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May 2015

The Masonic Infiltration of Mainstream Catholicism



Over the years when Robert and I have gotten together to muse over the state of the world, the conversation inevitably turned to the influences of Masonic ideology on post-Conciliar Catholic thought and teaching. While the topic is complex, involving secret infiltrations and subterfuges, there are traceable open encounters between Masonic lodges and Catholic orders, especially the Jesuits, once the praetorian guard of the Papacy and the vanguard of the counter reformation, dating back to the late 19th century. I shall, in this paper, attempt to highlight these encounters within their historical framework and show the nefarious results of this infiltration. Before delving into the problem itself, however, I shall present a brief summary of Masonic history and thought.

Masonic religion: esoteric and occult

Freemasonry, also known as "the Brotherhood" or "the Craft," is a curious mixture of the medieval stonemasons' guild and various underground speculative currents of esoteric and occult thought, much then blossomed throughout Europe in the late-17th and 18th centuries. The origins of Freemasonry are clouded by the vast number of legends put forward by the adherents of the various lodges. As historical fact, modern Freemasonry is generally acknowledged to have begun in 1717. At that time, various sectarian groups came together to found the Grand Lodge in London as the seat of "speculative," rather than "operative" Freemasons, dedicated to the building of freely perfected men, rather than stone cathedrals.

According to Albert Mackey's authoritative History of Freemasonry, the roots of so-called "speculative" Grand Lodge masonry are to be found in the secretive movements that had existed for centuries in Europe parallel to the established order of Christendom. These include, among others, apocryphal stories from the Old Testament such as, The Legend of Solomon's Temple, Druidic lore, Eleusian and Pythagorean mysteries, as well as the Jewish theosophical Kabbalah, Gnosticism, and Egyptian Hermeticism.(1)

Along with English Grand Lodge Masonry, with its "mystical" overtones, as described above, there also exists a distinct, but linked, European Grand Orient Masonry, based on the "Deist" or even, since the declarations of 1777, openly atheist philosophy of the French Enlightenment. Virtually all the precursors of the French Revolution, Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot and Robespierre, were Grand Orient Masons. Generally speaking, the goal of the Grand Orient Lodges, following their precepts of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and the Universal Brotherhood of Man, has been to promote the separation of Church and State, as achieved in France by the 1905 government proclamation of Laïcité. It also openly confronts, by espousing revolution and radical democracy, authoritarian secular regimes in general and the Roman Catholic Church, with its hierarchical structure of government with the infallible Pope at the top, in particular.

This later view of Freemasons as secular revolutionaries promoting the atheistic materialism that culminated in the 1917 Bolshevik takeover of Russia has been and continues, in conservative circles, to be the overarching concern of the Church. It is, in fact, this overall concern with atheistic materialism, in both its communistic and capitalistic varieties, that has made the Church vulnerable to the wiles of "speculative" masonry, with its emphasis on "spiritual goals" and the perfectibility of man.

While there is no doubt that the atheistic revolutionary goals of Grand Orient Masonry have done tremendous damage and are to be deplored, and fought against tooth and nail, it is in the religion of the Grand Lodge, especially that of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and the "illuminated" branch of the Grand Orient, that the real danger lies.

According to the first authenticated documents of the "Speculative" Grand Lodge, The Book of Constitutions, written by the Scottish "dissenting" Presbyterian minister, James Anderson, published in 1723, "A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law, and if he rightly understands the Art he will never be a stupid atheist, nor an irreligious libertine." To better understand Anderson's fine sounding words, however, he went on to clarify, "...In every country [a Mason must be] of the religion of that country."(2) To fully grasp the meaning of the word "religion" in Masonic thought, however, one must dig beneath any Christian rhetoric on the surface and return to the very anti-Christian primitive and Gnostic sources as listed above.(3)

Masonic author Albert Pike (Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, 1859-1891) sets the record straight in his authoritative Morals and Dogma of Freemasonry. As Pike explains to the Apprentice Mason, "The pavement (of the Lodge), alternatively black and white, symbolizes the Good and Evil principles of the Egyptian and Persian creeds. It is the warfare between Michael(4) and Satan, Light and Darkness, Freedom and Despotism, Religious Liberty and the Arbitrary Dogmas of a Church that thinks for its votaries and whose Pontiff claims to be infallible."(5)

In the final chapter of this book, entitled "Prince of the Royal Secret," Pike presents the resolution of this conflict: "The primary tradition of the single revelation has been preserved under the name of the Kabbalah.(6) .... The Evil is the Shadow of the Good and inseparable from it. The Divine Wisdom limits by equipoise the Omnipotence of the Divine Will or Power, and the result is Beauty or Harmony."(7)

