Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Last Day of Pope Benedict XVI

Whether you are Catholic or not (as I am), this day is a historic day. Today marks the last day for Pope Benedict XVI as he has resigned (something not seen in 600-years).

Nicole Winfield, a reporter for AP, has reported the following:
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has greeted the faithful for the last time as pope, telling well-wishers gathered at the Vatican's vacation retreat that he is beginning the final stage of his life as a "simple pilgrim," hours before he becomes the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.  

Benedict arrived at Castel Gandolfo after an emotional sendoff from the Vatican, where his closest aide wept by his side as he bade farewell to Vatican officials gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, Swiss Guards standing by at attention.

Bells tolled as he left the Vatican by helicopter and did a fly-by around St. Peter's Square. They tolled anew as he arrived in Castel Gandolfo, where the central piazza was jammed with people eager to capture the historic moment.
Once he arrived at Gandolfo, he addressed the crowd:
Dear friends, I'm happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of creation and your well-wishes which do me such good. Thank you for your friendship, and your affection. You know this day is different for me than the preceding ones: I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8 o'clock this evening and then no more.

I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this Earth. But I would still ... thank you ... I would still with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength, like to work for the common good and the good of the church and of humanity. I feel very supported by your sympathy.

Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the church and the world. Thank you, I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing. Blessed be God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!"
He turned and went inside the villa, never to be seen again as Pope.

At 2:00PM (Eastern time) the Papacy will be officially vacant and two Swiss Guards that ceremonially watch over the summer villa will march away and not return until the new Pope takes possession of the hilltop residence. At this time his Papal ring, the Ring of the Fisherman, will be destroyed in a solemn ceremony, which for this resigned Pope will symbolize the end of his authority as the Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God, and Bishop of Rome. During this leaderless time (sede vacante), the Camerlengo serves as acting head of State of the Vatican City. He is not, however, currently responsible for the government of the Catholic Church during this time; the College of Cardinals has limited authority over the government of the church during the Papal vacancy.

Benedict will stay at Gandolfo until April when renovations should be completed on a convent in the Vatican that will be his new home.

One of Benedict's last acts was to give the College of Cardinals authority to meet sooner than March 15th, which would have been required under the old rules. It is thought that we could see the next Pope before mid-month. Well, may God guide these men to select the proper man to lead the Catholic Church out of this tumultuous time.

Templar Charities

At the beginning of this month, the 2nd to be precise, my Commandery held its annual Groundhog's Day Breakfast which is used to help raise money for two of the Templar charities, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation and Knights Templar Holy Land Pilgrimage. The former is probably the more well-known of the two, but the latter has a unique service to those who serve in the worthy profession of minister.

Knights Templar Holy Land Pilgrimage

The mission of this charity is "to send ordained Christian ministers on a Biblical study and historical and cultural immersion experience who would not have the opportunity otherwise." It is hoped that this will strengthen their ministry as they are provided with a chance to walk around the Holy Land where Christ walked and take part in intensive study programs

The committee that governs this organizes and supervises the planning and execution of the overall program and the groups of ministers' travel.

Sir Knights from the local Commanderies submit nominations for a local minister to the Committee on Holy Land Pilgrimage of the Grand Commandery of their State. The State Committee reviews the nomination and selects the number of ministers they willing to send over based on funds available. Local Commanderies can choose to pay 100% of the costs and fully sponsor a minister. These selected nominations and 100% sponsored are then sent up to the Grand Encampment's Holy Land Pilgrimage Committee and this committee is responsible for the full funding of the ministers' travel.

The travel usually occurs between February and March, and last 11-days; two of the days are travel days.

Costs vary from year to year, but the price is announced each Spring by the Committee. The costs cover the round trip flight from NYC to Tel Aviv, fuel surcharges, airport taxes, 9-nights' accommodations, 8-breakfasts, 7-lunches, 8-dinners, program expenses, and some other basic fees. They do not cover personal incidents, souvenirs, and the travel from the home state to NYC. Usually the local Commandery will cover these costs, but the Grand Commandery can also choose to cover if they have the funds. It is important to note that the NYC-Tel Aviv travel costs are covered by the Grand Commandery and not the Grand Encampment.

For more information please check out the Holy Land Pilgrimage website.

Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF)

The most notable charity of the Knights Templar is the Eye Foundation which seeks "to improve vision through research, education, and supporting access to care.”

