Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Non-Masons View of Masonry

Sermon delivered by J. Wilson Hogg
Head Master, Trinity Grammar School 1944-74.

I feel it a privilege to have been asked to speak at this, the annual Chapel Service of Lodge Trinitarian, of the Masonic Order. But, as many who are here this evening have as little knowledge of Freemasonry as I had a few weeks ago, I ask them to accompany me on a journey into the past, so that we may the better understand why a religious service in this Chapel should be an appropriate annual ceremony for a society which asks of its members no religious commitment other than a belief in a Supreme Being.

At the end of the Sixth Century – it is thought to be 598 – St. Augustine founded at Canterbury, a monastery, a church and a school. This was the Kings School which still stands within the vast precincts of Canterbury Cathedral.

The present headmaster of the Kings School tells of a new boy who wrote happily to his parents about the virtues of his new school, ending rather charmingly. “…and we have a cathedral in our grounds”. The presence of that Cathedral, the shade of that great Church is, in a sense, within the grounds of every descendant church school since the 6th century, A.D. Its ghostly presence speaks to us of the essential nature of our schools, that they are religious foundations, and that within them knowledge is – or should be – constantly monitored by the precepts of religion.

The medieval cathedrals were built by men working in stone. They reared vast edifices of the utmost beauty and grace, and of a splendour which reflected the Church’s concept of the greatness of God, for they built not for man, but to the glory of God. This magnificence of building in enduring stone, this beauty and dignity spoke directly to the noble and peasant alike.

One has only to enter a great medieval cathedral to be aware of one’s own insignificance. One’s pride is subdued, and one’s pretensions humbled. As you stand there, lost in the vastness, you become conscious that about you is man’s most poignant admission of the might, majesty dominion and power of God.

The builders of the Cathedrals, the workers in stone, were known as masons. Their craft is so old that it defies history. It is timeless and it is universal.

In the dawn of history, masons worked in Egypt, India, China, Assyria and Crete – Indeed, everywhere. They showed in their work an unsurpassed and un-surpassing skill. The masonry joints of the great pyramid of Khufu, for instance are less than 1/100th of an inch thick (¼ mm), and some stones weigh 60 tons. They were quarried – quarrying, itself, was an incredible feat! – they were quarried 140 miles (225 km) from the building site. And, to return to the cathedrals, no-one now would be capable of reproducing the exquisite beauty and splendour of their vaulted and sometimes fan-vaulted ceilings.

The slow construction of the medieval cathedrals – they took, sometimes, two or three hundred years to complete – meant for many of the craftsmen that their work became their lives, their children’s lives, and the lives of their children’s children; for in those times it was customary for sons to follow their fathers trade. How could they not have been affected by all this? The deliberate and stately growth toward a single end – the glorifying of God – must have conditioned their lives, their minds and their souls.

At some stage these builders became known as Free Masons. There were three theories about how this came about. Some say it was because they were allowed to move freely about Europe – recognising each other, it is said, by secret signs; some that it was because they worked in free-stone (that is, stone being capable of being sawn or carved); and some that it was because they were permitted to join together in a free society, a Guild upon which no other person, however powerful, could intrude. These Guilds often met in the large buildings set up for the masons on the working sites. They were called Lodges.

Because of the circumstances I have outlined, Masons tended to be solid family men, immensely proud of their capabilities, immersed in their calling, responsible, dependable and with a high moral code. The Guild stressed compassion, and helpfulness to one another. An ancient rule reads; ‘A Mason is not to defame his fellow, or to decry his work, but to help him to better”. Indeed, caring for one’s fellows and their families was very important in a Masonic guild, because the building of vast edifices in stone had constant dangers arising from working at enormous heights, from falling masonry, from flying chips of stone, from fragile scaffolding – and a dozen other causes. It was this inward looking compassion of the first Masonic guilds which was to turn outward in the 18th Century and become the mark of the new Masonic movement whose great charitable works, whose hospitals and schools, have won the admiration of the world. By that time, the guilds had become Lodges, and the membership no longer exclusively Masonic, but open to all men of good will, irrespective of background or creed. Each member had to demonstrate a love of his fellow man, and a belief in a Supreme Being, the Great Architect of the Universe.

Why this lengthy background? Because we are, in large, what history has made us. Today’s Free Mason no longer works in stone, but he continues to live and to be conditioned by the principles and ideals of the ancient Order. What, then, is expected of him?

First of all, his life should be governed – and be seen to be governed – by those principles which the ancient symbol of the Craft, the Square and Compasses, pronounce. The square was used by those working the stone to check its perfection in every angle; was it fit to become an enduring part of a great building? So must the mason constantly check his own worthiness against the lofty ideals of Freemasonry. Is he fit to be a member of so ancient and honourable an order?

The compasses are a reminder that one’s deeds or actions should always be within clearly defined bounds of propriety. In these things the Mason has a double responsibility. He must not only subscribe to a moral order, but also, by his life, demonstrate to others that he does so.