Masonic goal: to become God

Ostensibly, the goal of Masonry is "to take good men and make them better." In reality, however, the "secret" for the individual Freemason is to work out for himself the balance or harmony of good and evil in his own life to achieve his own "divine" perfection: "Man is a God in the Making."(8)

Collectively, the external goal of Masonry is for an emancipated mankind to rebuild "Eden," without heed to the restrictive demands of the Creator and His established Church. The esoteric goal is to incorporate Lucifer (Satan) into the definition of the "Complete God" that includes both good and evil, or the fusion of opposites, the Gnostic Abraxas or Kabalistic Ayn So!(9)

Paradigm shift

The pre-Vatican II Church knew the pernicious character of Freemasonry and denounced it for what it was and is. According to the 1917 Code of Canon Law, article #2335, to belong to a Freemasonic Lodge was grounds for automatic excommunication Latae Sententiae (the act itself bringing the penalty without formal accusation). As explained by Pope Leo XIII:

The race of man, after its miserable fall from God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts, "through the envy of the devil," separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation, must of necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God…. At every period of time each has been in conflict with the other, with a variety and multiplicity of weapons and of warfare, although not always with equal ardour and assault. At this period, however, the partisans of evil seems to be combining together, and to be struggling with united vehemence, led on or assisted by that strongly organized and widespread association called the Freemasons.(10)

Given the unequivocal denunciation of Freemasonry by this Pope and all others from the 18th century up to Pius XII in the 20th, as well as the explicit prohibition under canon law, how could the tenets of the condemned Masonic "Brotherhood" infiltrate the Mystical Body of Christ? Perhaps the short answer is that, among the intelligentsia, prior to, during and following the French Revolution, an overly exuberant understanding of "the dignity of man" and the supremacy of "individual conscience," based on the Masonic principles of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," began to erode the concept of obedience to authority and the hierarchical structure of the Church.

Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, by James Billington, Librarian of Congress, Rhodes Scholar and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Scholars of the Smithsonian Institute, is helpful in clarifying this paradigm shift. Billington begins by stating:

The revolutionary faith was shaped not so much by the critical rationalism of the French Enlightenment (as is generally believed) as by the occultism and proto-romanticism of Germany. This faith was incubated in France during the revolutionary era within a small sub-culture of literary intellectuals who were immersed in journalism, fascinated by secret societies, and subsequently infatuated with "ideologies" as a secular surrogate for religious belief.(11)

The flame of faith had begun its migrations a century earlier, when some European aristocrats transferred their lighted candles from Christian altars to Masonic lodges.(12)

Billington reiterates this proposition in Chapter 4, entitled "The Occult Origins of Organization":

The modern revolutionary tradition ... grew out of occult Freemasonry; the early organizational ideas originated more from Pythagorean mysticism than from practical experience; and ... their real innovators were not so much political activists as literary intellectuals, on whom German romantic thought in general — and Bavarian Iluminism in particular —  exerted great influence.(13)

These ideas affected the dissident clergy as well. Among them, Billington singles out Abbé Fauchet, Abbé Cournand and the influential Père Félicité Lamennais, who shed his Roman collar and went on to write his Book of the People in 1837.(14)

The problem, however, goes much deeper. In his seminal work Mystère D'Iniquité — Mysterium Iniquitatis, written more than forty years ago at the time of the Second Vatican Council, Pierre Virion opens with a quotation from Joseph Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, occultist, freemason, kabbalist, Martinist and magician, who proposed the formation of a new syncretistic religion under the banner of an entirely new political order, which he called Divine Synarchie. In 1882, speaking to the Catholics of his day, he wrote:

Fear not, you may become the soul of moral liberty, and universal tolerance, momentarily losing your doctrines and discipline, only to resurrect greater, and more glorious, as well as more religious and social…. If masonry admits without distinction all races religions beliefs with fraternal assistance to all, from the Prince of Wales to an Indian pariah, it is more Christian, more orthodox in the eyes of Jesus Christ, than you when you anathematize these.(15)

To demonstrate the length or breadth of religious tolerance to which the ecumenism of d'Alveydre would stretch, I submit a brief extract from a poem, cited by Pierre Virion, from La Muse Noire, written by d'Alveydre's close friend and fellow Kabbalist, Stanislas de Guaita:

... Quant à toi, Lucifer, astre tombé des deux, Splendeur Intelligente aux ténèbres jetée, Ange qui portes haut la colère indoptée, Et gonfles tous les seins de cris séditieux, ...

On y soufre, il est vrai; l'on jouit quand même puisqu 'on y peut bave sa bile, O Lucifer, Mon bourreau de demain, je t'honore, je t'aime.

