Chaput said that history plays an important role in Christian culture. "Just as memory anchors each person's individual story, history plays the same role for cultures, nations and communities of faith. History is our shared memory. … A community dies when its memory fails," he said.
Pointing to the Poor Brothers of the Order of the Temple of Solomon, The Knights Templar, Archbishop Chaput expressed the need for men to remember the order's courageous commitment to charity, truth, and chastity.
The Knights Templar began 900 years ago, after the First Crusade recaptured Jerusalem from Muslim rule in 1099. The religious community was established to defend pilgrims journeying on the roads near Jerusalem, protecting them from Muslim raiders and highway criminals who robbed, raped, killed, and kidnapped, Chaput said.
"As warriors, the men had skills," he explained. "The men had taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Patriarch of Jerusalem. And their first task, under obedience, was to patrol the roads."
Archbishop Chaput said this was a "new knighthood," different from those medieval knights who were "heavily armed male thugs – men obsessed with vanity, violence, and rape."
The church took knighthood and made it into something holy, he said, noting that while some men didn't live up to Knights Templar ideals, most embraced the prayer, courage, and chastity the order called for.
"[Knighthood] provided the animating ideal at the core of the Templars: to build a new order of new Christian men, skilled at arms, living as brothers, committed to prayer, austerity, and chastity, and devoting themselves radically to serving the Church and her people, especially the weak."