A Mason is not merely a beneficiary of a great and ancient tradition, he is also its guardian. He is a steward with the duties of stewardship. As the recipient of the benefits and benevolence of his Order, the Mason is accountable for these things to it.

In the same way, stewardship devolves upon all Christians who believe that all good things are gifts from God, and that for the care and nurture of these gifts, and their proper use, we are responsible and accountable. The parable of the talents tells us this.

The Masonic rule requires from its members a loving concern for each other and, as the Order’s great charitable works demonstrate, for the community about them. The Order stresses that it is not a religious one, except in that it demands an acknowledgment of a Supreme Being. Nevertheless, the requirement for its members to love one another, and their more distant fellows, is a deeply religious one. It is the principle of service of which Christ’s life is the exemplification made perfect. The washing of His disciples feet was a silent exhortation, and because it was a final one – a consciously final one – it would be to them an imperishable memory, the last lesson learnt, the first to be passed on.

For these reasons, and for many others, it is appropriate that each year, at about this time, the members of the Masonic Lodge which bears the name of this great school, should meet in Chapel to remember the source of all goodness and beneficence and love, and to give thanks for it in their lives, and in the life of the ancient Order to which they belong.

I have always felt that a text has more meaning and relevance at the close of an address than at the beginning. Paul, writing to St. Peter, says:

“…add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.”

I believe that these words fully comprehend the meaning of Freemasonry.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Theological Ladder

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Faith - In the theological ladder, the explanation of which forms a part of the instruction of the First Degree of Masonry, faith is said to typify the lowest round.  Faith, here, is synonymous with confidence or trust, and hence we find merely a repetition of the lesson which had been previously taught that the first, the essential qualification of a candidate for initiation, is that he should trust in God.  In the lecture of the same Degree, it is said that "Faith may be lost in sight; Hope ends in fruition; but Charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity."   And this is said, because as faith is "the evidence of things not seen," when we see we no longer believe by faith but through demonstration; and as hope lives only in the expectation of possession, it ceases to exist when the object once hoped for is at length enjoyed, but charity, exercised on earth in acts of mutual kindness and forbearance, is still found in the world to come, in the sublimer form of mercy from God to his erring creatures.
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Hope - The second round in the theological and Masonic ladder, and symbolic of a hope in immortality.  It is appropriately placed there, for, having attained the first, or faith in God, we are led by a belief in His wisdom and goodness to the hope of immortality.   This is but a reasonable expectation; without it, virtue would lose its necessary stimulus and vice its salutary fear; life would be devoid of joy, and the grave but a scene of desolation.  The ancients represented Hope by a Nymph or maiden holding in her hand a bouquet of opening flowers, indicative of the coming fruit; but in modern and Masonic iconology, the science of Craft illustrations and likenesses, it is represented by a virgin leaning on an anchor, the anchor itself being a symbol of hope.
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Charity - "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing" (First Corinthians xiii, 1-2).  Such was the language of an eminent apostle of the Christian church, and such is the sentiment that constitutes the cementing bond of Freemasonry.  The apostle, in comparing it with faith and hope, calls it the greatest of the three, and hence in Freemasonry it is made the topmost round of its mystic ladder.  We must not fall into the too common error that charity is only that sentiment of commiseration which leads us to assist the poor with pecuniary donations.  Its Masonic, as well as its Christian application, is more noble and more extensive.  The word used by the apostle is, in the original translation, love, a word denoting that kindly state of mind which renders a person full of good-will and affectionate regard toward others.   John Wesley expressed his regret that the Greek had not been correctly translated as love instead of charity, so that the apostolic triad of virtues would have been, not "faith, hope, and charity," but "faith, hope, and love."  Then would we have understood the comparison made by Saint Paul, when he said, "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."  Guided by this sentiment, the true Freemason will "suffer long and be kind."  He will be slow to anger and easy to forgive.  He will stay his falling Brother by gentle admonition, and warn him with kindness of approaching danger.  He will not open his ear to the slanderers, and will close his lips against all reproach.  His faults and his follies will be locked in his breast, and the prayer for mercy will ascend to Jehovah for his Brother's sins.  Nor will these sentiments of benevolence be confined to those who are bound to him by ties of kindred or worldly friendship alone; but, extending them throughout the globe, he will love and cherish all who sit beneath the broad canopy of our universal Lodge.  For it is the boast of our Institution, that a Freemason, destitute and worthy, may find in every clime a Brother, and in every land a home.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


The "Secrets" of Freemasonry

By: Eugene L. Goldman, P.M.

[Brother Goldman is a member of Blackmer Lodge 442, Free and Accepted Masons, State of California. He served his lodge as Master in 1993 and currently serves as Chairman of its Masonic Education Committee.]

