One of the most frequently corrected errors in lodge procedure is the failure of a Warden to raise or lower his column appropriately. Let an absent-minded Junior Warden forget to lower his column when the lodge is called from refreshment to labor, and many a frantic gesture from the side lines will remind him of his dereliction!
Almost every Brother sitting in the lodge room knows the proper position of the Wardens' columns during labor or at refreshment, and will hasten to signal a Warden if the emblem of his office is awry. "Up in the West during labor; down in the West at refreshment. Down in the South during labor; up in the South at refreshment." Every Brother knows that simple rule for positioning the Wardens' columns.
It is generally believed, as stated in Mackey's Encyclopedia, that the Senior Warden's column represents the pillar Jachin, while the Junior Warden's column represents the pillar Boaz, those having been impressive adornments on the Porch of King Solomon's Temple. Their names signify Establishment and Strength.
If asked for a symbolic explanation of these pieces of furniture, the average Craftsman will reply that the Junior Warden's column represents the pillar of beauty, the Senior Warden's, the pillar of strength. But what has become of the Worshipful Master's column? He represents the pillar of wisdom, "because it is necessary that there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings."
Some Brethren will explain further that the Wardens' columns are miniature representations of the pillars usually stationed in the West, where at one time both Wardens sat, one in the shade of Boaz, the other in the shade of Jachin. Such an arrangement of the Wardens' positions may still be found in some European lodges whose rituals have come from Continental sources.
There is no simple explanation of the origin of the Wardens' columns nor of what they represent. Like much in Masonic ritual, they are the result of some interesting changes; yet all welt-informed Brethren will agree that today they are emblematical of the offices of the two Wardens, and represent their authority, of the Senior during labor, and of the Junior while the lodge is at refreshment.
As a matter of fact, the raising and lowering of the Wardens' columns made their first appearance in Masonic ritual as late as 1760, well into the period known as Speculative Masonry. The Three Distinct Knocks, a well- known expose of Masonic ritual published in London that year, contains the first description of the Wardens' use of their columns. An almost identical description of the Wardens' raising and lowering their columns appears in another expose, Jachin and Boaz, published in 1762.
Unfortunately, there has been comparatively little written about the Wardens' columns and their uses to show when they were allocated to those officers, or how and when the raising and lowering of these miniature pillars became a part of the proper procedure in Masonic lodges. It is only from such exposes as those noted above that one can assign an approximate date to the beginning of the practice.
Curiously, William Preston in various editions of his Illustrations of Freemasonry (1792 - 1804), in the section dealing with Installation, assigns the columns to the Deacons. Since the columns had belonged to the Wardens for at least thirty years earlier, and since many of the Craft lodges in England did not appoint Deacons at all, Preston must have been in error, or was introducing an innovation, which the passage of time has shown to have failed. Preston also taught that the Senior Deacon's column was to be raised during labor, and the Junior Deacon's at refreshment.
To those who like Masonic traditions neat and historically logical, it may be disconcerting to learn that in some lodges the Wardens did not have columns on their pedestals. They had truncheons, whose modern function is to serve as billy clubs for policemen. An Irish lodge in the 18th century had a by-law reading: "there is to be silence at the first chap of the Master's hamer, and likewise at the first stroke of each Trenchen struck by the Senr and Junr Wardens." The Rev. George Oliver (1782-1867), a prolific writer about Freemasonry, quotes an inventory of a lodge at Chester, England, in 1761, which includes "two truncheons for the Wardens." There are still lodges today which denominate the Wardens' emblems of authority as truncheons, not columns.
There can be no doubt that the Wardens' columns are the result of Freemasonry's interest in the art of building, of architecture and its allied skills and sciences. The operative masons devoted much time and thought to the design, construction, and ornamentation of columns and pillars. The orders of architecture were an important body of knowledge with which they were continuously concerned.
