As we continuously journey and seek out the secret word and its meaning, we are travelers upon a spiritual journey. As we search for meaning we in due course will reach, “The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn No traveller returns” (William Shakespeare - To be, or not to be (from Hamlet 3/1),2010). Travelers make friends along the principal roads of life,and through their comings and goings they acquire trust of a few. The few, like the fifteen Fellowcraft, the trusted, become
Brothers, but sometimes brothers stray from the “good course” as did the three ruffians. We must escape before we are found, let us have a word with the man on the road before us to see if we can travel with him into another country. What…; we cannot,…but why? Because we have no pass. We all are familiar with this
story, although we have to use different words to describe it here for obvious reasons. Freemasons of old traveled in foreign countries, as we say, to make a living. They possessed special skills and knowledge, not found within the common masses. To protect themselves,their skills, and status, they developed what we would call today a very cohesive social network based on their skill set.The view most generally held is that free masons were those who were free of the masons’ guild. Free because they claimed exemptions from the control of the local guilds of the towns in
which they temporarily settled. (Albert Mackey M. D., 2010, p.282) Today the buzz in the business, local communities and the social scene is social media and social networking. You have heard of it, but what is it? Why is it so important? Is it
important? Is it just vogue or a novel term? Before you say social networking is just a new age technological fad consider this: ad spending for social networking sites was expected to top $1.6 billion in 2008. Wikipedia.com has 10 standard languages and has over 14 million articles. (Wikipedia, 2009) E-mail is now
passe’ to Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980). In 2010, Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 2000) will outnumber Baby Boomers, 96% of Generation Y are connected to one or more social networks, social media has overtaken pornography as the leading #1 activity on the web. It took 38 years to reach 50 million users of radio, 13 years to reach 50 million users of TV, 4 years to reach 50 million users of the internet, 3 years to reach 50 million users of the iPod, Facebook
added 100 million users in less than 9 months, iPod application downloads hit 1 billion in 9 months. If Facebook were a country, it would be the 4th largest in the
world. Today 80% of companies are using LinkedIn as a primary tool to find employees, 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices and YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. (Qualman, 2009). Still think it is a fad? Talk to your co-workers, talk to your employees, talk to your children, your grandchildren,
actually ask the ten people in the room with you or the next ten people you meet if they use any of the social media already mentioned. In 2009, three of the top five most visited sites on the internet were social media sites. (Qualman, YouTube, 2009)
A social network focuses on building social relations among people, who share common interests or activities. It is this interaction between people that is important as it revolves around a common theme or goal. Let us rephrase this by saying “Our Fraternity of Freemasonry focuses on building social relations among the Brethren (members) so that we take good men and make them better”. We do this by teaching a way of life that promotes the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. The goal is to be the premier organization composed of men of integrity and character, who are honest, true to their word, believe in God, are devoted to family, charitable in their community, and courteous and helpful to each other. (TAKING GOOD MEN AND MAKING THEM BETTER! 2010) Social media pertains to how the message of a group is to be disseminated. Many instances it is by way of easily accessible web based publishing techniques such as Internet, broadcast media such as podcasts, Facebook, Twitter and Wiki sites that are built on Web 2.0 content. The network is the people, who come together around a common goal or theme, and the media is the tool used to expand the knowledge to those who are interested about the particular topic. Today, social media are shrinking the world and allowing communications to take place and information to be exchanged that would never have happened even ten years
ago. As I am writing this article, I posted on Twitter “Working on a Lodge program to be presented in all Lodges in Virginia entitled, “Freemasonry the Original Social Network” with the URL for the Grand Lodge of Virginia. I have received numerous replies and re-tweets both as direct messages and publicly from as far away
as California, Nova Scotia, and the United Kingdom. Now, if it were not for Facebook, and Twitter, I would have never had
conversations with most of the Brother Masons that I have. It is a game changer for all. Why did the operative Freemason want to travel in foreign countries? Let us contemplate this question for a time.
Envisage the operative Freemason sitting back in location waiting for someone to approach him to build a majestic edifice where he lives. Would the operative Freemason’s skills be used frequently? Would the operative Freemason receive the same quantity of recompense as if he traveled to build? My Brethren, the operative Freemason knew that he must travel in foreign countries if he was to continue to be paid a master’s wages. The work was not going to come to him; he must go to the work. The operative Freemason had to provide verification of his worth, by having a pass only identifiable to other operative Freemasons. The operative Freemasons were
one of the original social networks. The Operative Freemason’s social media was his password. Let us remember that social media pertains to how the message of a group is to be disseminated. Operative Freemasons disseminated their message after strict verification as we do today when someone visits a Lodge. If no one can vouch for a proclaimed Brother, we have special oaths, signs, tokens and passes, besides a dues card to authenticate a claim in our Fraternity. We, as speculative Freemasons, have many duties and obligations, but each of us is charged that we must “take good men and make them better.” The speculative Freemason today must search and seek out those young men, we must travel in
foreign countries to find them, just as the operative Freemason did. Speculative Freemasons of today, take a lesson from our
operative Brethren. Just as they traveled in new social networks, so must we continue to travel in foreign countries of newer social networks. We must travel into the foreign country of new forms of social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We will travel to those undiscovered countries along our spiritual journey. We speculative Freemasons have a different skill set than our operative Brethren, but we both are bound by duty and must seek good men and are challenged to
make them better. Many of you mastered the new forms of social media in your lifetime such as radio, television and the internet. Many of us grew up with these, not knowing a life without them, but we must continue our journey, we must travel to where there is work to be enabled to earn master’s wages. Our wages are
found when we seek out new ways to spread the cement of brotherly love, along our never ending spiritual journey to that “undiscovere'd country, from whose bourn No traveller returns (William Shakespeare - To be, or not to be (from Hamlet 3/1), 2010)”.
By Worshipful David C. Wells, PM
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Brethren, Ladies and Guests Good Evening.
The title of tonight’s talk is “Freemasonry our Future is found in Teamwork”.
The Masonic Jurisdiction of Utah has the distinction of being the smallest in the 48 continental states. Where some may be fast to draw a negative assumption about this fact I believe we are stronger and more connected than our larger sister jurisdictions.
Freemasonry grows in Utah because we all work together as a team. This is not done out desperation but out of dedication.
The one common denominator we see as Grand Lodge Officers when we travel this state is that the lodges work together to make things happen.
If they see another lodge struggling they step in help and encourage their Brethren. They help build their membership and provide leadership in their officer lines. They provide experience where there is a void and they celebrate with their seasoned members in the creation of a renewed hope.
In short the Masons of this state want to see this “thing” survive and it is going to take teamwork.
My experience is only of ten years but in that time even I can see these small victories where there once was darkness. Light builds and lodges are no longer a shadow of their past but taking pride in becoming what they were and what they are now.
Progress lodge is growing with great guns right now. I sat with them in lodge the other day and I saw a successful well-oiled machine. They have worked hard these last few years. They provide for their membership a reason to come out and be with their Brethren. Men want to join Progress Lodge because Progress Lodge is doing something.
