Percival and Modern Masonic Knighthood What does it mean to be a Masonic Knight in the Twenty-first Century? By Sir Knight R. Stephen Doan
ccording to the Thirteenth Cen- be restored to health and power. tury story, Percival was one of In Richard Wagner’s retelling of this AKing Arthur’s legendary Knights story in his opera Parsifal, the injured king of the Round Table. After the death in was the ruler of the Grail kingdom which battle of his father, a heroic warrior, Per- was given the items sent by Joseph of Ari- cival’s mother took her infant son to the mathea for safekeeping. The knights still forest where she raised him, ignorant had the Holy Grail, but the king had lost to the ways of men, in order to protect to a nearby sorcerer the Holy Spear which him from the same fate as his father. Her pierced the side of Jesus. In the process of plan was foiled when a group of knights losing the Holy Spear, the king was injured passed by, and Percival was struck by by it and would not be healed until the their heroic bearing. Wanting to be a spear was recovered. The pure and inno- knight himself, the boy left his mother to cent Percival then happened by. His destiny travel to King Arthur’s court. After prov- was to recover the spear, but the knights ing his worthiness as a warrior, he was did not know this and sent the boy away knighted and invited to join the Knights because he did not understand the impor- of the Round Table. tance of the Grail. The sorcerer then sent a Percival also appeared in stories woman to seduce Percival in order to en- involving the quest for the Holy Grail. list him in their battle to get the Grail also. First written about in an earlier twelfth However, when the woman kissed Percival, century story, Joseph of Arimathea is he immediately felt the pain of the king’s said to have received the vessels associ- injury and realized the importance of the ated with the Last Supper and crucifix- Grail and the recovery of the spear. The ion from an apparition of Jesus. Joseph sorcerer then tried to kill Percival with is said to have sent the first communion the spear which Percival caught in midair cup, called the Holy Grail, and other instead. Percival then set out to take the items associated with the Last Supper spear back to the injured king but not be- and crucifixion with his followers to fore the scorned woman placed a curse Great Britain. Percival’s quest in these on him to wander forever without again stories was to find that Grail so that a finding the injured king or the Holy Grail. wounded king might drink from it and Percival did wander aimlessly because of 30 january 2015 the curse which was broken only when about doing good, and the story of Per- he had compassion for the woman who cival hints at how we should do that. We cursed him. He then returned to the king first must realize the good to be done and and healed him with a touch of the spear then do it by our compassion for those to the king’s wounds. who are not so inclined, because it is only This story contains a profound mes- by extending compassion and love that sage on what it means to be a Masonic we can hope for others to return it. If our Knight in the Twenty-first Century. -Per creed is “love one another,“ we can only cival does not understand his destiny un- hope for love when we can uncondition- til evil attempts to seduce him, and ironi- ally offer it first, even to those whom oth- cally he cannot fulfill his destiny until he ers might find undeserving of it. shows compassion for the evildoer! A The quest of Freemasonry is symbol- parallel can be drawn from the Gospels. ized by geometry, the most powerful Did Jesus understand his destiny at the symbol we have as Masons. It meta- time of his baptism by John when the phorically describes the harmony in dove came down from heaven and God the universe that is the Supreme Be- said that this was his Son with whom he ing. As Masons, we are challenged to was well pleased? Did Jesus first under- help preserve that harmony by how stand his destiny when he was there- we deal with others. As Masonic and after tempted three times by the evil Christian Knights, we create harmony one while wandering for the next forty by our compassion, by loving one an- days in the wilderness? Of course, Jesus other, even the undeserving, even the fulfilled his destiny by loving everyone, evil doer. Love is the key. even those who would put him to death. Sir Knight Doan is the Eminent Com- Knighthood today is not about play mander of Empire State Commandery acting. It is in part about preserving a No. 83 in New York and can be contact- standard of chivalry that was part of the ed at [email protected]. medieval knightly code. But, it is also View from atop the Templar Commandery at Le Viala du Pas de Jaux, France. Photo by the editor.
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