Today, with great pleasure, we present to you an interview by the Greek Masonic News Agency with the Sovereign Grand Commander, Raphael de Sigura.
The Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, 33rd degree, of Greece's Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Raphael de Sigura, was born in Smyrna - of a Spanish family - from where he migrated to Athens with his family. He studied at the State Jewish School of Athens, Athens High School Number 9 and the Italian School of Athens, and completed his higher studies in economics while learning Italian, French, English and Spanish. He was engaged in business and industry, and represented many large heavy industrial companies.
During the Occupation he engaged in resistance activity, for which he was awarded the Bronze Cross on December 30, 1945.
1) Sovereign Grand Commander, you are one of the most famous figures in the Masonic area in Greece and beyond. I would like you to tell me what it is that prompted you to get involved with Freemasonry?
The inherent need to seek a path of self-development beyond the conventional limits set by science, but also beyond everyday modern life.
2) When were you initiated, and what was your Masonic course?
I entered the Masonic Lodge "Ypsilanti" on March 18, 1954. I entered the Scottish Rite Lodge of Perfection "Mystagogia" on May 20, 1959, the Chapter "Light" on April 20, 1065, and the Council "Jerusalem" on February 14, 1968. I had the honor of presiding for 12 years over the Supreme Court and 12 years of the Synod of the 32nd degree. On April 8, 1987 I was proclaimed 33rd degree and I offered my services to the Supreme Council from many positions, especially those of Grand Treasurer, Grand Commander, and finally the Sovereign Grand Commander from November 2007 until today.
3) After so many years of Masonic service, would you say the signs are positive or negative?
The signs are clearly positive because we continue to participate in a great work, above human pettiness, passions and ambiguities.
4) Tell us a little about the action of the Supreme Council of the 33rd degree and the Scottish Rite in general?
In Greece, the Scottish Rite was founded on July 24, 1872, when Demetrios Rodokanakis, as a 33rd degree member of the Supreme Council of Scotland, introduced the first three Greek Masons into the 33rd degree, and together they formed the first Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the the 33rd and Last Degree of Greece. Since then, the initiatory chain continues unbroken until the one to whom you are talking, who has held this position from November 2007 until today, acknowledging however with humility, as required by the eternal Universal Law, the high task and responsibility of this administrative and intellectual mission.
Regarding the action of the Scottish Rite today, not only in Greece but worldwide, this continuation of initiation has to do with the great paths of spiritual rebirth, a true adaptation to the needs of life, duty, self-sacrifice, chivalry. It plans an internal Masonic "harmony" of thoughts, philosophies, systems, myths, teachings and - especially - archetypal wisdom.
5) Tell us a bit about the international relations of the Supreme Council?
The Supreme Council maintains relations, recognition, but above all spiritual reciprocity and cooperation with many Supreme Councils on all continents, from nearby Cyprus to Cuba and Togo. Indeed, in recent years it has been represented in most international conferences, attempting to contribute to the development of Freemasonry in general, and particularly the Scottish Rite.
6) What do you think are the major problems and challenges presented to Greek Freemasonry today?
I'll answer you this way. The main aim of Freemasonry is the activation of the keys to initiation. The very idea is that Masonic initation is a key, not a treasure. It may be likened to planting a seed. There is a duty to cultivate the seed well and systematically by anyone involved in the Masonic system. The power of the initiatory inspiration will then be determined. It will lead the true Freemasons through the mazes of everyday life to an inner perfection. That is why the initiatory path must be developed with affection, experience, and the patience of the sower, and not by greed for the personal enjoyment of an individual.
This is the challenge of Freemasonry today!
7) For the last two years our country has been plagued by an unprecedented economic crisis. Closely related to it there is a discrediting of principles, values and institutions. Do you think Freemasonry can act as a brake on the degeneration of society and create the conditions for a new start for Greek society?
I believe this firmly. When we were initated, we were taught that we seek the Word, knowing that we must do so in a world that is confused, disordered and chaotic. Along with this, Freemasonry gave us emotional and cognitive skills (Faith, Love, Hope, Rationalism), with the instructions for our eternal journey. We travel through this earthly world, primarily to help and be helped. Woe to us, if we confine ourselves to our own Lodges in our philosophy and cut ourselves off from the outside world! Woe to us, if our discussions in the Lodge are not simultaneously food for our road to Emmaus. The city dies and needs us. We must do our duty!
8) What position should charity hold in the life of a Freemason?
This is just one way of giving thanks along our earthly path. Good work toward our fellow man, with particular reference to unselfishness. "When you fed the hungry, clothed the naked, comforted the afflicted, tended the sick, you did it to me!" [Matthew 25:31-46]. From the depths of time, the word of Jesus comes to our days! It means this is our first, our very first task! Always to serve mankind!
9) How far away do you see the day when all Greek Masons realize that they are not opposing forces but working for a common goal?
The initiatory exercise leads inevitably to familiarity with the area of the internal dimension of Being, where there is freedom of morals and the law of love. Thus, it is evident that practicing the method of Freemasonry is a process that will bring us into direct contact with our hidden selves. When this is understood, when all the Masonic forces are experienced, then Freemasonry will be united, universal and a pioneer.
10) Has Freemasonry changed you as a human being, and to what extent?
It changed me as a person at every level of my life, social, spiritual and moral. This inheritance was handed to me by my predecessors as a sacred trust, not only personally but also together with my fellow Masons to cultivate and promote Freemasons of all degrees and systems - all of them my people.
But I changed gradually and as a process, however, as a Mason. It made me see that in addition to the well-known, most unproductive acts and meaningless displays of power, we Europeans need a new Masonic value, which ought to lead to a substantial impact on our own souls and give meaning to our efforts.
11) Recently, Greek Freemasonry lost a great brother, Basil Patkos. Would you like to tell us a few words about the deceased and his work?
I did not personally know the deceased. But I know that he was a spiritual human being, learning to become internally developed and responsible. In memory of him, I might say in the words of [Albert] Pike, "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."
12) In closing, I would like to make a wish not only for the future of Freemasonry, but also for the future of our country.
Allow me to conclude not with hope, but with encouragement. All Masons must demonstrate that they know how to love, in practice, not just in theory. In substance, not just in silence. Beginning first in our Lodges, our brothers' dignity will reveal any weakness. We have our work to bring to society. Our contribution is with our own selves: to offer the light of knowledge where it is needed; to put ourselves at the disposal of the distressed; so that we do not abandon Humanity, Faith, Love and Hope. All this, without expecting any reward! Only the satisfaction that we have done what we should.
tranletion: Lodge Saint Paul no 3 Minnesota USA