This enthusiasm is spreading over and they have adopted their Brethren in Kaibab Lodge. Kaibab has a meet-up group following the lead of their big brother. This ensures that Freemasonry will continue to foster and grow in Salt Lake City. There is new blood, new membership and a renewed sense of purpose. Kaibab has started a Farmer’s Market. How come nobody thought of that one before? I wished I had thought of that.
Although my assumption is that someone out there tonight has a garden with too many tomatoes.
Acacia Lodge has had her struggles but again the team of her dedicated officers that want to see her succeed have continued despite her growing pains to build and find stability. Their Worshipful Master Allen Record a glutton for punishment in my mind has dutifully served his lodge for almost 2 years to make sure the good work continues.
Talking about teamwork and spreading the enthusiasm, I have it under good authority that a member or two of Acacia traveled to Cache Valley this week to help Harmony Lodge in Logan with degree work.
That is just awesome.
You see although we are all individual members of separate lodges statewide, we are all members of one Fraternity, The Masonic Family of Utah.
You have Masonry in the great dark north.
In Castle Country.
In the Basin.
In Happy Valley.
And you have Masonry in the Big City.
Separate but all part of one great big team.
We have Coaches and starters. We have Second string and the rookies but we all work together and we all go to great lengths to win. In the end we are all victorious.
Recently many us participated and attended the Utah Masonic Leadership Academy. There was a twist this year where in addition to the lodges the membership of the whole Masonic Family was invited. The Shrine, the Rites, Eastern Star and the like all came. All of us were under one roof to share ideas, thoughts and things that work. No more secrets everything was out in the open so that we all can benefit and all can achieve the same positive results.
This “game-plan” of Freemasonry if you will should breed success. And the success of your Chapter or sister lodge will spill over. Others will pick up the ball and run.
If it didn’t work before give it a chance it might just work. As I have said in the past things are different now. No more looking back only moving forward.
When a man joins Freemasonry in Utah most of the time he has no knowledge or scope of the size of fraternity outside of his own lodge. What is important for him to know to know is that he is part of a team. A team sharing victories and defeats learning that there is strength even in small numbers.
Those small numbers will eventually multiply just like they did in the past. These members will rebuild and our future will be secure. Our “teamwork” will be our success.
Thanks for listening and enjoy the rest of your evening.
John C. Liley Jr., W. Grand Orator Utah
A young man passed a pawnbrokers shop. The money lender was standing in front of his shop, and the young man noted that he was wearing a large and beautiful Masonic emblem. After going on a whole block, apparently lost in thought, the young man turned back, stepped up to the pawnbroker, and addressed him: I see youre wearing a Masonic emblem. Im a Freemason too. It happens that Im desperately in need of $25 just now. I shall be able to repay it within ten days. You dont know me; but I wonder whether the fact that you are a Freemason and that I am a Freemason is sufficient to induce you to lend me the money on my personal note.
The pawnbroker mentally appraised the young man, who was clean-cut, neat and well-dressed. After a moments thought, he agreed to make the loan on the strength of the young man being a Freemason. Within a few days the young man repaid the loan as agreed and that ended the transaction.
About four months later the young man was in a Lodge receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree; he had not really been a Mason when he borrowed the $25. After he had been admitted for the second section of the degree, the young man looked across the Lodge room and saw the pawnbroker from whom he had borrowed the $25. His face turned crimson and he became nervous and jittery. He wondered whether he had been recognized by the pawnbroker. Apparently not, so he planned at the first opportunity to leave the Lodge room and avoid his benefactor. As soon as the Lodge was closed he moved quickly for the door, but the pawnbroker had recognized the young man, headed him off and, to the young mans astonishment, approached him and greeted him with a smile and outstretched hand.
Well, I see you werent a Freemason after all when you borrowed that $25, the pawnbroker commented.
The blood rushed to the young mans face as he stammered, No, I wasnt, but I wish youd let me explain. I had always heard that Freemasons were charitable and ready to aid a Brother in distress. When I passed your shop that day I didnt need that $25. I had plenty of money in my wallet, but when I saw the Masonic emblem you were wearing, I decided to find out whether the things Id heard about Freemasonry were true. You let me have the money on the strength of my being a Freemason, so I concluded that what I had heard about Masons was true, that they are charitable, that they do aid Brethren in distress. That made such a deep impression on me that I presented my petition to this Lodge and here I am. I trust that with this explanation you will forgive me for having lied to you.
The pawnbroker responded, Dont let that worry you too much. I wasnt a Freemason when I let you have the money. I had no business wearing the Masonic emblem you saw. Another man had just borrowed some money on it, and it was so pretty that I put it on my lapel for a few minutes. I took it off the moment you left. I didnt want anyone else borrowing money on the strength of my being a Freemason. When you asked for that $25, I remembered what I had heard about Masons, that they were honest, upright, and cared for their obligations promptly. It seemed to me that $25 wouldnt be too much to lose to learn if what Id heard was really true, so I lent you the money and you repaid it exactly as you said you would. That convinced me that what Id heard about Masons was true so I presented my petition to this Lodge. I was the candidate just ahead of you.
From the January 1977 New Mexico Freemason
Freemasonry is sometimes described as a school which teaches men a way of life which has met the test of time. We do not have a monopoly on the teaching of moral Truths, but we do have a special way of teaching which is both interesting and effective. Freemasonry teaches its members all the cardinal virtues which are designed to make its members better men, but this Short Talk will discuss only three of them: Temperance, Fortitude and Prudence.
The word "temperance" has acquired an unfortunate connotation in modern times. It is frequently associated with the movement to eliminate the use of alcoholic beverages. But the word has a much broader meaning. The Masonic definition of Temperance may be stated briefly as follows: Temperance is that due restraint upon our affections and passions which renders the body tame and governable, and frees the mind from the allurements of vice. Every Mason is then told that Temperance should be the constant practice of every Mason, as he is taught to avoid excess in all things, such as contracting any licentious or vicious habit, the indulgence of which might lead him to- suffer, or to lose his health, or cause him to lose his reputation.
In a general sense it means that one must exercise a degree of self-restraint and selfcontrol at all times, in all the activities of life, including both words and deeds. The key idea is "moderation in all things." The idea is well illustrated in the old statement: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." It does not mean abstinence except in matters which are inherently bad or harmful.
The word "temperance" comes to us from the Latin, which means to temper or harden according to the use intended. As a consequence, we must recognize that there cannot be hard and fast rules in this subject. Each person must decide for himself how much restraint and self-control must be exercised in a particular situation. For example, I like to eat apple pie; one small piece is adequate to satisfy my desire after a hearty meal. My neighbor might not eat as hearty a meal, but might desire a larger piece of apple pie. Both of us by the exercise of self-control and by being temperate refrain from having a second helping.
