It is my intention to carry a theme of "MAKING A DIFFERENCE" Throughout this Masonic year in Brant District . This evening I would like to take a look back at what Masonry has done to make a difference.
I believe that one of the most prominent areas that Masons have made a difference is through Charity and Benevolence, so I will proceed to give somewhat of a history lesson.
All over the world Freemasons have been providing assistance for those less fortunate than themselves for over 300 years. In England in 1686, a local historian of Wiltshire stated that whenever a Freemason falls into financial difficulty, "the brother hood is to relieve him".
In Ireland in 1688, we have a report from Dublin that the members of the fraternity of Freemasonry presented a "well stuffed" purse of charity to a destitute brother. In 1724 the Premier Grand Lodge in London decided that every Lodge should take up a monthly collection for a general charity fund to assist poor brethren.
In 1733, in Massachusetts , the by laws of the first Lodge in Boston specified that each member was to pay at least 2 shillings per quarter for the relief of brethren who had fallen on evil times.
In 1781 , in Nova Scotia , the Masters of the 3 Lodges in Halifax were directed to act as a charity committee to assist Masons who had escaped from the American Revolution. In Upper Canada in 1797 a Lodge set up a fund to help Freemasons widows and to educate the orphans and the children of poor brethren
The Grand Lodge of Canada was founded in 1855 and almost from the beginning there is evidence of traditional Masonic Charity. In 1863 a benevolent fund was established, intended to provide assistance primarily for Masons who were in need and to their families.
In 1867, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada, M.W. Bro William Mercer Wilson, reported that he had received an appeal on behalf of the widows and orphans of the State of Georgia , who were in dire straits after the American Civil War, but that Grand Lodge had no funds to help. That was the last time an appeal was made in vain. From then on, help was provided where necessary, in such situations as the Franco-Prussian War, $250.00 in 1871, Chicago Fire in 1872, $2000.00, the Louisiana Floods in 1874, $200. In 1915, $45,000.00 was transferred to the King of the Belgians, for him to use among his distressed subjects.
In 1917, to meet the increasing demands, it was decided that every Mason would pay $1.00 each year to Grand Lodge, of which 80 cents was to be used for benevolent purposes alone.
In the Second World War during 1944-1946, the Masons of Ontario sent more than $251,000.00 to England and Scotland , primarily to relieve the suffering caused by bombing and in 1948-1951, nearly $254,000.00 was collected for food parcels for Britain .
In 1943 the Grand Master sent $2500.00 to the Canadian Red Cross as well as a $1000.00 each to the Chinese Relief Fund, the Greek Relief Fund and the Canadian Aid to Russia Fund.
In 1934, at the height of the Great Depression, the committee considered 867 applications for assistance from needy and distressed Masons and their dependants, paying out $122,146.75. At least as much again was paid out in grants by the individual constituent lodges. From time to time, as opportunity has arisen, Freemasons have directed their assistance to non-masons as well.
The Masonic Foundation, founded in 1964, is a Public Foundation registered with Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, to provide the means for using the Craft's financial resources for the benefit of the community at large.
Since the Foundations inception, a number of guidelines have been adhered to:
all assistance must be used in the Province of Ontario
children and young people are to receive primary consideration
individuals or small groups who have no access to other support, may be given assistance in emergency situations
funds must be used in support of a specific person, activity or project
funds from this source are not to be used to support either capital building projects or operating/administrative requirements of established charitable organizations.
A young lady from Greely, Ontario, who became a paraplegic as a result of a drunk driver accident was assisted in obtaining a new wheelchair in the amount of $1,000.00 A couple from London, Ontario, received assistance to purchase a small portable output device and a co-writer and small speaker, cost $1,312.00
The objectives of the Masonic Foundation set out its charitable nature:
to receive, maintain, control and use donations exclusively for charitable purpose in Ontario
to use its donations for the relief of poverty, the advancement of the education and the advancement of other purposes beneficial to the community
to fund bursaries, hearing research, drug and substance abuse education in the school systems and other specific community projects that fall within its guidelines.
Funding is provided primarily from 3 sources:
investment income earned on capital
personal contributions from Masons and friends of the Foundation
bequests from the estates of individuals who made provision in their estate planning.
The Masonic Foundation has a strong interest in helping the youth of Ontario to become the best that they can be. Several programs are aimed at the youth who require assistance to cope with financial stress or affliction or combating peer pressure to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Other support goes to groups of youth who do not face similar trials in life but whom, by their interest in mankind, will be in the forefront in making the world better for future generations.
It's Charitable Programs encompass Bursaries, Hearing Research, Voice for Hearing Impaired Children, Kerry's Place, dealing with Autism, Help Nip Drugs in the Bud, youth programs such as Scouts Canada, 4H, Girl Guides and Demolay along with District and Lodge Projects.
There are various ways to financially support the Foundation:
Personal donations to the Foundation Office in the form of cheques or charged to your Visa or Mastercard- the Yellow Envelopes are available for forwarding your donations.
Memorial donations to remember the passing of a loved one or colleague-the grey Memorial envelope is available for this purpose.
Including the Masonic Foundation in the planning of your estate by: including the Foundation in your will, naming the foundation as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy, gifting assets such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds or term deposits, or willing residual funds from a RRIF to the Foundation.
Investment income for 2008-2009 was $395,086.00. The unrestricted net assets at March 31, 2009 rose, quite dramatically, to $10,636,675.00, an overall increase of 30%, which can be accounted for by bequests received from 9 estates of over 2.5 million during the year. Of note, this is the first time the Masonic Foundation capital base has exceeded 10 million.
Yellow envelopes, mailed with the Ontario Mason Magazine, resulted in donations of $32,140.00, while other member and Lodge contributions totalled $23,600.00
Grey Memorial Envelopes used to make donations in memory of departed brethren raised $10,875.00
During 2008-2009, the total disbursed for bursaries and donations was $829,649.00, which included $425,038.00 on District projects.
The Bursary Program, our first charitable outreach initiative, has responded to emergency assistance to 58 students for $55,800.00
Masonic Bursaries are awarded to assist students enrolled full time in a program of studies at an Ontario College or University recognized by the Foundation, who have encountered an unexpected financial emergency during the final term of a 2 or 3 year program or the 3rd or 4th year of a 4 year program. Applicants must have exhausted all other sources of income and financial support and may be unable to complete their program and forced to leave before graduation.
Applicants must be a Canadian citizen and a permanent resident of Ontario . Students enrolled in M.A. and PH.D. Graduate or LLB programs are not eligible for funding. Applications must be endorsed by and submitted through the Awards Officer of the College or University.
Bursary Funding Statistics for April 1, 2008- March 31, 2009: received 83, denied 25, awarded 58. 14 were awarded @$800.00 totalling $11,200.00, 35 @ $1,000.00, another $35,000.00 and 8 @ $1,200.00 totalling $9,600.00 for a grand total of $55,800.00.
Brethren, this is an example of your donations at work, helping to create well-rounded, academically proficient citizens to undertake the increasing challenges of the future.
The commitment in support of hearing research under Help-2-Hear was maintained for an eighth consecutive year through contributions of $35,000.00 each to the Universities of Ottawa, Western Ontario and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto .
I would be remiss if I didn't touch on the Foundations involvement with Prostrate Cancer, our Past Grand Masters Charity of choice.
