gleaming armour. These charged at their head, and cut their way right through the Saracen host and so put it to flight.

The same thing happened again the following year at the battle of Antioch, and not only did the Christians believe in the fact, but also their enemies the Saracens related that they “saw these gods mounted on white horses leading the charge.”

Even one hundred years afterwards, in 1187, when another fierce battle was fought, one knight, mounted on a white horse, fought with such heroism, and performed such prodigies of valour, that when at last he fell, the Saracens believed that they had killed St. George himself, and treated the body with every respect, and divided his clothes and equipment among them as sacred possessions.

The flag of St. George was a red cross on a white ground, and this badge was worn by the English knights and the English men-at-arms in the form of a white shirt with a red cross, over their armour. This shirt was called a “jacque,” from which our word “jacket” is now derived, and eventually the flag of England, which was the cross of St. George on a white ground, came also to be called a “jack,” from which the Union Jack derives its name.

From the fact that St. George appeared to lead them in their worst extremity in battle, knights used to be accustomed to call on St. George whenever they went into a fight, and their battle-cry thus became: “Ho, for St. George and Merrie England.”

St. George’s colours, as I have said, are red and white, and it is on that account that red and white roses are worn by all good Englishmen and good Explorers on St. George’s Day, which is the 23rd of April.

St. George was typical of what an Explorer should be. That is to say, that, when he was faced by a great difficulty or danger, however great it appeared, even in the shape of a dragon, he did not avoid it or fear it, but went at it with all the power he could put into himself and his horse, and, although inadequately armed for such an encounter with merely a sword, he charged in, did his best, and finally succeeded in overcoming the difficulty which nobody had before dared to tackle. That is exactly the way in which an Explorer should face a difficulty or danger, no matter how great or terrifying it may appear to him, or how ill-equipped he may be for the struggle. He should go at it boldly and confidently, using every power that he can to try and overcome it, and the probability is that he will succeed.


He was (as you know if you have read your Scouting for Boys) the founder of British Explorers, since he first started the Knights of England.

The story goes that he never died, but when sorely wounded in battle was taken away in a boat by three queens, no one knows exactly whither to some cave, where he still sits sleeping.

A long time ago a shepherd was sitting near “The Wall” in Northumberland, knitting his stockings, when his ball of worsted rolled down a crevice in the rocks. In clearing away brambles and rubbish to get at it, he came on a small cave, into which he crept. He went on, and on, and the cave became bigger and bigger, till at last he saw a light, and, pushing on he came to a great hall in the cavern, where a flame-fire glowed, but never flickered, and there was King Arthur, surrounded by his Knights, in armour, sitting asleep. On the table lay a sword, a garter, and a bugle.

The shepherd took up the sword and cut the garter with it, and a mysterious whisper then told him to blow the horn. He was about to do so when he saw King Arthur move, as if to wake; this so startled him that he dropped the horn and fled terrified back along the dark passages of the cave until he found himself once more in the open, and finally safe at home.

But he was never able again to find the spot where he entered the cave.

I don’t know if the Explorers will be able to find it especially as there is almost exactly the same story about a similar cave in Yorkshire, at Richmond, where I live and, I daresay, in many other places, too.

But, even if we fail to find Arthur and to awaken him to revive chivalry, we may still awaken his memory, and revive chivalry among ourselves.

A Sword which Stuck into a Rock

King Arthur, as I have told you in Scouting for Boys, was the son of the King of South England and Wales, but lived with his relations, and was not known to be the King’s son. When his royal father died there were doubts as to who was the rightful heir to the crown.

Then appeared a great sword sticking in a rock in the churchyard at Canterbury, with the legend on it that anybody who could draw this sword from the rock was the real King of England.

The noblemen of the country all came and tried and pulled and hauled, but could not make the sword move. At last, one day, Arthur’s cousin wanted to take part in a tournament, but found he had left his sword at home, and asked Arthur to fetch it for him. Arthur could not find the sword, but remembering the one in the stone in the churchyard he went and pulled at it, and it came out quite easily.

After the tournament he stuck it back in the stone.

The nobles, on hearing of it, went and tried again, but could not get the sword to move, but when Arthur came along he drew it again without any difficulty. Thus it was that they agreed that he must be King.

Even as a youth the King proved himself to be a valiant knight and a good horseman and swordsman. In those days, you must remember, it was the duty of a knight to be prepared to fight against anyone who insulted his country, or who was rude to a woman, or who was not strictly honourable and true.

But after a time Arthur proved to be perfectly invincible in a fight; nobody could beat him, and it came about in this way.

In one fight he had broken his sword, and he asked old Merlin, who was his adviser and guardian, where he could get another. Now Merlin was really a magician, and could work miracles, so he took him to a lake, where they saw far out in the water an arm and a hand standing up out of the water, holding a glittering sword.

Then there came to them a damsel who was called the “Lady of the Lake,” and she said that Arthur could have the sword on condition that he would give her something later on when she might ask for it.

So, having consented, King Arthur and Merlin got into a boat and rowed out to the sword. As Arthur took hold of it the mysterious hand which held it up let go of it and sank beneath the waters.

While Merlin rowed the boat back to the shore Arthur examined the sword, and found it to be a beauty. On the blade was engraved its name, “Excalibur,” which meant “Cut-steel,” a sword that would cut through an enemy’s armour. It also had a rich jewelled scabbard with it, which had the magic power so the legend says of preventing the wearer suffering from loss of blood if wounded. It would be a useful kind of sword and scabbard to get nowadays.

Armed with these, it is only natural that Arthur was able to carry through successfully a great number of hairbreadth adventures in the cause of honour and chivalry.

King Arthur and the Round Table

Having told you how King Arthur, the founder of British Explorers, obtained his kingdom and got his good sword “Excalibur,” I will tell you now about his Knights and the Round Table.

First of all you must know that King Arthur had some difficulty in maintaining his position as King because several chieftains in Wales refused to acknowledge him, and made war against him. But he got assistance from other Kings and defeated them. One of these, King Leodegrance, had a beautiful daughter, Guinevere, and Arthur fell in love with her, and eventually she became his wife. The wedding took place with great pomp and ceremony at London, and King Leodegrance sent as a wedding present to King Arthur a splendid great round table. The table is still to be seen at Winchester.

On the day of his marriage King Arthur founded an association of Knights, who assembled round this table to discuss their rules and duties, and so they became known as the “Knights of the Round Table.”

The Knights’ Oath

With great ceremony each of these Knights solemnly bound himself by oath always to act as follows:

To reverence God.

To be loyal to the King.

To be kind and merciful to all.

To be always courteous and helpful to women.

To keep from fighting except in a high and just cause.

To be always honourable and true.

To be always obedient to the laws of Knighthood.

Among these laws of Knighthood it was enacted that a Knight must always “Be Prepared ” with his armour on to fight for the right to defend the poor and helpless and his country. He must never break a promise. He must maintain the honour of his country, although it cost him his life. He must do his duty with cheerfulness and grace, his main duty being to do good to others.

If he failed to carry out these laws after swearing to do so he was considered dishonourable and unfit to wear the badge of a Knight, and could be killed, or expelled from the association.

The Knights and the Explorers

So if you compare the oath and duties of the Explorers you will see that they are much the same as those of the Knights of King Arthur.

When a young man was selected to become a Knight he had first to prove that he was capable, in every way, of carrying out his duties, just as an Explorer has to pass tests before he can gain his badge.