According to the Foundation:
The Knights Templar Eye Foundation is committed to support research that can help launch the careers of clinical or basic researchers committed to the prevention and cure of potentially blinding diseases in infants and children. We support clinical or basic research on conditions that can or may eventually be treated or prevented. Examples include but are not limited to amblyopia, congenital cataract, congenital glaucoma, retinopathy of prematurity, ocular malformations, congenital nystagmus, and other hereditary eye diseases such as retinal dystrophies or retinoblastoma.
The KTEF is committed to preserving sight and preventing blindness since its creation in 1955. Historically funding went to direct patient care as well as research and education, but with the recent passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act the mission and direction of the KTEF changed to solely funding research and education efforts.

The KTEF was founded by Sir Knight Walter Allen DeLamater from New York. A veteran of the first World War he was known to be involved in many diverse fields of interest, but would eventually choose Templary to be his life's great work. In the military he would become the only person in his Regiment's history to rise from Private to Major General and served his country with commendable courage on many different fronts of war and conflict. After his time overseas he returned to civil service in New York where he served in several important assignments.

DeLamater was initiated into Halterman Lodge #412 in Middletown, NY, on July 26th, 1917. He was considered a very talented Mason and was knighted in Yonkers Commandery #47 on March 17th, 1921 where he rose quickly through the ranks. He served as Grand Commander in 1934 and was elected to the Grand Encampment in 1937. At the 1946 Grand Conclave the Sir Knights heard the story of DeLamater's vision he had received while awaiting an operation to fix a blood clot that was causing him paralysis and other problems for a number of years. In the vision he said that angels spoke to him and said that he must heal the blind as Jesus did and then made a miraculous recovery from what was seen as a near death experience.

He sought out to fulfill his divine mission and prior to the 1952 Triennium (where he was Deputy Grand Master), he began his campaign. He launched a brilliant campaign promoting Knights Templar Eye Hospitals in connection with existing hospitals throughout the US. During the meeting there were many heated debates and arguments that were noted to have lasted into the hallways after the meetings had finished. After was all said and done, they rejected the phrase "Eye Hospitals" and adopted "Eye Foundation". After clarifications, resolutions, and amendments this proposal finally was passed with a 3/4 vote.

According to the Edmund Ball in A History of the Founding of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation:
From the very beginning, a Medical Advisory Council consisting of able and dedicated ophthalmologists from all over the country guided the Foundation. For a good many years funds for research were granted somewhat promiscuously on recommendations from knowledgeable Sir Knights but without particular focus. This would be corrected a number of years later when the distinguished Dr. Alfred Edward Maumanee, Jr., Director of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, established a Scientific Advisory Committee in 1985, consisting of five distinguished ophthalmologists from over the United States. This committee screens all the proposals for grants for research and pediatric ophthalmology.
To accomplish their goals, the KTEF annually announces its call for research grant applications. Applicants may see Career-Starter Research Grant, Competitive Renewal Grant, or a Training Mentors for Developing Countries (TMDC) Fellowship. The received applications are screened by the Scientific Advisory Committee who then recommend to the Board of Trustees which requests should be granted and awarded. From its beginning to August 2012, the Foundation has reported that it has spent $137,000,000 on research, patient care, and education.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Persian Decree Coming to America

While on the Masons of Texas website I noticed a thread talking about an ancient proclamation, known as the Cyrus Cylinder, is coming to America. This ancient declaration is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several fragments, which is written in Akkadian cuneiform script that was discovered in the ruins of Babylon in 1879.

I clicked the link and read the following story:
The Cyrus Cylinder is a small unprepossessing barrel-shaped clay cylinder inscribed in enigmatic-looking cuneiform, and yet is one of the most iconic objects in the unparalleled world collection housed at the British Museum.

It is an object with many meanings and provides a link to a past that we all share and to a key moment in history that has shaped the world around us.

As such it is an object of international significance and is about to start a tour of five major U.S. museums, debuting at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington in March 2013. The tour is supported by the Iran Heritage Foundation.

The Cylinder was buried under the walls of Babylon around 539 B.C. after the Persian king Cyrus had captured the city. It describes how Cyrus was able to defeat the Babylonian king Nabonidus with the aid of the Babylonian god Marduk, who had run out of patience with Nabonidus and his shortcomings.