In 2009, 11,200 men will be diagnosed with Prostrate cancer. This represents almost half of the 25,000 case that will be diagnosed across Canada . During their lifetime 1 in 6 Canadian men will be diagnosed with the disease and it is expected to rise to 1 in 4 within a decade.
One of the biggest challenges facing Prostrate Cancer Canada is the dissemination of clear and concise information about Prostrate Cancer.
The Masonic Foundation has stepped in with a donation of $120,000.00 in 2009 which will help develop a Prostrate Cancer Canada Public Education Program, a comprehensive overview of the disease including prevention
and risk factors, early detection and PSA screening, treatment options and their side effects and life following treatment. The format will be standardized and engaging to all audiences and packaged so non experts can deliver the presentation and answer basic questions.
During 2008-2009, the Masonic Foundation of Ontario was honoured on 2 occasions:
The Children's Hospital of Ontario , by placing a donor plate on its donor wall
St. Joseph 's Health Care, London , launched the St. Josephs Cornerstone Society and the Masonic Foundation of Ontario was inducted into this society and had its name listed on a special donor wall located at St. Josephs Hospital .
This Brethren is Masonry making a difference and we should all be rightfully proud of our Charity and Benevolence.
I am, during the course of this year, delivering messages about "making a difference. I commenced these messages at my official visit to St. John's 35 in Cayuga outlining how Masons have been making a difference through their benevolent and charitable activities, particularly Grand Lodge and the Masonic Foundation for actually hundreds of years, but more prevalent since the Masonic Foundation was established in 1964
Today, I am going to take some time to outline how I believe individual Lodges can make a difference. This, in my opinion starts with a candidate requesting an application to join a Masonic Lodge. If we accept the fact that this applicant is showing a desire to join our fraternity from "a favourable opinion preconceived of the institution, a general desire for knowledge, and a sincere wish to render himself more extensively serviceable to his fellow creatures", his sponsors and every contact with the fraternity must reinforce that opinion. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that continuing through his sponsors, the investigating committee, communicating the result of the ballot and initiation date are all completed in the very best Masonic manner. To that end there is a guideline available to the investigating committees as to what information should be gathered and provided, which I am hopeful all investigation committees and lodges are making use of. We need to communicate to this applicant requirements and expectations of joining our fraternity and demonstrate by our actions the commitments we make to ourselves and to our applicant. We can now start to "make a difference" by the way we receive this applicant on initiation date by preferably picking this candidate up and bringing him to Lodge for this important event. We must make him entirely comfortable with welcomes and introductions and someone being with him throughout this very important time for this applicant.
As we go through the initiation ceremony, communicating with him every step of the way, commencing with the Stewards preparation, the Deacon taking some time to put his mind at ease, with some idea of what will happen and confirming the Deacon is his friend and guide.
As pointed out in the "Guidelines for Lodge Officers in the Mechanics of The Work it is incumbent on the Master, officers, and other brethren participating to be at their best and know their parts. In the words of our Grand Master, M.W. Bro Raymond S.J. Daniels "learn it by heart, so you can give it by heart" or more literally from the heart. Our candidate, even though he may not recall all of the ceremony, he will remember how it was delivered and we are setting the standards for his future Masonic journey.
Each of his subsequent degrees need to be handled with the same commitment and delivery, Sponsors and Mentor play an integral part in this brothers progress and perception of the fraternity, is it living up to his expectations and preconceived opinions?
Now if we move on to our Lodge Meetings and whether these meetings in themselves can make a difference, the same principles and commitments apply. The Worshipful Master, who is the leader and responsible for all of the activities of his Lodge must be well prepared with a planned meeting agenda. As Masters of Lodges we take serious obligations to protect the Landmarks and not allow any deviation in our rights and ceremonies. It is most important for the Master and officers to be well prepared and carry out their duties according to the book of the work, the constitution and bylaws of the Lodge. There are to be no open books of the work in Lodge, only that of the official prompter. This requirement is being monitored and enforced by the Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master and as a result the District Deputy Grand Master in their efforts to "raise the bar"
The various obligations we take in Masonry encourage us to make a daily advancement in our Masonic knowledge. What a great place to start, the Book of the Work, including the Rubrics, the constitution and by-laws and all complimentary material available to us, such as Guidelines, Masonic Manual, meeting the challenge question and answer booklets, which incidentally are currently being updated and reprinted.
Our Lodge meetings are our communications forum and must be well thought out, organized and presented with appropriate decorum, protocol and etiquette. This includes the established protocol as we learn in our degrees, by rising, saluting with proper step and sign of the degree and addressing our Worshipful Master as such. I would like to point out to you that our Worshipful Master is that, except where it is spelled our in opening, closings, and degree work where Worshipful Sir is the proper address.
Frequently, in addition to our newer brethren, whom we are encouraging and hopefully helping becoming better men, we may have visitors and I draw a parallel to having guests come into our homes where we receive them with appreciation to communicate we are pleased to have them and provide a positive, memorable experience so that they go away with that happiness, friendship and brotherly love and look forward to future visits.
In closing Worshipful Master, you and all other W. Masters of Lodges agree to serious obligations to maintain the Craft pure and unsullied, protect the Landmarks and not allow any deviation in our rights and ceremonies, to have Lodge meetings carried out with proper decorum, protocol and etiquette so the brethren can grow, improve and become better men, thus showing Freemasonry in its true and proper light, taking in good men and making them better
Appointment upon an investigating committee is a single honour; the Master of your lodge has confidence in your good sense, your loyalty and your freedom from prejudices. He believes that you will faithfully discharge the most important Masonic duty he can give you.
Masonry wants positive, not negative, virtues. It is not enough that the applicant hasn't been caught and jailed yet; he must be the kind the law doesn't want! ****** It is not enough that he have no enemies; he should have friends and many of them *****But it is not necessarily a point against a man that he has enemies; it is for you to decide whether such enmity is justified by the character and actions of the petitioner which might be detrimental to the Lodge.
It is not only your right but your duty to learn the reasons which lead an applicant to desire Masonry. The petitioner who wants membership in order to promote his business is seeking something holy for sordid reasons ***** The man who desires merely to satisfy his curiosity is not worthy of the knowledge he seeks ***** The applicant who hopes, through influential friends to be acquired in Lodge, to secure place and power, would prostitute for selfish ends the institution he seeks to enter.
Among the "good" reasons for wishing to be a Freemason are: a sincere desire to help and be of service to others ***** a respect and veneration for an ancient fraternity which has been beloved by so many great and good men ***** a love for ones fellowmen ***** a desire to love and honour the Great Architect of the Universe ***** a desire to be with many friends in activities which they enjoy ***** a hunger to follow where a father, grandfather, uncle or blood brother has gone ***** a desire to secure the moral and social welfare of loves ones ***** a desire to explore ones inner self ("to know thyself"), and to become a better man by doing so.
The Committee member should keep two matters constantly in mind. To some extent, on him depends the future reputation of the Fraternity as a whole; every good man he approves and who is elected, strengthens it and every poor citizen whom he lets slip by, injures the whole Craft.
Then he must remember this, - his Lodge is his Masonic home. To a man's family home he invites only those whom he likes, approves and trusts. In his Masonic home, he should wish only those to come of whom he approves, trusts and likes.
He has a responsibility to his Grand Lodge and the whole Fraternity as well as responsibility to his Mother Lodge and his immediate circle of brethren.