("... As for you Lucifer, star fallen from the sky, Intelligent Splendour thrown into darkness, Angel who holds on high the untamed rage, Breast inflated with seditious cries, One suffers there, it is true, One enjoys it just as well, as there that one may slobber out one’s bile, O Lucifer, my executioner of tomorrow, ... I honour and love you.")(16)

An early apostle of d'Alveydre's "divine synarchie," friend of Stanislas de Guaita, and member along with him of the Ordre Kabbalistique de la Rose-Croix, the apostate Abbé Roca, wrote the following in his 1889 Centenaire Glorieux, a veritable "Summa" of the doctrines proposed by the esoteric Masonic initiates of the time:

The New Gospel, that of the social(ist) Christ-spirit is preached to the people of our times by thousands of voices more or less faithful to the inspiration arising from men's hearts in these times of regeneration that have arrived. (p. 38)(17).... That which wishes to overcome Christianity is not a pagoda [raise idol], but a universal religion in which all religions will be included, (p. 77) ... A new Christianity, sublime ... Wide and deep, truly universal, absolutely encyclopedic... that will make the fullness of heaven descend upon earth, to suppress all boundaries, local churches and ethnicities, (p. 123) ...

This new Church, albeit without its scholastic discipline nor the rudimentary shape of the old Church, will receive, nonetheless, Canonical Jurisdiction. (p. 453).... The Christ is humanity itself in principle, divine humanity conceived by the Father of life in the same internal act of procession by which he continually engenders the unique Son of God. In the son is contained the power to become, not only Universal Humanity, but also annexed to it all creation. (p. 518) ...The incarnation of the Word is nothing other than the injection of the Divine into the human. (p. 537) ....I believe that the divine cult and existing liturgy, the ceremonial, the ritual and all the precepts of the Roman Church will soon undergo, in an Ecumenical Council, a transformation that will bring a return to the venerable simplicity of the apostolic age that will harmonize with the new state of conscience and modern civilization. ... a solemn Baptism of modern Civilization..... The Pontiff will then be content to glorify the work of the Christ Spirit by declaring urbi et orbi that the present civilization is the legitimate daughter of the Holy Gospel of social Redemption, (p. III)(18)

These are clearly prophetic words from a practising occultist who, along with de Guaita and fellow occultists Oswald Wirth and Gêrard Encausse (also known as "Papus") and Louis Claude de Saint Martin, founder of Martinism,(19) attended the séances of Maria de Mariartegui (Lady Caithness) and Jules Benoît Doniel. Doniel, the founder of the 19th-century revival of the Gnostic Church, was a librarian, a Grand Orient Freemason, an antiquarian, and a practising Spiritist. In his frequent attempts at communication with spirits, he was confronted with a recurring vision of Divine Femininity, as well the "Eon Jesus" who, in 1888, charged him with the work of establishing his new (Gnostic Catholic) church.(20) These contacts with "enlightened" initiates and the participation in their soirees might well be the source of the Abbe's infernal perspicacity. While not explicitly mentioned by St. Pius X (who had previously excommunicated Abbé Roca) in the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Roca's ecumenical views are clearly condemned:

"Indeed Modernists do not deny, but actually maintain, some confusedly, others frankly, that all religions are true."(21)

The Jesuits and the Lodge

The question again comes back to how could these visions of the "New Church" of the "Divine Synarchie" infiltrate mainstream Catholicism and be proclaimed authentic "development of doctrine."

By the end of the nineteenth century the plight of the "proletarian," or working class, a by-product of the industrial revolution, had become a legitimate concern of the Catholic Church, as seen in the Social Encyclicals beginning with Rerum Novarum by Leo XIII in 1891. Following these directives, by 1910, in France, the workers movements had found a hero in the Abbé Lugan, an orthodox but socially-oriented priest, known for his saying, "You can't preach to an empty stomach." Abbé Lugan founded the Mouvement des idées et faits to back what he believed to be the Church's position on social justice. The Abbé Lugan however, also collaborated intimately with Paul Vulliaud, an ostensible Catholic but secret Rosicrucian and Kabbalist.(22) Here in the realm of social justice lies the incipient birth of Catholic and Masonic collaboration.

As early as 1907, tentative interaction had been established between high degree "speculative" or "spiritual" (those who believe in the immortality of the soul) Masons of both the Grand Lodge, as well as Grand Orient, and Catholic intellectuals led by Père Berteloot, S.J., and Père Desbuquois, S.J., Director of Action Populaire de Reims. By 1926, as reported in a 1928 article of the Frankfurter Zeitung, regular meetings were being held in Aix-la-Chapelle dedicated to the rapprochement of the Catholic Church and Freemasonry, led by Fr. Gruber, S.J., and Fr. Mukerman, S.J.(23) The ostensible reason given for these exploratory meetings was to combat the rising influence of Communism and atheistic materialism. In the words of Brother Kurt Reichl, of the Austrian Grand Lodge: "Today, masonry conveys the desire to collaborate with the Church against the dangerous forces of the revolution which are now present in the radical parties, Anarchists, Nihilists, Bolsheviks."(24)