There was a time when smoking cigarettes was considered just a bad habit. During this period the temperate use of cigarettes meant that one should smoke only a moderate number each day. Recent research has indicated that smoking cigarettes is closely connected with the development of cancer. Freemasonry takes no specific position in the matter of whether its members should smoke or not smoke; each member is taught to make his own decision. If he believes that smoking is bad because it is likely to bring on cancer, he should abstain from smoking. If he is in doubt, he should at least be moderate in responding to his desire for a smoke, thus reducing the hazard. Temperance also requires him to abstain from smoking in the presence of those who find it distasteful or harmful.
The second principle under consideration is that of Fortitude. It is closely related to Temperance because very often the use of Fortitude is necessary to being temperate in a specific situation.
In Freemasonry Fortitude is defined as that noble and steady purpose of the mind whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain, peril or danger, when prudentially deemed expedient. The word is related to the word "fort," which originally denoted a structure built around something for protection. It is a word that comes to us from the Latin and indicated not so much a moral attitude, but rather the true quality of manhood, as is implied that one had strength and courage.
Fortitude, therefore, is that quality of character which gives a person strength to withstand temptation and to bear all suffering in silence. Fortitude is a virtue, for it permits one to do his duty undisturbed by evil distractions. It is in great measure a frame of mind to regulate one's words and deeds with courage and with determination. It is both a positive and a negative quality in that it creates courage to do what is right and also creates strength or character to withstand intemperance. Above all else, it also creates the mental attitude to bear one's burden bravely when all other remedies fail.
The third basic principle, Prudence, is closely related to both Temperance and Fortitude, for it is the type of yardstick which is to be used in determining what constitutes Temperance in a specific situation and to what extent Fortitude should be applied.
Freemasonry defines Prudence as that principle which teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictates of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge, and prudently determine, the effect of all things relative to our present as well as our future happiness.
The application of Prudence to our everyday life means that we will use discretion in our acts and words; that we will use good judgment in what we say and do; and that we will use self-control and foresight in all such matters. It also means that we will act intelligently and with conscious regard of what the consequences will be.
I mentioned that I like to eat apple pie. By the use of Prudence I realize that if I have had an ample meal, it is best that I have only a small piece of apple pie for dessert. Using Prudence helped me to realize that if I have a large piece of apple pie, and then have a second helping, I will feel stuffed and suffer physical discomfort. So I decide to be temperate in eating apple pie. I realize the possible consequences and with the use of Fortitude I refrain from having a second helping. Prudence teaches me to build a fort against my desire to satisfy unduly my desire and taste for a second helping and that it is best that I be temperate and have only one small piece.
Many years ago I developed the habit of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. One day I discovered that I could no longer run up two flights of stairs without puffing like a steam engine. When I was told by my doctor that this was probably due to my excessive smoking, by the use of Prudence I decided to quit. But I needed more than just the decision to quit smoking; I needed to realize that this was the occasion not merely to be temperate by reducing the number of cigarettes I smoked each day, but to abstain completely. This was forcibly impressed upon my mind because the smoking was hurting me. In order to succeed in breaking the habit I had first to convince myself that the smoking was doing me harm; this then brought me to the principle of Prudence, which urged me to stop. And then I had to use Fortitude to accomplish the result. It took courage and determination. And now, twenty-five years later, I have not returned to smoking cigarettes in spite of the alluring television commercials we were formerly deluged with.
Sometimes it is easy to abstain or to be temperate. I am reminded of the familiar witticism of the elderly Brother who said, "I have finally learned to subdue my passions. Mother Nature has taken care of that."
In conclusion, we would do well to remember the words of Voltaire, a Mason, when he said: "The richest endowments of the mind are temperance, prudence, and fortitude. Prudence is a universal virtue, which enters into the composition of all the rest; and where she is not, fortitude loses its name and nature."
This Short Talk was written by Illustrious Brother Alphonse Cerza, 33d
Lafayette stands apart and alone. His spirit was unique, and his career without parallel. Although a man of another race and land, his life is a part of the heroic legend of our country and our Craft. His story is more like fiction than fact. He was the last of the old knights who, through all the foulness and folly of his time, kept a name without stain.
In all history no man of one land has been more beloved in another. He came to the aid of America like a crusader, asking to serve at his own cost, and without reward. No man ever loved Liberty with a purer devotion, or served her with more self-spending zeal. A poet, a mystic, a great-hearted gentleman, he is linked in our minds with Joan of Arc.
Even romance has few stories to match the life of Lafayette. The father of four revolutions, he is yet a figure of such grace and purity that he suggests only beautiful things. Blood and fire and terror fall away leaving only a shining spirit. Friend of America at nineteen, hero of French liberty at thirty, a tragic figure for the rest of his days, he cultivated roses and dreamed dreams in the perfumed gardens of La Grange.
The life of Lafayette falls into five acts. First, his thrilling adventures of youth in America; second, his service in the French Revolution when, for a time, he held the fate of his country in his hands; third, in the revolution of 1839 when, again, he was Master of France; fourth, his long, lonely later years; and finally, fourscore years later, when his spirit seemed to rise from the grave and beckon America to aid France in the World-War.
Yet, strangely enough, he was not a mind of the first rank. Nature had not given him ten talents; his power and charm lay in his heart. He had courage, energy, honesty, frankness, simplicity, loyalty and a flaming zeal for what he deemed high causes; a spirit so lovely, so fine, so unselfish that all who really knew him loved him with unwavering devotion. Withal, he had a generosity rare among men, and a power of admiration that knew no limit. No man was ever more beloved, and no man more richly deserved it.
Lafayette was born in Auvergne, among sturdy, thrifty folk ever ready to take up hard tasks. Nobly born, he was far nearer the farmer than the courtier. His soldier father was killed at Minden when the child was only two, and he grew up, country-bred, woman-tended, a gay, truant, poet-boy, amid forests, fields and sparkling streams. For his own good, he lacked all the social graces, being shy, gawky, red-headed, a clumsy horseman and a bad dancer. Yet always in his heart there burned a desire to go all over the world in pursuit of fame. By an odd accident was he started on the road of romance and glory. The Duke of Gloucester, in disgrace with his Royal Brother George, was passing through Metz where, at a dinner, Lafayette met him. The Duke, with the independence known only to Englishmen, made no secret of his sympathy with the American Colonies in their struggle for liberty. The young nobleman listened, and the seed fell on ready soil. As he said to Jared Sparks long years afterward, his whole soul leaped in love of America. and he vowed to offer his life and fortune in the service of its cause.
So, fitting out his ship, named Victory, at his own expense, and gathering a few select souls like Baron de Kalb aboard, he set sail from an obscure port in Spain. Chased by the British fleet, he was as elusive as an eel, dodging all his enemies. They weighed anchor at Georgetown, South Carolina, got into a little boat and rowed up the river to a farm house that showed lights. Dogs began to bark; the family were frightened, thinking it a party of the enemy. De Kalb, who spoke English, explained who they were, and they received a hearty welcome.