The young Knight had his armour just as an Explorer has his uniform; his badge of being passed as a Knight was a pair of gold spurs to wear and a shield on which was drawn his crest, while an Explorer receives a Explorer’s badge and the head of his patrol animal as his crest.

King Arthur himself had as his crest on his shield the lion of England and also the “Fleur-de-lys,” or arrow-head of the Explorers; and his first motto was “Always Ready,” like our “Be Prepared.” So you see in very many ways the Explorers are like the Knights of the Round Table of King Arthur.

The Grit of Knights and Explorers

Like the vow of the Knights, the oath which an Explorer takes on joining is no light thing, for it is an oath which he swears to carry out for life, and if he fails he breaks his word of honour; he is no longer an honourable, manly fellow, but merely a weak boy who makes a promise one minute and then has not the grit to stick to it. We don’t want such fellows in the Explorers; we don’t want them in our country.

If a fellow means to take up scouting or any other line, he should think first of all what it lets him in for, and if he finds that it involves too much of a promise for him to make, if he feels that he is not manly or plucky enough to carry it out later on, he ought not to take it up; it is better to remain an ordinary “common or garden” boy than to promise to carry out your duties as an Explorer and then to go back upon your oath and become a “slacker.”

Once you have broken your word of honour there is a taint about it which hangs to you for the rest of your days. The manly course is to see the good of what you are going to do; bind yourself on your honour to carry it out, and then stick to it through thick and thin.

The Holy Grail

As they were sitting round the great Round Table one evening at Camelot (Winchester), a sudden brilliant light filled the room and there appeared and passed before them the “Holy Grail” covered up in a silken cloth.

This was the dish or cup from which Our Lord was said to have eaten His last supper, and in which also Joseph of Arimathea caught some of His blood when He was hanging upon the Cross.

It had been carefully preserved in the Holy Land, but had eventually disappeared, and no one knew where it had gone to.

And now, as had been foretold by Merlin, the old magician, the Holy Grail had appeared before the knights, although partially concealed by the cloth. When the vision had passed away the knights at once agreed that it was a divine call for them to go and search for the lost cup, and many of them got up there and then and followed the example of Sir Gawaine, who said:

“I will make a vow, and that is that to-morrow, without longer abiding, I shall labour in the quest of the Holy Grail for a twelvemonth and a day, or more if need be, and shall not return unto the Court till I have seen it more openly than it hath been seen here.”

As the others stood up and made similar vows the king was much distressed, for he knew that he would lose the services of a grand lot of loyal friends and that many of them would never return.

Next morning there was service in the Minster of Winchester, and then the knights rode in full armour through the streets, where all the people came out weeping to bid them farewell, and they started off by different ways to seek the Holy Grail.

The knights met with various adventures while on their journeys.

Sir Lancelot’s Adventure

Sir Lancelot in the course of his wanderings came upon a little old chapel in the forest where he fell asleep and had a vision. It was of an old, sick knight coming to the chapel and being at once cured of his ailments; and then, being anxious to go at once on knight-errant service that is to fight in the cause of honour and to help the weak he took Lancelot’s helmet, sword, and horse. When Lancelot awoke he found that this part of his dream at any rate was true his sword and horse were gone.

He wandered forth and finally came across an old hermit living in the woods, who appeared to know everything about him and gave him advice as to his future conduct and way in life, and told him that he was as yet too full of sin to be allowed by God to find the Holy Grail. For one thing he was in love with Guinevere, which was not right as she was already the wife of another man of his king. He vowed therefore to break himself from this affection, and set himself to do his best to be a true Christian and more than ever to help other people.

By direction of the hermit he now took up his residence in an empty ship by the shore and lived there for over a month till one day he was joined by a knight, who proved to be Sir Galahad. They both rejoiced greatly at meeting again.

Like true Explorers they could turn their hands to anything and were able to manage their boat themselves. And thus they spent six months cruising about, doing good whenever they could.

At length one day they were hailed by a knight who appeared upon the shore leading a white horse, and he called Galahad ashore to come and mount and seek the Holy Grail by land. So Galahad and Lancelot parted.

Sir Lancelot Finds the Holy Grail

Lancelot sailed on for some weeks till he came to a castle whose door was open, but two lions were wandering about guarding it.

A voice called to him and told him that what he sought was within the castle, so he armed himself and landed, sword in hand, to tackle the lions. But again he heard the voice saying, “You are a poor creature if you trust to your armour rather than to God. When a danger is too great for you to manage yourself, ask God to help you, and then tackle it.”

Lancelot thereupon prayed for help, and, putting his sword back in the scabbard, he strode forward into the castle. The lions made a rush as if to charge him, but he walked past them, fully confident that God would keep him safe; and so he came to the inner part of the castle, to a room where he felt sure the Holy Grail must be; but the door was fast shut. He called on the Lord to reward him and let him see the Grail.

Thereupon the door was opened, but a voice warned him not to enter. But as he looked in he saw the Holy Grail in the midst of a blaze of light, and in his joy and eagerness he could not stop himself, but rushed into the room. Almost immediately he fell senseless, and was so found next morning by the inhabitants of the castle.

It took him twenty-four days to recover, and as he was twenty-four years old he said that probably he was given a day of illness as a punishment for each year of his life, which had been evilly spent in not doing good to others.

So feeling all right again he put on his armour, and, thanking those who had been so hospitable to him, he started to return home.

A Tenderfoot Knight

Sir Percival was one of the knights of King Arthur. He had been commended to the king as the younger brother of a number of men who had proved themselves good knights, so, in respect for these, the king made him a knight. But he was very young and shy, and altogether what we should call a “Tenderfoot” and so he was a good deal chaffed by the other knights.

At night when they sat down to dinner he was given a place at the lower end of the table; but then a strange thing happened. One of the queen’s ladies who was dumb entered the hall, and taking Sir Percival by the hand she led him to a more honourable seat, and as she did so she found her voice and said, BO that all could hear, “This is the proper seat for you and it belongs to no one but you.”

Then she went out of the room and shortly afterwards died.

The King and his Court were greatly struck by this, and from that time forward they treated Sir Percival with great honour and respect.

Sir Percival soon after set out on a journey of knight-errantry that is, like the Explorers, to see where he could be of assistance to others and to do them good turns.

He meant to go and find Sir Lancelot, who, having been rebuked for some fault by Queen Guinevere, had partly gone out of his mind, and had disappeared from the Court no one knew whither.

So Sir Percival and his brother, Sir Algovale started out to find him.

They first called on their mother to say good-bye to her, which shows that the knights of old had true reverence and regard for their mothers; but though she begged them to stay at home with her since their father and three brothers had been killed in carrying out their duty as knights, they stuck to their resolve to help their comrade, Sir Lancelot, whatever it might cost them.

Honouring a Servant

After they had left her she sent a messenger, or “squire,” after them with some money for their journey. After some hours he overtook them; but they would not allow him to come with them, so sent him back to her with their thanks and blessings.

On his way back this squire was benighted, and went for shelter to the castle of a baron who was an enemy of Sir Algovale. When he recognized the squire as his enemy’s servant the baron had him killed in spite of the fact that he was a guest in his castle.

Next day Sir Algovale and Sir Percival passed by that way and saw a burial going on, and found that it was their own squire who was dead killed by the baron.

So they got off their horses and went on foot into the castle and sent word in to the baron to say who they were and that they had come to demand satisfaction for the traitorous murder of their squire.

The baron came out sword in hand and went for Sir Algovale while some of his men set upon Sir Percival. But Sir Percival very soon showed himself a match for them, and when he had cut down one or two of them with his sword, the remainder fled. In the meantime Sir Algovale had killed the baron.

