|Sir Knight John Helcl, II|
beyond their control. Sir Knights, are we are under the looming shadow of a modern suppression of our order, a suppression that is not from some nefarious source hiding in the dark corners; but within our own ranks? This is not to say there are dastardly actors or forces at work, but to ask are we the victims of our own actions or inactions? To you, Sir Knights, I propose this critique- not in opposition of our Order and its principles, but as a call to action to revisit the pillars of our past and perhaps, to engage in some organizational introspection.
Many factors are at work in this suppression, but I will skip what members think of first- money. Hopefully, I’ll be given the opportunity to write further upon that subject. The membership effects caused by being a cost-prohibitive, uniformed organization deserve its own notation (and let’s be honest, Commandery isn’t for the light of purse).
I have read in this very magazine submissions to the national editor that have been, to put it mildly,
religiously divisive (and often completely incorrect). Thankfully all the voices have been from outside our noble State, but it brings light to a pressing issue. Is Templary is drifting apart from Craft Masonry? From local units up to the Grand Encampment, are we fissuring our collective ashlar? And if so, why has this happened? Within the Commanderies throughout our country, why are there are Knights that take off their apron (literally, and in spirit) who then don the Templar uniform and become some strange hybrid of Patton and Torquemada? The inclusiveness, tolerance, and Brotherly unity that we are all obligated to practice gets left in the sock drawer alongside the Lambskin of these members. Conversely, among us there are members of our Order that are the embodiment of Knighthood whether in or out of uniform, but when it comes to inclusion and the policies of the Grand Encampment, they are the voices in the desert. These Knights remember, and live, each and every obligation from Entered Apprentice to Sir Knight. We should all be so lucky to act like these men- or at least to know them among our ranks (and in Minnesota, there are many).
The original Order gained the ire of their crusading peers for their open acceptance and working dynamic
between themselves and the Jewish, Druze, and other communities in Jerusalem- even the Muslims of the realm (provided they met off the battlefield, of course). Sir Knights, the iron-clad edicts of the Grand Encampment have left Commanderies no choice but to continue an institutional disservice to our Brothers by engaging in the exclusion of a Brother based solely upon his specific faith or belief in a higher power that is outside of Christianity; thereby violating one of the cornerstone tenets of Freemasonry. This is not only contradictory to our obligations as Craft Masons, but is an equal and opposite deviation from the practices of the original Order whom we seek to emulate. Perhaps it is an organizational mindset that can’t be hurdled. Or perhaps it’s as simple as bringing back the triangle apron as a uniform requirement- both to function as a physical manifestation of our unbreakable connection to the Craft, and as a constant reminder of the binding tie of our obligations as Master Masons.
We can, and should, remain a Knighthood of Christian values and principles, assembled humbly in the
name of Christ while still welcoming our brothers of all noble faiths to join us. We should never forget to love all of our Brothers and welcome them as both Jesus and the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon would.
We can defend the travelling pilgrims of all faiths, defend the faithful of all flocks, their widows, and
orphans as the original Order did. In doing so not only can we continue to remain in accord with the spirit of
Templary and the teachings of Christ, but become better Knights, Commanderies, and Brothers because of it.
Every Mason of profound faith, from every faith, that seeks to make their world better should be a Knights
Templar, and join us in the noble crusade of defending the widow, orphan, and the peaceful pilgrims of all faiths.
S.K. John E. Helcl, II (O.Cist.Tertiari)
Eminent Grand Standard Bearer, Grand Commandery of Minnesota