Once he had entered the city, Cyrus did not burn it to the ground (as usually happened with conquered cities at this period) but he freed the population from forced labor obligations, sent back to various shrines statues of gods, and allowed the people who had been brought to Babylon by the Babylonian kings to return to their homes. By this act, he was effectively allowing people to pursue unmolested their own religious practices.

After it had been buried, the cylinder lay undisturbed for more than 2,400 years until it was dug up in 1879 by a British Museum excavation led by Hormuzd Rassam. When the Babylonian cuneiform was translated, it was immediately realized that the cylinder had a very special significance.

Here was corroboration of one of the best-known stories in the Hebrew Bible, the liberation by Cyrus of the Jews deported to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar and their return to Jerusalem to build the Second Temple. Although the Jews are not mentioned by name in the cylinder, they clearly must have been among the people allowed to return home at this time, with their temple goods.

The cylinder also confirmed existing impressions of Cyrus. In the Hebrew Bible he is variously described as the Lord's Shepherd and the Messiah, no doubt largely because of his favorable treatment of the Jews.

Not only did he allow them to return to Jerusalem, but he also restituted the temple treasures seized by Nebuchadnezzar and provided royal funds to pay for the rebuilding of the temple.

In consequence, Cyrus has been favorably viewed by many Jewish writers, not least in the context of the foundation of the state of Israel. But it is not only in the Bible that Cyrus was revered. The Greek author Xenophon made him the subject of a political romance that seeks to establish the principles of good government, and his book "Cyropaedia" (the Education of Cyrus) is even said to have been consulted by Alexander the Great.

I wish I lived on the East Coast so I could go and see this exhibition. The story of King Cyrus and his decrees are central in Royal Arch Masonry as this degree surrounds the story of the Jews return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Second Temple.

Here are is an image of the cylinder with a plaque:



Monday, February 18, 2013

Eusebius

For Knight Companions, the title for members, of the Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Appendant Orders of the Holy Sepulcher and of St John the Evangelist, or simply Red Cross of Constantine, Eusebius is an important character as he is noted for writing on the early Christian history as well as being a participant in the First Council of Nicaea.

He was also referred to as Eusebius Pamphili, since he was close friends with Pamphilus of Caesarea, and was Bishop of Caesarea Maritima. Caesarea Maritima, or also known as Caesarea Palestinae, today is a national park along the Israeli coastline roughly between Tel Aviv and Haifa, but in ancient times it was a city and harbor built by King Herod around 25 BC. It has also been known as Caesarea of Straton, Caesarea of Palestine, Caesarea Palaestinae, Colonia Prima Flavia Augusta Caesariensis, Herodian Caesarea, Horvat Qesari, Kaisariyeh, Kessaria, Migdal Shorshon, Qaisariya, Qaisariyeh, Qaysariyah, Qesari, Qisri, Qisrin, Strato's Tower, Straton's Caesarea, Straton's Tower, and Turris Stratonis. Caesarea Maritima was named in honor of Augustus Caesar. The city became the Seat of the Roman Prefect soon after its founding. This city is the location of the 1961 discovery of the Pilate Stone, the only archaeological item that mentions the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, by whose order Jesus Christ was crucified. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Caesarea was first introduced to Christianity when Peter the Apostle baptized Cornelius the Centurion, his household, and his soldiers.

Through the collections of Origen of Alexandria and Pamphilus of Caesarea the theological school of Caesarea won a reputation for having the most extensive ecclesiastical library of the time containing more than 30,000 manuscripts. It suffered some damage by the hands of the Roman Emperor, but after the Christianization of the Empire it was restored by the Bishops of Caesarea and existed until the conquest of the Muslims.

Eusebius was born around 263 AD and would become a noted Roman historian and debater of Christian theology. He would become Bishop of Caesarea in 314 AD. His noted works include Demonstrations of the Gospel, Preparations for the Gospel, On Discrepancies between the Gospels, the Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, and The Chronicle and On the Martyrs. For his efforts he would be referred to as the "Father of Church History".

Little is known about the actual life of Eusebius, but what we do know comes to us from the writings of his ecclesiastical successor, Acacius, who wrote Life of Eusebius, a work that has since been lost. This work may have been lost because Eusebius was on the losing side of the arguments over Arianism. It is presumed is that he was born and lived in Caesarea. He was baptized and instructed in the city by Agapius, the current Bishop of Caesarea, who would later make him a presbyter or minister.

