While making the usual Holy Communion rounds in French-speaking Cajun-back-bayous-of-southern-Louisiana some decades ago, a grandma complained to me that her grandson was working the drills of the oil platforms out on in the Gulf. This was a complaint in that her grandson was writing to her, himself complaining that he couldn’t get promoted out of this most dangerous job in the world (really, take a look at that 59 second video… what a fright), that is, unless he joined up with, you know, one of those, you know, groups that are made up of, you know, members who are, you know… And he, good Catholic that he was, wouldn’t do it. Yep. That was decades ago. But this dynamic continues pretty much everywhere all the time. Yep. But we’re Catholic. We don’t pretend that we are the architects of the universe, bearing some sort of creative light. We worship God, not ourselves. That makes the self-absorbed-in-darkness-crowd nervous, but maybe that nervousness will bring to them to repentance and heaven. Great.
Tag Archives: Freemasons
My good neighbor was asked by, I’m guessing, a common friend who was all shocked and awed as to whether my good neighbor is going to war with me, a Catholic priest, because, after all, my good neighbor hoisted a Freemason Knights Templar flag. I’m not sure of any particular symbolism of that particular form of hoisting other than that he might be baiting all and sundry to make a comment… and if you know, leave a comment!). My good neighbor laughed as he told me this story of alarm about whether or not he was going to war with me. He’s not a Freemason. He just tries to read up on a bit on the history, and, of course, he knows he’s also baiting me all the while, as many have been doing regarding Freemasonry for quite some time, although with a different motivation.
I’ll take the bait. I’ve just ordered a yet much older flag to put up, pre-dating any Freemasonic rubbishing of the Military Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, you know, the Hospitalers that you see in great force during their annual Lourdes pilgrimage with untold numbers of sick in wheelchairs and rolling beds. The flag is due to arrive in a box on December 30, 2020. The flag is three feet by three feet. I can’t wait to put it up:
Maybe I don’t have the right to fly that standard, but if I remember correctly, I was honored in some way back when I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes. I would help them in what ways I could when they all arrived in great numbers.
Anyway, that flag will go nicely between the American Flag and the Thin Blue Line Flag on the rectory. The weather-worn papal flag is gracing the inside of the always open car port, still very visible to all on the street.
Here’s the deal. There’s been some rough, violent history between the Freemasons and the Catholic Church. Yes. Emotion doesn’t solve anything. Even entrenching in all entitlement to be upset with historical data doesn’t solve anything. What makes a step forward is fearless reason. Of course, being the Catholic priest, I know that the only way to be fearless in reasoning is to be enlivened by a faith which doesn’t fear being forgiven, doesn’t fear giving witness to all that is true and good, even laying down one’s life to do this.
To put it bluntly: I’ve offered to give a conference to all the Freemasons in the region about the more recent history specifically from the perspective of Canon Law, that is, the published law of the Catholic Church concerning various “societies.” We would start, say, with the 1917 Code of Canon Law, then go through some wild interventions of the “Inquisition”, that is, the “Holy Office”, that is, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, starting in the early 1970s, that is, within living memory of some of our more distinguished gentlemen round about. The truth provided in reason is always enthralling.
My offer is still hanging in the air. Just…. hanging….
My neighbor, I’m guessing, is trying to get all this kick started, and I thank him for that.
The last thing we need these days to have antagonism that is based merely on known unknowns which can all be easily rectified, as a start, with some good knowledge. There are also unknown unknowns, but that’s for another day. Let’s put it in a way that the local crowd in WNC and beyond can easily understand, at least by way of their own vocabulary:
Let’s bear some light, doing up some architecting. I want to reach out to what for many in the Church are peripheries beyond peripheries, though not perceived to be that way at all by those consider themselves to be there.
- To the Masons I ask this: Am I beyond hope? If I’m someone just trying to do good all day, every day, to everyone, am I beyond hope?
- To the Catholics I ask this: Am I beyond hope if I’m trying to reach out across an emotional divide whereby the mere placement of a flag is thought to be a declaration of a war? Am I beyond hope to bring out the what and wherefore and why of present Church legislation?
Triumph over the grave above vs the grave below…
From the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in 1983, that is, a year after the promulgation of the new revision of Canon Law in 1982:
1. The Church’s negative judgment on Masonry remains unchanged, because the Masonic principles are irreconcilable with the Church’s teaching.
2. Catholics who join the Masons are in the state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.
3. “No local ecclesiastical authority has the competence to derogate from these judgments of the Sacred Congregation.”