The two brothers then had their faithful squire buried with all honour in the Priory.

They had thus shown the true spirit of the knights; they had been quite as ready to risk their lives for the honour of a dead servant as for that of the living queen.

A Cut that Nearly Killed a Friend

After this the two brothers parted and went off by different ways to find Lancelot.

Sir Percival very soon met with another adventure. He came to a bridge and there found a knight, Sir Persides, who had been caught by some enemies; they had chained him to the bridge and left him to die of starvation.

Sir Percival, of course, went to work to rescue him, and drawing his sword he made a tremendous cut at the chain. And he was successful, for he gave such a mighty stroke that he not only cut the chain in two, but his blade also went through Sir Persides’ hauberk and slightly wounded him. While they were laughing over this for the knights, like their successors, the Explorers, were always cheerful they saw a man riding hard for the bridge.

“Look out,” cried Sir Persides, “this is one of my enemies come back.”

“Let him come,” replied Sir Percival. And as the stranger charged him, Sir Percival met him with such a stroke as not only knocked him off his horse, but sent him flying over the bridge into the river, where, if there had not happened to be a boat handy at the time he would have been drowned.

The Finding of Sir Lancelot.

After many wanderings and adventures Sir Percival came to a castle on an island where there was a knight who had no name, but who had challenged anyone who came along to come and fight with him.

So Sir Percival accepted the challenge, and the unknown knight presently sallied out. They charged each other with such might that both of them, horses and all, were thrown down; but they were quickly on their feet and, drawing their swords, they continued the fight on foot, and fought, as the old history relates, as “hotly as two wild boars” till both were badly wounded in spite of the armour which they had on.

But neither could get the best of the other.

At last, after they had been fighting for two hours (Think of that! Two hours fighting in heavy armour!), Sir Percival asked his opponent what his name was. The other knight replied, “I have no name. I am only known as ‘The knight who did wrong.’ What is your name?”

When Sir Percival told him, he cried out: “Alas, what have I done! I, too, was a knight of your company ‘The Round Table’ and here I have been trying to kill you all this time.” With that he threw away his sword and shield, and then confessed to Sir Percival that he was the missing knight Sir Lancelot.

You may imagine how pleased our tenderfoot, Sir Percival, was when he heard this, and especially five days later when he brought him safely back to King Arthur’s Court, at Camelot (Winchester); for all the other knights now treated him with greatest honour, for he had proved himself a true knight he had earned his badge as a First-class Explorer.

Sir Percival’s Adventures

When the Knights went off to seek the Holy Grail, Sir Percival went also, riding at first with Sir Lancelot. Passing through a forest they met a strange knight who attacked them both, and, good fighters though they were, he rolled them both over without killing them and then rode away.

This knight was really one of their own comrades, Sir Galahad; but all being shut up in their armour none of them recognized each other.

Shortly afterwards Sir Percival, who had parted company with Lancelot, was attacked by a hostile knight and about twenty men-at-arms, and they were getting the better of him and would have killed him, but at the critical moment a new knight appeared upon the scene and charged in to rescue the one who was being set upon by so many. In the words of the old history, “He dressed him towards the twenty men-at-arms as fast as his horse might drive, with his spear in the rest, and smote the foremost man and horse to earth. And when his spear was broken he set his hand to his sword and smote on the right hand and on the left hand so that it was a marvel to see. At every stroke smote him one down or put him to rebuke, so that they would fight no more but fled them to a thick forest, and Sir Galahad (for it was he who was again the strange knight) followed them.”

Sir Percival recognized that this knight must be Sir Galahad, so he ran after him, calling to him to come back to him, but it was no good. After a time, when he was resting, a woman came along and offered to get him a horse, and she presently brought him a magnificent black charger, already saddled, and he jumped on and rode off to find Sir Galahad.

The horse must have gone like a motor-car, for the legend says that it carried him as far in an hour as an ordinary horse would have done in four days.

Finally, he found himself on the edge of a great sheet of water which was very rough and dangerous-looking; so, before plunging in to swim it, Sir Percival prayed to God for help and made the sign of the cross.

The moment he did this, the horse which he was riding, plunged violently and threw him off into the water, and Sir Percival recognized that the beast was really a fiend who had been sent to tempt him and to bring him to a bad end. He got ashore all right and thanked God for his escape.

The Biggest Fight of his Life

By and by there came a vessel sailing towards him, and from it there landed an old man dressed in the white robes of a priest.

After saluting each other the priest told Sir Percival that he was very soon to fight the biggest fight of his life with the greatest champion of the world, but that if he fought well according to what he had been taught as a knight, he would not be killed nor badly wounded. Then the old man sailed away again.

Presently another vessel came in sight and made for the place where he was resting. This time there was a lady on board, who came up and spoke with him, and among other things told him that she had lately seen Sir Galahad in the forest; Sir Percival then told her that that was the man he was in search of, and she promised to bring him to him, but she begged him in the meantime to do her a kindness first.

Of course, as a knight, he offered eagerly to be of any assist- ance that he could. Then she explained to him that she had been a great lady, but that, owing to a slight quarrel, her husband had driven her from home the home which belonged to her and not to her husband. The servants all loved her so and pitied her that they had left him and come with her; but she badly needed the help of a knight to try and get back her own place again. So she begged him, if he could, to do something for her.

This he at once promised to do.

Meantime the servants pitched a tent on the shore, for it was a hot, sunny day, and prepared food and wine for the knight. When the lady gave him the wine to drink he noticed that it was very nice but very strong, and it rather went to his head.

She kept plying him with it, and, finally, when he was be- coming hot-headed and thoughtless, she begged him not only to see her righted in this case, but always to be her friend and champion and to fight for her if at any time she was insulted or endangered. As a knight he was at once eager to take up the cause of a woman in distress, and without thinking of the other work, such as the search for the Holy Grail, to which he had already vowed himself, he was on the point of swearing to devote himself to her, when by chance he happened to look at his sword lying beside him with its handle shaped like a cross.

In a moment there came back to him the recollection of his former oath and engagements, and horrified at his own forgetfulness of his duty he prayed inwardly for strength and made the sign of the cross.

The moment he did so, as legend says, “The pavilion turned up-so-down and changed into smoke and a black cloud,” and the lady sailed away over the roaring sea, angrily reproaching him. Then he recognized that she had been merely sent by the evil one as a temptation to lead him away from doing his duty.

So, thanking God for his release, he punished himself by driving his sword into his thigh.

Very soon afterwards the old priest came again to him and asked him what he had been doing. Percival told him how nearly he had been tempted from his duty, and the priest then said, “Yes, that was the fight I told you you would have a fight with the most dangerous enemy in the whole world, namely Satan. But you luckily remembered what you had been taught as a knight that is, to stick to your duty in spite of temptations, and so you won your fight.”

The End of Sir Percival. Later on Sir Percival met another of the knights, Sir Bora, and after they had been travelling together for some time in a ship, Sir Galahad came on board and joined them. And eventually, after many wanderings and adventures, they found the Holy Grail and had charge of it for over a year. At the end of that time Sir Galahad died, to the great grief of his friends. At the same time in a miraculous way the Holy Grail was lifted up and borne away into Heaven.

Sir Percival became a monk and died some fourteen months later.

Sir Bors made his way back to the Court of King Arthur and gave him the account of all that they had done and how they had found the Holy Grail.

Sir Bors

Now, about Sir Bors.

He was one of the Knights of the Round Table who started out to find the Holy Grail. On the journey he took counsel with a very learned and holy old man who warned him that only those would see the Holy Grail who lived a really pure and good life.

The Holy Grail was really what Heaven is to the ordinary man; only that man will see it who lives a clean life of doing good to others. The unclean fellow who gives way to his own lusts, who is unclean in his thoughts, words, or deeds, cannot see Heaven.

But Bors made up his mind that he would give way to no temptation, but would do all in his power to go straight and win his reward.

How Bors Deserted His Brother

One day, when he was riding along, he suddenly came upon two horsemen who were taking along a half-naked prisoner between them, and as they went they beat him with thorny sticks so that he was bleeding all over. To his horror and rage Sir Bors recognized the prisoner was his own brother, Lionel, and buckling up his armour he started to attack the horsemen and to rescue his brother.

Just at that moment, on the other side of him, he heard a shriek for help, and there he saw a young woman, who was being dragged away into a forest by a mounted man. As she caught sight of Sir Bors, she cried to him as a knight to save her.

It was difficult for him to know what to do at the moment. In the old history it says:

“Sir Bors had much sorrow to know what to do. ‘For,’ said he, ‘if I let my brother be in adventure (danger) he will be slain, and that would I not for all the earth; and yet, if I help not the maid in her peril, then I am ashamed (disgraced) for ever.’”

What would you my reader, have done under the circumstances ?

Well, this is what Bors did:

Although his natural inclination was to go and help his own brother, yet he felt it was his DUTY to help a woman first.

So, asking God to save his brother, he rushed upon the girl’s aggressor and felled him to the ground and soon released her. Very shortly afterwards her friends came along and received her from him with deepest gratitude and thankfulness.

Then Bors started off, like a true Explorer, to follow up the spoor of his brother in the forest. After a time he came upon an old man dressed like a monk, who, in reply to his inquiries, told him that Lionel had been killed by his guards; and he showed him a body lying hidden among the bushes.

Bors took up the body on his horse and carried it to a neighbouring chapel. I need scarcely say, how, as he went, he reproached himself for having deserted his brother, and yet he felt that he could not have done otherwise. So he buried the body with deepest grief, and then went on his way.

Two Brothers Fight Each Other

Not long afterwards on approaching a building, he was astounded to find his brother Lionel sitting outside it alive and well.

The monk who had shown him the dead body had been after all but one sent by Satan to hinder him from getting to see the Holy Grail.

When he saw his brother, Bors jumped down from his horse and ran to greet him. But Lionel stood back and told him he would have nothing to do with such a coward, and that there was only one thing to be done with so false a knight, and that was to kill him. Lionel then put on his armour and mounted his horse and called upon Bors to defend himself.

Bors, however, refused to fight his own brother and kneeled before him and begged him to desist. But Lionel was furious, and seeing that Bors would not fight him, he rushed upon him with his horse and trampled him under foot, so that Bors was knocked senseless. Lionel then dismounted and drew his sword to cut off his brother’s head, when an old man, who had been looking on, intervened and begged him to spare Bors’ life, and offered to die for him instead if taking life were necessary.

Lionel, in his anger, exclaimed that he was quite ready to accept his offer, and promptly cut the old man’s head off. But not content with this, he again went for Bors and began to unlace his helmet so as to cut his head off also.

Just then another Knight of the Hound Table came up and seeing what Lionel was at, he dragged him away from Bors; but Lionel, now mad with rage, attacked the new knight and killed him. Meanwhile, Sir Bors recovered his senses and tried to come to the assistance of the knight, but was too late. Lionel had killed him, and the next minute he turned on Bors who, though begging him to stop, now drew his sword in his own defence, for he said: “You have now slain one of the knights of our brotherhood, which is a greater crime than merely attacking your own brother.” At the same time he prayed God to stop the fight if possible. And just as they were coming together in the attack, a great flame of fire came between them and burned their shields, and both fell back and saw that they must not fight.

How Bors Found the Holy Grail.

Then Bors rode off on his journey and after a time came to the shore where he found Sir Percival’s ship, on which he then joined him.

After some adventures together they were joined by Sir Galahad, and with him they came to the Castle of Carboneck, where in the end they saw the Holy Grail.

Sir Galahad & The Siege Perilous

You remember that the great table round which the knights of King Arthur used to assemble had the names of the different knights written in gold at their different places. But there was one vacant seat which was called the “Siege Perilous,” or the ” dangerous seat,” because it would bring bad luck ona ny knight who sat there if he had any kind of fault or vice about him. So none of them had dared to try it.

One evening when they all came in and took their places for supper, they noticed that there was some writing on the table opposite the “Siege Perilous,” which said that this seat should be occupied on the 454th year after the birth of Christ. Well, that happened to be the very date of their assemblage that evening.

A Stone that Floated

While they were standing about waiting for supper, a curious thing happened: a man ran in and told them that there was a big stone floating on the river close by, with a sword sticking in it. So they ran out and saw it, and on the sword was written “No one shall draw me from this stone unless he is the man who ought to wear me, and he must be the best knight in the world.”

Bang Arthur turned to Sir Lancelot and said, “You are the best of the knights; this sword must be for you.” But Sir Lancelot said, “No, sir, it is not for me; I am no better than any other knight.”

Then the King made Sir Gawain try to draw it. He caught hold of it and tugged, but could not move it. Then the King made Sir Percival have a try, but he did no better. And, finally, a number of the knights in turn pulled at it, but without success. Afterwards they all returned to supper wondering greatly.

Galahad Joins the Knights

While they were eating, a very old man came into the hall leading with him a young man dressed in red, unarmed, and carrying an empty scabbard which hung from his belt.

The King, with the hospitality of an Explorer, asked the two to come and join them all at supper. The old man thanked him and led the young one straight to the dangerous seat, which had been covered over with a cloth. He lifted the cloth and it was seen that the writing which had been there had disappeared, and a new notice in its place said, “This is the seat of Galahad.”

Galahad was the name of the young man. Everybody was amazed. But King Arthur thought at once of the sword sticking in the stone, and so he took Galahad outside and asked him to see if he could pull the sword out.

Galahad seized the handle and drew out the sword quite easily. And as he put it into his empty scabbard, he jokingly said, “It seems to fit better there.” So he was at once accepted as one of the brotherhood of the Knights of the Round Table.

Sir Galahad’s Shield

When the Knights of the Round Table started out from Camelot (Winchester) to search for the Holy Grail, of course Sir Galahad went off too. But, you must remember, he had joined the knights without any weapons except a scabbard. He had got the sword out of the floating stone, but he still wanted a shield.

He started off on his travels without one, but four days later he came to an abbey where a beautiful shield was given to him. It was a white one with a red cross on it the same design that St. George of England had, and which is still shown on the centre of the Union Jack and on the white ensign of the Royal Navy. The shield was said to have been made by Joseph of Arimathea, the man who provided the tomb for Christ’s body after the Crucifixion.

A squire named Melias brought the shield to Galahad and asked to accompany him on his travels. But a few days later Melias was badly wounded in an encounter with a strange knight, and Sir Galahad was obliged to leave him behind in hospital while he went on to find some way of doing good turns to other people and to search for the Holy Grail.

The Castle of the Maidens

One day when Sir Galahad was saying his morning prayer to God, he heard a voice saying to him: “Go, Galahad, to the Castle of the Maidens and do away with the wickedness and cruelty which is going on there.”

He did not know where this castle was, but he prayed to God to guide him, and, getting on his horse, he rode off along the bank of the River Severn.