While serving my Lodge, I had occasion to call on one of our Entered Apprentices to ask about the reasons for his long absence from the Work.  Like all too many men who join our Fraternity, he completed his initiation and then disappeared.  He had several reasons; the demands of his business had picked up, some personal issues requiring his attention at home, scheduling problems with his Coach, etc. All these were valid, but there appeared more to this than he was letting on. After some more conversation the truth was revealed... he was concerned about his obligation, particularly about the penalties for revealing our secrets.
Our Brother is a man who is very interested in Symbolism, Metaphysics, and (what we call our) Esoteric Work. The reason he sought out a Lodge to join was to write some papers on our Symbolism! He explained that he became alarmed when taking the obligation. We never informed him of what "secrets" he had just vowed to protect! We simply advised him of grave penalties for failing to protect them. This caused him concern, as it was his goal to bring some light to non-initiates in his writings. Being a man of much honor, he felt it better to go no further in our mysteries to be free to explain some of our symbolism to non-masons.

Symbolic vs. Pragmatic

We entered a discussion of the penalties. The need for protection of our secrets was, and is, self-evident . . . if everyone knows our secrets, we have none. Having none, we are no longer unique, or even special. Nothing then remains to induce men of good moral character to want to associate with us. We discussed the historic nature of the penalties. Without addressing the accuracy of our alleged descent from the Knights Templar, there have been other times in history when Masons have faced death simply for being Masons, and living according to Masonic principles. Hitler, Franco, Khomeni, and others have issued death sentences for freethinkers. We teach our candidates to be freethinkers by the nature of our ceremonies.
He was surprised to learn that, under Masonic Law, the strongest penalty a Lodge can impose on a member is simply expulsion from the Fraternity! Although to most Masons, separation from the Craft would be far worse than the grisly acts described in our Ritual! The term "no less a penalty" applies here, in great measure. The thought of revealing our secrets to the unentitled should cause revulsion in the minds of our membership.

The Secrets Themselves

What are our secrets? Today, in this country, our existence is well known. Published phone numbers and meeting times, even the jewelery openly and proudly worn by many Masons is evidence of this.
That we use mystic ceremonies, embedded with symbolism to impart moral and ethical lessons to our novitiates is almost as well documented. Any interested person could enter a specialty bookstore, purchase a book or two and learn the essence of our ceremonies. At the Local Masonic Center in my area there is a book store, well stocked with books on and about Masonry, and writings by many Masons. Many of these books clearly explain our ceremonies and the reasons for the manner in which we exemplify them. Within the same building there is a library containing hundreds of volumes of writings by countless Masonic scholars. Most of these books discuss either the history of our Craft, or the Ceremonies and symbolism we employ in our Work. Who we are, what we do, and how we do it are clearly not secret.

We proudly refer to our modes of recognition as the only secrets in our craft today. In my library at home, I have books describing our ritual in detail. These books have clear English text and include our cherished modes of recognition (complete with diagrams). These books were purchased at a wonderful little bookstore in the Business district in my neighborhood. Any interested person, with a few dollars, can do the same.  Though Masons treat the modes of recognition as secret, they could not be considered unknown outside the Craft.

Secrets Defined

Well, what does that leave? It sounds like it's all out in the open. Our existence, methods, ritual, even the ways we recognize each other are known to any expressing an interest. The real secret of our Craft is the spiritual and emotional growth we encountered because of the experiences we shared The true Mysteries of Free-masonry are contained within the acts of being conducted around the Lodge Room, kneeling at the Altar, first learning the Grips and Words of the several Degrees, and participating in the Third Degree Ritual. Experiencing this as we do (first hand) cannot be described in words. As with many other life experiences "you have to be there" to really understand it. Words could only confuse the issue, never explain it.

What this means to us, my Brother

What does it mean that we are required to keep all this secret? The prohibition against unlawful disclosure of these secrets is meant to protect our ritual from corruption. It is not prohibited to instruct a candidate in the Work. Proper instruction of Candidates is strongly encouraged by Lodges.
Candidates Coaches (the unsung warriors of our Fraternity) spend hour after hour personally instructing candidates in a myriad of areas. The Ritual Work, the history of Freemasonry, even proper Lodge etiquette are topics of much discussion. They spend many additional hours sharpening their proficiency in the Work to do this more effectively. They patiently answer the hundreds of questions posed by Candidates.  Officers spend evenings away from their families to attend practices to improve their Work. In California, Coaches and Officers are required to attend District Schools of Instruction, and when proficient, they are certified by District Inspectors. Inspectors are supervised by Assistant Grand Lecturers. These men come under the oversight of the Grand Lecturer. The Grand Lodge of California, and most of its constituent Lodges, have active committees on Masonic Education. This elaborate system exists to insure that Candidates receive proper instruction.

Work is done only in a tyled Lodge, by qualified Officers. Coaching is done in private settings, by skilled and dedicated men. In this way the Ancient Landmarks are preserved. If Degrees were to be conducted by the unqualified, errors would begin to seep in and Keystones would begin to change or disappear. The essence of the Work would change and those elements that make it what it is would be lost. Thus, it is easy to see why the admonition against unlawful disclosure of our Work exists.