The reason for this even if there is no malicious direct violence against the Church at a specific given time in a specific given place is that the principle of Freemasonry which is so destructive of the faith is the insistence on the relativity of truth. God is Truth, and cannot be manipulated. So faith and Freemasonry don’t go together. Freemasonry, because of its insistence on relativity of truth must necessarily be bullying from the top on down. This is pure ideology.
Disclaimer: I’m not a Freemason and don’t participate in their rituals, so, what do I know? There is plenty of literature by disaffected Freemasons. Go read that to find out all that which is ever so boring to me. Though if I had someone in the parish willing to take me through all the rituals, one by explaining the significance of all the little bits and pieces, I think that would be most instructive as to what the Freemasons are all about. Otherwise, that discussion is simply a distraction. I would rather talk about my own experiences, or about directives on the Catholic side of things so that we know what’s expected of Catholics regarding Freemasonry and why. I do know about my own experiences of course, and I happen to know quite a bit about recent directives from the Holy See about just what it is one is to do in the face of Catholics joining Freemasonry. Let me begin with what might become a series of articles by relating my first experience with a Freemason, and if a Freemason objects that no one speaks for Freemasonry, then neither does he.
I was twenty years old and over in Italy, seriously thinking about going into the seminary, already piling on the academics and getting introduced to the piety and philosophy and theology and liturgy and history and saints and spirituality of the Catholic Church, all new to me, really, since my parish back home was really quite pitiful in all these areas. A friend, if I can call him that, from Los Angeles and also over in Italy for studies, had just given up on his vocation to the priesthood altogether and was instead bragging that his father was really wonderful because he was a high-up Freemason, all the way up, actually. As he went on and on about life as a Freemason he became much more animated, filling himself with adrenaline, his eyes becoming as wide as saucers, and he began dancing about as a boxer might just before engaging in a first punch, but instead he was striking the air to punctuate his statements about his father and Freemasonry and what doors can be opened. The more filled with adrenaline one becomes, the less that which is reasonable can make up part of the picture. He was sweating and extremely nervous. He now quickly moved on to two points:
- One of the things his father told him was that when one is high up in the Freemasons there is an expectation that one will kill a Catholic before one dies. Now, I don’t know if that be the truth or not and that’s not the purview of this account, but there was no reason for him to lie, especially in view of what he was about to do.
- He then immediately told me to prepare to get my neck broken, you know, in the sense, of course, that one might “break” one’s knuckles by popping a bit of air in the joints. “Just let it happen,” he said. And then, totally wide-eyed and way overflowing with adrenaline he proceeded to just about break my neck by just about ripping it right off my shoulders, twisting it right around and forcing it with all his might when it stopped, dragging my whole body off balance and to the side. This was no simple chiropractic move nor was he a chiropractor. Little did he know that he was dealing with Mister-Super-Loose-Skeleton-Guy (that would be myself, another of my many genetic “defects” which saved me quite a number of times). My self-rotation range of motion for the head is only about 90 degrees in one direction, but with a bit of pressure this can be forced a bit more. And he did try to extend this beyond 110-115 degrees but couldn’t do it. I’m really very thick necked. But he was really very big, perhaps 6′ 4″ and 275 pounds and very strong indeed. At the time I was only about 170 pounds. When all was said and done, my C2 et al. really hurt (and still do now and again). I didn’t hear any popping, but I sure did hear, perhaps from the inside out, what sounded like fractures. When you tell someone a “If I tell you I’ll have to kill you” bit of information, you have to make sure to kill that person after you tell them whatever it is you’re bragging about. He failed I’m happy to say. I guess my stiff-necked muscles intervened. I also have a great guardian angel. [All guardian angels are great!]
I looked up this guy’s name on the internet and came up with a spitting image of him in Los Angeles where he wanted all his dreams to come true. He hasn’t changed a bit in 36 years. Amazing. If it’s him. But I really think it is. A spitting image, if I do say so. If it is him, the pictures, taken to be published widely – he’s famous now – indicate that he needs prayers. Such immorality. Such dishonor. Such disrespect for others. I don’t necessarily put that on the Masons. It is what it is in the history of his own life. I forgive him. I hope he comes around before he dies.
I know. I know. To those who say Freemasons don’t exist and that they were created by conspiracy theorists, blah, blah, blah, I say, count the number of Lodges in your neck of the woods.
Moreover: You have to know that what I say here doesn’t for a second stop me from listening to what Freemasons have to say to me, if anything. But more on that later. And just to say, what I do have to say was highly appreciated by someone as high up in Freemasonry as this fellow’s father. Bear with me, those on either side.