Soon he came in sight of a castle, and, on asking its name, was told it was the Castle of the Maidens; but he was at the same time strongly advised by all to turn back.

In reply to all their warnings and pleadings he said: “No; you may be sure that I shall not turn back. This is a great chance for doing some good and I’ll take the risks.”

The castle was held by seven knights, who were all brothers.

They had agreed among themselves to be revenged for some wrong that they had suffered by seizing everybody who came by their castle and imprisoning them there.

In this way they got a number of ladies and girls as their prisoners. Men were able to defend themselves and get away, and I suppose boys in those days were as cunning as Explorers, and managed to escape without being caught.

So Galahad looked to his armour and made sure that everything was right, put on his helmet, and, with a good spear in his hand, he rode up to the entrance of the castle.

A man came out and warned him not to come in as the knights in the castle would kill him if he did.

Galahad replied he did not care if they killed him; it was his duty to try and rescue all these poor captive ladies, and to put an end to the wickedness of these knights, and he meant to do so.

“Sir,” replied the man, “if you stick to that you will have enough to do.”

And he soon found it so, for, when he got inside the castle gate, the seven brothers all charged him at once. He killed the first with his spear, but had a rough time with the others, whom he fought with his sword. But he did not mean to be beaten, although they were six against one. He went at them so fiercely that they fell back before him and finally got driven out of their own castle.

Then Sir Galahad sounded a great ivory horn, which was used for calling together the people who lived round about on the lands belonging to the castle. And when they had come in he handed over the whole place to the lady who was its rightful owner, and released all the prisoners, and told the farm-people and tenants to protect their lady.

Of course, there were great rejoicings and the more so when they received news that the six knights in running away had encountered some more Knights of the Round Table and had been killed by them.

The next day Sir Galahad mounted his horse and rode on his way in search of the Holy Grail.

Sir Galahad to the Rescue

Sir Galahad was riding through a valley on his way to find the Holy Grail, when he heard the noise of fighting going on near him. He put spurs to his horse, and dashing forward he quickly came upon a curious sight. One knight was fighting against seven others, while there were more behind ready to go for him should they fail.

The single knight was Sir Percival, though it was not possible for Sir Galahad to recognize him, closed up as he was in his armour.

Still it did not matter to him who the knight was; it was enough that he was a plucky fellow and was not getting fair play in fact, he was on the point of getting killed, as his horse was down and he was hard put to it to protect himself.

Sir Galahad did not wait to count the odds against him; it was his business as a true knight to help any one in distress, although it might cost him his life, so he did not wait a second, but charged straight at the nearest man as hard as he could, and in the collision he rolled him over, horse and all. But he smashed his spear in doing so and had only just time to draw his sword before the others were upon him.

However, he went at them with such pluck and determination that he beat one after another of them down, and at last they began to hang back from him, and finally they turned and fled into the forest with Sir Galahad in hot pursuit behind them.

No Thanks

And so he disappeared from Sir Percival, who, having no horse, was unable to follow him, though he tried to do so on foot, in order to do his duty to his rescuer that is, to thank him. But I expect Sir Galahad kept on into the forest in order to avoid being thanked, and to keep his name a secret, because no truly brave man likes a fuss to be made about what he has done when he has been carrying out his duty.

Remember that, Explorers, when you have done a good thing, don’t hang about to be thanked or to be made a hero of, get away quietly and unnoticed. That’s the way with Explorers as with the knights of old.

Galahad Meets Old Friends

Some time after this adventure, Sir Galahad was riding along the shore when he came to a ship anchored close by, and on the beach was a knight whom he soon recognized as Sir Lancelot.

Of course, they were delighted at thus meeting each other, and for some weeks Sir Galahad stayed with Sir Lancelot on board, cruising about to see if they could be of use to any one.

At last Sir Galahad was called away by a knight who came riding along the shore, leading a splendid grey horse for him.

Galahad felt that this was a call to him from God, so he started off on his travels again to seek the Holy Grail.

He was resting one night at a hermit’s hut in a forest, when a woman, riding on a cob, called urgently for him to arm himself and come with her. He did not mind being roused up from his sleep. He quickly got his armour on and, mounting his horse, followed her as fast as possible through the forest till she brought him to the shore; and there he found a vessel in which were his old comrades Bors and Percival. So he thanked the lady and, leaving his horse behind, he embarked in the ship with them and set sail.

After a time they came to the island and castle of Carboneck where Sir Lancelot had already been and found the Holy Grail. It was now their turn.

How Sir Galahad Found the Holy Grail

They entered the great hall of the castle, where, as they sat at the table, they saw a vision of Christ, who came to them with the dish in his hands which they recognized as the Holy Grail.

He told them that they were to go on board a ship, and the Holy Grail would go with them to another place. And so it happened.

They sailed away with the Holy Grail till they came to a place called Sarras, where they took it ashore and set it up amid great rejoicing of the people.

Sir Galahad Becomes a King

But the king of the place did not like their coming, so he had the three knights seized and put in a dungeon. But they were so cheered by the feeling that they [had found the Holy Grail that dungeons did not matter to them, they felt that God was watching over them. And so it turned out, for soon afterwards the king fell sick, and when he found he was dying he sent for the knights and begged their forgiveness for falsely imprisoning them. Of course, they at once forgave him, for there is no sense in keeping up a nasty feeling against any one, even though he may have done you a bad turn at one time or another.

Shortly afterwards the king died, and, having no son to succeed him, the people chose Sir Galahad to be their king in his stead.

Sir Galahad had a splendid table made, upon which the Holy Grail was set up, and he and his knights prayed before it every morning.

The End of Sir Galahad

At the end of a year there appeared to the knights a man, dressed like a bishop, accompanied by a number of angels, and he called upon Sir Galahad and said that he had come as a messenger from God to him for two reasons.

Firstly, because he had earnestly sought for the Holy Grail in spite of dangers and difficulties since it was his duty. He had put his duty before all other things, and therefore God was pleased with him.

And secondly, he had been ” clean and virtuous ‘ -that is, he had kept himself from evil thoughts or acts of any kind whatever. He would not allow his mind to dwell on them for a moment, nor would he allow his tongue to say bad things to or about other people; but he had always been honest and brave and manly. And, therefore, God was going to take him to a higher fellowship than even that of the Knights of the Round Table that was the fellowship of the saints and angels in Heaven.

That was the reward for having been a good knight who stuck fearlessly to his duty

So Sir Galahad bade “Good-bye” to his comrades Percival and Bors, and knelt down before the altar and prayed. And as he did so his body fell forward dead, but his soul went up to Heaven.

It is said that at the same time Percival and Bors saw a hand come down which took the Holy Grail off the altar and carried it up to Heaven, and since that time no man has ever seen it again.

There was great grief among the people at the death of Gala- had as they had all come to love him dearly. After the funeral, Sir Percival went into a monastery as a monk, and only lived for about a year after Sir Galahad.

Sir Bors after many adventures succeeded in getting back to King Arthur, at Camelot, where he was received with the greatest rejoicing by the other knights, who had long thought him to be dead.

By the King’s order he told all the adventures that had be- fallen Sir Galahad, Sir Percival and himself, while a number of clerks sat by and took down his story in writing, and this record was afterwards kept stored in a great chest at Salisbury.

How Melias Got the White Shield

Sir Melias, although not so well known in history as some of the other knights, was not a bad sort.