The ‘flip side"

"That is it'? All I have to do is leave things to the Officers and Coaches and I have fulfilled my Obligation?" Not at all! Remember promising never to reveal these secrets unlawfully? That promise contains a hidden injunction to reveal lawfully. Relate the emotions you feel in Lodge to your family and friends, and to the way in which you conduct your life. Share what Masonry means to you by your conduct out of the Lodge. Remind yourself why you are a Mason. Let the world see, by your actions, evidence of the growth you experienced. Promote your Lodge's activities and invite non-Masons to social activities. They just might get caught up in the spirit of Brotherhood and ask "How may I become a Mason'?". Then discuss the membership and degree processes with him. If he asks for a petition, help him fill it out. Introduce him to other members of your Lodge.

Lawful disclosure of our secrets

Signing a petition also carries with it a moral obligation. It obliges you to support our new Brother through his Masonic travels. Be present at his Degrees and Proficiency examinations.  Patiently answer his questions, or refer him to his Coach. Sit with him at Lodge dinners and in Lodge. Be to him the friend you told your Lodge he was to you.
Being a member of a Lodge enjoins you to attend whenever you can, even if you are not an officer. A full Lodge room for an initiation expresses the love of the fraternity to the Candidate and encourages him to become more active himself.

Doing these things will go a long way to fulfilling your "unstated" obligation to lawfully communicate the secrets of Freemasonry.  Become a True and faithful Brother and encourage others by your cackle.

Meanwhile back at the Coaching Room

Remember our Candidate'? As this paper is being written, he has actively resumed meeting with his Coach. He is looking forward to completing his Degrees, and writing many excellent articles on our Craft. I know he will be happy as he forever reveals, and never conceals much of the non-secret information about our Fraternity.  He will be happier still as he lawfully communicates many of our secrets.




Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Masonic Communication

Below is a treatise and a collection of essays, 'views' and 'definitions' of what a Masonic Communication is really is - at least as far as I can define it taking the spirit of what it should be!. I have a lot of extreme 'definitions' of what it is; so extreme that one is 'not allowed' even to become a member of a closed social community such as FB!

My view; and always been is a social virtual site like FB; even if it is a closed group will not and can not be a substitute to a Tyled Lodge wherein Masons 'Masonically' communicate with each other. Hence the 'masonically' adverb modifying the word 'communication'.

We always bandied around our aim of "Brotherhood of Man, Under the Fatherhood of God" [which is not even unique to Freemasonry and can also be attributed to Nelson A. Rockefeller, et al.]. So how can we make this world a better one if we exclude non-Masons or Masons from different Grand Lodges not in amity with ours in our social lives? This extreme view motivated me to further sought what Masonic communication is.


"There is some dispute as to the origin of this word but usually it is held to have come from communis, a Latin term for general, or universal, whence our common, common wealth, communion, communism, communal and many similar words. To communicate is to share something with others so that all may partake of it; a communication is an act, transaction, or deliberation shared in by all present. From this it will be seen how appropriate is our use of the word to designate those official Lodge meetings in which all members have a part or a voice." [1]

"In this age of changing technology, the science of communication has made some dramatic advances - radio, TV, space [satellite] communication. We tend to accept these advances without question, and in the course of acceptance we also seem to lose sight of some of the more basic definitions of communication. Sometimes a simple referral to the dictionary definition can reshape our thinking and stimulate our awareness. Let’s take a look at some of the definitions we find for communication in any standard dictionary.
"COM . MU . NI . CA TION. noun - an act or instance of transmitting; a verbal or written message; the act of communicating; exchange of information or ideas; intercourse; a system (as of telephones) for communication; Eucharistic communion; a system of routes for moving troops, supplies and vehicles; a process by which meanings are exchanged between individuals through a common sys-tem of symbols; a technique for expressing ideas effectively in speech or writing through the arts; the technology of the transmission of information.
"Those are the basic definitions. However, they don’t seem to include any of the Masonic meanings of communication. What about “stated and emergent communications?” Or “Grand Communication", “Quarterly  Communication?”, or the “Communication of Degrees?” [2]
"The term communication with respect to Freemasonry is often misunderstood. Communication in this sense means a lodge meeting. Therefore the injunction that a Mason is not to hold Masonic Communication with a clandestine mason simply means you are prohibited from sitting in the same lodge room." [1]
"In Mac-key’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry we find: COMMUNICATION: The meeting of a Lodge is so called. There is a peculiar significance in this term. To communicate, which, in the Old English form, was to common, originally meant to share in common with others. The great sacrament of the Christian Church, which denotes a participation in the mysteries of the religion and a fellowship in the church, is called a communion, which is fundamentally the same as a communication, for he who partakes of the communion is said to communicate.
"Hence, the meetings of Masonic Lodges are called communications, to signify that it is not simply the ordinary meeting of a society for the transaction of business, but that such meeting is the fellowship of men engaged in a common pursuit, and governed by a common principle, and that there is there-in a communication or participation of those feelings and sentiments that constitute a true brotherhood.
"The communications of Lodges are regular or stated and special or emergent. Regular communications are held under the provision of the by-laws, but special communications are called by order of the Master. It is a regulation that no special communication can alter, amend, or rescind the proceedings of a regular communication." [1]
"So we find that a Masonic Communication takes on a much greater meaning—that of joining together in a common brotherhood in pursuit of common goals and common purposes based upon our common principles. With that explanation in mind, we can better guard our-selves in the transaction of our lodge business, in the conferral of our degrees and in the meeting in fellowship with our Brethren.
"The Lodge Communication is much more than just a meeting. It is much more than an assembly of Masons. It is, must, and should ever be, a joining together of kindred spirits for those loftier purposes of promoting, practicing, and extolling those Masonic virtues we espouse.
"The meetings of Grand Lodges are known as “Grand Communications.” The word “Grand” is used to distinguish the level of meeting Masonically. COMMUNICATION, as we learned from Mackey, is the name given to a meeting; a lodge or Grand Lodge meets in a stated, special, regular, business, emergent, occasional Communication, using the word in its ancient sense of sharing thought, actions, and friendship in common." [2]

