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En: Greetings from Portugal

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Greetings from Portugal

By Past Master Paulo Castelo Branco, Respeitável Loja Afonso I – Guimares, 27 March 2017 (provided by PG with courtesy of Paulo Castelo Branco)

Worshipful Master / Grand Master, beloved Brothers

It is so good to be here!

We came from Guimarães, a small town (with fifty thousand inhabitants), which is the cradle of Portuguese nationality and UNESCO World Heritage since 2001.Situated in the Minho region of northern Portugal, Guimarães is a town with beautiful architecture and secular traditions where work, culture and honor are an ancestral legacy.

Although we live in northern Portugal, we are from southern Europe maintaining a mixture of Mediterranean and Atlantic cultures with a little touch of the Celtic presence.

Our Respectable Lodge, nº 84, Afonso the I, received its name from our first King (who was born at the city Castle and founded the country in the middle of the 12th century). It is a young and small Lodge, symbolically founded at the gates of the old castle, on the sacred hill of nationality by seven masters that came from old Lodges of Porto (the second largest and important city of our country and the one which gave the name to Portugal).

One of these founders is our beloved Brother Peter, here with us tonight, and it is because of him that we have the opportunity to be among you.

And it is funny to feel that after two thousand kilometers of travel to visit him, and facing such a different culture and scales (in a city with more than one and a half million inhabitants), we feel at home. Apparently, from such differences, it may be a bit strange being here in such a good coexistence and feel at home. But it is not. Personally it is my third time in Hamburg, a European Green Capital of immense beauty and rigorous organization where values of sustainability and pleasant urban forms are quite visible.

And I think we can say that we all feel that we are in the same Europe, with the same sky, the same continent and, unfortunately, the same problems – the same climate changes, the same refugee crisis, the same Brexit, the same nationalism and xenophobia, the same terror and the same quest for security that seems to be submerging the people's way of life, opening doors to ideological extremism, alienating people, pushing them apart and weakening Europe. In behalf of security and economic development, we may forget the main idea that presided over the Community of Nations that Robert Schuman found in the Kantian idea of Perpetual Peace - the idea that would allow a confederation of states where the rights and well-being of citizens would not be distorted only by economic and security considerations.

At present, the European project seems to be reduced to a common market and to the free movement of people, goods and services. This is not enough to meet the challenges of the 21st century. As men of good will, we must believe that it is in reconciling interests, in cultural exchanges, in commitments to the same goals and in mutual understanding - obviously with rigor and balance in the management of the resources and possibilities of each country - that we will find the bases for a more cohesive and strong Europe. And that is the main issue - a better Europe, a better world.

However, let's forget this for now because, here in Hamburg, in this magnificent Temple, sharing all these symbols and atmosphere, we only feel convergence and peace and so we feel so well and at home. Here we find the same solemnity and ancestry that we also feel at 2,000 km in our homeland and, above all, we know we are among men who, despite the differences of the Rite and the (beautiful) Ritual, are in all things similar to us in the fulfillment of Christian ethics and morality, supported by reason, knowledge and love. Here we feel at home because you all welcomed us and recognized us as Freemasons. And we can say that even may having some differences between the Latin and Northern Europe ways of life, there are many more similarities than differences between us - we are Brothers, children of the same Principle, and nothing can separate us - neither the frontiers nor the 2,000 km distance.

Dear brothers. We are happy. We came to visit a brother and found so many more.

So it is with satisfaction that we bring you a special greeting from our Venerable Master Joaquim Magalhães, from all the Brothers of our Afonso the I Lodge and from all the Portuguese freemasons - leaving you the invitation to visit our beautiful country, our region, its fantastic gastronomy) and, last but not least, visit us at our Lodge in Guimarães (actually the flights are cheap even for ourselves ... and you can stay in our houses if you wish).

Thank you, Venerable Master / Grand Master, and please accept our compliments for the way you conducted this session. Thank you beloved brothers, workers of this magnificent Roland - Chronik Lodge for your friendly hospitality. Thank you Peter – you are in the right place.

May God be with you all.

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