Brother Brenier, president of the Grand Orient, expressed an even more enthusiastic view: "For two centuries our most dangerous enemy was the Church; it appears now that she (the Church) recognizes that she was on the wrong road." Attended not only by representatives of European Masonry but also by Brother Ossian Lang of the Grand Lodge of New York, these meetings arranged by Jesuits Gruber and Muckerman were not private initiatives. As Brother Lantoine, Secretary of the Grand Lodge of France explained:

Do not believe that Fr. Gruber, in his correspondence and with his meetings with Freemasons at Aix-la-Chapelle, were a personal initiative. A Jesuit is never allowed such initiatives. He has behind him the heads of his order, and I hope to believe, an even more astounding authority. Actually, far from disavowing such a policy, the [Jesuit journals] "Civiltà Cattolica" in Rome and "Études" in Paris have definitely endorsed this initiative.(25)

That these bilateral talks between the Jesuits and Freemasonry were continuing into the 1980s was confirmed by Fr. John Hardon, SJ. (a personal friend and mentor to both Robert Hickson and myself).(26)

Although these misguided initiatives may well have been inspired by the Jesuit motto, "to go in their door and bring them out ours," the reverse seems to have occurred, as it also did in the Jesuit rapprochement with Marxist Liberation Theology in the 1970s and 1980s.

While the corrupting inroads of Freemasonry were certainly not confined to the Jesuits, I have followed this path for two reasons: First, it was precisely to the Jesuits at the Lyon theologate of La Fourvière that Père Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., directed his explosive 1946 article, La Nouvelle théologie, où-va-telle? ["Where is the New Theology Leading Us?"]. In his reasoned attack on the so-called "New Theology," without explicitly mentioning Freemasonry, he brought to light the occult influences of some of the above-mentioned movements, especially in reference to the "Cosmic Christ," and the convergence of all religions in their writings:

Authors such as Téder and Papus, in their explication of Martinist doctrine, teach a mystical pantheism and a neo-gnosticsm by which everything comes out of God by emanation (there is in the fall a cosmic evil, a sui generis original sin), and all aspire to be re-integrated into the divinity, and all shall arrive there. This is in many recent occultists' works on the modern Christ, and fullness in terms of astral light, ideas not at all those of the Church and which are blasphemous inversions because they are always the pantheistic negation of the true supernatural, and often even the negation of the distinction of moral good and moral evil... which with the reintegration of all, without exception, will disappear.(27)

The second reason for following Jesuit-Masonic interaction is the tremendous negative influence that Jesuit theologians have exerted on both the "progressive” and "conservative" wings of the post-Conciliar Church. Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., widely read in anonymous typewritten tracts at La Fourvière, has been and continues to be the forerunner for the progressives (pantheists): "No Spirit (not even God within the limits of our experience) exists, nor could structurally exist without an associated multiple, any more than a centre without a circle or circumference. In a concrete sense there is not matter and spirit. All that exists is matter becoming spirit."(28) While the sui generis theology of Teilhard de Chardin is officially proscribed, it has had its promoters along with its detractors in high Vatican circles. He is certainly still revered within his order and is widely read in Masonic lodges.

Karl Rahner, S.J., one of the most liberal of the Conciliar theologians, is not far behind Teilhard. As quoted by Bernhard Lakebrink in his book, Die Warheit in Bedrängnis ["Truth in Torment"], "God and the grace of Christ are in all things, as the secret essence of each reality.... He who accepts his own existence, and thereby his humanity, even though he doesn't know it, says yes to Christ."(29)

More disturbing is that two of the La Fourvière Jesuits went on to become Cardinals, as well as the leading lights of post-Vatican II "conservative" thought: Henri de Lubac, S.J., and Hans Urs von Balthasar, SJ.(30) While, to the best of my knowledge, neither of these authors directly cite Masonic sources as such, they both showed interest in the same esoteric foundations of D'Alveydres' Divine Synarchie and Roca's neo-gnostic Catholicism based on the Christ-humanity model.