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ancient Symbols of Office

We meet in our lodge room so often that it is easy for us to take for granted the things that we see around us there and which there take place. There are times, however, when those who are new to Freemasonry, or who are getting more interested in what we do, want to know why certain things are as they are or happen as they do.

One of these things that we can so easily take for granted is why the two Deacons and the Directors of Ceremonies [in some Jurisdictions, notably in the US and the Philippines, the DC is supplanted with a Marshal.] have wands. What is sure is that they did not suddenly appear from nowhere. There is an explanation for why they are where they are today. Let us begin with the Deacons.

As with the very name of this office the source of our practice lies in what took place in the old parish churches of our land. The two principal lay officers of each local church had for a thousand years been called the Wardens, which name came from the old Northern French word ‘wardein’, meaning ‘to protect’ or ‘to Guard’ and was the word the Anglo-Saxons used. The Wardens protected the rights of the people in the church and as a sign of their authority they were given rods which were later called ‘wands’. To this day the wardens in a local Anglican church carry wands when on duty.

In the Middle Ages the lodge of stonemasons on a working site was ruled by a Warden who protected the rights of the working craftsmen and as a sign of his authority he too had a rod. When the masons created their trade guild they followed the church custom of having a Master, instead of the Rector, and two Wardens, and all three of them had wands. Eventually this practice was also adopted in the guild lodge and that is why, when the guild and lodge separated, the custom of having a Master and two Wardens remained.

In some old lodges the wands were further adorned with a cross for the Master, moon for the Senior Warden and a sun for the Junior Warden. The cross originally represented Christ the head or cornerstone. The moon represented the close of the day and the sun was at the meridian. After the 1813 Union the new form of ceremonial encouraged by the Duke of Sussex required that the three principal offices of a lodge should not leave their places as they had done in the previous century. The office of Deacon which had been introduced into some of the Atholl, or Antients, lodges as assistants at the table, mainly for help with eating, drinking or bearing messages from the Master, were now given the duty of attending on candidates which had previously been discharged by the Wardens. To show that they were now acting with the authority of the Wardens they were given the wands of those senior officers and that is why, to this day, in the lodge rooms at Queen St., Sunderland and Old Elvet, Durham you will see the Deacons carrying wands that have a sun and moon on them. This proves to whom those wands really belong.

What is more it is when we understand how the Deacons originally behaved that we appreciate why, at the opening of a lodge, they are described as those who carry messages from the Master to the Wardens and it is only at the Installation that they are told of their further tasks of attending on the candidates. It is only right that we should know why the wands held by the Deacons no longer have a sun and moon. In some 18th century lodges the knowledge of the classics suggested that the figure of the messenger of the gods, Mercury, was a most apt symbol just because he carried messages and did so with promptness. Hence many lodges still have wands with his figure on them. Following the Union there was a happy return to a very ancient aspect of English Freemasonry, the presence of Noah in the ceremonies. Since the dove was the creature that symbolized peace and was also the messenger that showed Noah a leaf of a tree emerging from the subsiding flood, this was adopted as the most common new attachment to the wands. Whilst these latter symbols accurately represent part of the Deacons’ tasks they have obscured the original source of the wand’s authority. At least we can now see them being used and appreciate better their significance.

What is even more intriguing is the fact that because the Worshipful Master was also not allowed to move from his place his wand or rod was given to a new post-Union officer, the Director of Ceremonies. He was the one who now controlled the work on the floor of the lodge, made sure that all the officers were present and accompanied, or even introduced, any special visitors on their entry. It is worth noting that it was not intended that he should ever take charge of the gavel which was placed in the hands of the Worshipful Master at his Installation.