You may remember that when Sir Galahad became a knight he had no weapons, but these gradually came to him by various strange chances. At one time a fine white shield with a red cross upon it was handed to him by a young squire. This squire was Melias, who was squire (or what we should call “orderly “) to a knight named Bagdemagus. This is how he got the shield.

At a certain abbey where Bagdemagus was staying, there was kept this great white shield, and there was a legend attached to it that if anybody used it who was not a really good knight in every way, it would not protect him in a fight, but would allow him to be wounded.

Sir Galahad and Sir Uwaine were also staying at the abbey, and they all went together into the chapel, where the shield was kept to have a look at it. Bagdemagus was so pleased with its appearance that he said he must try it. So he took it, and, putting on his armour, he mounted his horse and rode out to seek adventures.

The Fight for the Shield

It was not long before he met with more adventure than was good for him. He met with a hostile knight and at once proceeded to attack him. But the strange knight, in the charge, drove his spear past the shield, and through the armour, into Bagdemagus’ shoulder, and so unhorsed him. He dismounted and, taking the shield from Bagdemagus, warned him that he had done a silly thing in imagining himself to be the best knight in the world; he was not worthy to wear the shield, and had therefore got wounded.

Then he called to Melias, and handing the shield to him told him to take it at once to Sir Galahad and to give it him, and tell him that he was the knight for whom the shield was intended.

Melias, although given this pleasing mission by a great and powerful armed warrior, did not at once obey his order, because he thought his duty lay first with his own master, Bagdemagus.

So he went and tended him to begin with. He used his knowledge of “first aid” and bound up his wound, he then caught his horse and somehow managed to lift him on to it, which must have been a difficult job, considering the weight of the armour which knights wore in those days.

Then he led the horse slowly back to the abbey, where his master was lifted down, undressed, and put to bed, and there he lay for a long time in danger of dying, but eventually recovered.

Sir Galahad Grateful

Meantime Melias took the shield to Sir Galahad with the strange knight’s message, and Galahad used it always after- wards. But before he had made use of this fine present, Galahad did not forget the Explorers’ motto that “a present is not yours until you have thanked for it.” And he rode out to the place where the strange knight lived and thanked him for the shield, and after that he set out in greater confidence to seek the Holy Grail.

Melias Gets His First-Class Badge

But before starting he also wanted to thank Melias, the squire, for bringing him the shield, and finding that he was the son of the King of Denmark, and a very plucky as well as good-hearted lad, he made him a knight, just as a Leader  might give a good tenderfoot an Explorer’s badge.

But Melias, now Sir Melias, begged that Sir Galahad would allow him to be his squire and to accompany him on his travels. So Galahad consented and they started off. About a week later as they were riding along they came to a cross-road where a notice said that if a knight took the left-hand road he would soon have a chance of showing his skill for he would be attacked; if he took the right-hand road he would not come out alive unless he were a good man in every way and a well- trained knight.

Sir Melias begged that as they must each take one or other of the roads, he might take the right-hand one in order to prove that he was a good knight and true, even though it was to be at the risk of his life.

Sir Galahad at first wanted to take it himself, but finding Sir Melias so eager, he gave up his own desires and took the other road instead.

Sir Melias’ Great Adventure

Sir Melias rode into the forest, and after a time he came upon a table spread with food, and also a golden crown lying on the ground. He did not want the food, but when he saw the crown he could not resist the temptation to pick it up and take it with him. He had no sooner done so than a strange knight suddenly appeared riding towards him and calling upon him to defend himself. Sir Melias did not hesitate a moment, but dashed forward to meet the newcomer, with all the hope of proving himself a good knight. But as they crashed into one another the stranger drove his spear through Sir Melias’ armour and he fell to the ground badly wounded.

Fortunately, Sir Galahad came riding along that way very shortly afterwards, and found him lying senseless. So he dismounted and bound up his wound. But while he was doing so, Galahad was suddenly attacked by the strange knight, who had come back to the spot; but Galahad success- fully unhorsed him and wounded him, when he was suddenly attacked from behind by a second stranger. Sir Galahad turned on his assailant with such fury that he very quickly defeated him also and drove both of them off into the forest. He then got Melias up on to his horse and brought him safely away to an abbey, where he handed him over to the care of an old monk. After an affectionate farewell he continued his journey. But Melias lay for many weeks in hospital.

Sir Melias’ Mistakes

As the monk pointed out to him, it was through his own fault that he had got wounded.

In the first place he ought not to have considered himself a real knight until he had been thoroughly trained as one (just as a tenderfoot should not pretend to be a first-class Explorer till he has passed the tests). He had too good an opinion of himself. Then, when he knew Sir Galahad wanted to come by the right-hand road, he should have given up his own desire and let his friend have it. He was, therefore, selfish. But his worst act was to take the crown away; it was nothing more nor less than stealing. And to give way to a temptation like that showed that the young knight was not half manly enough. And to steal a thing is so dishonest, entirely against what a man of honour would do, that it proved he was not as yet fit to be considered a knight, and he richly deserved all that he had got in being half-killed.

Be Prepared

So it would be with a Explorer if, after he had been made a first-class Explorer, he went and let himself be tempted to forget his honour, to be selfish, and to steal, or lie, or do some other sneaking thing. He would no longer deserve to wear the badge or to be reckoned as an Explorer.

Every young Explorer will, like Melias, come to a chance one day or other of proving whether he is unselfish or not, and whether he can stand the temptation to be dishonest. Well, if you make up your mind to Be Prepared for this, you will come out of it all right, instead of being defeated like Melias.


King Arthur’s Examination of the Knights

King Arthur is said to have thought out for himself the same question which is put to you, namely which was the best of his knights; but you need not be bound by his choice if you have reasons for thinking differently.

Only a small number of the knights who had set out to find the Holy Grail returned to Camelot (Winchester), and only two of these had seen it.

Sir Bors was one. He was a good, honest, and plucky fellow, but was not content with seeing the Holy Grail unless his friend, Sir Lancelot, could see it too. Probably this was the cause of his success, because so often it happens that if you try and do a good turn to some one else, the luck comes to you. And yet if you try to get the good thing for yourself you often fail, and even if you succeed it never gives you the same pleasure.

When the knights were standing before the king, Bors was keeping in the background, putting his friend Lancelot forward; but King Arthur saw him and called to him to come forth and tell his adventures. He very unwillingly told, in a few words, that he had seen the Grail; but he would not say much, which is the way with men who have done big things, and he was feeling so unhappy that he should appear to have done better than his friend Lancelot.

So then the King asked Lancelot, calling him at the same time “the mightiest of the knights.”

But Lancelot knew that, although brave and chivalrous, he did not deserve the King’s praise or affection, because he was deceiving him all the time about his wife, Queen Guinevere. So Lancelot could only confess that, though he had seen visions, his sin was too great to allow him actually to see the Holy Grail itself.

Sir Gawain, when asked how he had got on, had to confess that in his wanderings he had met with cheerful company, and had spent a good time with them instead of going on with the hardships of travelling about looking for the Holy Grail. So that, though a bright and brave young fellow, the King saw that he was not steady enough and had not got the grit to go through difficulties to carry out his duty, so he was no good.

Then Sir Percival gave his account of what he had done, and told the King also about Sir Galahad who was dead.

And the rest of the knights were also questioned. But it is difficult to know what opinion the King came to as to which was the best; his opinion has not been recorded. It is an interesting point to think out for yourself.

Explorers are Knights Seeking the Holy Grail.

