Imitating the Saints: From Don Quixote to the Whiskey Priest

by R. Jared Staudt

Imitating the Saints: From Don Quixote to the Whiskey Priest

Readers should need no introduction to The Ingenious Knight Don Quixote de la Mancha. Infected with a madness focused on the bygone era of knight errantry, Don Quixote leaves home to enact a new golden age of chivalry. As Don Quixote says to his loyal squire: “Friend Sancho, I would have you know that I was born, by the will of heaven, in this iron age of ours, to revive in it an age of gold, or golden age as it is often called. I am the man for whom dangers, great exploits, valiant deeds are reserved” (1.20). Of course, this new knight errant succeeds only, for the most part, in making a fool of himself and unwittingly terrorizing innocent people across the countryside.

In some ways Don Quixote is a fit image for the struggle against the modern world. The old golden age of Catholic culture has passed away and new age of iron (or worse) has come in its place. To look back on the great deeds of our ancestors should inspire us to action, even if the odds seem hopeless. To most around us, such action would be as foolish as attacking windmills or flocks of sheep. Yet, the fight itself is noble enough to risk the shame and humiliation of defeat.

That said, Don Quixote can also reveal an Achilles heel in the modern Catholic revolutionary. Don Quixote became delusional from reading too many chivalric books; books meant to entertain the reader with unrealistic accounts of the valor of their heroes, more fantastical accounts than ones meant to edify and imitate. In response, his parish priest burnt his books in hopes of removing the source of his madness.

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