As another matter of interest it should be noted that just as the original rod or wand of a church rector was surmounted by a cross so the wand entrusted to the Director of Ceremonies from the Master still has a cross at its top. It is also worth noting that the first conductors of an orchestra were provided with a wand but as this in time became unwieldy it was duly shortened to a baton or stick. That is why some Directors of Ceremonies now have a baton rather than a wand. In the end the authority it symbolizes is the Master’s and not just that of the D.C. The latter always needs to remember whom he serves.

1. The word "deacon" is derived from the Greek word diákonos (διάκονος),[1] which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning "servant", "waiting-man", "minister", or "messenger".[2] One commonly promulgated speculation as to its etymology is that it literally means "through the dust", referring to the dust raised by the busy servant or messenger. [Wikipedia].

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Charge to the Initiates

      " [But] the great commandment of Masonry is this:
"A new commandment give I unto you: that ye love one another!
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, remaineth still in the darkness."
      " [Such are the moral duties of a Mason.] But it is also the duty of Masonry to assist in elevating the moral and intellectual level of society; in coining knowledge, bringing ideas into circulation, and causing the mind of youth to grow; and in putting, gradually, by the teachings of axioms and the promulgation of positive laws, the human race in harmony with its destinies.

       "To this duty and work the Initiate is apprenticed. He must not imagine that he can effect nothing, and, therefore, despairing, become inert. It is in this, as in a man's daily life many great deeds are done in the small struggles of life. There is, we are told, a determined though unseen bravery, which defends itself, foot to foot, in the darkness, against the fatal invasion of necessity and of baseness. There are noble and mysterious triumphs, which no eye sees, which no renown rewards, which no flourish of trumpets salutes. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment, poverty, are battle-fields, which have their heroes, --heroes obscure, but sometimes greater than those who become illustrious.
       "The Mason should struggle in the same manner, and with the same bravery, against those invasions of necessity and baseness, which come to nations as well as to men. He should meet them, too, foot to foot, even in the darkness, and protest against the national wrongs and follies; against usurpation and the first inroads of that hydra, Tyranny. There is no more sovereign eloquence than the truth in indignation. It is more difficult for a people to keep than to gain their freedom. The Protests of Truth are always needed. Continually, the right must protest against the fact. There is, in fact, Eternity in the Right.
       "The Mason should be the Priest and Soldier of that Right. If his country should be robbed of her liberties, he should still not despair. The protest of the Right against the Fact persists forever. The robbery of a people never becomes prescriptive. Reclamation of its rights is barred by no length of time. Warsaw can no more be Tartar than Venice can be Teutonic. A people may endure military usurpation, and subjugated States kneel to States and wear the yoke, while under the stress of necessity; but when the necessity disappears, if the people is fit to be free, the submerged country will float to the surface and reappear, and Tyranny be adjudged by History to have murdered its victims.
       "Whatever occurs, we should have Faith in the Justice and overruling Wisdom of God, and Hope for the Future, and Loving kindness for those who are in error. God makes visible to men His will in events; an obscure text, written in a mysterious language. Men make their translations of it forthwith, hasty, incorrect, full of faults, omissions, and misreadings. We see so short a way along the arc of the great circle! Few minds comprehend the Divine tongue. The most sagacious, the most calm, the most profound, decipher the hieroglyphs slowly; and when they arrive with their text, perhaps the need has long gone by; there are already twenty translations in the public square--the most incorrect being, as of course, the most accepted and popular. From each translation, a party is born; and from each misreading, a faction. Each party believes or pretends that it has the only true text, and each faction believes or pretends that it alone possesses the light. Moreover, factions are blind men, who aim straight, errors are excellent projectiles, striking skillfully, and with all the violence that springs from false reasoning, wherever a want of logic in those who defend the right, like a defect in a cuirass, makes them vulnerable.
       "Therefore it is that we shall often be discomfited in combating error before the people. Antaeus long resisted Hercules; and the heads of the Hydra grew as fast as they were cut off. It is absurd to say that Error, wounded, writhes in pain, and dies amid her worshippers. Truth conquers slowly. There is a wondrous vitality in Error. Truth, indeed, for the most part, shoots over the heads of the masses; or if an error is prostrated for a moment, it is up again in a moment, and as vigorous as ever. It will not die when the brains are out, and the most stupid and irrational errors are the longest-lived.
       "Nevertheless, Masonry, which is Morality and Philosophy, must not cease to do its duty. We never know at what moment success awaits our efforts--generally when most unexpected--nor with what effect our efforts are or are not to be attended. Succeed or fail, Masonry must not bow to error, or succumb under discouragement. There were at Rome a few Carthaginian soldiers, taken prisoners, who refused to bow to Flaminius, and had a little of Hannibal's magnanimity. Masons should possess an equal greatness of soul. Masonry should be an energy; finding its aim and effect in the amelioration of mankind. Socrates should enter into Adam, and produce Marcus Aurelius, in other words, bring forth from the man of enjoyments, the man of wisdom. Masonry should not be a mere watch-tower, built upon mystery, from which to gaze at ease upon the world, with no other result than to be a convenience for the curious. To hold the full cup of thought to the thirsty lips of men; to give to all the true ideas of Deity; to harmonize conscience and science, are the province of Philosophy. Morality is Faith in full bloom.
       "Contemplation should lead to action, and the absolute be practical; the ideal be made air and food and drink to the human mind. Wisdom is a sacred communion. It is only on that condition that it ceases to be a sterile love of Science, and becomes the one and supreme method by which to unite Humanity and arouse it to concerted action. Then Philosophy becomes Religion.
       "And Masonry, like History and Philosophy, has eternal duties-- eternal, and, at the same time, simple--to oppose Caiaphas as Bishop, Draco or Jefferies as Judge, Trimalcion as Legislator, and Tiberius as Emperor. These are the symbols of the tyranny that degrades and crushes, and the corruption that defiles and infests. In the works published for the use of the Craft we are told that the three great tenets of a Mason's profession, are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. And it is true that a Brotherly affection and kindness should govern us in all our intercourse and relations with our brethren; and a generous and liberal philanthropy actuate us in regard to all men. To relieve the distressed is peculiarly the duty of Masons--a sacred duty, not to be omitted, neglected, or coldly or inefficiently complied with. It is also most true, that Truth is a Divine attribute and the foundation of every virtue. To be true, and to seek to find and learn the Truth, are the great objects of every good Mason."
Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Soul of Freemasonry Defined