De Lubac's masonic dream

In June of 1950, as de Lubac himself said, "lightning struck Fourvière." He was removed from his professorship at Lyon and his editorship of Recherches de science religieuse and required to leave the Lyon province. All Jesuit provincials were directed to remove three of his books — Surnaturel, Corpus mysticum and Connaissance de Dieu — because of "pernicious errors on essential points of dogma." Two months after his suspension, Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical Humani Generis, widely believed to have been directed especially at de Lubac, as well as other theologians associated with the nouvelle théologie.(31)

Following the above-mentioned books, de Lubac wrote an elegiac book on the 12th-century monk and mystic Joachim of Flora, entitled La Postérité Spirituelle de Joachim de Flore. In this work, de Lubac speaks, enigmatically but more or less favourably, of an 1884 speech to the Collège de France by the Polish historian of Slavonic literature (Martinist and Freemason) Adam Mickiewicz, on his vision of the future Church:

Christmas. At St. Peter's in Rome, the Pope says Mass surrounded by tired old men. Suddenly in their midst a young man dressed in purple enters: it is the Church of the future in the person of [St.] John. He tells the pilgrims that the times are fulfilled... He calls the head of the apostles by name (Peter) and tells him to leave the tomb ... (He comes forth).... The cupola of the Basilica cracks open and splits and Peter goes back into his tomb having given his place to John. The faithful pilgrims die under the ruins... Peter has died forever. The Roman Church is finished, its last faithful are dead … They (a group of attending Polish peasants according to Mickiewicz) "shall open this cupola to the light of heaven so that it looks like that pantheon of which it is a copy: so that it may be the basilica of the universe, the pantheon, the pan cosmos and pandemic, the temple of all spirits; so that it gives us the key to all of the traditions and all of the philosophies."(32)

An ecumenism without boundary stones, with a total opening to the future, still within the Church of Christ, moved to enlarge itself without ceasing to be the immortal dream of remaining Catholic.(33)

Von Balthasar's occult unity

Although often at odds with de Lubac, von Balthasar had his own vision of the Church of the future. In an attempt to analyse the thought of von Balthasar, I should like to refer to a book, originally published in German in 1985 by an anonymous author, entitled Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism, to which von Balthasar wrote a foreword (afterword in the English edition). Lack of space prohibits a full treatment of this book, which deserves a thorough review, but there are some salient quotes that will give a quite accurate idea of the general tone of the work.

The "anonymous" author presents Gnosticism, Magic, Kabbalah and Hermeticism as not only compatible, but essential to true Catholic belief. While he quotes St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist and extols the visions of such Catholic mystics as St. John of the Cross, Theresa of Avila, and St. Francis of Assisi, as well as quoting from St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, he gives equal coverage to the "initiated" Masons cited above: Papus, Louis Claude de Saint Martin (Martinism), Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, the acknowledged Luciferian, Stanislau de Guaita, the Satanic Magician Elephias Levy, as well as the Kabbalistic false Messiah Sabbatai Zevi, Madam Blavatsky, Swami Vivekananda, Rudolf Steiner, Teilhard de Chardin, Jacob Boehme, Swedenborg, Carl Jung, and a host of others.

The general premise of the book — dedicated to the Virgin of Chartres — is that there is a general cosmic energy labelled egregore [God] that runs through all religions, as well as Freemasonry.(34) This unified energy is manifested in duality: light-dark, male-female, good-evil, etc. which in Hinduism is called Advaita Vedanta, Monism to the Spinozist, and in the Christian tradition (quoting St. John out of context), are united by "Love" (p. 32). All spiritual masters enter mystically into this cosmic spirituality by initiation, understood as "the state of consciousness where all, eternity and the present moment are one."(35) In this state of consciousness, magical powers are acquired (p. 87). Jesus was an initiate, as were those who came before him, i.e., the Hebrew Moses and the Egyptian Hermes Trismejistis, as well as such people as Eliphias Lévi, Stanislaus de Gauita, and Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, etc. Reincarnation is "simply a fact of experience" (p. 93), for example, Jesus was aware of his "magical" powers, and the theurgist Monsieur Philip "made himself an instrument of the divine magic of Jesus Christ" (p. 193). The Holy Trinity is made up of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or, Father, Mother, and Son interchangeably. The cross is the symbol of the marriage of opposites (p. 259) and the Virgin Mary is "A cosmic entity, Wisdom, the Virgin of Light of the [Gnostic] Pistis Sophia,... the Shekinah of the Cabbalists" (pp. 547-549, 582).(36) "The great Many [founder of Manichaeism] taught a synthesis [that] the good will of the whole of mankind — Pagan, Buddhist and Christian — for a single concerted and universal effort yes towards the eternal spirit and no towards the things of matter" (p. 471).

The author weaves these syncretistic, Gnostic, Kabbalistic and Manichean beliefs together, while maintaining that all of the above conforms to his orthodox Catholic Faith. Enough said. This book is a "Marriage of Heaven and Hell," the final fruit of the Catholic-Masonic "spiritual" dialogue established to "counteract materialism" by the Jesuits with Masonic initiates going back at least to 1907.