The mediaeval cathedral builders, however, attached greater significance to the ancient pillars erected by the children of Lamech than to those on the porch of King Solomon's Temple. On these ancient pillars were engraved all the then known sciences to preserve them from destruction by fire or inundation. As such, they symbolized the esoteric importance of the knowledge of the builder's art to be guarded and preserved by faithful craftsmen.
In many of the earliest documents of the Craft, the so-called "Old Charges" or "manuscript constitutions", some of which antedate the period. of Speculative Freemasonry by at least 300 years, those primitive pillars of the sons of Lamech are a part of the "history" of the operative Craft. The Temple of Solomon is inconspicuously mentioned, but the two pillars on the porch of that temple do not appear at all.
It was not until approximately 1700 that King Solomon's Pillars began to appear in Masonic writing and ritual documents. The Dumfries, No. 4 MS, usually dated 1700-1725, mentions those pillars and gives them a strong Christian symbolism. It also answers two test questions about pillars as follows: "How many pillars is in your Lodge? Three. What are these? Ye square, the Compas and ye bible."
Because of the secrecy maintained by Masons about ritualistic matters, it is on the ritual texts of 18th century exposes that we depend for knowledge of the part played by pillars in the development of the Craft's rituals and ceremonies.
The Grand Mystery of Freemasons Discovered, 1724, mentions the pillars of Solomon's Temple, but gives them this significance: they represent the "Strength and Stability of the Church in all ages."
Samuel Prichard's Masonry Dissected, 1730, the first expose to reveal a third degree in Masonic ritual, refers to "Three Pillars" that "support the Lodge . . . Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty." This seems to be the earliest mention of those three virtues symbolized by pillars, which of course had no reference to those in the "Old Charges" or to those on the Porch of Solomon's Temple. They were purely symbolic; they had not yet become a part of the lodge furniture.
In those early days of Speculative Masonry, the Wardens' duties were probably different from those they have now. Some writers believe they had duties similar to those of the Deacons today. They had no pedestals or pillars, because the latter were usually drawn on the floor, or "floor cloth", to be referred to during ritualistic instruction, but were certainly not then a part of the Wardens' equipment.
The other interpretation of the Wardens' columns as representations of Jachin and Boaz, the two pillars of Solomon's Temple, was also introduced into Masonic ritual at an early period of Speculative Masonry. Again, it is in the exposes of the early rituals that this development can be traced.
In A Mason's Examination, 1723, appears this test question: "Where was the first Lodge kept? In Solomon's Porch; the two Pillars were called Jachin and Boaz." Nothing, however, establishes a connection between the pillars and the Wardens. The Grand Mystery, etc. mentioned above also names the two pillars Jachin and Boaz. A number of other such publications in the 1720's and 1730's also identify them by those names.
How miniature representations of Jachin and Boaz came to the pedestals of the Senior and Junior Wardens is still a matter for speculation; obviously it is a part of the variegated development of Masonic ritual in the 18th century. As symbols of the pillars on the Porch of King Solomon's Temple, or as representations of the three principal orders of architecture which the three principal officers of a lodge symbolize, they are to be found in the earliest catechisms and lectures of Speculative Freemasonry.
Undoubtedly, as suggested by contemporary references and illustrations, the pillars soon became artistically designed pieces of furniture to stand in the lodge room as objects for study. There was probably no uniformity of practice in this development. Some lodges had large columns, some small, some drew them on the floor cloth. Some had no pillars at all.
From the creation of such pillars, and from their association with the three principal officers of the lodge undoubtedly came the columns of the Wardens. They are relics of those earlier larger pieces of lodge furniture. From the traditions of operative craft lodges had lingered the conception of the Senior Warden as the officer in charge of the workmen; his column naturally represented his authority and superintendence. To give the Junior Warden some similar authority, an imaginative speculative ritualist probably hit on the idea of putting him in charge of the Craft during refreshment. That idea had been foreshadowed in Anderson's 1723 Constitutions, Regulation XXIII put the Grand Wardens in charge of the annual Feast.
