Spirit of your soul, ever working Guardian!
May your wings carry
Our souls' imploring love
To the son in the spheres entrusted to your care!
United with your power,
May our prayer be a shining help
To the soul it lovingly seeks.
He was no longer in a state of spiritual innocence. But wasn't there perhaps a kind of second innocence, an innocence regained? Was there not a piety of the intellect, humbled by the recognition of its own limits, wasn't there a faith for those who know, a hope born out of despair? Weren't there throughout history wise men, living in solitude and seclusion from the world, yet connected with each other through secret signs, and working wonderfully and quietly with an almost magical power in a region beyond nationalities and creeds, in the infinite, in the sphere of a purer humanity, a humanity nearer to God? Were there not even today, scattered all over the world and hidden in secret, knights of the Holy Grail? Were there not disciples of a white lodge, a lodge invisible and perhaps not to be entered but merely felt, yet working and predominating everywhere and determining human destiny? Hasn't there always been an anonymous community of holy men on earth, who do not know each other nor anything of each other and yet are working together and on one another through the very power of their prayers? Such thoughts had already much occupied him in his theosophical days, but he had obviously gotten to know only false theosophists; maybe genuine, true theosophists did not allow themselves to be known ...
He was a clever man in his mature years, of good family, a rich, independent bachelor, and a proper Englishman — sober, practical, unsentimental, lacking any musical or artistic sense; in short, a robust, cheerful, sensuous person. He loved fishing, rowing, sailing, eating and drinking heartily, he was a playboy disturbed in his complacency only by one single passion, the curiosity to see everything, to get to know everything, to have been everywhere — with no other ambition than to be able to say with satisfaction, regardless of what place was being talked about, that he knew this or that hotel, where Cook's had found accommodations for him, had seen the sights, and associated with notable people of rank and fame. To be able to travel more comfortably and to have access everywhere, he had been advised to become a freemason. He praised the usefulness of this association until he thought he had discovered a similar but better organized and more powerful association of a higher kind, which he now wanted to join by all means, just as he would have made travel arrangements with another better firm than Cook s if one could have been found.He was not to be dissuaded from his conviction that the world was governed by a small group of secret leaders, that so-called history was made by these men who were as unknown to their closest servants as those in turn were to theirs. He claimed to have followed the traces of this secret world government, of this real freemasonry of which the other was merely a most foolish copy, made by inadequate means. He thought he had found its center in Rome among the Monsignors, most of whom, of course, only played a minor role as unsuspecting pawns, whose jostling provided the cover for the four or five true leaders of the world. And, looking back, Franz still had to laugh at the funny desperation of this Englishman, who had the misfortune never to meet the real leaders but always only their pawns. However, this did not deter the man in his attempts but only served to increase his respect for this very well-guarded and impenetrable association, which he was willing to bet he would be allowed to enter some day — even if he had to stay in Rome until the end of his life and become a monk or even if he had to be circumcised.For since he was tracking everywhere the invisible threads of a power covering the whole world like a spider web, he was not averse to hold Jews in very high esteem. And occasionally he expressed his serious suspicion that in the ultimate, innermost circle of this concealed worldwide web, Rabbis and Monsignors might be sitting together in utmost harmony, which would have been alright with him as long as they would allow him to take part in their magic.
It was only much later that it occurred to him to wonder whether perhaps someone who had not been born with such capacities could acquire them, whether one could train oneself to such powers, whether they could be learned. But the theosophical exercises soon disappointed him.
The library, though not big, was very select. On theology there were only the most essential works, the Bollandist writings and a good deal of Franciscan literature, Meister Eckhart, writings on the spiritual exercises, Catherine of Genoa, the mysticism of Gorres and Mohler's symbolism. On philosophy there were more books: all of Kant's works, including the collected volumes of the Kant Society, also Deussen's Upanishads and his history of philosophy, Vaihinger's philosophy of the As if, and very many books on epistemology. Then the Greek and Latin classics, Shakespeare, Calderon, Cervantes, Dante, Macchiavelli, and Balzac in the original, but of German literature only the works of Novalis and Goethe, the latter in various editions and his scientific writings in the Weimar edition. Franz took down a volume of these and found a number of marginal notes made by the canon, who at this moment left the young monk and the Jesuit and joined Franz, saying, “Yes, no one knows the scientific writings of Goethe.”