Nor was the welcome ever belied. Something in the sublime effrontery of The Boy, as he came to be known, ready to do anything, no matter how difficult, and angry only when a risk was put out of his reach by ranking etiquette; won the hearts of our people. By horseback Lafayette went to Philadelphia, and presented himself to Congress. He asked that he might serve at his own expense, and as a volunteer. It was as if a being from another planet had suddenly alighted among grave, kindly, farmer-like men. Like all the rest, they surrendered to his charm, made him a Major General, and sent him to Washington. The meeting of the two men, under a tent, is a scene for a painter. One forty-five, tall, erect, calm, direct, fifty-per-cent will, forty-nine-per-cent reason, one-per-cent chance; the other slight, poetic, eloquent and twenty. They came out of the tent arm in arm. It was the beginning of one of the great friendships of history. No two men were ever more unlike. Each had what the other lacked. They belonged together, virile power blending with fresh ardor. When Lafayette was wounded at Brandywine, shot in the leg, Washington said to the physician: Look after him as after my son. Fidelity and tenderness united in a devotion unmarred by time, and unbroken by death.
Besides, we do not forget that they were Brothers in the Lodge.
Where and when Lafayette was made a Mason is a matter of dispute. Some say it was at the great meeting of Military Lodges in Morristown, New Jersey, when the proposal was made to form a General Grand Lodge, of which Washington was to be the Supreme Grand Master. Yet, Lafayette more than one spoke as if he had been made a Mason before he arrived in America. The exact fact is hard to find, but we do know that he was a man of our Craft.
At Valley Forge, under rain and frost, amid scurvy and fever, when men ate acorns and died haphazard, The Boy rolled a big snow ball. Slowly, at the touch of his dreaming fingers, it took the shape of a woman. When finished, he engraved on her breast the magic word - Liberty! He enchanted the army, kept up its morale, and brought good luck. Spring came, the Alliance with France was celebrated, and the Army went on to Monmouth and Yorktown. When the whole British Army became prisoners of war, Lafayette wrote to his wife: The Play is ended. The British are in the Soup!
The years following, amid upheavals in France, need not detain us. It was a wild and stormy time. Twice, at least, Lafayette held the destiny of his country in his hands. The Queen hated him. As Napoleon said: I could not have believed that hatred could go so far. Marat thirsted for his blood. He was always quoting Washington, says Brissot. Time tossed him right to the height of fame, then to the depth of a dungeon, and finally aside.
Fifty years passed, and a thin old man, bent and spent, landed stiffly at New York, wondering whether he could get a hack to take him to the hotel. No man, except Lindberg, ever received such a welcome on our shores. Rockets soared. Bonfires reddened the sky. Militia marched. Arches crossed the road. His tour was an ovation. He was a link with our heroic past, a living legend. Walking slowly over the ground where he had galloped and waved his sword fifty years before, he was a symbol.
To this day the name of Lafayette is a magic word among us. He came to our country - a friend, a knight errant - in an hour of its struggle as black as the night on which he landed. He was young, he was romantic, with bright airs and graces. He dazzled, charmed, and captivated our nation. Enthusiasm shone in his eyes. He wanted nothing - except to fight for Liberty, the goddess of his idolatry. He was as one following a vision, in quest of a Holy Grail - the triumph of the rights of man. He went away, and when he returned it was as if our own heroic past had returned to bless and purify us. Liberty was the religion of Lafayette, and his faith remained undivided an unshaken. With all his grace of soul, he was well nigh a fanatic in its service. When he said that the happiest day of his life would be when he mounted the scaffold for his faith, he did not exaggerate. A soldier of the order of poets, his life had a purity as amazing as its unity. Ardent and serious, yet gay and gallant, he is of such stuff as legends are made of.
If men see after death what passes here below, what must have been the feelings of Lafayette when, fourscore and three years after his bodily death, he looked down from his home in the celestial habitations and saw France again in dire danger, sorely pressed by foreign foes, fighting for her life, and a general in an American uniform standing by his grave in the cemetery of Picpus, and heard him say:
Lafayette, we are here!
SHORT TALK BULLETIN - Vol.VI July, 1928 No.7
Rudyard Kipling is one of the giants of modern English literary history. He towered over the closing decades of the Victorian era and lived well into the twentieth century.
Although current literary criticism tends to belittle or to ignore him-probably because he glorified British imperialism and the ideals of colonialism - there was a time when hundreds of "Kipling Clubs" met faithfully to read and to discuss his writings. Each new volume of his stories provided some of the most stimulating programs for those literary "fan clubs".
His place in literature seems assured. He knew how to tell a story, and he told many good ones. The art of the short story has had few masters who surpassed Rudyard Kipling. While his poetry is less extensive and perhaps less "inspired" than his prose, critics have generally agreed that he was a vigorous and, for his day, an unconventional poet, whose use of the British soldier's slang in verse was an outstanding success. "Gunga Din", "Mandalay", and "Danny Deever" have passed into the common fund of "folk culture" and are familiar to millions who couldn't tell you that Rudyard Kipling wrote them.
He was born in Bombay, India, on December 30, 1865. His father, John L. Kipling, was an artist of considerable ability. Like most British children born abroad, he was sent to England for his education, which he received at United Services College at Westward Ho, North Devon. By 1880, however, he was back in India, at Lahore, where at the age of seventeen he began his life's work, writing, as a sub-editor for The Civil and Military Gazette and Pioneer.
Some of his first short stories appeared in that journal. Between 1887 and 1889 he travelled extensively in Asia and America. He lived for four years in the Granite State, Vermont. In 1892 he married an American girl, Caroline Starr Batestier. He became acquainted with the leading American writers of the day, including Mark Twain, with whom he was later to receive an honorary degree from Oxford University, in 1907.
But England was his spiritual home. He settled there soon after his marriage, to become one of that country's most admired and prolific writers. In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, the first English writer to win that prize. In his lifetime he was widely acclaimed and highly honored. He died on January 18, 1936, and was buried as an English hero in Westminster Abbey.
His popularity is illustrated by the report that Kipling himself might have titled, "The bank balance that wouldn't diminish." For a time the author couldn't understand why the checks he wrote in payment of his bills weren't being cashed. Upon investigation, he learned that some of them had been framed and hung on the walls of shops because of the famous signature. Other tradesmen had discovered that they could sell his autograph for considerably more than the cash value of the check. A brisk business in Kipling autographs had kept his own bank balance from decreasing!
Rudyard Kipling was a Mason. More significantly, he was an active and devoted Mason all his life. His writings contain many allusions and references to Masonic ideas and practices; some of them are completely Masonic in thought and motivation.
He was made a Mason in Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782 (English Constitution) at Lahore, Punjab, India in 1886. It required a special dispensation, because Kipling was only twenty years and six months of age at the time. The same evening that he was raised he was elected secretary of the lodge, so that he recorded his own initiation in the minutes of his mother lodge!
Only six months later he stood before his brethren, to give them good and wholesome instruction, by reading a paper "On the Origins of Masonry, and the First Degree in Particular." That was merely the beginning of a lifelong service of his heart, and mind, and pen in the interests of the Craft.