By 1760, as suggested by the publication of Three Distinct Knocks, the Wardens of a lodge had acquired miniature columns representing the pillars, Jachin and Boaz, which they carried in processions and raised or lowered on their pedestals to indicate whether the lodge was at labor or refreshment. That procedure was apparently confirmed by the Lodge of Promulgation which paved the way for the union in 1813 of the "Modern" and "Ancient" Grand Lodges in England.
Thus the raising and lowering of the Wardens' columns became sanctioned by custom and Grand Lodge approval. It is not a complicated or mysterious symbolic act; it is a simple means to indicate silently to entering Brethren the status of the lodge.
Since the Junior Warden's column is erect during refreshment, logic suggests that it be similarly arranged when the lodge is closed, i.e., not at labor. Generally, however, the Wardens' columns are left just as they happen to be placed at the time of closing, except in those Jurisdictions whose official ritual has decreed a proper positioning of the Wardens' columns at closing.
An eminent sculptor was once asked: "How do you carve such beautiful statues?" He replies, "It is the simplest thing in the world. I take a hammer and chisel and from a massive, shapeless rock, I knock off all the stone I do not want, and there is the statue. It was there all the time."
In every Masonic Lodge room there is, or should be, the Rough Ashlar and the Perfect Ashlar. These two and the Trestle Board constitute our Movable Jewels. What is their significance? What do they have to do with Masonry?
In our monitorial work we are taught that the Rough Ashlar "is a stone as taken from the quarry in its rude and natural state" and that the Perfect Ashlar "is a stone made ready by the hands of the workman, to be adjusted by the working tools of the Fellow Craft." The Rough Ashlar was not a stone that was merely picked up somewhere. It was a stone that has been selected. Some work was done upon it. It was apparently a good stone. It was a stone that showed good prospects of being capable of being made into a Perfect Ashlar. If it had not been a good stone, it would never have been cut out from the quarry.
So it is with our prospective member. He cannot be merely picked up somewhere. He must be selected. Before he is ready to be initiated some work must be done upon him. He must stand certain basic tests. He must be apparently of good material. He must be a man who shows good prospects of being capable of being made into a good Mason. If he had not been a good man, he should never have been proposed for membership.
In changing a Rough Ashlar into a Perfect Ashlar, the workman takes away and never adds to. He chips and chips. He cuts away the rough edges. He removes the visible flaws, he does not create by chemical means or otherwise, a new material. He takes that which is already there and develops it into the Perfect Ashlar.
The stone from which the Venus de Milo was carved by an unknown sculptor of ancient times, lay since the beginning of time in the rocks of the Island Milo. A common, unknown workman may have cut a hugh piece of marble from the quarry. But it took a master artisan to carve out the beautiful statue. It took a good piece of marble and a skilled artist to produce the Venus de Milo.
Not many operators in Masonry can make a Perfect Ashlar. So there are not many perfect Masons in our Lodges. In our Ritualistic and other work, we can take away much of the roughness, remove the sharp points and obliterate the visible defects. We can produce as good a Mason as there is within our power to produce. But the essential thing is to have a good material upon which to work.
This statement is applicable to all mankind, but to us as Symbolic Masons, it is pregnant with meaning, for, was not each one, at the commencement of his Masonic career, placed in the Northeast corner as an example stone, in the hope that the stone so placed would, in the fullness of time, be wrought into a thing of beauty acceptable to the builder?
What does the poet say of the stone? Isn't it strange that Princes and Kings And clowns that caper in sawdust rings, And common folks like you and me Are builders for eternity? Each is given a kit of tools, A shapeless mass and a book of rules: And each must make, ere life is flown; A stumbling block or a stepping stone.
These are very true words. The kit of tools are those talents with which God has blessed us to enable us to fulfill our mission in life. We are told in the Volume of the Sacred Law that one man received five talents, another, two talents, and yet another, only one talent, so that our duty is for each to discharge his alloted task to the best of his ability, and help those who have not been so well blessed as himself. Thus each will be assisted in carving out the "Grand Design" of being happy and communicating happiness and thereby of being more "extensively serviceable to his fellow creatures."