Eusebius was influenced by Origen of Alexandria and Pamphilus of Caesarea whose primary aim was to promote sacred learning. Eusebius helped expand Pamphilus' school and library which would attract many theologians such as St. Jerome. Eusebius continued Pamphilus' work even after he was imprisoned around 307 AD. Towards the end of the 3rd century, Eusebius began writing Historia Ecclesiastica or Ecclesiastical History which was a 10-volume narrative history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age to the time of Eusebius. It was written in Koine Greek, and survives also in Latin, Syriac and Armenian manuscripts. This would have been a daunting task since no one had ever written such a history prior to this, there is no single collection of key documents, no books profiling key figures, no chronology of major events, or even a fixed system of dates. According to tradition he said:

"I feel inadequate to do it justice as the first to venture on such an undertaking, a traveler on a lonely and untrodden path, but I pray that God may guide me and the power of the Lord assist me, for I have not found even the footprints of any predecessors on this path, only traces in which some have left various accounts of the times in which they lived."

Some theologians and scholars have called into question the validity of Eusebius' writings as they were less about facts and more about the rhetoric and propaganda of the time.


Eusebius succeeded Agapius as Bishop of Caesarea around 314 AD. As Eusebius was a learned man and famous for his writings on early Christian history he was invited the Emperor Constantine to attend the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. It was here that the argument over Arianism and the theology of Origen grew to a head. The biggest opponent was Eustathius of Antioch. At a synod (an assembly of clergy) in Antioch, Eustathius was deposed and Eusebius prevailed, but soon another opponent would surface under the name of Athanasius of Alexandria. Two more synods would be convened summoning Athanasius, but he refused to attend and rather went to Constantinople to bring his cause to the Emperor. As a result Athanasius was exiled since Eusebius was still in Emperor's favor. Eventually Arius would be censured and eventually Arianism would be rejected. Eusebius was reluctant to sign the agreement of the Nicaean Council, but he preferred to support unity and peace within the Church since he was not an Arian himself, but rather he opposed anti-Arianism.

After Constantine died around 337 AD, Eusebius wrote the 4-volume book Vita Constantini, or Life of Constantine, which is considered an important historical work because of eye witness accounts and the use of primary sources.

Eusebius died around 339 AD; he would have been around 76-years old.

References

1. Eusebius of Caesarea. (2008, August 08). Retrieved from Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/131christians/scholarsandscientists/eusebius.html

2. (n.d.). Acts 10:1. In Holy Bible, King James Version. 

3. Caesarea Maritima. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesarea_Maritima
4. Caesarea Maritima. (n.d.). Retrieved from Bible Places: http://www.bibleplaces.com/caesarea.htm

5. Church History (Eusebius). (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_History_%28Eusebius%29
6. Eusebius of Caesarea. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusebius_of_Caesarea

7. Eusebius of Caesarea. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/196614/Eusebius-of-Caesarea

8. Eusebius of Caesarea. (n.d.). Retrieved from Free Dictionary: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Eusebius+of+Caesarea

9. Eusebius of Caesarea. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam Webster dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eusebius%20of%20caesarea

10. Eusebius of Caesarea. (n.d.). Retrieved from Biography Base: http://www.biographybase.com/biography/Eusebius_of_Caesarea.html

11. Gill, N. S. (n.d.). The Third Century Historian Eusebius of Caesarea. Retrieved from About.com: http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/historians/g/Eusebius.htm

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Saint Valentine

The famous Day of Love has arrived and some will be celebrating it with their love and some will celebrate it as a day of "single awareness", but how many know the history and legends of this day and the Saint behind it?

Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentine or Valentinius who by all stories is said to be a sympathetic hero and the stories display him in a romantic light. The history and legends of the St. Valentine is clouded in the fogs of history. The most popular myths surround men who stood up against the persecution of the Roman Emperor Claudius II (also known as Claudius Gothicus). The story of Valentine of Rome is one that states he assisted the persecuted and when captured refused to turn away from his Christian faith. Another popular is of Valentine of Turni and the myth is that the Emperor had forbidden Christians and soldiers from getting married, and Valentine defied this order for which reasons he was arrested and placed in prison. It is also said he tried to convert the Emperor over to Christianity and for such insolence he was beaten with clubs before being beheaded which was said to have occurred on February 14th, in either 269 or 270.

With both of these stories it is said that he was in correspondence with the daughter of Asterius, a jailer. One states that at one point he had restored her vision and others state that on the eve of his execution he signed his letter "From your Valentine".