Make your decisions independently, unaided and without reference to other committeemen. Complete your investigations promptly. It is not fair to the applicant or the Lodge to dilly-dally about it. If you can't serve, say so. If you do serve, serve well, serve whole-heartedly, and serve promptly.
You will be well paid. A "Masters Wages" await you when you shall have done your work. Paid not in any metal coin, or anything of material value but in the finer coin of consciousness, of honourable and responsible duty well done, the inner happiness which comes when you truly say to yourself: "Masonry has been helped forward by my work", the knowledge that your Lodge is a better Lodge because you have paid back, in small measure at least, the interests and the labour your brethren invested in you.
The committee on investigation, appointed for the purpose of giving to the Lodge firsthand Masonic knowledge of the character, abilities, attainments and general reputation of applicants for the degrees, is the most important committee work a Mason can do!
Many feel that simply belonging to a Masonic Lodge is not enough. They feel that a fraternity based on true brotherhood must be supported by actively living in that relationship. They feel that this is best done in one of the greatest privileges of the fraternity..
He went to his Lodge the other night,
And spoke to his brothers about how they might,
Together learn more about doing what's right.
He persuaded them to full up his van,
Sharing the transportation with all who can,
As to the neighbouring lodge it ran,
They share great moments along the way,
Spoke of the "ups and downs" of their day,
And agreed to be happy, come what may,
When they arrived, they smiled and shook hands,
And life was only happiness, it had no demand,
All were comfortable as together they stand,
The little stories, the rumbles of mirth,
Made that place among the best on the earth,
As is became a place of new friendship's birth,
Then into the Lodge room together they went,
After a great time of fraternity and brotherhood well spent,
And the degree of the evening was a wonderful event,
Through the ritual they knew, they were pleased with those men,
Who brought it to life and real once again,
And they couldn't remember a time of more joy than just then,
During the meal, they didn't sit with each other,
Wanting to get to really know that new brother,
And in fun and enjoyment themselves to smother,
Laughter and good will at the table continued on,
Time passed quickly away, oh where had it gone?
Till finally from the pot, the last cup of coffee was drawn,
And as the evening came swiftly to a close,
From the Lodge, one by one, they finally arose,
Heading to the hangers to put on outside clothes,
As they piled into the can to return back home,
Though these new friends were once again gone,
They knew that a man was never alone,
Brethren we have all heard many talks on Masonry, perhaps some good and some bad however that is good as each of us have to find our own Masonic experience and meaning.
How do we make better?
So I ask this question - What truly makes a man a Mason?
Is it the building we meet in - I don't think so! Yet there was a time when actually building the structure would indeed make a man a Mason - a stone mason and an operative mason.
Is it the Lodge Room? - Or is it the ritual?
Does going through the 3 degrees of our ritual complete the process of making a man a Mason? Sure at the completion of the 3 rd degree - to all external appearances he now stands a just and upright Freemason. He has completed the necessary requirements of the craft - he has traveled through the degrees of Freemasonry and we welcome him as a Brother with al the rights and privileges that accompanies it.
But - Then What???
Does not the newly made Brother have questions? Does he not seek answers? Does he not want to know what Masonry is all about?" Have we not all asked the same questions during our own initiation, passing and raising?
We know that they have been told that masonry "Makes good men Better!"
Man by his very nature is incurably curious; he desires to know How & Why! He wants to truly understand! The candidate traveling through his degrees has never been more hungry for information and answers! He has many questions that need to be answered. Questions about the Ritual; the Language; the Symbols of Masonry.
But I ask you what do we really give them when they enter?
Stop for a moment and think! Think about the image that is projected in most Lodges to these curious candidates as they enter and work their way through the degrees. Learning and memorizing a few Q & A will not satisfy their need to know! Think about what they might expect and what they in fact, find! The notion that a few short hours during the 3 degrees of the Ritual will answer their questions is absurd!
New members need and should have time to learn not just the ritual but the Traditions, the History and the Lessons of Freemasonry!
You know that man by his very nature wants to know what's around the next corner - what's behind the next door! But - if it comes too easy; if there is no struggle to achieve it loses it appeal! That which he has to struggle hard for - becomes precious, becomes valuable and something to cherish.
This holds true for Freemasonry!
Are we not making it too easy - too fast? Are we not just adding numbers to fill our ranks and our side Benches? Being allowed to join Freemasonry should be something special; it should be an achievement and a privilege; and it should create a sense of exclusiveness. The ceremonies of Masonry should be a special achievement and not an instant gratification! If it's easy to join - it's equally easy to leave!
The Freemasonry, that the new men find in our Lodges, has almost nothing to do with the Historical, Mystical or Legendary societies they have read about and it greatly disappoints them. By removing the mystery and the majesty of Masonry from our ceremonies we make them, that most terrible of things - we make them ordinary!
We are moving way too fast just to fill our ranks. New Masons must be allowed to take their time - to learn all the lessons of the Lodge!
We must also reduce the race to put new Masons into an Officer's chair. We have adopted the custom of pushing a man as fast as possible through the chairs into the East. This custom also encourages the men who do not take chairs for what ever reason, to turn away from Lodge - they may feel alienated or pressured. They may not want to be forced to make a choice especially if their cable town does not allow.
European Freemasonry on the other hand, believes that the Fraternity is special, is solemn, noble and exclusive. It may take years to get the EA degree and they are not rushed through the degrees but taken step by step with dedication. With a ritual that is word perfect, step perfect and done with pride and dignity. They may never sit in an Officer's Chair - yet they very seldom miss a meeting.
What then I ask, can we do her in our Lodges?
From the GL of Canada in the Province of Ontario comes this profound Statement. We Must Slow Down! Becoming a Mason is not the final step - but it is the first step, the first step of many steps towards a acquiring a wealth of Masonic knowledge and understanding.
Who can bestow upon another what he does not have, what he has not been taught? And who can share what he does not know? Who can confer the Masonic Ritual to another in any other way than that which was and is portrayed for him in his Lodge?
Brethren we have only ourselves to blame as we have pushed too fast for too long. Those in authority in our Lodges can only give what they know and what they have been shown, and teach only what they have been taught. Right or wrong!
It is time to turn the corner.
We have to put Masonic knowledge at the top of our agendas so that those who will take the East in Lodge will have the knowledge of Freemasonry necessary so that the new member will look to them for answers and for enlightenment.
But - How do we correct many many years of neglect?
I believe we have to start by educating all new masons so they learn the history, the traditions and the lessons of the past. Brethren I believe that the new mentors program adopted by Grand Lodge is but one tool to help us achieve this goal. I believe that if the Lodges adopt this program and use it - in a very short span of time we will have well informed Master Masons who, when taking positions of authority in Lodge, will be able to lead with the confidence that the Centuries of Masonic knowledge is there, guiding and helping them in their duties. I plead with all of you here today to look at the Mentor's Program, down load it from GL web site, adopt it in your Lodge, change it if and where necessary to fit your lodge - but use it. We will then be on the road to recovery with informed and Knowledgeable Masons at every station.
Brethren we own it to our past as well as the future to all those who follow us.
We have an obligation to leave Masonry better then we fount it. This way we will entice good men to join, not just to increase our numbers but truly to take part in a Fraternity of Brotherly Love Relief and Truth.