The shapeless mass is a man's character, and each one of us is his own Architect, Builder and Material, and like our predecessors, the Operative Masons, we each must show our craftsmanship in working out a perfect "Ashlar" fit to be tried by the square of his own conscience.
The book of rules is the V.S.L. "That great light that will guide us to all truth, direct our steps in the path of happiness, and thus, point out the whole duty of man."
Let us pause for a moment and earnestly ask ourselves, which are we making--stumbling block or a stepping stone? If a man's life is such that he cannot "join in the grand design of being happy and communicating happiness to others," then he is a stumbling block, not only to himself, but to all those with whom he is associated. If that man is a Freemason he should study the ritual and discover the inner meaning, so that he can learn to perfect his stone.
Let us trace whence comes this perfect stone. An ancient charge provides that a mould stone shall be given to a visiting Operative Mason to enable him to demonstrate his craftsmanship. The stones were selected individual stones from the quarries to suit the requirement of the material building. As Speculative Masons, we obtain our mould stones from the quarries of life. Thus, when we receive an application for admission to our Lodge it is our duty to carefully scrutinize all the credentials of the applicant from every angle, so that only approved material is admitted to the Craft.
Freemasonry can and does improve good material, but it cannot make bad material good. As with the Operative Mason, poor material would have endangered the material structure. So with us as Speculative Masons, a faulty Ashlar will endanger the Spiritual temple we are endeavoring to build.
Having found, by the strictest inquiry, that the applicant, or mould stone, is suitable, we have, by those inquiries, knocked off some of the irregularities which surrounded him, and after his initiation, he is represented as the "rough Ashlar," that is, the stone is no longer the mould stone, but it is approximately a cube which still requires a considerable amount of "dressing" before the "perfect Ashlar" which is within it can be brought to light, and the candidate is given him to "knock off rough knobs and evanescence," of his character.
Later on he finds that, although the common gavel and chisel are suitable for reducing the roughness they are not capable of achieving perfection. As a Craftsman he receives another set of working tools, one of which is essential to perfection, namely, the square, and here he learns that it is only by continual grinding and many applications of the square that the stone can be brought to a true die, or cube.
In his capacity as a Craftsman and as a man of the world, he is continually coming into contact with his fellows and he learns to control his passions and to recognize the rights of others, with the result that the stone he is working upon, namely, his character, is gradually taking shape as a perfect Ashlar.
Later, he is called upon to hand his stone over to the Builder, who cuts a beveled hole at the top, so that the stone can be attached to a lewis and be hoisted up ready to be placed on the base assigned to it by the Builder. Thus, he is reminded that the rope, the lewis, and the crane represent the all sustaining power of God, and that if he has discharged his duty faithfully and in accordance with the precepts laid down in the V.S.L., he may rest assured that when his final summons comes he will find that the great Builder will have prepared a place for him in that "Great Spiritual Temple not made with hands eternal in the Heavens."
Finally, let us consider this "perfect Ashlar" from a geometric point of view. Looking at the perfect "Ashlar," as it stands in the Lodge we notice that it has six equal and exactly similar sides, and that no matter how it is placed down, on the level, it must stand on one of its faces and present a similar face to the observer, from any point of view. It is the only geometrical body which requires no support from its fellows, but when placed in line with similar cubes, demands it own space, and lines up with the others on top, bottom and sides.
Author: J. Fairbairn Smith, Editor Emeritus
Detroit Masonic World
OUR BASIC FUNCTION. The basic function of a Masonic Lodge is to make Master Masons. This does not mean the formality of raising candidates. It extends far beyond that period in the life of a Mason. The task of making Master Masons must be directed toward all of us, those who are Master Masons and those who are in the process of becoming Master Masons. The fruits of our efforts to teach and to learn about Freemasonry, the interest that we show the candidates as we welcome them into the new world of Freemasonry, will be evident in the years to come. If we sow well, we are bound to reap well.