Now this is the whole meaning of the stories of King Arthur and his knights. Every man or boy who goes out into the world is a knight, and the Holy Grail is the Spirit of God. If he goes through his life trying to find that Holy Grail, doing his duty without selfishness and in spite of difficulties, such as poverty, temptations, want of time, and such things, he will in the end, ” see the Holy Grail,” he will get his reward from God.

And with you, Explorers, it is the same thing. You are knights bound by your oath to carry out the knights’ (or Explorers’) Law.

You are going about doing your duty, helping others, keeping straight and honest, cheery and brave, and, if you stick to that through thick and thin, you will see your Holy Grail you will get your reward.

Therefore it is a good thing for you to think out which was the best of the knights and why, and then to follow his lead in all that you do and avoid the faults of the other knights.

There is not so very much to choose between the different Knights; they were very much like any other body of Explorers some a little better, some a little worse than others, but all trying to do their duty aright.

Of course, the whole story of the Knights is rather mixed up, and not entirely true, although founded on facts. England was in those days divided up into various kingdoms, and King Arthur only reigned over one of them, but his rules for the Knights, and the splendid way hi which they carried them out, attracted the notice of many others, not only in England, but also in Germany and elsewhere, and, as there were no newspapers and very few books, the story of their deeds was told by one person to another, and for many years afterwards, so that it got a good many changes into it, and knights who had done great deeds in other countries came to be mixed up in the story with those of King Arthur, and so gradually were counted as King Arthur’s Knights.

But this does not affect the main point of the whole story, the general lesson of which was that if any man binds himself to carry out the rules of an association like the Knights or the Explorers, and really does so, in spite of dangers and temptations to give it up, he will in the end find his Holy Grail — that is, he will feel the greatest happiness of mind while on earth and will go to Heaven at his death.

The rules of the Knights, as you know, were these:

First. To be faithful to God and the King.

Secondly. To help other people.

Thirdly. To obey the laws of chivalry.

These were, to be always ready with your armour on, except when sleeping at night.

To defend the poor and helpless.

To do nothing to hurt or offend others.

To be prepared to fight in the defence of your country

To do all things honourably and honestly.

Never break a promise.

Maintain the honour of your country, even if it cost you your life.

Die honest rather than live disgracefully.

Do all your duty cheerfully.

And so also any Explorer should truly carry out the same rules, in spite of any temptations to slack off and to merely do the play part of scouting, and not the work. If he can stick to it and can carry out these rules, especially that one to do good turns daily to other people, he will in the end find his Holy Grail that is, he will know what true happiness is, he will rise to great things, and he need have no fear of death, for he will get his reward in Heaven.

B-P’s Outlook: Fundamental Ethics

IN the Scout and Guide Movements we merely lay before the boys and girls the simplest fundamental ethics of religion, and then get them to put these into practice. So simple and fundamental are these that to the superficial critic Scouting appears to be “without religion.” Yet the student and the user of Scouting know otherwise.

I have said we adhere to simple and fundamental ethics; this is partly because these can be the more readily digested by the children (and digestion is essential if food is to do any good), and partly because being at the base of all denominational forms these ethics offend none of the various beliefs with whose members we have to deal.

We put them as Christ taught them in their two simple forms:

Love thy God with all thy heart;
And the second is like unto it?
Love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

But it is not enough for children to learn texts merely in the abstract and to repeat them parrot-like on occasion; that would soon pall and would have little effect on their character or their life.

So we put the two commandments into active form.

Love for God. — For inducing a better realisation and love for God we do it to a great extent through investigation of His works. This, it must be remembered, is a step and not a substitute; and the story of David Livingstone tells how valuable a step it can be in laying the right foundation in a young mind.

Nature craft, or the study of Nature in her numerous forms, and the appreciation of all her wonders and beauties, appeals to almost every child. The camp or the outdoor hike brings girls and boys into dose touch with the plants, the animals, the birds, the rocks, and their other comrades as God’s great family.

The mystery of the sea and the heavens, and the fascination of the colouring of the scene, and the modelling of the scenery can all be brought within their ken where formerly they were blind. The door of the young soul is thus opened for the understanding teacher.

Even where the out-of-doors observation is difficult, there are new wonders to be investigated in every inch of our own anatomy, the knowledge of which (again at the hands of an understanding teacher) can be of infinite value to both in showing the Creator’s marvellous work, in developing a deeper reverence for this body that has been lent to us, and in showing how it should be cared for and developed and reproduced as a part of the performance of one’s duty to God.

Love for Neighbour. — In promoting the second commandment, love for one’s neighbour, we urge our Scouts and Guides to express this in active form by doing, even in an elementary way, good service for others.

The daily good turn, without desire for reward, which grows by progressive stages till it becomes a habit of conduct, goes on till it involves sacrifices in time or money or pleasures, even to the extent of involving danger to the life of the performer.

We teach the boy that a gift is not his till he has expressed his gratitude for it. His attitude to God is, therefore, thankfulness for benefits received; and his method for expressing this is through service, in behalf of God, to his fellow-men.

This repression of self and development of that love, which means God within, brings a total change of heart to the individual and with it the glow of true Heaven. It makes a different being of him. The question becomes for him not what can I get, but what can I give in life.

No matter what may be the ultimate form of religion that he takes up, the lad will have grasped for himself its fundamentals, and knowing these through practising them he becomes a true Christian with a widened outlook of kindliness and sympathy for his brother men.

Otherwise, we know too well that there are dangers in ignoring the psychological side and overstressing the theological and spiritual with children.

We may gain the few but we may lose the many. We may bore them while under our hand so that the moment they are free they abjure religion altogether. We may be manufacturing prigs and humbugs; we may be promoting superstition rather than faith.

But on the foundation prepared as I have described, the subsequent building of religion in its approved form is comparatively easy; indeed, it follows almost automatically where well directed.

When we have a leaven of citizens of that mark in our nation, bringing the Christian practice into their daily occupation, there will be less of the narrow class and sectional differences and more of the wide-hearted kindly brotherhood, so that even national patriotism will not be the highest point of a man’s aim, but active goodwill for, and cooperation with, his fellow-men about the world as being all children of the one Father.

From this should ensue the reign of peace upon earth.

July, 1924.

Fallacy of the Week: “Scouting is un-Catholic”

Pope St. John Paul II with Polish rover scouts of the FSE

Pope St. John Paul II with Polish rover scouts of the FSE

The Catholic Church is a hierarchical Church in which the Pope and the bishops in communion him have the right and the duty to teach, sanctify, and govern. One would think, therefore, that the fact that there is no condemnation of Baden-Powell’s educational method (in fact, as we’ll see below, not only is there no condemnation of it but rather the opposite) is sufficient to show that scouting is not un-Catholic; for if it were un-Catholic, then the Pope and the bishops in communion with him have failed in their duty to teach, sanctify, and govern for over 100 years. The scouting movement, in all its flavors, is not insignificant — there are somewhere between 25 and 40 million scouts and guides throughout the world today, about 8 million of whom are Catholic (and it must be added that the ICCS’s number includes only those who belong to mainstream, WOSM/WAGGGS scouting and guiding associations). I don’t believe it is possible, on the one hand, to be Catholic and believe what Catholics believe about the authority of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him while, on the other hand, holding that scouting is un-Catholic. It would be akin to saying that football (whatever variety) is un-Catholic.