Jazz pianist and composer Eubie Blake smoked from the age of six and refused to drink water. On his hundredth birthday he observed, "If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself."
When we contemplate that speculative Masonry has found something to commend itself to 20 generations of men, we cannot say that it was attractive to one generation and
when that generation is past it must wither. It has already found a way to make itself attractive to 20 very diverse generations in many different circumstances. There must be something right about the way that it operates if we could properly interpret its history as a whole.
But when you are talking about a 400-year-old institution, this cannot be confined to living memory. We cannot view history like the Trivial Pursuit game where the history questions deal exclusively with events since 1940.
As I read more about the history of the Craft, I hear more and more about forms of Masonry which are quite unlike anything within the experience of even our oldest members: military Lodges which spread the Craft over the whole world with no home base, never mind a building in which to meet; Lodge meetings in Taverns, in people's homes, around tables, in forests; lodges which met with no regalia except a Bible; complicated versions of the ritual, and very simple ones; additional degrees now unheard of; lodges where all the offices belonged to the same people for years on end.
The flexibility of Masonry can be seen in its history. At various times it has been more or less formal, with more or less complicated rituals, more or less focus on the esoteric aspects of the Craft, the charitable aspects of the Craft, and the social aspects of the Craft. According to most theories of Masonic history, the Operative structure was enriched from other sources because it was flexible enough to accommodate them.
The Craft is not only flexible in that it can adapt itself to the times, but it can also adapt itself to the individual. Ask ten Masons for what the Craft means to them, and you will get ten different answers. But it has always been able to satisfy those different needs without losing its essence.
Aesop tells the fable of the mighty tree and the feeble bulrush. The great tree spoke of how high it had grown, how thick was its trunk, how widely spread its boughs, and the bulrush was in awe. But when the high wind came, the feeble roots of the tree could not hold and its great trunk could not bend, so it came crashing down, but the reed bent with the wind and its roots held. Flexibility and strong roots will keep you through some pretty hard times.
What keeps our Craft from blowing hither and yon in the winds of change is our historical roots. Masonry does not abandon those traditions which have come down to us from antiquity, and as a result has a character unlike any other in the world. Exactly what are the Landmarks of the Craft is difficult to define, but its essence has something to do with Brotherly Love,
Relief and Truth and Masons acquire in a remarkably short time an intuitive grasp of it. Masons have a radar about the Landmarks of the Craft. Without consciously knowing it, Masons unerringly warm to activities which are directed to
Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth and are bored and annoyed by those which are not. Closely observe the reactions of your brethren during a typical meeting. The parts of the meeting which will get their attention are news of their Brethren, particularly when they are ill or in need of comfort, opportunities to help others, social activities and opportunities for fellowship and papers on Masonic or other subjects which help us in our quest for truth. Often we forget to pay attention to this radar and think that we are to be guided by such principles as "We've always done it this way." Our sense of the fitness of our activities when held up to our Fundamental Principles, rather than being ends in themselves is one of our greatest strengths and ought to be used.
One of the great advantages of Masonry as an organization is that there is no General Grand Lodge. This enables each Grand Lodge to deal with its own problems in its own way. Even more significant is that the individual Lodges, and not the Grand Lodges, make most of the decisions and develop their own approaches to their own situations. If a single answer were presented for everyone, it would be the wrong answer for most, as the questions are not always the same. I know that being the Master of a rural lodge with a membership of thirty poses quite different problems from being the Master of an urban lodge with a membership of 250. When decisions are made at the local level they are more likely to meet local needs.
In this modern age, no part of Masonry receives more invective than the tradition of memorizing ritual. Indeed by producing Books Of the Work we made such memorization unnecessary at the moment that and to the extent that we no longer relied solely upon memory to preserve our traditions.
In many cases, memorized (or remembered) details of the unwritten work will pass on from generation to generation without change, as in the case of the Master's word, basically unchanged over 600 years or so. In other cases, where the meaning or purpose of a word or aspect of the work is unclear, people have a tendency to remember it wrong.
There is a further strength in our insistence that our Work be reduced to memory. The principles of the Craft are intended to be with us in every moment of our lives. It is not enough to say "The Fundamental Principles of Masonry? I have them written down and can look them up." or "I can surf the net and find out." The principles of the Craft must be available to intrude upon our lives at any time. That is why memorization without comprehension, making yourself into a human tape recorder, is no better than utter ignorance. Reducing the Work to memory is not a mechanical robot procedure but an absorption not only of the words but of the ideas and concepts they represent into our very being.
For this reason the delivery of degree work from memory creates an electricity or chemistry between the participants and the spectators like the excitement of watching a play live or a sporting event in person. The degrees create that to an even greater extent because the candidate is a participant in the play, even though he has never before seen the script. The very fact that we have taken the trouble to know the Work demonstrates to the candidate that we consider him important enough to go out of our way for him.
The writing down of details of the ritual, as would the existence of a General Grand Lodge, tends to create uniformity, so that wherever one goes, one experiences exactly the same routine. The unwritten work, and the customs and usages of the Lodge, tend to have the opposite effect.
Not only is the Craft flexible in that it can change to meet different circumstances at different times, but it is diverse, meaning that it is different from place to place at the same time. The diversity of Masonry is one of its enduring delights. A Master Mason has a ticket to every Master Mason's Lodge in the world, and every one will be different to a greater or lesser extent. Almost all Masons I know love to visit and to experience a new slant on the work, and to hear others describe such experiences. Equally we all love to be visited, especially by sojourners from far away who do things very differently indeed. Brethren who recount their travels abroad almost invariably tell of being treated like kings when attending lodge.
It is perhaps not surprising that such an interest in diverse and different customs should prevail in an institution which, more than any other in the world, fosters tolerance for, and bridges the gulfs created by difference. Rather it is surprising that so many have desired uniformity so strongly. (Perhaps this is the influence of military thinking)
I talked about our fundamental principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth earlier. I sometimes like to refer to them as Brotherhood, Generosity and Love of Knowledge. The fact that as an organization we have principles in itself sets us apart from many organizations. It enables both flexibility and diversity, and therefore tolerance, because we acknowledge that these objectives can be attained by a number of different activities in different situations and at different times. This sets us apart from organizations whose members have no difficulty in answering the question "What do you do?" because their activities are ends in themselves. We are able to reappraise our activities and adjust them to better accomplish our aims.
The fundamental principles which we identify as being essential to Masonry apply both to our activities within and without the lodge.
The first principle of Masonry is Brotherhood. With other Masons, this means treating them as more than friends and more than acquaintances--like members of our families. And as we would do with family members we must be prepared to aid them at any time with no reservation apart from prudence. Instances of such Brotherhood abound in our history and experience. And as we have such a relationship with our Brothers in Masonry, it carries itself outward to our sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews who are equally entitled to our regard.
But of course we extend these principles still further so that we can never deal with another human being without being conscious that we are of the same stock, and are of the same nature. This consciousness is the foundation of all morality.
Generosity, the second great principle of Masonry, flows from the first. It is no coincidence that when we, as Apprentices, are brought to the uttermost depths of material poverty, we are not told to demand our rights to someone else's bounty--indeed, we are not told that we have any such claim. On the contrary, at that moment we are reminded of our regret that we are unable to give anything to others. Generosity, or Relief, means that we must be prepared at all times to share whatever good fortune we may have with those less fortunate. This is particularly true of our brothers, but applies to anyone in distress.