Rudyard Kipling became a Mark Master in Mark Lodge "Fidelity" on April 12, 1887, and received the Mark Mariners degree in Lodge "Mt. Ararat" at Lahore, April 17, 1888. In that year he also affiliated with Independence with Philanthropy Lodge No. 391 at Allahabad, Bengal. English Freemasonry has never prohibited dual or plural membership.
After settling in England, he also affiliated with Motherland Lodge No. 3861 in London, and helped to found two other lodges there, Author's Lodge No. 3456 and Lodge Builders of the Silent Cities No. 4948. In 1905 he was chosen poet laureate of Scotland's famous Canongate-Kilwinning Lodge No. 2, Edinburgh, and thereby became one of the successors to the immortal "Robbie" Burns, the first to hold that distinguished Masonic office.
That he was truly devoted to his mother lodge is shown not only by his well-known poem, "Mother Lodge", (which was written as early as 1886) but also by the fact that a few months before his death, realizing that he would never return to Lahore, he sent the lodge a gavel which bore the inscription, "Hope and Perseverance". Our English brethren have long practiced the affectionate custom of giving gifts to their mother lodges. The ancient officers' jewels of the Lodge of Antiquity No. 2, London, are such a gift of filial love.
What seems to have attracted and held Rudyard Kipling to Freemasonry are the same ideals and tenets which have fascinated men of brotherhood since time immemorial, the possibility of all good men "meeting on the level" and building a better society "by the square".
In 1925 he wrote in the London Freemason, "I was Secretary for some years of Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782, E.C., Lahore, which included Brethren of at least four creeds. I was entered by a member of Bramo Somaj, a Hindu; passed by a Mohammedan, and raised by an Englishman. Our Tyler was an Indian Jew. We met, of course, on the level, and the only difference anyone would notice was that at our banquets, some of the Brethren, who were debarred by caste rules from eating food not ceremoni4ly prepared, sat over empty plates." (Kipliongs memory slipped. Englishmen gave him all three degrees)
To the natives of Lahore in India the Freemasons' hall was "a house of magic", because they wouldn't believe that anything but magic could bring together so many military men of all ranks, so many men of different classes or castes, and so many men of different religions. It was the magic hope of a universal brotherhood which captured a great writer's imagination and gave it the perseverance to depict that hope throughout a lifetime of gifted authorship.
Among the collections of stories which Kipling published, these will probably assure his immortality: Plain Tales from the Hills (1887), Life's Handicap (1891), Many Inventions (1893), The Jungle Book (1894), The Second Jungle Book (1895), Just So Stories for Children (1902), Traffics and Discoveries (1904), Puck of Pook's Hill (1906), Rewards and Fairies (1910), and Debits and Credits (1926).
Plain Tales from the Hills was an immediate success. These stories of English life in India helped to establish Kipling's reputation as a spokesman for the British Empire. The Jungle Books are regarded by many critics as his finest writing. These fascinating tales of wild animals are still best-sellers on book lists for children. The collections published in 1906 and 1910, were written for the children of England, to make them aware and proud of the country and its history.
In 1888-89 the author brought out a half dozen slender paper-bound volumes containing a single story. Among them are some of Kipling's best loved compositions: Soldiers Three, The Phantom `Rickshaw, Wee Willie Winkie, and Under the Deodars.
He also tried his hand at novels or longer tales. Kim (1901), a picaresque novel of Indian life, is generally regarded as the best of these. Hollywood, however, turned into profitable movies two of Kipling's novels, The Light that Failed (1891) and Captains Courageous (1897). Stalk y and Company (1899), based on his experiences at United Services College, still has many admirers.
Kipling's poetry was an early product of his pen. 1886, the same year he was made a Mason, saw the publication of Departmental Ditties, a collection of light verse which foreshadowed his ability to express the sentiments of the British soldier in foreign service. This was followed by Barrack Room Ballads (1892), which contains the famous "Gunga Din", "Mandalay", and "Danny Deever". In 1896 appeared the collection of poems titled The Seven Seas, which contains the Masonic composition, "Mother Lodge"; and in 1903, The Five Nations, which includes the famous hymn, "The Recessional", which Kipling wrote in 1897 for the celebration of Queen Victoria's second jubilee.
A complete and scholarly catalog of all the Masonic allusions and references in Kipling's writings is still to be attempted. There are many, some quite obvious, like the plot of "The Man Who Would Be King" (in Wee Willie Winkie); and some not so obvious, like the reference to an American Masonic newspaper in Traffics and Discoveries. The final verses of the poem, "A Dedication", are clearly Masonic in their thought and expression. Many a phrase in Kipling's writings seems perfectly natural to the uninitiated reader, but to a Mason their fraternal source is unmistakable. There are obvious Masonic ideas in some of the Plain Tales from the Hills, as well as in the novel, Kim.
Masonic thoughts and expressions can also be found in the stories, "On the Great Wall", "The Winged Hat", "Hal o' the Draft" and "The City Wall". "With the Main Guard" contains a definite reference to the third degree. "The Carpenter" is pure Masonic philosophy. In Debits and Credits there are obvious Masonic allusions in such stories as "The Janeites", "A Friend of the Family", and "Madonna of the Trenches". "The Butterfly That Stamped" in Just So Stories pictures King Solomon adorned with a Masonic apron, sash, and trinket.
Some of Kipling's poems may be positively labelled "Masonic". Among them are "The Palace", "Banquet Night", "The Widow of Windsor", "Rough Ashlar" and "Mother Lodge", which first appeared in The Seven Seas (1896).
The story of "The Man Who Would Be King" (in Wee Willie Winkie) has a plot which is based on the degrees of Symbolic Masonry. Its "moral" suggests that no man may use Freemasonry to advance his own personal, selfish ends. "In the Interests of the Brethren" (in Debits and Credits) is a wholly Masonic story, which poignantly describes a meeting of crippled and wounded brethren after World War I at "a lodge of instruction", where they were able to "brush up" on their lectures. Kipling wrote the story to stimulate a movement for the establishment of a Masonic War Hospital in England.
Of Masonry there is indeed a plenty in the writings of Rudyard Kipling. He deserves a wider audience among the members of the Craft. If he would take the time to read, many a Mason would discover that Brother Kipling can entertain and enthrall him much better than the average show he watches on television. Brother Kipling knew how to tell a story.
There have been many questions asked about the ballot:
Where did it originate?
Why do we elect by ballot?
Why are black balls really cubes?
The search for the beginning of election by ballot has led into many broken avenues. However, in the canonical works of which China has probably the oldest system (older than the writings of Confucius for they date back to the year 2000 BC which would be about 1,100 years before the building of the Temple by King Solomon). It states "by a count of the black over the white it was so decided among the nobles that the prince would be separated from his head". In the Rabbinical system it reads, "a man's life shall hang in the scales between the black and the white". The use of black and white balls or balls cast into different receptacles can also be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, where voting for various purposes, even verdicts on juries, required the voters to march by and cast shells or pebbles in vases or jars. The English word ostracized comes from the practice of ancient Greece wherein one was banished or cleared according to the casting of the shells called ostraka.