Von Balthasar has nothing but praise for this work. In his forward (German edition)/afterward (English edition) he has the following to say:

A thinking, praying Christian of unmistakable purity reveals to us the symbols of Christian Hermeticism in its various levels of mysticism, gnosis and magic, taking in also the Cabbala and certain elements of astrology and alchemy. These symbols are summarized in the twenty-two so-called "Major Arcana" of the Tarot cards. By way of the Major Arcana the author seeks to lead meditatively into the deeper, all-embracing wisdom of the Catholic Mystery.... The Church Fathers understood the myths born from pagan thought and imagination in a quite general way as veiled presentiments of the Logos, Who became fully revealed in Jesus Christ... in the light of Biblical revelation, but also the "wisdom of the rulers of this world" (I Cor. ii, 6), by which he meant the so-called "secret wisdom of the Egyptians" (especially the Hermetic writings supposedly written by "Hermes Trismegistus" the Egyptian god Thòth). He also had in mind the "astrology of the Chaldeans and Indians. ... Above all during the Renaissance, through the continuing influence of these conceptions, the best minds were occupied with accommodating the Jewish magical-mystical Cabbala into the Christian faith. As has now been observed, many of the Church Fathers had already attributed a place of honour among the heathen prophets and wise men to the mysterious Hermes Trismegistus. ... Among those who later endeavoured to understand these teachings were Reuchlin in Germany, Ficino and especially Pico della Mirandola(37) in Italy, whilst the extraordinary Cardinal Giles of Viterbo (1469-1552) wanted to explain the Holy Scripture with the help of the Cabbala. The Cardinal wrote his ebullient dissertation on the "Shekinah,"(38) dedicated to Emperor Charles V. ... The first discussions for or against the secret teachings of the Cabbala go back to the converted or non-converted Spanish Jews of the twelfth century. There are other historical examples analogous to that of the gathering and accommodation of Hermetic and Cabbalistic wisdom into Biblical and Christian thought: above all, the transposition of Chassidism to a modern horizon of thought by Martin Buber (Chassidism is deeply influenced by the Cabbala). (659-661)

[While it is certainly true that many in the Church did fall prey to these alien spiritualities during the Renaissance, they were condemned by the Council of Trent, which insisted on the traditional sacramental nature of the Church and the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.] Professor Von Balthasar continues:

... However, just as strong in its creative power of transformation is the incorporation of Jacob Boehme's(39) Christosophy into the Catholic world-conception by the philosopher Franz von Baader.

A third, less clear-cut transposition will be referred to briefly: that of the ancient magic/alchemy into the realm of depth psychology by C.G. Jung.(40) The author's "Meditations on the Major Arcana of the Tarot" are in the tradition of the great accomplishments of Pico della Mirandola and Franz von Baader, but are independent of them.

The mystical, magical, occult tributaries which flow into the stream of his meditations are much more encompassing; yet the confluence of their waters within him, full of movement, becomes inwardly a unity of Christian contemplation. .... Repeated attempts have been made to accommodate the Cabbala and the Tarot to Catholic teaching. The most extensive undertaking of this kind was that of Élephias Levi (the Pseudonyme of Abbé Alphonse-Louis Constant) whose first work (Dogma et ritual de la haute magie) appeared in 1854. (pp. 661-662.)(41)

Von Balthasar ends his afterward with the following words:

The author is able to enter into all the varieties of the occult science with such sovereignty, because for him they are secondary realities, which are only able to be truly known when they can be referred to the absolute mystery of divine love manifest in Christ. ... ." (p. 663. Emphasis added.)

This book, though little known to the general public, has had a tremendous impact on post-Vatican II Catholic thought. Following are some reviews as presented on the back cover of the
book itself:

"It is without doubt the most extraordinary work I have ever read. It has tremendous depth and insight." — Trappist Abbot Basil Pennington, OCSO

"It is simply astonishing. I have never read such a com-prehensive account of the 'perennial philosophy'." — Father Bede Griffiths.

"This book, in my view, is the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the High Middle Ages." — Trappist Abbot Thomas Keating, OCSO

 "The book begs not only to be studied cover to cover, but also to be savoured, meditated upon and assimilated into one's life." — Richard W Kropf, National Catholic Reporter.

One cannot but wonder as to how such obviously brilliant thinkers as De Lubac and von Balthasar, able defenders of the Faith on so many fronts, could, via their collaboration with the "Enlightened" Brothers in their joint fight against atheistic materialism, fall into a trap that would lead them into accommodating the "Complete God" (Male-Female, Light-Dark, Good-Evil) of Gnosticism, the Kabbalah, and Freemasonry.(42)

"The spirits of wickedness on high"

While the pitfalls of "materialism" and "secularism" are to be assiduously avoided, not all that is spiritual leads us to God. In fact, as St. Paul reminds us,

"For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of present darkness, against the spirits of wickedness on high." (Ephesians 6:12)

Holy Mother Church has withstood the onslaughts of the Devil in the past — Arianism, Pelagianism, Priscilianism, Protestantism, etc. — and with the aid of the Holy Spirit, as it has in the past, will triumph in her purity once again. In the words of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman: "The night is always darkest just before the Dawn."