Masonry's third great principle is Knowledge. We are constantly trying to increase our individual knowledge and to contribute to the sum total of human knowledge. We know and acknowledge that this cannot be attained by close-mindedness and dogmatism. Our commitment to tolerance and open-mindedness in all intellectual pursuits is really our affirmation that Truth can only be attained if we are at all times and in all things able to entertain, even if briefly, the possibility that we might be mistaken.
The greatest asset of all that Masonry possesses, however, is right here in this room--I mean Masons. We have developed a system which attracts the best in men; not the richest, or smartest, or best educated, or most powerful, or most influential, but those in whom the flame of desire for Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth burns most brightly. We do that by insisting that any candidate have a deserved reputation for virtue, by insisting that members enter and stay within the order in perfect freedom, and finally by insisting that a Mason continue at all times to work on and improve himself as a man and a Mason. That means that we have not only the ability to sift out any applicants who are clearly chaff, but, and much more effectively, give the chaff every opportunity to blow away on its own.
The result is that by insisting on quality in our members, we cannot also expect rapid growth or great numbers. Rapid growth may not be a sign of health. It may be a sign of disease. Cancer is a disease where cells grow and grow until they impair the normal operation of the cells around them. I believe that declining quantity means, in this case, increasing quality in our membership and the potential for greater strength in the organization as a whole.
The result is that you will never find a finer bunch of men. So long as it remains true, there can never be anything wrong with Masonry.
Let us catalogue those things which are right about Freemasonry: it has an organization which is ruled primarily at the Lodge or grassroots level, which enables it to be very diverse and therefore interesting, and also to have the flexibility to adapt to local and even individual circumstances and to changing times. This flexibility and diversity is further enabled by our dedication to principles which allow for many different approaches but which encompasses the root of all morality, of all charity, and of all knowledge. We are able to work with these somewhat nebulous concepts because we have a strong historical basis to refer to and because the concepts are instilled by requiring Masons to remember the traditional expressions of them. Finally, our system has in fact brought together men who are especially dedicated to each other, to God and their fellow creatures.
This should be posted inside the entrance of every lodge, and any mason who does not abide by it should be reminded by his brethren first, then the Master of the lodge if he still refuses to understand its meaning.
"Make good men better"
This is a great motto, if used properly, but lodges can quickly lose the meaning and spirit of this fine reminder if it is not monitored constantly by all brethren. I have been to lodges where the brethren tout these words, but do not make any attempt to live them.
Listen up, Brother Masons:
To make good men better, it takes "better men" to be role models for the "good men" to see and learn from.
We are all part of this imperfect lodge, which prevents us from always being the model we should be all the time, but our charge is to learn to be as perfect as possible. How can we accomplish this if we do not make any attempt to "mind our manners" when in the lodge, or fraternizing with other masons?
Lodge is a place where masons "meet to work"; a place meant to be a haven clear of all negatives toward each other, a place to model who can best work and agree.
What is good for the lodge?
Fellowship - We should greet each other when possible as we enter the lodge. This should be the job of every mason so that they can learn the names of other brethren in the lodge, and begin to make bonds with visiting brethren.
Friendship - Brethren should have the contact numbers of all masons in their lodge in order to make contact with any they choose.
Role Modeling - All Master Masons are role models for EA's and FC's. This is a plain, simple fact. Any Master Mason should be willing to take charge of a brother EA or FC and help him. This is an obligation, not a suggestion. Master Masons should also be willing to teach EA's/FC's customs, manners, and remind them of etiquette for functions or introductions. That is the fraternal way, and what we should be handing down to our new brother.
Tutoring - Brethren should be willing to teach, listen, or assist the brother who is studying by finding a suitable teacher for him, It should NOT be left to the students to "track down" the teacher...EVER!!
Counselling - When a brother who normally shows up to the lodge is absent for an extended time we should be worried about him. A lodge designee should have a list of these brethren, and should be contacting them monthly to determine their status, offer help, or to pass that request on to the lodge in case another brother can provide the service. We help our own first, and we worry about them when they are not with us.
Controlled discussion of differences - Will we always work best or agree? Certainly not, but we should be constructive about how we solve our differences.
What is not good for the lodge?
Attitudes - Of any kind, please leave them at the door. It doesn't matter if the mason with whom you are fellowshipping is a life long friend, all masons should have the same thoughts in mind when attending lodge. Do what you want outside the lodge, but remember that you represent your lodge when you do ANYTHING!!!!
Control Freaks - For those who think they run everything, first roll up your sleeves and lead on. Never ask someone to do something you have the time to do yourself, unless you are asking them to help you. Nobody wishes to be ordered around, and I guarantee you that nobody will think very highly of you if you do.
Discriminatory thoughts, remarks, or actions - This is antithetical to Masonry. Any mason doing this should be taken behind the woodshed immediately. (No joke!) Seriously, this an offence to many people, and you never know who is going to hear it. Said in reaction to pain is no excuse. Masons should be prepared to reprimand any Mason who represents himself (and the lodge) in this manner.
Other profanity - Ok, it is bad enough that I have to include this item, because the above should take care of it, but just for those of us who are a little slower..NO PROFANITY IN THE LODGE, WHATSOEVER!!!!
Lewd or racist jokes - I cannot believe this still exists. I learned them as a child from more racist adults of that age, but as an adult I know they are not proper under any circumstances. I cannot "unlearn" what I learned, so I try to forget them. These have no place in lodges that are trying to mold young men's minds. Some will most certainly take offence at the above words, and if they knew me would probably convict me of them occasionally. I am not saying that I am on the "high road". I am just as humble as the next mason in trying to conquer the vileness within me. It is my duty to myself to quell those thoughts and actions as much as it is my obligation to aid a falling brother in his reformation.
Please join me in making this lodge, wherever you may choose to display this, full of proud masons who exude the following qualities for younger masons to see:
Honour to the fraternity to never let it be defaced by bad intentions.
Virtuous in our lodges, and in our daily lives.
Truthful to ourselves about our need to change.
Fidelity to our practices, so that younger men will want to be like us
Courage to speak out when other are not following Masonic principles
Loyalty to our brothers in letting them know we care, and are willing to help.
Patience enough to wait and watch them change.
Humble enough to accept criticism when we falter or commendation when we succeed.
Proud enough to commend the changes we see in our brothers.
Thank you for your help.
Shriners Hospitals for Children: Leading the Way in Pediatric Specialty Care:
Shriners Hospitals for Children is the largest Pediatric sub-specialty health care system in the world. Located in the United States , Canada and Mexico , this one-of-a-kind health care system is dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing expert Pediatric speciality care, conducting innovative research and providing outstanding medical education programs.
Children up to age 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, with no financial obligation to the patient or their family. Acceptance is based solely on a child's medical needs. A family's income or insurance status is not criteria for a child's acceptance as a patient.
Since 1922, Shiners Hospitals for Children has specialized in caring for children with orthopaedic conditions. Patients receive care for such conditions as clubfoot, brittle bone disease, limb deficiencies, scoliosis and the effects of neuromuscular conditions, such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida. Shriners Hospitals for Children has the largest full-time staff of paediatric orthopaedic surgeons in the U.S.