First, let us seek the answer to why black and white; Black and white are extreme opposites. They are not considered colors; One is referred to as light the other absence of light. Some artists may consider them shades, but they present the most perfect symbols of complete opposites. Also they represent day and night, since the beginning of man's knowledge, black has been associated with night, while white has been the symbol of the day.
Also, in Masonry, and other schools of education, darkness has been the symbol of ignorance, while light has been the symbol of knowledge. These are also two exact opposites. A man may be color-blind to the different colors in the spectrum but no man is so blind to color that he cannot tell the difference between black and white unless he is totally blind.
As to the question why the ballot is made up of black and white balls, it must be remembered that from the beginning of man up into the period known as the dark ages and even later, the great majority of men could neither read nor write. This was a common fact even among the nobility; even kings had their scribes for the purposes of writing their letters and dispatches. Therefore it is only natural that a ballot of any secret nature could only be held by the simple process of a black and white pebble or stone, as the casting of a yes or no vote, as direct opposites there could be no question in counting the ballots. Also, a small pebble could be held out of site in the hand until deposited in a common bowl.
Why do we have a secret ballot? According to the Handbook of Masonic Law of New York, written by Brother Howard P. Nash section  (III) Ballot must be secret. The ballot on a petition should always be strictly secret and inviolable and should be so spread that no one present will know, how any other Brother has voted. Part of the Standard Works and Lectures of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons the State of New York contains the work of the ballot. In which is found an admonition to all members present who are eligible to vote by the Worshipful Master, "Brethren, you are about to exercise one of your most sacred rights as a Master Mason. Before you cast your ballot, I would remind you that it is important that you act in the best interests of Masonry. You must not allow personal prejudices or private piques and grudges to influence your ballot. You are to consider only the moral qualifications of the petitioner. There must be none among us who would cast a blemish on the Lodge and the whole Fraternity by balloting for an unworthy petitioner or by rejecting a worthy applicant". In casting your ballot as a Freemason it is every members duty to pay particular attention to the reading of the report from the investigation committee on a particular candidate. This committee is charged by the Worshipful Master to investigate the motives of the petitioner for wanting to join Freemasonry and determine whether he is a man freeborn, of lawful age and well recommended.
The Investigating Committee is the preparatory work of the ballot. I caution all present that if you are charged by the Master to investigate a petitioner be as thorough as you possibly can. Do not be hesitant to ask him or his family personal question within reason. I have always asked the petitioners spouse how she feels about her husbands desire to seek admission into the Masonic Fraternity. Toady the Masonic Fraternity is still feeling the effects of spurious men who have been admitted into its ranks. Among them are Leo Taxil who wrote many books about the Secrets of Freemasonry after he was expelled from the Loge Le Temple de L'Honnuer Francais in Paris, France. All of which were exaggerated and imagined rituals of Freemasonry one which is that the newly initiated Entered Apprentice is given a dagger and told that before him is a Mason who has violated his obligation and therefore must suffer the penalty of death. In his books he claims that a sheep is sheared down to the bare skin and placed before the candidate. So in a ceremony such as the one Taxil invented, if the initiate strikes, although he will plunge a dagger into a brute animal in his heart he has committed murder. Even though Taxil at a religious convention held in Paris on April 17, 1897 where he admitted that all of his books about Freemasonry were a hoax perpetrated on the Catholic Church for his own monetary gain.
Anti Masons today still quote from those books and others who use Taxil as a source of reference. In this light, had that particular Lodge refused admission to Taxil his desire to write these books may have been stopped because he never would have received the rank and title of Freemason. A Mason therefore may have to reject by casting a black ball, a relative, his own employer; his own minister, a local judge or even a private his general, if he knows them to be an immoral person. There are many reasons why a ballot must be secret, but above all a Mason's livelihood and peace of mind may be at stake if his ballot were to be discovered. The Handbook of Masonic Law of New York states the following in section  (II) b. Particular Offenses – (I) Disclosing Ballot. The penalty for disclosing the manner of casting a ballot, the number of white or black balls cast or declaring how any other Brother balloted, is suspension for not exceeding one year.
How many black balls or cubes may reject? According to the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, Section 354. The ballot on a petition for initiation, or for affiliation, can be taken only at a stated communication, and if the ballot shall contain three or more black cubes, the petitioner shall be rejected. Section 353. Also states that "after twelve months a rejected candidate may present a new petition for initiation, which shall take the same course as the previous one".
Who may vote upon the petition of a candidate? According to the Handbook of Masonic Law of New York  d. Who may or must vote—(I) All members present must—(A) Rule stated. Every member of a Lodge present at any balloting therein for initiation, advancement or affiliation must vote. No one can be excused, ask to be excused or state any reason for voting or not voting.  (B) Except Tiler who may. The Tiler, while attending to his duties, is not present in the sense that he must vote, but he should be accorded the opportunity to do so if he expresses the desire. In section  (12) Refusal to Ballot on petition. Refusal of a brother, when present, to cast his ballot at any balloting for initiation, advancement or affiliation constitutes a Masonic offense.
As to why you may find black cubes instead of black balls in the ballot box. Many years ago in the early days of the Colonies, and even in England, the lighting in the Lodge was very poor. Candlelight was the best that the lodge could offer. To see into the ballot box was almost impossible for the elder members and even the younger men had a hard time trying to distinguish between a black ball and a very dirty white one. A member drawing forth a ball from the box to get a closer look at the color disclosed many a ballot. In desperation, measures had to be taken, so it was decided to cut square cubes and paint them black.
I would like to touch upon the destruction of the ballot so that if a Master decides to destroy a ballot without announcing the result and hold another ballot some of the new members would not be confused. According the to Section  f. Destruction of the Ballot before result is declared—(I) Rule stated. Although prior to 1920 there was no positive enactment governing the matter, it was deemed advisable that a ballot should be destroyed only once before announcing the results, but the destruction of two ballots is now permitted with announcement of the result of the third mandatory. If the Master wishes to consider a ballot a second time, he should destroy it as soon as he discovers that it is not clear and proceed with the new ballot without announcing the result of the ballot that he destroyed. In such case, the balloting must be continuos and uninterrupted by any other business or proceedings and before any Brethren who participated in the destroyed ballot have left the Lodge. I encourage all of the newer members who do not have a copy of the Handbook of Masonic Law of the State of New York to get one and study it for within those covers are found all of the statutes by which we as New York State Freemasons abide.