Pope Gelasius I established on February 14 as the Feast of St. Valentine in 496. Some speculate that this celebration was established to better assist in the Christianization of pagans as they celebrated Lupercalia, a holiday that took place in February and was centered around fertility and purification; it was a month of romance and it is said this is when birds begin to mate and it is plausible that this inspired the phrase "love birds". Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture (and is equivalent to the Greek god Pan), as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

This day didn't become the "day of love" until around the 14th and 15th century when you see the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer. The day then started to evolve where lovers would express their love by sending cards, presenting flowers, or giving confectionaries which would become to be known as "Valentines". The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The practice of anonymous card giving didn't come about until the late 18th and early 19th century when printing technology was evolving rapidly enough to produce greeting cards and mail them to one another. It was in the 1840s that mass-produced Valentines began to be sold in the US by Esther A. Howland who became to be known as the "Mother of the Valentine". Valentine gifts continued to evolve and it spread to the US and eventually became much commercialized.

The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US. Half of those valentines are given to family members other than husband or wife, usually to children. When you include the valentine-exchange cards made in school activities the figure goes up to 1 billion, and teachers become the people receiving the most valentines and women purchase approximately 85% of all Valentines. With the creation of the Internet and its wide use, it is estimated that 15-million "e-Valentines" were sent in 2010. Valentine’s Day is the second biggest holiday for greeting cards with Christmas being the first. Valentine's Day is celebrated in the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, and Australia.

Today Saint Valentine is considered to be the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, traveler’s, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

References

1. St. Valentine, Famed Romantic and Religious Martyr. (2012, February 14). Retrieved from Time: Newsfeed: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/02/14/saint-valentine-famed-romantic-and-religious-martyr/

2. Saint Valentine. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Valentine

3. St. Valentine. (n.d.). Retrieved from Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=159

4. Valentine's Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine's_Day

5. Valentine's Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from History Channel: http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day

6. Valentine's Day History. (n.d.). Retrieved from Infoplease: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/valentinesdayhistory.html

The Five Points Symbolism

By N.A. Mcaulay

Foot to foot that we may go,
Where our help we can bestow;
Pointing out the better way,
Lest our brothers go astray.
Thus our steps should always lead 
To the souls that are in need.

Knee to knee, that we may share
Every brother’s needs in prayer:
Giving all his wants a place,
When we seek the throne of grace.
In our thoughts from day to day
For each other we should pray.

Breast to breast, to there conceal,
What our lips must not reveal;
When a brother does confide
We must by his will abide.
Masons to us known,
We must Cherish as our own.

Hand to back, our love to show
To the brother, bending low:
Underneath a load of care, 
Which we may and ought to share.
That the weak may always stand,
Let us lend a helping hand.

Cheek to check, or mouth to ear
That our lips may whisper cheer
To our brother in distress: 
Whom our words can aid and bless
Warn him if he fails to see,
Dangers that are known to thee.

Foot to foot, and knee to knee,
Breast to breast, as brothers we:
Hand to back and mouth to ear,
Then that mystic word we hear,
Which we otherwise conceal,
But on these five points reveal.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

RIP George Sellars

23 June 1938
-
10 February 2013
I am saddened to say that Companion George Sellars, the Most Puissant General Grand Master of the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International passed away this last Sunday; he was 74-years old.

For those who knew him or knew of him, had probably heard of his failing health due to cancer. I never knew personally, but Dave Grindle, the General Grand Recorder, was friends and spoke of him fondly. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who were touched by this man and Mason.

Companion George as born and raised in the State of Michigan where he earned a BA in Biology, History, and Business; and took postgraduate study in Engineering, Economics, and Management. He served in both the Army and the Navy, worked for 34-years for a Public Utility Company, and for 15-years as Owner of a Construction and Consulting Firm.

He was married to his wife Brenda for nearly 50-years. Together they had two children, Anne and Paul.

George was initiated in 1961 and was a member of several Lodges in Michigan. He served in various distinguished capacities. He was exalted as a Royal Arch Mason in 1971 where he served as High Priest and as President for the Michigan Holy Order of High Priesthood. He was greeted as a Cryptic Mason in 1975 and a member of several Councils and served in various capacities and began his ascent up the ladder in Cryptic Masonry in 1984 with his first appointment to the officer line. He elected to serve the Grand Council of Michigan as Most Illustrious Grand Master in 1988 and after his time continued to serve on several committees.