Shriners Hospitals for Children entered the field of pediatric burn care in the 1960s after recognizing a lack of medical expertise in the field. Burn care can include surgeries, continuous internal feeding, innovative infection control measure, scar reconstruction and extensive rehabilitation. In addition, Shriners Hospitals for Children offers programs to assist patients and families with the sometimes difficult re-adjustment to their communities and school. This world-class health care system also provides rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries. These programs provide long-term rehabilitative care and intensive physical, occupational and recreation therapies for children and teens with spinal cord injuries designed to help patients live full, productive lives.
Since first opening in the mid 1960s, Shriners Hospitals has provided care for more that 50,000 patients with burn injuries, helping them go on to lead full, productive lives.
In 2005, cleft lip and palate was officially added to Shriners Hospitals for Children's treatment disciplines. Patients receive lip and palate repair, nasal reconstruction, facial work and dental procedures, as well as audiological, speech and psychological services.
Shriners Hospitals for Children has outstanding research and educational programs. For more than 30 years, the health care system has been a leader in research efforts, developing new treatments and significantly adding to medical knowledge and expertise in orthopaedic, burn and spinal cord injury care throughout the world. Many of the best doctors in the world received some of their training at Shriners Hospital for Children.
If you know a child with orthopaedic problems, a burn injury, a spinal cord injury, or a cleft lip and palate that Shriners Hospitals for Children might be able to help, please call our toll-free number 1-800-361-7256 in Canada .
As a non-profit organization, Shriners Hospitals for Children relies on the generous donations of Shriners and the general public to carry our its mission and change the lives of children every day. For more information about supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children please visit www.donate2sch.org.
Shriners Hospitals for Children shares its expertise in burn care and research through academic affiliations at noteworthy nearby institutions and through various medical outreach programs. In addition, Shriners Hospitals for Children offers residency and fellowship programs, as well as opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.
The emphasis on research and education, in addition to excellent treatment, is additional evidence of Shriners Hospitals for Children's total commitment to providing the best care for children with burn injuries.
While the health care system provides this expert care without any financial obligation to patients or families, the organization depends on the generosity of donors to support its mission of caring for children.
In order to provide the best, most up-to-date, innovative treatment to patients with burns and burn-related injuries, Shriners Hospitals for Children has a strong commitment to conducting medical research related to burn injuries and burn care.
Currently, Shriners Hospitals for Children is funding approximately 60 research studies involving different aspects of burn injury and treatment. The health care system is also involved in many additional externally funded burn-related research efforts as well, bringing the total number of research efforts in the field to approximately 200.
Researchers at Shriners Hospital for Children are responsible and recognized for advances in burn care that significantly improve the lives of those with severe burns.
Specific examples of these advances include the invention of cultured skin substitute, which is a major improvement in coverage of large burns. Additional advances in wound healing include proving that prompt surgical removal of burned tissue increases a patient's potential for survival, improves long-term function and decreases the need for reconstructive surgeries.
Advances in fluid resuscitation include the creation of a formula based on the body surface area and body weight, which is more appropriate for pediatric patients and is now, used worldwide. Usage of this formula has decreased the mortality rate from kidney failure among children with sever burn injuries from 100 percent to 56 percent.
Shriners Hospital for Children's research studies brought about the understanding that inhalation injury causes fluid to build up in the lungs, and that additional fluid resuscitation actually reduces this build-up, which has led to a new worldwide standard of care for fluid resuscitation in pediatric burn patients.
In addition, Shriners Hospitals for Children's researchers have contributed to increase understanding of hypermetabolism and the nutrient requirements of patients with burn injuries.
The effects of burn injuries may last a lifetime, and researchers at Shriners Hospital for Children are dedicated to improving long-term outcomes for patients with burn injuries, especially in the areas of scar development, rehabilitation and psychological adjustment. For example, the use of pressure garments helps minimize scarring, and the creation and implementation of a 12 week exercise program decreases the need for reconstructive surgery, improves quality of life, and eases return to the home community.
Researchers at Shriners Hospital for Children share their expertise through academic affiliations at noteworthy nearby institutions and by providing opportunities for post-doctoral researcher.
The emphasis on research and education is proof of Shriners Hospitals for Children's' total commitment to determining, as well as providing, the best care for children with burn injuries.
MASONIC EDUCATION AND DUTIES OF LODGE OFFICERS
What is Masonic education?
- Masonic education in this jurisdiction is limited to the study of history, philosophy and symbolism used in the Order.
- It is learning the Craft and the meaning of Masonry.
What are the purposes or the outcomes of Masonic Education?
- To create a learning environment in every lodge be renewing interest and developing fresh insights into the study of Masonic history, philosophy and symbolism.
- To motivate, stimulate and encourage Masons to read, to study and discuss the meaning of Masonry.
- To establish ownership of a Masonic identity that distinguishes Masonry from other organizations.
Does the ritual imply learning and growth in Masonic knowledge?
The opening and closing ritual of our lodge clearly implies that there should be a learning environment when the lodge is at work. We hear at the opening, "what is the duty of the Worshipful Master?" It is to employ and instruct the brethren. Prior to the final closing of the lodge the Worshipful Master puts the question, "Has any Brother anything to propose for the good of the Masonry in general and of this lodge in particular? Those two questions are asked by the same person, the Worshipful Master. They are in a sense like a set of book ends. Between those bookends there must be something that sets the organization apart. Ownership of a Masonic identity is also suggested by the charge in N.E. Angle, e.g., benevolence and charity. The Brother is urged, in the charge to the newly initiated member, to devote time to the study of the liberal arts and sciences and to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. That is clearly an admonition to learn the Craft and strengthen Masonic identity.
Let us shift the focus to the closing words by the Senior Warden when he recited the phrase - "after seeing that every brother has had had his just due", that of course brings up the question "what does every Brother expect to receive as "his just due"? Are we paying the members of the Craft their wages, if any be due, that none may go home dissatisfied?" A good Masonic education program and carefully planned, interesting meetings answer that question. The two questions that I cited from the ritual used at the opening and closing of lodge imply that every meeting should be a learning experience that provides growth in Masonic knowledge. If it isn't, we have work to do.
The Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Education puts the same idea in a different context. Properly considered, the lodge is a school, the Worshipful Master is the instructor and the members are the students. Masonic author Albert Pike, said long ago that Masonic education is a journey, not a destination. It is an ongoing journey from the rough ashlar toward the perfect ashlar; a journey toward enlightenment.
I stated that outcomes of Masonic Education are intended to establish a learning environment in the lodge, to motivate and stimulate the thinking and learning by the individual Mason. The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario has spent time and energy in developing educational recourses that can be used at the lodge and at the district level to help reach the desired outcomes. The Masonic Manual pages 67 through 88 sets out some basic ideas that help achieve good educational programs at the lodge level. It also gives a detailed list of lodge programs that are available as resources for the Lodge and for the individual Mason. The document suggests that each lodge should have an Education Committee and a Lodge Education Officer.
The Custodian of Work confirms that of the six trusty fellows, when, where, what, how, why and who, the first four are the prerogative of the Grand Lodge of Instruction. The Custodian and his Team are concerned with the delivery of the words of our Ritual and the performance of the mechanic of our Ceremonies - What we say and do, Where, When and How we do it.
The question 'Why.?' is more properly answered through Masonic Education. It appears that the chief object of Masonic Education is to provide answers that explore our history, philosophy and symbolism. Learning the Craft is the challenge that can make every lodge meeting an adventure and an experience in the advancement of Masonic knowledge and at the same time holding an abiding respect of our ancient landmarks.
Masonic Education affirms the membership requirements, the standards required of our officers in the performance of the Work as well as the building of character and practising brotherhood. The task for good Masonic Education is to strengthen the membership, create a learning environment, establish a Masonic identity and preserve our values against erosion and worldly corruption.
There is a story which I think is quite fitting for tonight. Seems there was an elderly gentlemen that has just gone through a prostate operation, and his wife was at his side comforting him.
He said to his wife. "Ethel, when we first got married and I broke a leg, you were there. When I enlisted in the army and went overseas, to be with me, you enlisted also. When I was wounded you were there to comfort me as a nurse. When I had my heart attack ten years ago you were right beside me. Today you are here with me again. Ethel, laying here thinking about it, I've come up with one conclusion; Ethel you're bad luck."
Brethren isn't it just like us, when things don't go they way we would like them to go, within or outside the lodge, we tend to blame the problem on others.
Tonight, I would like to explain the duties of a DDGM and a District Secretary. It is their responsibility and privilege to observe the inner working of each Lodge in their District and make reports to Grand Lodge.
In Brant District , for the most part, our Lodges are doing okay. However some of the officers in some of our Lodges could use a refresher on what is expected of an officer in their position.
The confidence that has been placed in you as an officer of your lodge can only be merited by performing your duties to the best of your abilities. Being an officer in your lodge means much more than just being a consistent attendee, or learning the ritual work well. Although both of these are assets to the master and your lodge they do not address the more important qualification of leadership.
It is said that it is only by untiring exertion that perfection can be attained. The effort that you put into your duties will shine as an example for those who follow. The lodge depends on all its officers to be leaders. Each must do their part with the enthusiasm and the zeal that is the hallmark of a good leader.
Each officer can inspire others by demonstrating how much he cares for the Masonic Order. Preparation is the keynote of enthusiasm. It shows the brethren that you care about their opinion of you as a leader. To be unprepared to do your duties is offensive to all the brethren and the candidate. Masonry is interdependent! We all must do our part to ensure a worthy production.
You would definitely expect a skilled craftsman to perform his duties with enthusiasm and competence if he were to do work for you. Would you expect anything less of yourself when performing your duties either inside the lodge or in your community?
The passion and energy with which you deliver your duties will be pillars of your enthusiasm for the craft and will merit the warmth of your brethren's praise.
Brethren remember, you not only represent yourself, but you are the face of Masonry in your community. Lead by example and show the world what Masonry has to offer! The manner in which you engage your duties both in the lodge and in your community will demonstrate you ability to lead and merit the honours you may receive.
Brethren, if you recommend a man to freemasonry, satisfy yourself that he is receiving that for which you recommended him. To do so is but a Masonic courtesy, it is also a Masonic duty. When you kneel and pray to your God tonight ask him to give you the strength to give of yourself each day until life's work is done.
- Education is not received - it is achieved. If you don't work at it, it won't work for you.
- Education is not simply to impart knowledge, but to influence and enlighten the mind so the Mason To, wants to learn and attend to the words of instruction.
Thank you my brethren.
WHY I AM A MASON
People have asked me, what I get from being a Mason.
What is it that I learned, or discovered in Lodge that makes it so interesting or valuable to me?
Why do I keep going to Lodge, paying dues, serving as an Officer?
Much to my surprise I was, and continue to be, reminded of several principles and virtues that I had already inculcated as my own long before I became a Mason. Most, if not all, Masons it has been my pleasure to meet also accept these principles and Virtues as valid and true in their lives.
What are these Virtues?
What are these Principles?
Let me cover them, one at a time.
Brotherly Love : This Virtue admonishes us to regard the entire human race as family. We were, after all, created by the same Creator, and the tie that binds us is stronger than we sometimes think. In all that we do, we should consider our family, known and unknown. What is best for them, and for ourselves?
Relief : Whenever we encounter a fellow creature in need, particularly at times when we are in abundance, but even when we are not, we should never fail to do what we are able to relieve their distress. The simple act of a warm handshake can often uplift a downhearted friend and Brother.
Truth : This should always have the highest priority, above personal agendas and disagreements. We must be always ready, not only to seek, find and speak the truth. But we must be prepared to hear it as well. This is not always easy. In fact, hearing an unwelcome truth is usually difficult. Still, hear it we sometimes must, and accept it as well.
Faith : When we believe in something bigger than ourselves, something greater than we can even aspire to becoming, we are humbled. Humility inspires us to do our best. Not because we can equal the Creator, but to imitate him and make something of beauty ourselves. Beauty gives both pleasure and brings the following Virtue.
Hope : A better world awaits us. Even in this life, we may look forward to an improved existence. Here I speak not of an empty hope, but a hope based on the secure knowledge that we have all done our best to make the world of tomorrow better than it is today.
Charity : Beyond relief, we should always work hard to improve the condition of those around us. Where Relief leaves off, charity begins. Going beyond soothing an affliction or satisfying a need, charity is the act or acts designed to prevent those needs from ever existing again. Preventing distress, not for the recognition, thanks or acclaim, but because it improves some part of the world, is the highest form of charity.
Tolerance: By this principle of life and conduct we are reminded that it is seldom necessary to prove someone else wrong for us to be right. We do not have to cause another to fail in order to succeed. In the 80s, there was a term called win - win. Both sides of almost every conflict can find a "middle ground" in which satisfaction may be a shared commodity, if both sides are willing to allow the other to win also.
Temperance : Doing almost anything to excess is harmful. Charity, given to excess, can leave one impoverished. Love, given to excess, may be smothering. The effects of drugs and alcohol, when used to excess, are well known. However, consider the effect of too much Truth. Truth without tact can hurt feelings and even destroy friendships.
Fortitude: Without fortitude, no one can succeed. Everything gets difficult sometimes, there is always the temptation to give in or give up. When we show fortitude, we learn to "stick it out" and overcome obstacles to accomplish goals.
Prudence: The mark of a polite person is knowing when to speak and when not to. What to say and what not to. "To everything, there is a season." This is not only a quotation from Scripture and a popular song of a previous decade, but good advice as well.
Justice: Everyone deserves to have their fair due, whatever that may be. Like Truth, we must be prepared not only to dispense Justice, but to have it dispensed to us. We must be able to put aside our own wants and sometimes needs in order to insure that Justice is served.
All these Principles and Virtues are bigger than ourselves, greater than our personal desires. Observing and practicing them, we are making this a better world, not only for ourselves, but for all who inhabit it. This is what I get from Masonry. This is why I read, research, discuss Masonry and why I continue to attend and visit my Brothers in Lodge: to be reminded of these principles, and learn more about them.
The practise of these virtues in our daily lives will most assuredly make a difference in our lives and those we come in contact and associate with.
Brethren, I thank you for your time and attention.
“Making a Difference”
A talk given by V.W. Bro Jim Telfer at the request of R.W. Bro Don Elliott
On the occasion of his official visit to Reba Lodge #515
R. W. Bro Elliott’s theme for his term as District Deputy is “Making a Difference”. As I pondered the theme I wondered why it was necessary to select such a focus for his term. Were we in Brant District not making a difference? Or were we not making the correct type of difference. Perhaps understanding the scope of making a difference would stimulate our thinking and motivate our actions. I like to think it was this motivational focus that prompted his choice.