BEING WELL AND DULY PREPARED. Being "Well and Duly Prepared" is a Masonic expression. Masons understand its significance in the Lodge Rooms. However, they may also interpret it outside the Lodge. No Mason enters even the ground floor of the Lodge unless he is "Well and Duly Prepared." So simple is his dress that it provokes no envy. He is dressed properly for the occasion, and everyone so dressed feels perfectly at ease among his Brethren. No place here for the rich to boast of fine raiment and resplendent jewels, nor for the poor to envy his more fortunate Brother or covet his wealth. Their clothing in each case symbolizes labor and innocence. With hand and brain, each is ready to serve his fellowman; with forbearance and toleration, each is willing to forgive the crude and ignorant everywhere. To carry the symbolism of Masonic investiture still further, every Mason should be clothed in the habiliments of truth. His wardrobe should contain the robe of justice, with which to protect those who, for any reason, have been deprived of their just rights; the mantle of charity, with which to comfort those made destitute, many times by no cause of their own; the tunic of toleration, with which to hide the weakness of the wayward, and help them to the road of recovery; the cloak of mercy, with which to cover the wounded and suffering in mind or body with unstinted sympathy and kindness. These garments are all of genius quality, measured and cut by a Master Tailor. They are serviceable and in good taste on every occasion. They, too, may be had without money and without price, and, the man who wears them is truly "properly clothed," and "Well and Duly Prepared" as a Master Mason.
FREEMASONRY IS MANY THINGS. Freemasonry is a Story of Life; with all its joys, its heartaches, its failures and its final triumph over all earthly things. Anyone can read it, in countless books. Its teachings, its symbols, and its ambitions, are open for general observation. They are practiced in the light, and held up for all the world to see. Freemasonry is not practiced in the dark, neither are its teachings the dogma of some for- bidden cult. We, as Freemasons, are required to reflect the light; to practice its teachings and love by their direction. No greater thing can be said of Freemasonry than that it is an ideal way of life. No other fraternity offers such profound lessons in its Ritual or Work as does Free- masonry. Each word and each act in the ceremonies of the Lodge carries a true lesson to each of us, if we will but open our eyes to see, our ears to hear and hearts to accept. We can study Freemasonry for years, as we attend its meetings, and each time we stop to think on the things said and done, we get a new meaning and inspiration from them. There is a never-ending source of pleasure in the various shades of meaning that can be read into each line of our work. Each new meaning and interpretation that we put into some word or act will make that passage live for us, and we will begin to see Freemasonry for what it is intended. Great men have devoted many years of study and meditation to the cause of Freemasonry and when their work is finished they realize that they have only begun to see the light and that they have only started to uncover the true meanings of the work. Freemasonry has been talked of and written about by countless men in every country of the world. Its members have been persecuted in all lands at one time or the other, but is still grows and flourishes as no other fraternity on earth today. There must be something good and great in Freemasonry, for it to stand through the years as a beacon of light to its members and as a symbol of the true way of life for all to see and follow. Its greatness is not due to its secret teachings, its mysteries or fanfare of its deeds, but rather to the profound lessons taught to its members and to the comfort, inspiration and enlightenment brought to all who will but study
Freemasonry frowns on advertising its good deeds, preferring to let those who benefit from them reflect its goodness, that others might have hope and desire the better things of life. Freemasonry offers comfort to those who sorrow, hope for those who despair, wise counsel for those who err, and the joys and contentment of life to all.
SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND. The making of a Freemason consists in a continued course of education, and of character forming. While it may be accepted that it is an innermost desire, followed by obligations that makes one a member of the Craft, yet in a truer form did better sense, a man is never a Freemason until he truthfully and loyally lives up to his obligations. And he cannot do that until he understands them, and eventually knows their scope and real meaning. Freemasonry can very well be divided into many phases. Its landmarks, its customs, its constitution and its laws, just to mention a few, if studied and mastered, can provide a most interesting course for the Master Mason seeking Masonic knowledge. Its historical background can provide an interesting program of investigation to the member attracted to a desire for research. One peculiarity about Freemasonry is that it will stand investigation. The deeper the research, the more extensive the knowledge of its hidden art and mysteries, the more highly it is appreciated. A member of the Craft who merely takes his degrees in a listless, careless sort of manner, and then remains as just a spectator at Lodge meetings, may hold to the opinion that Freemasonry differs little from other societies. To the contrary, the Master Mason who delves deeply into Masonic literature, takes a lively interest in every part of the Ritualistic and lodge Work, and learns the origin, meaning and moral bearing of its symbols, cannot possibly fall into such an error. To him Freemasonry has a refining and elevating influence not to be found in the ordinary run of organizations . The philosophies of Freemasonry, when discovered and then accepted and practiced, provide that simple but profound solution to the problems of human relationships. May it be accepted that Freemasonry is a way of living to the Master Mason who is interested enough to appraise and value the wealth that is his, and his alone, by virtue of his Masonic Member- ship. The best informed Master Mason is the Master Mason who reads and studies. Consequently, if we want Freemasonry to be of practical usefulness and cultural attainment, we, as Freemasons, must not neglect our Masonic reading, our Masonic studying and our research for more Masonic Light.
NEEDED: A KNOWLEDGE OF FREE- MASONRY. At no time in Masonic history has there been a greater need for understanding of what Freemasonry is and what it stands for than there is today. Much has been left undone in the education of Members of our Lodges. The first essential in Masonic education is that desire to become interested and enthused in Freemasonry followed by a thirst for knowledge as to what Freemasonry is all about. Here is where the instructors can serve well and can influence the candidate in a continuous search for more Masonic Light. The qualifications for instructing are less exciting than may be imagined. What is essential is a basic knowledge of Freemasonry by the instructor. In this day and age, with so many counter attractions, it becomes more evident that greater efforts must be put forth to instruct our new Members in the ideals and fundamentals of Freemasonry. Every Lodge should have a definite pro- gram along authentic Masonic educational lines. We must understand what Freemasonry really is before we can practice Freemasonry in our lives. We must remember that Freemasonry is judged by the actions of its individual members. We must set an example to those out- side the Craft at all times. The need for Masonic knowledge is often evidenced in our Lodges, This can be alleviated where dedicated members qualify as instructors and then serve in teaching the principles and fundamentals of Freemasonry to all who will listen.
What is Masonry? by Bro. Walter H. Bonn, Victor, Iowa
It's not a sign or handshake, a hall where tilers sit, It's not a guarded building, where passwords will admit, It's not a place of symbols, which Wardens oft display, It's not a lodge of members, who meet in white array.
It is the home of justice, of liberty and truth, Of loyalty to country, of sympathy for youth, Of succor for a brother, of gentleness and cheer, Of tolerance for neighbors, whose life is often drear.
Author: Bro. William A. Carpenter
Work always has been an important concept and word to Americans and to Freemasons. Our pre-eminence among nations of the world is the result of a superabundance of natural resources, the willingness of our people to work converting these natural resources into useful things to make life comfortable, and a governmental form which encourages individual effort in a climate of freedom to develop one's inherent abilities. The most important of these factors is the utilization of one's talents at work. In Freemasonry we utilize the work constructing King Solomon's Temple as a symbol to build character. It takes work to prepare to teach the candidate the catechism; and it takes work by the candidate to learn the catechism and secure the needed proficiency to advance from one degree to the next. All terms connected with the tools and work of the operative masons are used as symbols in the Craft .