Professor Armstrong's article is one of dozens of absorbing essays and commentaries by Catholic scholars published in A Catholic Witness In Our Time — available from (See CO book review, Feb. 2015.)



(1) Albert Gallatin Mackey, The History of Freemasonry (New York: Gramercy Books, 2005) See also: Arthur Edward Waite, A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (New York: Wings Books, 1996) and Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Charleston: L. H. Jenkins, 1871).

(2) Waite, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, p. 176. (Emphasis added.)

((3) "The primary sources are the Jewish Kabbalah and Egyptian Hermeticism, both of which systems posit the divine essence of human nature. See: Abbé Meinvielle, De la Cabale au Progreisme (Paris: Editions Saint Rémi, 1970) p. 257.

(4) The angel Michael is, for Freemasons, the "planetary angel of the Sun," a solar being, ruler of the "Cosmic Fire," dedicated to the expansion of consciousness and freedom. David Ovason, The Secret Architecture of our Nation's Capital:
The Masons and the building of Washington
, DC (New York: Harper Collins, 2000), p. 30.

(5) Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, p. 14.

(6) Ibid., p. 844.

(7) Ibid., p. 846.

(8) Manly P. Hall, 33° The Lost Keys of Free Masonry (Richmond: Mason Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., 1976), p. 65.

(9) As do the Gnostics, the Kabbalah places the origin of evil as belonging to the essential nature of the "unknowable god beyond God" — the unlimited Ayn Sof. An interesting explanation or overview of Kabbalah is given by Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges who tells us that, according to the Kabbalah, "Evil is in the Variety, but variety is necessary for the world….  It is in the doctrine of the Greeks called apokatastasis, that all creatures, including Cain and the Devil, will return, at the end of great transmigrations, to be mingled again with the Divinity from which they once emerged." Seven Nights (New York, New Directions, 1984), cited in The University Bookman, Ed. Russell Kirk, Winter 1987, p. 15.

(10) Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Humanun Genus, April 20, 1884, article 1.

(11) James H. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men (New York: Basic Books, 1980), Intro., p. 3.

(12) Ibid., cit., p. 6.

(13) Ibid., p. 87.

(14) Ibid., p.61.

(15) Joseph Alexandre Saint-Yves D'Alveydre, Mission des Souverains (Paris: Maison Michel Levi Y frères, 1884), pp. 446, 447, as cited by Pierre Virion, Mystère D'Iniquité (Paris: Pierre Tequi, 2003), pp. 10, 11. Virtually all the texts cited by Pierre Virion are available in modern reprints or original facsimile online.

(16) Stanislaus Guaita, La Muse Noire (Paris: A. Lamerre, 1883), p. 52, as cited by Pierre Virion, Mystère D'Iniquité (Paris: Pierre Tequi, 2003), p. 16. Emphasis in the English translation is mine.

(17) Quotes in parenthesis are taken from original work, Abbé Roca, Glorieux Centenaire (Paris: Ghio Auguste, 1889), as cited in Mystère D'Iniquité.

(18) Abbé Roca, La fin de l'Ancien Monde (Paris: J. Levey. 1886), p. 282, as cited in Mystère D'Iniquité, p. 33.

(19) An esoteric order strictly on the (Masonic) Lodge system, perpetuating a chain of Initiation which came through Martinez de Pasqually and Louis Claude de Saint Martin in the 18th century. The teaching generally is a system of philosophic thought, essentially a Christian Gnosis. See: Blavatsky, Theosophy, Vol. 26, No. 11 September 1938, available online as visited Jan. 26, 2012

(20) For Jules Doniel, see: Jules Doniel and The Gnostic Church of France, available online at: as visited Jan 26, 2012.

(21) St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 1907, Article 14, "The Modernist as believer."

(22) Pierre Virion, Mystère D'Iniquité, p. 54.

(23) Ibid., p. 55.

(24) Ibid., p. 57.

(25) Ibid., p. 58.

(26) This brilliant and saintly priest related to me that after a week of discussions involving delegates of the Society of Jesus and Freemasonry, in regard to the evils of Communism, human virtue, the person of Jesus, and the existence of Heaven and eternal reward, he was unable to pin down the deviousness of their doctrine save that they would not reveal their cherished "Secret."

(27) Père Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, "La nouvelle théologie où-va-t'elle" (Rome: Angelicum, 1946). See endnote 44.