In closing I cannot stress the importance of a secret ballot and I offer you a quote from Brother Albert Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry; "Secrecy of the ballot is essential to its perfection as its independence. If the vote were to be given viva voce, it is impossible that the improper influences of fear or interests should not sometimes be exerted, and timid members be thus induced to vote contrary to the dictates of their own reason and conscience. Hence, to secure this secrecy and protect the purity of choice, it has been wisely established as a usage, not only that the vote shall in these cases be taken by a ballot, but that there shall be no subsequent discussion of the subject. Not only has no member a right to inquire how his fellows have voted, but is wholly out of order for him to explain his own vote. And the reason is evident. If one member has a right to rise in his place and announce that he deposited a white ball, then every other member has the same right; and in a Lodge of twenty members, where an application has been rejected by one black ball, if nineteen members state that they did not deposit it, the inference is clear that the twentieth Brother has done so, and thus the secrecy of the ballot is destroyed. Should a rejection occur and is announced by the Master, the Lodge should at once proceed to other business, and it's the sacred duty of the presiding officer to check any rising discussion on the subject. Nothing must be done to impair the inviolable secrecy of the ballot.
Written by Arthur D. Radlein, PGHP
Edited by Alfonso Serrano, GSB
The United Grand Lodge of England being in many respects the well-spring of modern day Masonry is a valuable source of inspiration, education and philosophy concerning what has come to be regarded as RECULAR FREEMASONRY. The recent decision by the United Grand Lodge of England, followed by a number of American Grand Lodges, to eliminate the Ancient Penalties from the obligation of each degree has caused much discussion within the Masonic Fraternity.
The purpose of this article is to discuss an alternative approach to the actual elimination of these Ancient Penalties.
Before proceeding further in this dissertation concerning the ANCIENT PENALTIES it needs to be pointed out that these penalties were not the brainchild of some distant Masonic ritualist. These or very similar variations of them were in use in England among the oaths taken by mariners during the 15th century and were also used in oaths assumed by those being admitted to the bar in London, England during the 16th century.
If Freemasonry has erred in the choice of these penalties it was in the reference to them as ANCIENT PENALTIES rather than what they really wereANCIENT SYMBOLIC PENALTIES. As Shakespeares Hamlet said, ...ah theres the rub. These penalties were never included for the purpose of having an en-forceable violent penalty. They were included simply as a symbolic representation of how seriously a postulant should view his oath.
Some would say if these are simply symbolic then remove them since they no longer mean anything. That is somewhat misleading because so much of what we have around us and which we hold so dear in this troublesollle world is recorded in symbols ot all kinds. Symbolism is part of life and cannot be cast aside. Mathematicians, geologists, in fact anyone whose discipline relies on the use of numbers or numeric expressions, relies on symbols as an everyday experience. The simple act, though not always simple, of driving a car depends on the use of symbols to arrive safely at the intended destination. The numbers on the speedometer are symbols, various designs on highway signs are symbols, the little knobs on the dashboard all have different symbols. They are there to ensure understanding regardless of the language of the operator. So it may be concluded that symbols are an effective means of communication to ensure accurate understanding regardless of language, education or intellect. In fact your ability to read this paper is based on your understanding of the symbols or letters used to express my thoughts.
Oh yes, some may say . . .but these are all symbols lacking any violent origin. That may not be entirely accurate either. Many symbols in use today depict a violent beginning and their design is intended to remind us of that hazard. So it may be concluded violent symbols are effective communication links to save us from harm. The simplest being the skull and crossbones as a symbol of life threatening danger and of course the modern nuclear era has spawned untold violent symbols especially designed to protect us from violent hazards.
Even the flags of many nations which certainly are revered and honored by their nationals, and displayed in their places of worship, use red as a symbol of the spilled blood which caused their nations to be born. The red poppy worn so reverently in memory of our soldiers who died in battles to defend our country is a symbol of the blood spilled in battle on Flanders Fields during World War One. The buttons on the sleeve of a mans jacket and the little slit under the buttons are symbols of the time a mans jacket unbuttoned all the way to the shoulder so that he might have easy use of his sword. The vent at the back of a mans jacket is a symbol of the time soldiers rode horseback. The vent allowed their jackets to fall on either side of the riders legs and so keep his powder dry to more effectively kill his adversary. Quite a nice little symbol to carry around with us when dressed in our Sunday best.
Now to get back to our ANCIENT SYMBOLIC PENALTIES. Why on earth should we even consider relocating or removing them in the first place? Oh because they are offensive to some religious leaders. That begs the question as to which religious leaders? Some of the greatest clergymen I have ever met, both the pragmatic and the scholarly, have been members of the Masonic Order. Not a single one of those extremely worldly wise reverend brothers ever dreamed of any part of the ceremony being of-fensive in any manner whatever, INCLUDING the penalties. Obviously no clergy outside of the craft should cause us any concern because they really dont understand the context of the ceremony or the part the penalties play in it. Now what does that leave us to contemplate? I believe it points out in the clearest possible terms that the Masonic Order is a true microcosm of the real world in which we live.
We have our own fair share of iconoclasts whose aim is to tear down rather than to build constructively.
However, their arguments are not too compelling if analyzed. They suggest that violence is an offense to God. Yet both Moses and Jesus had recourse to violence in defending what they believed was an affront to God. Notwithstanding that argument or counter-argument there is no violence in Masonry provided the penalties are described as ANCIENT SYMBOLIC PENALTIES. Anything less than that description is an offense to God and Masonry. It is not good enough to describe them as ANCIENT PENALTIES since that implies that they are exigible and therein we could be faulted from within and without this noble craft.
At a time when the Scandinavian Churches are seeing in Masonry no conflict with their profession of faith, where leading clerics of the Church of Rome are finding no incompatibility between Regular Freemasonry and their belief of Christianity and those who malign us the most are being found to be guilty of criminal and moral law breaking, we must be sure we stand by what we teach. We must continue to conduct the affairs of Masonry in a manner well beyond reproach.
We must not allow indiscriminate changes to be made. Once the start is made where do we stop? Would we consider dropping the investigations of potential candidates, would we discontinue the trial procedures, would we allow avowed atheists to become part of our fraternity, would we allow and tolerate plots or conspiracies of any kind? Certainly we would not do any of those things.
We are assembled to unify, in a God fearing brotherhood, wherein we can unite in spirit to treat all of Gods children as family. We cannot do that effectively by allowing schisms to develop. We must be unified for the benefit, not solely for our Order, but to better serve mankind in whatever manner God leads us as individuals who have learned to recognize our duty to him and our Brother. There will always be room for change in administrative practices but we should not change that which has worked so well heretofore and for which there is no substantive reason to consider change!
Short Talk Bulliten -AU88
Author: MW Hrother Aldridge
PGM/Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Quebec
All ritual is fortifying. Ritual is a natural necessity for mankind. The more things are upset, the more they fly to it. I abhor slovenly ritual anywhere. By the way, would you mind assisting at the examinations, if there are many visiting Brothers tonight? Youll find some of em very rusty but - its the Spirit, not the Letter, that giveth life. The question of visiting Brethren is an important one. There are so many of them in London now, you see; and so few places where they can meet.