“Yes, no one knows the scientific writings of Goethe. It is a pity! In these writings, the old heathen that Goethe is supposed to have been suddenly appears in a different light, and only after reading them does one understand the end of Faust.”
“I have never been able to believe that Goethe pretended there [in Faust] to be a Catholic just for artistic effect. [You see, the canon in him cannot be denied, but never mind.] After all, my respect for the poet, for all poets, is too great to believe that at the moment he utters his last words, he is putting on a mask.”
“... how much of a Catholic Goethe was, perhaps unknowingly and in any case without the courage of his convictions. These writings read as though the writer, on the whole nothing crucial, necessary, and essential is lacking, not even the dash of superstition, magic, or whatever you want to call it, that makes confirmed Protestants so suspicious of our sacred doctrine. Often I could hardly believe my own eyes. But once you are on the trail of the hidden Catholic in Goethe, you soon see him everywhere. His trust in the Holy Spirit (of course, Goethe prefers to call him ‘Genius’), his deep feeling for the sacraments, which he thought were too few, his sense for penitence, his gift for reverence, and even more so the fact that in totally un-Protestant fashion he is not content with faith but always insists on the acknowledgment of God in the living deed, the pious work this rare and most difficult realization that human beings cannot be approached by God if they do not first approach God themselves, the realization of this awesome human freedom to choose either to accept or reject the grace offered, this freedom through which alone God's grace will be deserved by those who decide to accept it — all this, even in his exaggerations and distortions, is still Catholic to the core.”
“Therefore, as you see, I have often written in the margin the passages from the Council of Trent where the same content is expressed, sometimes even in almost the same words.”
“And when Zacharias Werner tells us that a sentence in Goethe's Elective Affinities has made him a Catholic, I believe him implicitly. Of course, this is not to deny [here the canon comes through again] there is also a heathen, a Protestant, and even an almost Jewish Goethe; I don't want to claim him as an ideal Catholic.”
“If Goethe had indeed been Catholic, which on the whole he was more likely to have been than the shallow and complacent run-of-the-mill monist the neo-German senior professors parade under his name ...”
The enchanted but now disenchanted prince, still in his old clothes and otherwise still the same old fellow, yet different since Franz knew the old clothes were a disguise, said with a smile, “Forgive me this deception, which, for my feeling, wasn't really one. I have long since stopped being the infante Don Tadeo. If circumstances force me now to play his role again, the part has become much more difficult for me. To myself I was really the old simpleton, and if I ever lied at all, I lied to myself, not to you. I could not know I would inconvenience you, and I am sorry enough for that. Naturally it was all the silliest misunderstanding.”“I have known the successor to the throne well, without having actually met him; he was very dear to me, and we have been in touch albeit not in the ‘local’ way. [He means here in a way not on the physical plane.] He had long overstepped the limits of his earthly work and had already one foot in the realm of purely spiritual activity. He had to go over completely, I knew. In order to fulfill his work he could no longer stay here. It is only from there that his deed will be done. I only wonder why destiny hesitated so long with him. And that Sunday, as I came out of the church where in my prayers I had been assured again, when I saw the anxious crowd, I knew right away he had at last been freed. What is to happen through him, he can carry out only from the other side. Here he could only promise it; his life was only a preliminary announcement of what is to come. Only now can the deed come about. I have never been able to think of him as a constitutional monarch, with parliamentarianism and all that other humbug. He was a man of too much stature for that. But now he has seized the reins of action all at once. Only now in his death will this man live, really live. This is what I felt when I heard the news, and this is what I meant by the words I said at the time.”
In a lecture I gave in 1902 to the Giordano Bruno Society, I referred to these statements by I. H. Fichte [which seemed to me the expression of a modern intellectual movement and not merely the opinion of an individual]; “that was when we made a beginning with what reveals itself now as the anthroposophical way of thinking ...” [Note 13]
This shows what we had in mind was an expansion of the modern striving for a world view to an actual observation of spiritual reality. Our aim was not to take any old views from the publications then (and even still today) called “theosophical,” but to continue the striving that began with modern philosophy but then got stuck in the abstract and therefore did not gain access to the real spiritual world.