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?