Therefore, work is the foundation stone in Freemasonry and the work ethic is the foundation stone of the American Way of Life. As a practical matter, it is well to observe that everything is the result of work by someone. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the shelter we use to protect us from the elements are all the result of work engaged in by many persons. It involves planning, the securing of the natural resources, and work to convert the material into the finished product. Likewise, it is work that makes a candidate into a member. First, it takes work by many members to prepare themselves to be able to confer the degrees with skill. It takes work by one or more members to learn the catechism and to teach it to the candidates. It takes work by the candidate to learn the catechism to gain proficiency to advance to the next degree. And, if the lodge is doing its work well, it will retain an interest in the new member after he receives the third degree and will teach him many fundamentals about the Craft, its philosophy, its heritage, and its organization and work. This is the method whereby the lodge can convert a member into a Freemason. There is a vital difference between being a member and being a Freemason. Following the formalities of receiving the degrees makes the candidate a member, but he does not become a Mason until he has learned about our heritage, has an understanding of the philosophy of Free- masonry, and has adopted the lessons of the degrees into his everyday life. It takes much additional work to bring this about, but it is a necessary part of the work of every lodge which has been neglected for too many years in too many places.
Conferring the degrees does not complete the work of Freemasonry. It is just the beginning. Unfortunately, for too many years the word "work'' when used by Masons has described only the ritualistic work conducted by the lodge. And in most places lodge instruction on ritualistic matters, ritualistic schools, teach- ing by Grand Lecturers and other instructors have done a creditable job in this area of Masonic work.. Some have been critic of our Masonic leaders on the basis that there has been too much emphasis on perfecting the ritualistic work of the lodge with the thought that this is the only thing that matters in order for the Craft to be successful. There is no question that the ritualistic work of the lodge is of vital importance for it contains the philosophy of the Craft and is the vehicle used to teach the candidate the Lessons that are the foundation of Freemasonry. Doing good ritualistic work is important because it is the first exposure of the candidate to the Craft and the first impressions are always lasting ones. The trouble is that so much emphasis is placed on this phase of our work that everything else is neglected. Placing so much emphasis only in the form has caused us to neglect the substance contained in the degrees. It has been the easy way out for many officers who find it easy to work by rote and to give no attention to the meaning or to the purpose of the ritualistic work.
There is a need for additional work with the candidate before he is initiated, after he has received each degree, and after he has completed all the formal steps to become a member. Some Grand Lodges have recognized this need by establishing Educational Commit- tees which have devised programs to give each candidate additional instruction beyond the ritualistic work of the three degrees. Many of these committees have prepared booklets for the candidates which are excellent and serve a useful purpose. (Sec M.S.A. Digest, "Tried and Proven.") Placing these booklets in the hands of the candidate is fine, but what assurance do we have that the candidate will read the material and that when he reads it he will fully understand it. What we need is more time spent with the new member either personally or in group meetings to answer their questions and to inform them about the nature of the Craft and its work. These additional activities are valuable to the candidate and new member, but they are also important to the lodge, because they enable the officers to set additional members to work. A working member is always an interested member.
It is the duty both traditional and expressed of the Worshipful Master to set the Craft to Work and to give it proper instruction. In too many places for too many years this duty has been interpreted too narrowly and has been confined only to the conferring of the degrees. As a result of this attitude and interpretation there has been too much Masonic unemployment among our members. The apathy that has existed within the Craft in recent years and the continual net loss of members year after year would seem to indicate that more work is needed to make the Craft an important part in the lives of its members.
As in the business world where productivity has been declining each year for some time, we are paying the price with loss of members and apathy. When productivity is reduced in the market place, we have fewer good results from the lesser work performed. It will eventually mean fewer jobs because persons cannot afford to pay the resulting higher prices. With fewer goods purchased, social tensions increase. Reduced profits result and we have more inflation. Everyone is hurt as a lower standard of living results. There has been too much under-achievement per worker in the United States for too many years. Likewise, there has been too much Masonic unemployment because we have not utilized the talents of each of our members by putting them to work on projects that will make him an interested and involved member working for the benefit of the lodge and its members. (See June, 1980 Short Talk Bulletin, "What's Your Line?") There seems to be a contagious co-relation between the causes that reduce productivity in the market place and in the Masonic organization. So it is worthy of note that if we can bring about an increase in productivity in the market place and in the Craft everyone in our country and in our Fraternity will receive valuable dividends. In the words of Brother James A. Garfield, twentieth President of the United States, "If the power to do hard work is not a talent, it is the best possible substitute for it."
