I write this looking forward to the upcoming Grand York Rite Session. I wasn’t able to attend last year, but this year will be particularly exciting as I’ll be able to see two men who have been a part of my Masonic life from nearly the beginning take roles as the heads of their respective grand bodies, and get to experience their vision for the York Rite in the ensuing year.
In addition I’m looking forward to our upcoming inspection with Ypsilanti Commandery No. 54. It took some time but we worked things out, and I think we have a solid team that will make this year’s joint inspection a fantastic success. To make that success possible we have scheduled weekly practices every Thursday at 7pm at the Ypsilanti Masonic Temple, 5752 Whittaker Road, Ypsilanti MI leading up to our inspection.
The inspection itself will take place on Saturday morning, the 15th of September at the Ypsilanti Masonic Temple. Sir Knight Paul Raggow, Grand Generalisimo and Sir Knight Donald L. Trumbull, Grand Senior Warden of the Grand Commandery of Michigan will be the Inspecting Officers. The Commanderies will open at 9:00 am. Coffee and rolls will be available at 8:15. A buffet luncheon will follow closing at a cost of $10.00 a person payable at the door or by check to Ann Arbor Commandery No. 13.
For reservations, no later than 8 September, please contact:
Arthur W. Davidge, HPC, Recorder
Ann Arbor Commandery No. 13,K.T. of MI
4551 N. Maple Road, Ann Arbor MI 48105-9614
Voice/FAX: +1 734 769 6982
Inspections serve as the high point of activity for many Commanderies not only requiring us to put on our most complex and illustrious order, candidate or none, but also allowing those of us who have a variety of Masonic duties the excuse to put emphasis on Commandery. So of course all of us preparing for an inspection are thinking about Commandery, talking about Commandery, and inevitably will get questions about Commandery. And likely the most prevalent question I’ve received is really, “What is this distinctly Christian body doing in predominantly nonsectarian Freemasonry?” Well it is indeed a Christian body. There is no doubt of that. Admittance to Commandery enjoins Sir Knights to defend the Christian religion, and express their preference to it above all others. This in effect makes the Knights Templar Christian body. But why have a Masonic body that serves a specific faith? I would break it down into three reasons.
First is history and tradition. Wherever you stand on a practical historical Templar connection it can still be said that first and foremost the Knights Templar is an institution founded upon the Christian Religion. To attempt to remove that from the body would contradict its very nature. And once again regardless of history, Christian Templarisim has been a long held part of Freemasonry and while a variety of other Masonic bodies deal with Templar legend, some requiring Christian faith while others not doing so I would say that the Knights Templar most specifically speaks to the Christian experience, and most directly takes on the Christian aspects of Templarisim which leads me to my next point.
As someone who has been active in Commandery for several years and currently serves as Commander I can say that the orders themselves are written with the Christian initiate in mind and while I have known many Commanderies to knight non-Christians I have found that these companions tend to get significantly less out of the Orders. The only Order that isn’t specifically tailored to Christianity is the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross which while near and dear to my heart carries with it a legend that makes its appearance in Christian and Nonsectarian Masonic bodies alike including the Scottish Rite, Knight Masons, and Red Cross of Constantine. It is broadly shared and not unique to the otherwise Christianity centric Commandery. When speaking about Commandery and advising non-Christians about their potential admittance I’ve often said “it is what it is” and what it is, is a body focused Christianity, and the Christian experience.
But the third, most practical, and I believe most important part is that the world needs more rational chivalrous Christians. Christianity is the world’s largest religion and arguably the most divided. With a myriad of denominations and conflicts that have lasted centuries, the world needs an organization where men can unite and support the faith as a whole. Now Commandery is not a church just as Freemasonry is not a religion, but Commandery’s duty to support the Christian faith cannot be understated. The Knights Templar of old may have been Catholic warriors who in the minds of the profane have become synonymous with crusaders but primarily they were defenders, researchers, historians, archeologists, and theologians who researched their faith in a way the west never thought possible and ended up seeing their open-mindedness become a charge of heresy that doomed them to the stake. We live in an era where the majority of churches make little effort to attract rational minds and chivalry is dead. Joining Freemasonry means you have expressed a willingness to embrace men of other faiths as brothers and have taken a look at your faith through the eyes of naturalism. In the Royal Arch you are imbedded in Jewish thought which is the basis of all Abrahamic faiths, and in joining Commandery you have been so vetted by your previous experiences that we know you are willing to look at your Christian faith with wisdom and rationality. These men of course are a rare commodity in a world full of extremism, and lukewarm attitudes but Commandery serves as a resource for those who are willing to practice their faith shamelessly and rationally as well as defend it from extremists who would serve to steal it from us rational men whether they come from outside the faith or from within. In addition Commandery seeks to revive the concept of chivalry within the hearts of these modern Christian men, bringing back traditions long forgotten in our materialistic secular world that lead men to charity and pure beneficence making our fame known far and wide.
But our fame has weaned. The Knights Templar, a thinking man’s Christian Chivalric Order found deep within the recesses of Freemasonry has atrophied in recent history, leading it to be a shadow of its former glory. But I think that can be repaired, I think we can achieve greatness once again, not only because we can but because the world needs us to. We need more rational chivalrous men as pillars of the Christian world building bridges and making the faith of our fathers respected and honored as it should be. For that we need Christian Masons to read about the Knights Templar learn about our history, and learn about the work we wish to do in our communities. But most importantly talk to a Sir Knight about why he joined and why he feels Commandery is important to his Masonic and Christian life. You’ve just read the opinion of one man, but throughout the local Commanderies you can find countless experiences, views, and beliefs about the subject and I hope you take the time to listen to them.
As for the non-Christian in York Rite as a whole, I can assure you that you will never be pressured into to joining Commandery by me or any of my Sir Knights, and assuming you join both Council and as well as Chapter your York Rite experience will never be seen as incomplete and your views will always be respected. But should you chose to join Commandery I have used the following quote as a guiding principle:
Symbolic masonry teaches the observances of the cardinal virtues admonishes to walk uprightly before God and man. In the asylum, a purely Christian institution, founded on the Christian religion, the Sir Knight, impressed with the spirit of chivalry, grounds his faith in the teachings of the Divine Master. If templarism has no “sectarian system of belief or worship,” if it proposes no creed, it does teach the necessity of a firm belief in the fundamental religious truths of Christianity. A frater, therefore-, may be a good templar, without being a member of a church of CHRIST; but he cannot be a devout, consistent Christian, and abjure the perceptive and comprehensive teachings of symbolic or templar masonry.
- Sir Albert G. Brice, Grand Commander of Louisiana, 1889
I hope you’ve enjoyed this rather lengthy article and if you’re coming to the Grand York Rite Session I will see you there, and I hope to see as many Sir Knights as possible at our annual inspection.
Deo duce, ferro comitante,
Brandon Mullins, Commander