In the General Grand Council he served as Ambassador and Regional Deputy General Grand Master before being elected as General Grand Principle Conductor of the Work in 2005. He moved up the ranks and in 2011 he was elected as the Most Puissant General Grand Master.

He was knighted in Mt. Clemens Commandery #51 in 1975 where he served as Commander, Recorder, and for the Grand Commandery served as Grand Sword Bearer and Grand Sentinel. He was awarded the Knight Commander of the Temple by the Grand Encampment in 2002.

He was a member and officer of other Masonic organizations which include: York Rite College, Knights of the York Cross of Honor, Tall Cedars of Lebanon, Philalethes Society, Scottish Rite, Scottish Rite Research Society, Quatuor Coronati Lodge #2076 in London, Shriners, Allied Masonic Degrees, Royal Ark Mariners, Grand College of Rites, Royal Order of Scotland, SRICF, Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests, Red Cross of Constantine, National Sojourners, Knight Masons, Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon, and the Grotto. He was a recipient of the Legion of Honor, Order of DeMolay.

Companion, you're feet have brought you to the end of your journey, you've laid aside the working tools of this life, and pierced through the veil of mortality to see beyond that Supreme Lodge where the Great Architect of the Universe resides. Rest well and in peace.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Hierarchy of the Knights Templars

While today the Masonic Knights Templar doesn't perpetuate the belief of any direct lineage to the medieval Knights Templar we use their name in commemoration of the noble and Christian virtues they practiced. While we do commemorate and celebrate their deeds the American Templars have drifted and varied from the leadership structured established by the Crusaders who followed the Latin Rule of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Today the local level, the Commandery, is governed by a Sir Knight elected annually to serve as the Eminent Commander. To assist him in the government of meetings and in the conferral of the Order of the Temple, there are the following officers: 
Generalissimo: Sits at the right-hand of the Commander, assists the Commander in his duties, and is charged to introduce the Grand Commander and his staff. This term originates from "generale" (Italian for General) and the suffix -issimo, itself from Latin -issimus, meaning "utmost, to the highest grade". 

Captain General: This is a very important officer as he ensures the Commandery is prepared for the reception of the Commander, and essentially executes a majority of all commands whether communicated through the Generalissimo or from the Eminent Commander directly. 

Senior Warden: This officer is similar to the Senior Deacon seen in the Blue Lodge as he is one of the guides for candidates going through the Order of the Temple.

Junior Warden: This officer is also a guide to the candidates and has some similarities to the Senior Deacon, but also has some duties that are similar to that of the Marshall (giving instruction and charges to the candidates prior to initiation). He also assists the Senior Warden during parts of the conferral. 

Prelate: From the Medieval Latin 'prelatus' meaning "clergyman of high rank." Some of the duties of this officer are obvious, but this officer is also charged with administering the vows to candidates striving to become new Sir Knights. 

Treasurer: The duties of this officer apparent and he should always practice those great moral virtues when over-watching the finances of the Commandery. 

Recorder: This administrative officer's duties are just apparent as the Treasurers and much rests on his shoulders who sit in this seat. 

Standard Bearer: As his name implies he is the keeper of the Standard, the banner of the Commandery, and like the Marshall of the Blue Lodge he is the one presents the Nation's flag during the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Sword Bearer: This officer is charged with protecting the Standard Bearer as well as leading the detail to present the flag for the Pledge. 

Warder: Similar to the Junior Deacon of the Blue Lodge, this officer responds to alarms at the door of the Asylum as well as announcing the approach and departure of the Commander, or Grand Commander during his visitations. 

Sentinel: Just as the Tyler guards the doors to the Lodge so too does the Sentinel protect the Asylum from those who are not entitled to be there.
The Commandery reports to the Grand Commandery, which is the state level, and which is presided over by the Right Eminent Grand Commander who is elected annually by the members who compose the Grand Commandery and the delegates from the Commanderies around the jurisdiction. The Grand Commander is assisted by officers similar to that seen at the local level with the addition of "Grand" attached to their title as well as the addition of the position of "Deputy Grand Commander".

In some jurisdictions there are district representatives that mediate between the Commanderies and Grand Commandery, and who are regarded as the personal representative of the Grand Commander.

The next level in American Templary is known as the Grand Encampment and this body is presided over by the Most Eminent Grand Master. This Sir Knight is elected to serve for 3-years or Triennium. The Grand Master is assisted by a host of officers and advisers. Many of the officers are styled similar to those at the local and Grand level, but instead of a Grand Sentinel they have a Grand Captain of the Guard. There are also some additions that will be discussed as follows:
Department Commanders: These officers hold the status of Proxy for the Grand Master and hold authority over regions which include Grand Commanderies and local Commanderies not yet under Grand Commanderies. They are appointed and serve at his discretion. 

Aides-de-Camp: These Sir Knights are assigned to assisting certain officers of the Grand Encampment as well as Past Grand Masters. These include the staff of the Knights Templar magazine, office administrators of the Grand Encampment, and Grand Banner Bearer.
This will serve as a basic understanding of the modern Masonic Knights Templar in America and will better help us look at the hierarchy of the medieval Knights Templar. Originally there were only four ranks, but this was due to the fact there were very few members. Once the Order expanded so did the ranking system. As with all things concerned the in the Templars the Latin Rule laid out how everything would be structured. With the original Templar Order we will start from the top and move our way down.
Grand Master: Serving as head of the entire international Order the Grand Master exercised supreme authority and only answered to the Pope. The Grand Master was an elected position and the Knight elected would serve for life, although that was not always a long amount of time as many Grand Masters lost their lives in battle which shows that he oversaw military operations as well as the administrative operations. There were some rare exceptions to this as a couple Grand Masters stepped down and retired from the position with the consent of the Pope. The Grand Master was treated with great respect by the monarchies, the Pope, and the members of the Order. His entourage included 4-horses for personal use, a minimum of on cleric, two Knights, a Sergeant, a translator, a cook, a servant, and an administrative clerk.

Beneath the Grand Master there was a host of officers with specific duties, all laid out by the Rule. Some of these included Masters and Commanders of Lands and Provinces who reported directly to the Grand Master.

Seneschal: This officer served as the "right-hand man" of the Grand Master. His chief duties surrounded the oversight of much of the administrative operation, acting as an adviser to the Grand Master, and acted as head of the Order in his absence. Due to his administrative duties the Provincial Masters of Western Europe often reported to him. His duties were extremely important since the Western European lands were essential to the logistics and supplies needed to sustain the troops in the Holy Land. Like the Grand Master, he had his own staff which included knights, sergeants, clerics, and squires; horses; and supplies as an indication of his authority.
Marshal: While the Grand Master ultimately led the troops, when present, and the Seneschal assisted in the logistical and administrative needs of the Order, the Marshal was in charge of anything related to the war effort such as arms, training, horses, and gear. He also served as an adviser to the Grand Master. He also had an entourage assigned to his honored station.

Under-Marshal: As the name implies this officer was directly under the Marshall and assisted in his duties. This officer was in charge of lesser equipment, equipment for the horse (bridles, saddle padding, shoes, etc), and assisted in with logistics from the side of the Marshall. He was also in charge of carrying the 'piebald banner' which was at the head of the procession and helped keep the stragglers together.

Turcopolier:  Militarily this officer was third in line. He was charged with commanding the light cavalry/mercenaries and Sergeants.

Draper: Sometimes referred to as a 'Quartermaster', this officer was in charge of Templar garments, clothing, linens, and all tailoring needs. This was an important job and, according to the Rule, the Draper was superior to all Brethren after the Grand Master and Marshall; he had the authority to chastise all those whose clothing and linens were not in proper order. In his inspections he would also ensure that the grooming of the Knights was according to the Rule. He also had the power to remove items from members who appeared to have more than what was proper or who was acting with unnecessary pride.

Standard Bearer: This officer is similar to the modern officer bearing the same name, but in reality didn't actually carry the banner, but rather led the procession of soldiers that did. This officer came from the Sergeant class and was also known as the 'Confanonier'. He was also in charge of the Squires; paying them, training them, and ensuring they were performing their duties to standard.

Commanders of the Land: These Templar officers are similar to that of the Department Commander or Grand Commander in today's Masonic Templar Order. The 3 provinces or Lands were Jerusalem, Antioch, and Tripoli. The Commander of the Lands of Jerusalem was also the Treasurer of the entire Order and along with the Grand Master acted as a check-and-balance over the property of the Templar Order.

Provincial Masters: Similar to the Commanders of the Land were charged with governing the lands in Western Europe. Like their Eastern counterparts they were to govern the lands which included castles, farms, forts, strongholds, Bailies, and other estates. These Masters also had the duty of managing the revenue of the Order and recruiting new men to the Templar Order.

Bailli: This was a local or regional commander position and would usually be filled by a Knight, but in the absence of any Knights a Sergeant could fill it. He would preside over a "baillie" which would have been a district or division of a Templar Province. Within each Templar baillie were their preceptories.

Masters and Commanders: These officers were in charge of the local Commanderies or Preceptories. Particularly in the Western provinces, if there were no Knights present then this duty fell to a Sergeant.

Castellan: An officer charged with ensuring the protection of a Templar castle.

Casalier: An officer who oversaw the security and protection of a Templar farm or casal.

Admiral: While not renowned for their naval exploits in their early years, the Templars would eventually develop a working naval operation to assist in movement of troops, supplies, and treasures. This becomes increasingly apparent towards the end of the Templar years when their headquarters is moved to Cyprus. The role of Admiral was not necessarily one who was on the ships themselves, but one who controlled a shipyard or port.
Through these officer positions we've mentioned terms like Knights, Sergeants, and Squires. These were the classes, but there were also servants and the clerics to remember, and were arranged as follows:
Knights: The famous class who were known as the backbone of the battlefield; very few battles were fought without the Templars present. To become a Knight one had to be of noble birth and for such reason composed a small number in comparison to the total number of members within the Templar Order. A Knight wore the famous white mantle adorned with a red cross, kept their hair short, and were known for their bears which they were not allowed to shave. Quite often Knights would also be used outside the battlefield in advisory roles which could include sitting as Judge in lower courts.

Sergeants: The next class of Templar did not have to be from noble stock. As a display of their lower status than the Knights, they wore primarily a black mantle with a red cross, but sometimes would wear a brown mantle. This class was the chief support of the Order and as such much more versatile than the Knights as they not only would fight alongside the Knights, but also would be seen notaries, craftsman, blacksmiths, masons, or cooks - it all depended on what the needs of the Order were. They were given one horse, but no squires.
Squires: Squires were the young men who, just like in the movies, were there to assist the knight in any way possible, from polishing his weapons to feeding his horses. The difference for a Templar Squire is that this was often a hired position, especially in the first hundred years of the Order. It was only later that many Squires were there specifically to test themselves and their mettle and to climb to the order of Knight. They wore garb similar to that of the Sergeants.

Lay Servants: This class could run the gamut, from masons brought in to do building or repair work to personal servants to an officer. The hierarchical statutes of the Templar Rule laid out precisely how many of such servants each officer was allowed to have. For a Templar to have too many would be a sin of pride. Due to the number of masons and builders under the command of the Templars they were an institution not only known for their fighting skills, but were known to be capable of building great and expensive structures.


Clerics: One of the most important positions within a Templar Commandery was that of the Chaplain. This man had many important jobs, not ecclesiastical, but also secular in many ways. He was an internal priest for the Order. He had the power to hear confessions and to give absolution for sins; Templars were forbidden to give confession to anyone other than a cleric in the Templar Order without Papal approval. These clerics were not answerable to local clerics or bishops, but only to the Pope.

Confrere: This was an associate member who served for a short period of time and who did not partake in the monastic vows.
As I stated above, the Knights made up a small portion of the entire Order. Quite often there was a 10:1 ratio of non-Knights to Knights in the Templar Order. Accompanying a group of Knights through Europe and the Middle East, there would be chaplains, Sergeants, administrative officers, translators, masons, engineers, carpenters, armorers, black-smiths, tent makers, rope makers, shepherds, tailors, gardeners, millers, cooks, and servants.

References

1. A Brief History of the Medieval Knights Templar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani: http://www.osmth.org/templar-legacy

2. Brief on the History of the Medieval Knights Templar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Regular Grand Lodge of England: http://www.rgle.org.uk/Brief.htm

3. Bruno, S. T. (2001). Templar Organizational Structure. Retrieved from TemplarHistory.com: http://blog.templarhistory.com/2010/03/templar-organizational-structure/

4. Dafoe, S. (2006). The Templars Hierarchy. The Working Tools magazine, 30-33. 

5. Grobschmidt, S. (n.d.). Religious Orders. Retrieved from the ORB: http://www.the-orb.net/encyclop/religion/monastic/comprule.html

6. Hodapp, C. (n.d.). Organizing the Knights Templar. Retrieved from The Templar Code For Dummies: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/organizing-the-knights-templar.html

7. Ralls, K. (2007). Knights Templar Encyclopedia. Franklin Lakes: Book-mart Press.