How can we improve this situation within the Craft? It all boils down to the fact that more work will have to be done by everyone involved, apply themselves with diligence in the performance of their duties; to be determined to do a better job than has been done in the past; and to expand the scope of their work and that of the lodge. It means that the officers should consider ways and means of improving conditions in the lodge and its work. It means that the officers must change their point of view that the word ''work'' is restricted to the ritualistic effort of the lodge. The officers must take a genuine interest in each resident member as these two elements will give some indication of the abilities of the members and what their individual interests may be. Each person is different and is not interested in the same thing. We must recognize that not all of our members are interested in the rote learning of the lectures and the degree work and will not spend the time doing something in which they are not interested. When these individual interests and talents are ascertained they should be utilized by the lodge by assigning proper work to the member. It is surprising how members favor- ably respond to requests to work for the lodge within the areas of their interests. To be singled out to perform a task and to be recognized for the abilities that one possesses is always flattering. This will make the member a better member and the lodge also will benefit from the work done. As the skills, abilities, and talents of the members are explored, it is likely that the lodge may find it necessary to adopt new beneficial programs to put these members to work.
It cannot be said at any time that we have all the workers we need and that there are no new programs or work to be done by the lodge. The use of a little imagination will often disclose new important areas in which the lodge can function for the benefit of the members, the lodge and the community. There is always room for Masonically unemployed members to become employed. Specific suggestions cannot be made that will apply everywhere. To be taken into consideration is the type of members who belong to a specific lodge, local conditions, what has taken place in the past, and how much the unemployed members can be motivated to take an active part in the work of the lodge. There may be a need of having new committees appointed. It is also likely that the committees that exist must be converted into working committees rather than existing in name only. Giving the member a title and duties to perform plus a bit of recognition may be enough to get him to work.
It should not be hard to find things that need attention. You can start by considering the physical condition of the premises where the lodge meets. Do the premises need to be painted? Do the grounds need to be spruced up with a lawn, flower beds, bushes, a flag pole, etc.? Are there widows of deceased members who have been neglected? Are there sick members who need some attention? Does the lodge need a library with Masonic books? Are there members with hobbies such as stamp and coin collections with items of Masonic interest that ought to be put to work in organizing a display of these items at an open meeting? Do you have a member whose hobby is gourmet cooking who can be put to work preparing fancy dishes for lodge dinners? Do you have able members who are students who can be put to work preparing talks on Masonic subjects? These are some of the questions that come to mind at once as one explores areas to create work for the Masonically unemployed members.
Here are some suggestions that might be considered. If you have a number of retired members with time on their hands, why not adopt the "welcome wagon" idea of the business community? Form a Welcome Committee in your lodge, arrange to get the names and addresses of all new families which move into the community, and have these retired members call on them to welcome them as neighbors. Visit with the new family and let them know that if they need any help or information that the lodge is ready to help. This sort of project will create much good will with the new residents and the working members will get a "lift" from the work.
Hospitals are always in need of volunteers and this area should be explored with the thought of having some of the lodge members act in this area. If there is a Veterans Administration Hospital within a reasonable distance with an M.S.A. Field Agent there, a talk with him may disclose areas in which he can be helped in his work. He may need help in wheeling patients to church services Sundays. He may need Masons to visit with patients who seldom get visitors.
There is always need for expanded educational activity in our lodges. The scholars, teachers, and readers of Masonic literature have been neglected by our lodges. These members should be put to work studying various phases of Masonic history, the lodge records to find interesting items, the philosophy of the Craft with the view of having them present talks to the members. Study Clubs might be considered on the lodge level or community level. Forums and round table programs should be considered as a means of creating work for Masonically unemployed members.
There is much work to be done by the lodge and its members. And with the increase in the amount of work done everyone will profit.
Author: Bro. Alphonse Cerza Grand Historian
Grand Lodge of Illinois
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