A Masonic Lodge represents a body of workmen in which each member has a station or place corresponding to his task or function. Its chief officer is a Master Workman charged with responsibility to see that the members work peaceably and harmoniously as a unit at the task for which he lays the design upon his Tracing Board; his principal assisting officer is responsible for seeing that each man begins and ends on time and is at work in the place where he belongs.
The body of potential workmen from whom new members may be drawn is called the quarries; a man who comes from them is called a Petitioner, and he must be qualified to take his place among the body of workmen or he is not admitted. Immediately he is accepted he becomes an Apprentice, which means he is to be trained, is to become a learner of a craft, or form of work; and he is said to be seeking light, which means intelligence and knowledge for the work he is to do.

At the beginning he is given a learner’s tools; later he will receive tools for more advanced skill; and at the end will receive the use of all of them; they are working tools. He is clothed in a workman’s apron; it is his livery, or badge, and he is warned against ever feeling shame while wearing it. These craftsmen are to act as one man, as men do when working together in the same place. They have traditions which concern men who worked on buildings, represented by a Temple, and of a Master of Workmen, who superintended the building of that Temple; but it is made clear that the work of builders is only a specimen of each and every form of work—it is symbolic. Their rules and regulations concern their hours, wages, their duty to their officers or overseers, and their discipline.

The Freemasons of the Middle Ages who formed the first of these Lodges lived in a society in which not only institutions and rulers but the great majority of men and women were opposed to the teachings of Masonic Lodges, and were ready to destroy them by force and violence. The fundamental doctrine of the Church was that work as a curse which had been pronounced on Adam’s descendants as a supernatural and never-ceasing penalty for his disobedience. The great reward of a good life was to be released by death from toil, and entrance into “an everlasting rest”where men have ceased from their labors and go about in a never-ending worklessness.

The two Patron Saints of a man in work are his wife and family, but the head of the Church had no wife, children or home. The only truly holy man was a celibate priest who did not work, or monks and nuns who kept long vigils of idleness, or friars who went about the roads begging for food and lodging. The King and his nobles and the aristocracy by which they were surrounded looked down upon work as something beneath them; and next below them came the rich merchants. From that level downward men and women belonged to the lower classes because they were working men and women in a descending series, skilled workmen, mechanics laborers, peasants, villains, serfs, cotters, slaves. These men and women of the lower classes were paid a few cents per day; had no voice or vote in Church or State; could hold no high office in army or government, received no education could not even read and write, could not marry above their class; could own almost no property; were compelled by law to dress according to their station; could be impressed with force by the sheriffs to labor on public works or to fight in the army or navy. When the new colonies were opened up they were herded into small ships like cattle and sent without tools, implements, weapons, doctors, or teachers to live in the wilderness among savages.

To prevent their rebellion some 200 small felonies were made punishable by death—one man was hanged, burned, and quartered because he had dared to translate the Bible into the language used by the common people These disgraces, indignities, injustices, and atrocities were heaped upon them with a terrible inhumanity a century after century not because they were criminals, traitors, or recusants but because they were neither lords nor landlords but were working men. There were better times and worse; there were occasions when a man was honored for work that he had done; once in a thousand times a man might marry above or below his class; but these were nothing but sporadic exceptions, and did not avail to overthrow the barbaric feudalism, the cardinal principle of which was that a lord own and not only the land but the men who worked on it, and since he owned the men he owned the products of their work. The Medieval Freemasons found out the truth about work; they found it out for themselves, and from the work they themselves were doing, which was unlike the work being done by any other craftsmen. They did not write that truth down in books or cast it in the form of a creed, and Masons have never done so since, nevertheless it is possible to set it down in a series of statements in the language of today:

1. To work is to produce, grow, or make something without which men and women cannot continue to live; to have such things a man must make use of himself as the means to produce them. Since this is true he is neither an animal nor a machine; to take away from him by force. fraud or chicane, directly or indirectly, the products of his work, is to do violence not to things but to the man himself, and hence is absolute injustice.

