"ED, now that I'm a Master Mason son, how am I really going to benefit from being a Mason?" asked the recently Raised Mason.
Ed, a Past Master and posting instructor, looked at the young man with sagacious understanding and wondered what life and Masonry had to offer him.
"Many people live in darkness, " Ed said, "never to find the light. They proudly wear their age as some kind of sacred vestment which the mere number of years has seemingly ordained upon them. These same people believe that the time spent traveling is more important than the distance traveled.
"Ecclesiastes expressed it this way, 'Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king.' In other words, it's not how long you live that counts, but rather what kind of life you live which matters. You'll benefit from Masonry because once you live and apply the teachings of our hallowed Craft, you'll discover that you'll have traveled a much greater distance in your life than. those who boast the highest number of years-or age-as their greatest achievement."
Ed continued, "Before joining this Fraternity, many men have had little or no moral instruction other than perhaps the Ten Commandments or values taught in the home. When Masonry came into their lives-and once they put their lives into Masonry-Masonry became for them a way where they could travel great distances on the paths of moral, intellectual, and spiritual advancement. Incidentally, have you ever reflected on the question propounded to you as an Entered Apprentice which asked, 'From whence came you?"'
"To be honest Ed, I memorized it for my proficiency but I'm not sure that I understand what it means."
"The question 'From whence came you? has several meanings," said Ed. "To answer your original question on how you'll benefit from .being a Mason, I'd like to ask you some questions. Based upon your answers, you'll know where you are, where you need to go, and whether you've really been traveling on the Masonic Path.
"Since you were Raised a Master Mason, have you practiced brotherly love, relief, and charity? Have you learned that true charity has nothing to do with money but alludes to the giving of yourself and the forgiving of your fellow brothers and sisters? When tempted to speak ill of someone else, and especially of another Mason, have you circumscribed your thoughts by the compass? Have you enriched your mind with the seven liberal arts and sciences? Have your endeavors been supported by wisdom, strength, and beauty? Have you gone to the aid of a distressed Brother, his widow and orphans? "Have you tried to penetrate the hidden meaning of our symbols?
"I have some things to work on," said the young Mason, while still pondering over the questions. "I'd like to hear more."
Ed continued, "Humanity is hoodwinked. In other words, humanity is for the most part in the dark. Envy, superstition, greed, hate, desire for power over others and the pursuit of materialism as the sole goal in life are the self-inflicted darkness to which people sentence themselves. Masonry is the sunshine which dispels the darkness and herein is the age-old purpose of our Order.
"As a Mason, your lineage is more glorious than the bloodlines of kings, potentates and Caesars. Your loins have been girded by that pure reminder to live an innocent and just life: the sheepskin. You've been armed with the working tools of life and Light to do battle in a world beset by darkness. And you've partaken of the fraternal spirit which even today, echoes the presence of King Solomon, Hiram Abiff, and other noble personages. You're in good keeping and in good company.
"Masonry is a force, eternal and vibrant, symbolized by the common gavel. When applied to our laudable undertakings, it produces a perfectly squared and polished stone, tried and true. This force should be applied to ourselves, our families, our countries and the world.
"Our rituals are unique and free of dogma; our symbols, ancient and sublime; our history, glorious. noble, inspiring, and uplifting. How fortunate-and blessed- are those men who can rightfully say, 'I am a Mason. Like the craftsman of old, I too am laboring to build a temple not made with human hands. Like my Brethren before me, I too have suffered hostile attacks made by the ignorant, the fanatical and the tyrannical. I have witnessed our Temples destroyed by ruthless barbarism and wars. Yet I labor onward. I have been accused of heresy; yet I'm a man of God, with God, and for God."
From whence came you...?
Published in the New Age Magazine (Scottish Rite Journal) Sept. 1986
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