Pope Benedict XVI, scout

Pope Benedict XVI, scout

It is true that in the early years of scouting, there were Churchmen in continental Europe who were suspicious of the new movement. There were two articles published in the French Jesuits’ journal Études that were critical of the new movement; and in 1913 Jacques Sevin, S.J. (then a Jesuit scholastic) was asked by his superiors to look into the scouting movement (with happy results). It is also true that the Italian Catholic scouting association ASCI (founded by Count Mario di Carpegna, a member of the Pope’s Noble Guard) was suppressed by Pope Pius XI in 1927 (according to one source, 1928), but that decision was a political one — to ensure the survival of Catholic Action under the Fascist government — rather than moral or doctrinal. The suppression was lifted in 1944 when the Fascists fell out of power. We know the Pope’s decision was political because he had spoken in favor of the scouting movement in 1923 and had received an international pilgrimage of scouts in audience in 1925.

You are not only scouts that are Catholic, but Catholic scouts, that is to say, Catholics that bring from the daily practice of their duty to God, and their neighbor, an energy and generosity that is taken to the commitments made, and to the training received as scouts.

— Pope Pius XI, International Pilgrimage to Rome, 6 September 1925

So the only evidence that one might marshal in favor of scouting’s being un-Catholic is that (a) near the turn of the 20th century, some French-speaking clergy disapproved, and (b) that one Catholic scouting association was suppressed by the Pope under pressure from an unfriendly government. Not exactly the sort of evidence that would hold up long under cross-examination! The Scouts of France were started in 1920 by Fr. Jacques Sevin with ecclesiastical approval, and even if one could argue that Pius XI suppressed the ASCI due to cause, he did not suppress any other Catholic scouting associations such as the Scouts of France or the Baden-Powell Belgian Boy Scouts (founded by Jean Corbisier in 1912). Therefore, the worst one could say is that scouting is a morally neutral public activity like football, and perhaps the exigencies of the age require that Catholics participate in public activities that are morally good to the exclusion of those that are morally neutral.

Pope Benedict XVI receiving the neckerchief of the FSE

Pope Benedict XVI receiving the neckerchief of the FSE

This, however, is not tenable any more than the blanket negative statement on scouting. Every Pope since Pius XI (with the exception of John Paul I) has commented favorably on the scouting and guiding movement. The words of Pope St. John Paul II and his successor Benedict XVI are particularly pertinent.

The meeting of the scout method with the insights of Fr Sevin, S.J., has made it possible to develop an educational program based on Gospel values, in which each young person is led to grow and to develop his personality, thus making his talents fruitful. The scout law, training young people in the way of virtue, invites them to moral rectitude and a spirit of asceticism, thus directing them to God and calling them to serve their brethren; by striving to do good, they become men and women who can play a responsible role in the Church and in society. In a troop, at camp, and in other situations, Scouts discover the Lord through the wonders of creation, which they are called to respect. They also have a valuable experience of ecclesial life, meeting Christ in personal prayer, to which they can become accustomed, and in the Eucharistic celebration. In addition, Scout unity gives young people the opportunity of an apprenticeship for life in society with mutual respect.

— Pope St. John Paul II, Address to the International Catholic Conference on Scouting, 1998

For a century, through games, action, adventure, contact with nature, a team spirit, and service to others, an integral formation of the human person is offered to everyone who becomes a scout.

Made fruitful by the Gospel, scouting is not only a place for true human growth but also for a forceful presentation of Christianity and real spiritual and moral development, as well as being an authentic path of holiness.

It would be appropriate to recall the words of Fr. Jacques Sevin, S.J., the founder of Catholic Scouts: “Holiness does not belong to any specific period and has no specific uniform.” The sense of responsibility inspired by the scouting pedagogy leads to a life in charity and the desire to serve one’s neighbor in the image of Christ the servant, relying on the grace that he bestows especially in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

— Pope Benedict XVI, Letter on the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Opening of the First Scout Camp, 2007

Pope Francis greets a young wolf cub

Pope Francis greets a young wolf cub

In addition, Pope Francis sent the following message to the Guides and Scouts of Europe on the occasion of Eurojam 2014:

If we accept the Lord’s invitation to go towards him and to experience his love that fulfills our hearts with joy, then he will take off any fear: fear of God, fear of the other, fear of facing the challenges of life. And he will send us to announce his love to the ends of the earth, and serve our neighbor in the most remote peripheries.

But this is possible only if we cultivate our friendship with Jesus, trying to meet him more, especially in his Word and in Sacraments. The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist form a unique saving event in which we are configured to Jesus Christ dead and arisen, becoming new creatures, members of the Church. How many generations owe to the scout method their growth on the way of holiness, the practice of virtues and in particular greatness of soul!

— Pope Francis, To the Guides and Scouts of Europe gathered in Saint-Evroult-Notre-Dame-du-Bois, 2014

Given what has been related above, what possible reason could a Catholic have to claim that scouting is un-Catholic? Even if one believes, as some do today, that recent Popes have sometimes faltered in their teaching office, or been less than completely clear in their exercise of that office, what of the approval of Pius XI and Pius XII? I don’t think this can be so lightly set aside. In truth, to claim that “scouting is un-Catholic” is to reject the authority of the Church — fine if one belongs to another religious confession, not at all fine if one is Catholic and wishes to present oneself as a loyal son or daughter of the Church.

Archbishop of Westminster Francis Cardinal Bourne (with Lord Baden-Powell to his left) blessing a troop's colors

Archbishop of Westminster Francis Cardinal Bourne (with Lord Baden-Powell to his left) blessing a troop’s colors

It is true that scouting is not for everyone. Many things which are nevertheless good are not for everyone. For example, the consecrated religious life is not for everyone, yet it is certainly good. I realize that one can’t really compare scouting to the religious life — religious life is certainly necessary for the Church, while scouting isn’t; religious life is mentioned in Holy Scripture, while scouting isn’t; etc. But while all things that are necessary are good, not all things that are good are necessary.

FNE Explorers Winter Camp

Our FNE Explorers group, North Star FNE, recently had its first winter camp. (You can read about it here, or at least see a bunch of pictures.) Since I was responsible for planning the weekend’s Timber Wolf program, I would like to offer a few personal reflections.

Everything came together nicely, and I can say without false humility that that would not have been the case if it weren’t for my brother leaders. Planning food, activities, and two nights’ campfires is probably too much for any one person. Thankfully, we each have our strengths and weaknesses; some people are better at putting together a campfire program, while others are better at shopping for and cooking food for 25 (it’s only when our youth reach the Explorer level and are working as a patrol that we expect them to shop and cook for themselves, though we do like to introduce our Timber Wolves to some of the basics of campfire cooking, setting up a camp kitchen, etc.).

A fireplace can be a good substitute for a campfire. If we had had a smaller group with us, we could have had a fire outside and stayed (relatively) warm – it was a cold weekend! – as it was, with the larger group, we sat around the fireplace and did the same songs, skits, and cheers we would have done outside. And we cooked 48 hot dogs in the fireplace as well! (Pro-tip: put 24 hot dogs in a disposable foil tray, cover with heavy duty foil, place on the embers of the fire, with additional embers on top, and the hot dogs will be done in 15-20 minutes.)

Since I was in charge of the Timber Wolf program, I did not make it over to the Explorer camp to see how they were doing, but they seemed to deal with the cold pretty well and overcome a lot of the hardships associated with camping in such weather (such as needing three hours to cook breakfast outside on Saturday morning).

Camping over Super Bowl weekend is a good way to ensure that you have a park almost entirely to yourself.

Last, this list would not be complete without a shout out to our brothers in West Virginia, Our Lady of the Annunciation FNE, who traveled four hours each way in the bitter cold (with snow threatening on the ride home) to share camp with us.

Semper parati!