So we read in the greatest of all Masonic stories, In the Interests of the Brethren, by Rudyard Kipling. It is a vivid picture of how our gentle Craft helped its wounded members in the days of the Great War, dark, dreadful and confused. No Mason can read it aloud; a lump will climb into his throat and choke him.
It tells of a Lodge of Instruction, formed by the Lodge of Faith and Works, No. 5837, for the benefit of wounded Brethren, under the guise of giving them a chance to rub up on the Ritual. The scene when the Lodge was called up at the sound of the Gavel; the rattle of crutches, the shuffle of feet - some with one leg, some with one hand - is a picture to break the heart, and mend it. The Signs were fearfully and wonderfully made!
Dyou like it? said the Doctor to a one-footed Brother, as they sat together, after the Lodge had been seated with difficulty. Do I? Its Heaven to me, sittin in Lodge again. Its all comin back now, watching their mistakes. I havent much religion, but all I had I learnt in Lodge, he said with flushed face.
Yes, he went on, Veiled in allgory and illustrated in symbols - the Fatherhood of God an the Brotherhood of Man; an what more in Hell do you want. Look at em! he broke off, giggling. See! See! cried the one-footed Corporal. I could ha done it better myself - my one foot in France. Yes, I should think they ought to do it again!
Yet, in the midst of all the tragic confusion, the Master insisted that the Ritual be followed as nearly letter-perfect as possible; as had been the manner of Masonry from the first. In the Constitutions of 1738 we learn that Grand Lodge may be opened in Form, in Due Form and in Ample Form; all alike valid and with the same authority. When opened by any other Officer than the Grand Master, the Grand Lodge is opened only in Form. If a Past Grand Master, or the Deputy Grand Master presides, it is opened in Due Form. When the Grand Master himself is in the Chair, the grand Lodge is opened in Ample Form. And the same is true, with but slight variations, on this side of the sea.
Why does Masonry insist so strictly upon exactness in its Ritual? There is a profound reason, not to be forgotten or ignored. True, it is the Spirit, not the Letter, that giveth life; but the Letter does give a Body, without which the Spirit of Masonry would be a formless blur, losing much of its meaning, if not all of its beauty. Ceremony keeps things up; without form the spirit melts into thin air and is lost.
What is true of Masonry is equally true of religion , of manners and of art. The Poet Tennyson speaks of those, whose faith hath center everywhere, nor cares to fix itself in form. That is, they believe in everything in general and nothing in particular. Their faith is like the earth in the story of creation, as the Bible tells it, without form and void; a vague sentiment, as flimsy as a mist and as frail.
Manners, it has been said, are minor morals. That is, they are forms of a social ritual in which the spirit of courtesy and amenity finds expression. So essential are they as a form of social fellowship, that, as Emerson said, if they were lost, some gentlemen would be obliged to re-invent such a code. The phrase, It is not done, has more than mere convention behind it. It bespeaks a standard, a sense of propriety, a fineness of feeling, a respect for the rights and feelings of others.
Some of our modern artists are trying to throw off the old classic forms of music, painting and poetry. The result is chaos, a formless riot of color and sound, in which a horse may be green and a song a mere mob of notes, without melody. Without lovely form the spirit of beauty fades and is lost. Ages of experience have wrought out noble forms of art and life, which we cannot defy or ignore without disaster.
The same is true of Masonry. Gentle, wise, mellow with age; its gracious spirit has fashioned a form, or body, or an art; if we call it so, in which its peculiar genius finds expression. Its old and lovely ritual, if rightly used, evokes the Spirit of Masonry, as each of us can testify. The mere opening of a Lodge creates a Masonic atmosphere in which the truths of Masonry seem more real and true. It weaves a spell about us, making fellowship gracious. It is a mystery; we love it, without caring to analyze it.
By the same token, if the rhythm of the ritual is bungled, or slurred, or dealt with hastily or without dignity; its beauty is marred and its spell broken. Just imagine the opening of Lodge, or any one of the Degrees, jazzed up, rushed through with, and how horrible it would be. The soul of Masonry would be sacrificed, and its spirit evaporated. For that reason we cannot take too much pains in giving the ritual such a rendering as befits its dignity, its solemnity and its haunting beauty.
No wonder Masonry is jealous of its ceremonies and symbols. It hesitates to make the slightest change, even when errors have crept into the ritual, lest something precious is lost. Indeed, it is always seeking that which is lost, not alone in its great Secret, but in all its symbols which enshrine a wisdom gray with age, often but dimly seen, and sorely needed in the hurry and medley of our giddy-paced age.
Mere formalism is always a danger. Even a lofty ritual may become a rigmarole, a thing of rut and rote. Sublime truths may be repeated like a parrot, as the creed in a church may be recited without thought or feeling, by force of habit. Still, such a habit is worth keeping, and often the uttering of great words stirs the heart with a sense of the cargoes of wonder which they hold, for such as have ears to hear.
No matter; our fear of formalism - its mockery and unreality - must not blind us to the necessity of noble, stately and lovely form in which to utter and embody the truths that make us men. For that reason every part of the ritual ought to have Due Form, nothing skimped or performed perfunctorily, in order that the wise, good and beautiful truth of Masonry may have full expression and give us its full blessing. Only so can we get from it what it has to give us for our good.
Take, for example, the Opening of the Lodge, so often regarded as of no great importance in itself, save as a preliminary to what is to follow. Not so. Nothing in Masonry is more impressive, if we see it aright. As a flower opens its Lodge, as one poet puts it, when it unfolds its petals and displays its center to the sun, which renews its life; so the opening of a Masonic Lodge is a symbol of the opening out of the human mind and heart to God. It is a drama of an inward and ineffable thing, not to be spoken of except in the poetry of symbol.
One sees more plainly in English ritual, in which the three Degrees, or grades as they name them, has each its stage. First is the stage appropriate to the Apprentice, a call to lift the mind above the level of external things. The second is a further opening, an advance in the science revealing greater things than Apprentices may know. It is an opening upon the square, which the first Degree is not.
By the time we reach the Third Degree, a still deeper opening of the mind is implied, upon the centre, for those of the Master rank, involving the use of finer powers of perception, to the very center and depths of being. How far and to what depth any of us is able to open the Lodge of his Mind, is the measure of what Masonry is to us. As an ancient manual of initiation tells us, urging us to an inward quest:
There lives a Master in the hearts of men who makes their deeds, by subtle-pulling strings, dance to what time He will. With all thy soul trust Him, and take Him for thy succor. So shalt thou gain, by grace of Him, the uttermost repose, the Eternal Peace. Such meaning, and far more than here hinted, lie hidden to most of us in the simple ceremony of opening the Lodge. How much Masonry would mean for us and do for us, if only it had its due form both of ritual and interpretation. It might not explain all riddles, but it would light many a dark path, and lead us thither where we seek to go.
Religion, untainted, here dwells;
Here the morals of Athens are taught;
Great Hirams tradition here tells How the world out of chaos was brought.
SO MOTE IT BE
Author: Unknown SHORT TALK BULLETIN - Vol.VI February, 1928 No.2
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