Isn’t Nobility passé?
For people who consider titles of Nobility not as decorations, but as obligations and duties, no! Nobility as an example to follow has always had meaning.
One nobility belongs to all the faithful, one dignity, one splendour of race, since all are born of the same Spirit and of the same sacrament of faith, and are sons of God and coheirs of the same inheritance; the rich and the powerful have no other Christ besides Him Who is followed by the poor; they are initiated in no other sacraments, and have no higher expectation of the Celestial Kingdom; all are brethren and members of the Body of Christ, of His flesh and of His bones.
The Catechism of Trent, as quoted by Kenelm Henry Digby in The Broad-Stone of Honour
The true Catholic principle regarding the life of man, is of course Vocation; the fulfillment of the unique purpose and mission in accordance with God’s will. It is intrinsically bound up with the final end of Man, the call to holiness and virtue. It is this principle which must be the foundation of any Catholic Nobility. However, since it is true that not only does all of Mankind share in an inherent nobility (disgraced but not debased by the Fall), but also that all of the Faithful share in a Nobility of Royal Priesthood, wherein does the concept of a separate hierarchical Nobility find its justification?
In one way Man was to be haughtier than he had ever been before; in another way he was to be humbler than he had ever been before. In so far as I am Man I am the chief of creatures. In so far as I am a man I am the chief of sinners. All humility that had meant pessimism, that had meant man taking a vague or mean view of his whole destiny—all that was to go. We were to hear no more the wail of Ecclesiastes that humanity had no preeminence over the brute, or the awful cry of Homer that man was only the saddest of all the beasts of the field. Man was a statue of God walking about the garden. Man had preeminence over all the brutes; man was only sad because he was not a beast, but a broken god. The Greek had spoken of men creeping on the earth, as if clinging to it. Now Man was to tread on the earth as if to subdue it. Christianity thus held a thought of the dignity of man that could only be expressed in crowns rayed like the sun and fans of peacock plumage. Yet at the same time it could hold a thought about the abject smallness of man that could only be expressed in fasting and fantastic submission, in the gray ashes of St. Dominic and the white snows of St. Bernard. When one came to think of one’s self, there was vista and void enough for any amount of bleak abnegation and bitter truth. There the realistic gentleman could let himself go—as long as he let himself go at himself. There was an open playground for the happy pessimist. Let him say anything against himself short of blaspheming the original aim of his being; let him call himself a fool and even a damned fool (though that is Calvinistic); but he must not say that fools are not worth saving. He must not say that a man, qua man, can be valueless. Here, again in short, Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious. The Church was positive on both points. One can hardly think too little of one’s self. One can hardly think too much of one’s soul.
-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy