Catharose De Petri
The grand master of the Young Gnostic Brotherhood (1902-1990). Together with Jan van Rijckenborgh, Catharose de Petri held the spiritual leadership of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum. She fulfilled her own task in terms of spiritual development and the worldwide expansion of the work of the Spiritual School of the Rosyross.
The real name of Catharose de Petri was Hendrikje Stok-Huizer. Even as a child she was a “seeker” and felt herself a stranger in this world. Later – in the 1920‘s – she became one of the the founders of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum. At her side was Jan van Rijckenborgh.
The founding and leading of a spiritual school with the aim to guide a group of seeking people into the world of soul and spirit, is a task that must be based on an inner vocation. Catharose de Petri, as she reported afterwards, experienced such a vocation at the age of 28 years “from the bonafide Order of Holy Rosycross”. It was a spiritual experience that occured after many philosophical and religious considerations. Since then, she knew “that the Rosycross as a school with spiritual force must be introduced to all those who long for the liberation of the soul”.
The liberation of the soul from bondage to the world of mortal matter is the inner longing to which Catharose de Petri refers. A spiritual school is mentioned, because the Lectorium Rosicrucianum is not a „personality“ school and not focussed on the apsects of the soul alone. The aim is rather to enable the direct connection of the human soul with the highest power, the Spirit of Christ.
The experience of being a stranger in this world
Even at the age of eight years, Hendrikje (Henny) Huizer intensively thought about existential questions of human existence, for example, the question about the reason for and very essence of human life here on Earth. She was born as the daughter of a shipbuilder in Rotterdam. Her father came from a Protestant home, her mother’s family belonged to the Re-Reformed Church. But her parents did not do much for support in their belief. Hendrikje’s urge for inner knowledge was not understood in this milieu. Also, the teachings in catechism which she received from a Re-Reformed preacher, did not give her the expected answers.
After school, she was employed in office work. But here also she suffered from the fact that she could not share her inner world with anybody. She often felt strange and misunderstood by her colleagues and friends,
Over the years her inner vocation became more profound, and a central question appeared more and more clearly: “What is my life based on?” In 1929, she married H. J. Stok, who brought her in contact with the “Nederlandse Genootschap Rozekruisers”, the Dutch arm of Max Heindel’s Rosicrucian Fellowship at Oceanside, California.
The encounter with the Leene brothers
At first she did not like the idea of joining the community at all, even though her husband had already been a member. She said that organized groups of this kind would inevitably develop errors and complications which she was deeply averse to. In her opinion, a membership would be nothing more than an obstacle to the internal balance and concentrated stillness which are required to follow a spiritual path. At the urging of her husband, however, she agreed to an interview with the brothers Jan and Zwier Willem (Wim) Leene. The two brothers had joined the Rozekruisers Genootschap in 1924 and had soon taken a leading position in the organization soon.
In this interview, she was so touched by the modest, yet strong appearance of Jan Leene, that she changed her mind and in 1930 joined the idealistic circle of friends around the Leene brothers. She was finally persuaded when Wim Leene simply said to her: “When we put our hearts together, our fire flares up a lot stronger.”
Together with the Leene brothers an intense spiritual search began that led the three to their decision of proceeding on their way with their own group apart from the Rozekruisers Genootschap. After the death of Wim Leene on 9 March 1938, Hendrikje Stok-Huizer was awarded a seat on the Board of the Community, which was then consisting of Jan Leene, herself, her husband H. J. Stok, and A. M. Verhoog.
The names of the Grand Masters
In 1956, she took up her spiritual name Catharose de Petri. At this time, her role in the community had completely changed. The name was given to her under very special circumstances by Antonin Gadal, the last Patriarch of the Brotherhood of the Cathars in southern France. From then on, she used that name in the public – „not because of its better sound”, as she wrote,“but because I wanted to devote my own personal life to the mission in service to all”.
Jan Leene had already adopted his spiritual name, Jan van Rijckenborgh, in 1940. Both were mentally connected with the inspiring Brotherhood and developed, as Grand Masters, a clear vision of the Spiritual School of the Rosycross. Only together were they able to lead the work to success. Their joint action proves that in the Lectorium Rosicrucianum men and women work together as absolutely equals.
The structure of the Inner Work of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum
It was Catharose de Petri, who made it possible for Jan van Rijckenborgh to do his work at the beginning. She watched over his environment spiritually, as well as practically. After that she fulfilled her own task that she had very clearly intuitively experienced in 1930. As a spiritual leader, she worked primarily on the inner side of the organization. With her deep-rooted feeling for the Gnosis of Christianity and her knowledge of the pure Gnostic work in service for humanity, she also watched over the spiritual level and the exterior appearance of the Rosicrucian temples. She inspired the pupils to a lifestyle that met the highest standards.
After the death of Jan van Rijckenborgh in 1968, Catharose de Petri preserved and developed the spiritual work of the School and further strengthened the community to work in the service for mankind. At the same time she secured the literary heritage of Jan van Rijckenborgh and worked as a writer. The School of the Rosycross at that time had to endure a critical phase. With her clear focus, however, the spiritual heart of the school kept on beating for the pure Gnostic task.
It became clear that a spiritual school as an instrument of the liberation of the soul could now, at the beginning of a new period, no longer be guided by a single person. Therefore in 1970, Catharose de Petri put the leadership of the School into the hands of a multi-member college, the International Spiritual Directorate. As the Grand Master she supported the leaders with wisdom and advise, where it was needed, until her death in 1990. Together with the International Spiritual Directors she made sure that the autonomous spiritual force that takes effect in the School of the Rosycross, was given a living structure.