(28) Teilhard de Chardin, Human Energy (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1969), p. 162. Like the Kabbalah, his theory is loosely based on Plotinus (205-270 AD), according to whom, first the One exudes the universal Mind (i.e., the Cosmic Christ or Adam Kadmon) which consists of a world of ideas, then the Mind produces a universal Soul, which splits into individual souls as immanent in matter. Subsequently, via dialectical evolution of radial and tangential energies, all returns to attain adhesion with the One.

(29) Quoted in, Bernhard Lakebrink, Die Warheit in Bedrängnis (Stein am Rhein: Christiana-Verlag, 1986), p. 23, as cited by 30 Days, No. 4, 1993, p. 61.

(30) It should be noted that von Balthasar left the Jesuit order in 1950.

(31) H.H. Pope Pius XII, Encyclical letter Humani Generis, Rome, 1950, article 11: "... concealed beneath the mask of virtue, there are many, who, deploring disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through an imprudent zeal for souls, arc urged by a great and ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides good and honest men; these advocate an 'eirenism’ according to which by setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma.... today some are presumptive enough to question seriously whether theology... should not only be perfected, but also completely reformed in order to promote the more efficacious propagation of the kingdom of Christ everywhere throughout the world among men of every culture and religious opinion."

(32) Henri de Lubac, La Postérité Spirituelle de Joachim de Flore (Paris: Lethielleux, 1981), pp. 270-271.

(33) Ibid., p. 275. Emphasis in the original French.

(34) Anonymous (Valentin Thornberg), Meditations on the Tarot (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putman, 1985), p. 136 — page numbers from this book are henceforth placed in parenthesis.

(35) Although the process of "initiation" remains a secret in all cults, both ancient and modern, there is sound evidence that either phallic worship and sexual rituals as seen in the Pompeian frescos, or blasphemous acts such as the Masonic degradation of consecrated Hosts are part of it. See: "Cardinal Eduard Gagnon reflects on Masonry," Soul Magazine, July-August, 1991, p. 22.

(36) These words are neither little more nor less than those proposed by the excommunicated Abbé Roca, "Mary is the manifestation of the feminine principle itself, immaculate wisdom incarnate... rising up from the holy Gnosis." Glorieuse Centenaire (p. 147), as cited by Pierre Virion in Mystère D'Iniquité.

(37) "Through the first death.... the lover may see the beloved celestial Venus... and by reflecting on her divine image, nourish his purified eyes...the perfect union he can have with his celestial beloved is what the learned Cabbalist call the ‘union of the kiss' [Shivug ha kadosh — divine sexual intercourse] " — Pico della Mirandola, Commento sopra una cauziona de amore composta da Girolamo Benevinci, ed. Bonnaccorsi, Commento III (ed. Garin iv, p. 557 ff.), as cited in Edgar Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance, (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1968), p. 155.

(38) The word Shekinah refers to the feminine manifestation of the Kabbalistic Trinity, [Atika Kadisha, Melech Kadisha, Shekinah], as wife, lover and daughter of Yahweh. The sexual union of Yahweh and the Shekhina energizes the world. See: Daniel C. Matt, The Essential Kabbalah (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1994), p. 9 — Lyn Gottlieb, She Who Dwells Within, A Feminist Vision of a Renewed Judaism (San Francisco, CA: Harpers San Francisco, 1995), pp. 20, 35.

(39) The being of all beings is but a single being, yet in giving birth to itself, it divides itself into two principles, into light and darkness, into joy and pain, into evil and good, into love and wrath.... Creation itself as his own love-play between the qualities of both eternal desires." Jakob Böhme, Sämtliche Schriften, ed. W. E. Peuckert, vol. 16 (Stuttgart: Frommann, 1957), p. 233.

(40) "In our diagram, Christ and the devil appear as equal and opposite...". Carl Gustav Jung "Zur Psychologie der Trinitätslehre," translated in Vol. 11, 2nd ed. of his Complete Works (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), p. 174.

(41) "The created principle is [yod] the divine phallus; and the creative principle is the formal [cteïs] female organ. The insertion of the vertical phallus into the horizontal cteïs forms the cross of the Gnostics, or the philosophical cross of the Freemasons." — Élephias Lévy, Dogma et Rituelle de la haute magie (Paris: Chacon Frères, 1930), pp. 123-24.

(42) "Yes Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also God. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade, no beauty without ugliness, no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods... and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity against Adonay, God of Darkness and Evil." Albert Pike, "Instructions" issued to the twenty-three Supreme Councils of the world, on July 14, 1889 [Oft quoted and oft denied, but available in the Vertical File marked "Albert Pike —  Lucifer Quote" at the library of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction located at 1733 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C.], quote: A. C. De La Rive, La femme et l'enfant dans la Franc-Maçonnerie Universelle, as cited in Edith Starr Miller, Occult Theocracy (Clackamas, Oregon: Emissary Publications, 1980), pp. 220, 221.




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