2. The need men and women have for countless products, services, and commodities is not a temporary one, nor is it accidental, but continues to be true for ever. For this reason work is neither a curse nor an inconvenience but is a fact about the nature of man and the world, and is so eternally.

3. Since this is true, work is one of the attributes of God. It is for this reason that He is named Sovereign Grand Architect of the Universe.

4. Man is by nature a worker. It is only in his work that a man finds himself, his fulfillment and satisfaction; idlers and parasites become less than men, are ex-men. This truth is plain to any observer; when a man ceases or refuses to work an inner deterioration begins, first in his character, later in his mind, and in the end his body undergoes a process of degeneration; and while this process of disintegration goes forward he knows himself to be under contempt.

5. To be able to carry on his work a man must have Knowledge and intelligence which means education; he must be free to think because work calls for reasoning and understanding; he must one free to speak, because the larger part of the world’s work is done by numbers of men working together and therefore they must have information from each other; they must be free to enter or to leave any form of work because always some things are completed and new things must be done, to work in continuous association with each other establishes them in a fraternalism a fact so clearly seen by Freemasonry that often it is said of men in the same trade or art that “they have a freemasonry among themselves,” and it is this which is meant by morale or esprit de corps.

There can be no chasms of class distinction among workers because they must meet upon the level in order to co-operate with each other. If a man be not honorable, upright, and truthful it is not he alone who suffers from his failure; his fellows suffer also, they and the work together. If work fails the world fails, and workers and non-workers go down in catastrophe together. No church or government is more stupid than one which denies men the liberty to work, or interferes with the liberties required by work.

The best thought of men about the matters which belong to religion are embodied in the great organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc., and by them is stated in their creeds which in turn are amplified and expounded and taught by their theologies. It is an astounding fact that thus far no theology has ether embodied in its creed any doctrines about work.

Men’s best thought about their way of life in the world is embodied in the great philosophies, of which the first were founded by Greek thinkers of about 600 B.C. Although a philosopher may endeavor to incorporate the whole world in his system it is always found in the end that his philosophy consists of the elaboration or exposition or exploration of some one idea or truth or fact. The philosophy of Plato concerns itself with ideas. Aristotle was the philosopher of logic. Roman Stoicism was an elaboration of the theory that there are laws of nature, and that these are the laws of man. Descartes declared that everything is a dualism of matter and mind; Spinoza declared that there is no dualism and only one Reality, but that this Reality manifests itself in the two modes of matter and mind. Kant was an epistemologist, concerned with the nature of knowledge. Haeckel was a materialist. Bergson examined and elaborated the fact of change, or flux, or motion. There is scarcely an idea or truth capable of being thought which has not been seized upon, expanded and expounded, and made into a system of philosophy by some thinker. And yet, and again it is an astounding fact, no system of philosophy has ever been devoted to the subject of work! William James and John Dewey have come closest to it but neither of them took work itself as his subject matter but only used it as if it were a means to an end. Thomas Carlyle saw the need for a philosophy of work, and cried out for some man to do it, but did not produce it himself.

When the first Freemasons found out for themselves the truth about work and though they did not embody it in creeds or books but left it, as it were, to speak for itself, and only among themselves, it was a far greater achievement than the discovery and perfection of Gothic cathedrals. They won a place for themselves among history’s great way-showers, thinkers, philosophers, prophets. Nor is it any wonder that in those days of feudalism they kept it among themselves, in their tiled rooms, behind locked doors, and pledged every candidate to hold inviolate the privacy of his Lodge. What they thought and taught and knew was not a heresy, theological or philosophical, but it differed so radically from the whole mass and drive of the beliefs and practices of the feudalism around them that they saw no need to disturb outsiders by what those outsiders could not have understood; and not being fanatics, and having intelligence as well as character, they saw no need to expose themselves to the fury of the priests or the barbaric brutalities of the lords.

It is not all-important to Freemasons that the founders of their Fraternity were builders, or even great builders; the all-important fact is that they were great thinkers, and found out for themselves a set of truths which no men had found or seen before, and which, even now, only a few are beginning to see; there would be neither point nor purpose for adult men to carry on, month after month, a mere routine repetition of builder customs. The soul of Freemasonry as well as its purpose in the world. is the set of truths which they found. The fact that those truths are not codified, or printed, or tabulated but are embodied in rites and symbols and Lodge practices does not matter; they are there, and while a man is being made a Mason they stamp themselves upon his mind. It is because they are there that after a man has worn off the first strangeness of being a member of a Lodge and begins to learn for himself what Freemasonry is and what its history has been, there begins to grow in him a zeal and an enthusiasm for it.