In his talks throughout the district R.W. Bro Elliott has focused on making a difference through benevolence. We in Brant have certainly been effective in this with the Ch.I.P. program and our blood donations. He has also talked about making a difference through brotherhood, focusing on visiting and supporting members through the brother to brother and mentors programs. He also talked about making a difference through our advancement in Masonic education by valuing the ritual and honouring the traditions in which it is done.
My interpretation of making a difference is a very individual one. Often we as Masons focus on what I call “difference by association”. Of course I make a difference I’m a Mason. Of course I make a difference I am a member of Reba Lodge. But what do you as an individual do to make a difference.
We as Masons are held to a high standard in terms of our actions. You need only listen to the final charge at Installation…..
“without blemish fulfills his duties as a man, subject, husband and father”
“aids his fellow man without self interest”
“a man who will not cease until he has accomplished his work and then without pretention will retire into the multitude because he did the good act not for himself but for the cause of good.”
I think what R. W. Bro Elliott is referring to is to make a “Masonic Difference”.
We as Masons take a good man and make him better. So I believe we take men who make a difference and support them in making a Masonic Difference. So ask yourself the following questions.
“Did I make a Masonic difference at the Meeting tonight”? – Did I volunteer for a committee, help with the meal, help with the clean up?
“Did I make a Masonic difference at work today”? – Did I treat people on the square, did I aid them without self interest?
“Did I make a Masonic difference when I dealt with my neighbor?”
“Did I make a Masonic difference with my family?”
In doing so we chip away at the rough edges of our ashlar.
The fact that we as Masons make a difference collectively and individually is one of the cornerstones of the craft. One that will endure until time shall be no more.
We have many brethren who are interested and willing to contribute to this fine fraternity with their hearts and minds, but not so many that additional assistance and participation would be appreciated and valued.
How is Masonry doing in Brant District and this jurisdiction?
Many Lodges are thriving, attracting new members and having a steady stream of Degree work to perform and keep them busy.
However some Lodges are experiencing low attendance, recycling of Members through Lodge Chairs, and overworked Members.
On this note I wonder why more Lodges don't appear to embrace the many programs available including Friend to Friend, Mentor, and Brother to Brother, which has a vast array of programs and information for Lodges to use to retain, revitalize and renew the interest and commitment of Brethren already assembled under our banner. The fraternal environment in which we operate is also of very high significance. Lodges of Instruction are used to instill discipline in the conferring of degrees and in the other rituals we engage in such as the Memorial Service. Masons should not question the value of doing things correctly since the self discipline fostered in this manner inspires the practice of moral discipline in the observance of the lessons contained in the Book of the Work. How we convey the moral lessons is often as important as the lessons themselves, because excellence in the portrayal enhances the importance our system represents to all who receive and witness them. It conveys the message that what we have to offer candidates is so significant that the degrees must be conferred with accuracy, precision and reverence. Propriety in the manner in which we relate to one another conveys a message that we value our fellow brethren so much that correct and courteous demeanour in our relationships is fundamental to our brotherhood.
As Masons we are called upon to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. We are informed that we increase in knowledge so we will consequently improve in social intercourse. There exist a tangible comfort level to be enjoyed by those who know well what they are doing and why they are doing it in a particular manner. It transcends the mundane and gives meaning to how we live our lives as men and as Masons.
The fraternal environment must also include a wise and entertaining use of the mental faculties of a brother when he is here in Lodge, with us. Interesting talks on Masonic education are necessary. It is up to The Worshipful Master to "employ and instruct" his brethren in Masonry to ensure interesting and engaging activities for the brethren. He has brethren to whom he may delegate these tasks but he must provide the leadership to create a welcoming fraternal environment.
I think it should be obvious that we already have all the necessary tools to solve these problems, we just need the will to do something.
I challenge all Worshipful Masters of this District to make use of the Friend to Friend program, the Mentor program, Officer Progression and the Brother to Brother program. Indeed, I offer the services of the District Chairmen for these programs and I offer my help to enlist Grand Lodge Resource support if necessary.
Tonight during the Lodge closing the Senior Warden will say "Brethren, in the name of the Great Architect of the Universe, and by command of the Worshipful Master, I close this Lodge, and it stand closed until the next regular meeting, except in case or cases of emergency of which every brother shall have due notice. "Isn't it comforting to know that you can return to "this retreat of friendship and brotherly love" within a month?
Thank you Brethren for your kind and thoughtful attention.
This evening I am sharing Past Grand Master, M.W. Bro Allan J. Petrisor's presentation at the Conference of Grand and District Lodges of Canada, Winnipeg , March 27 th , 2009
"WHAT WE DO TO TEACH GOOD MEN TO BECOME BETTER MEN
..or how does Masonry take good men and make them better?
When a man joins Freemasonry, he has no concept of what is about to take place nor any real idea what the organization is about.
How do men become better men? I shall try to answer that with the following random thoughts:
The obligations that are taken in the three degrees instil in us a feeling whereby one would not want to violate his oath.
Fraternizing with other like minded brethren keeps us on the straight and narrow.
Attending Lodge meetings regularly, learning memory work, planning meetings, sitting on the executive, taking part in the chairs, obligates us to our responsibilities toward the craft in such a way that we have little time for idle thoughts or deeds.
The example set by the brethren that we meet and trying to live up to the expectations of these brethren behoves us to try our best. We do not want to let them down.
Through repetition of the ritual and understanding of the work we become more aware of what it is to be a Mason and how one should act as Masons.
Our constitution gives us a pattern for living with our neighbours, our lodge members, our families, our God, and a guide to our behaviour within and without the lodge and our civic responsibilities.
We are taught to cultivate brotherly Love.
We are taught that all men are equal.
We believe in the immortality of the soul.
If one takes to heart and into practice all that one learns both in the Ritual and in the Constitution, then I feel that gradually one cannot help but become a better person.
When you type in "making good men better" in the Google internet search engine, 9 out of the first 10 hits takes you to either an article about Freemasonry or to a Masonic Lodge. The same holds true for the Yahoo search engine.
One of the hits is a video on YouTube. It's a black background with a greyish-white set of a square, compass and the letter 'G'. A Gregorian plainsong is quietly sung in the background. One word appears on the screen and fade to present the next word and then the next, and the next .. and for the next 92 seconds, 19 words are presented.
What are some of the words?
HONOUR, LOYALTY, FRIENDSHIP, RESPECT, VALUE, FRATERNITY, EXEMPLARY, ENLIGHTENMENT, TRUTH, CHARITY, FAMILY, KNOWLEDGE, TRADITION
Brethren these are some of the words that appear, and are connected to the term 'making good men better'.
The phrase "making good men better" has long been associated with our gentle craft. But what is a better man? That, my Brethren, is what Freemasonry attempts to answer and nurture.
One who merely passes through the degree receives little, and will never be a Mason in the truest sense of the word. He must first put something of himself into it, by working at it, studying it, learning its lessons and then put them into practice in his everyday life and actions. He will then begin to receive that for which he began to search as an Entered Apprentice Mason.
By giving of himself, his time, his ability, without any kind of fee or reward, a Mason gains many things whether he accepts an office or just works in the lodge.
He learns how to speak in public
He learns how to conduct a meeting
He learns how to interact and get along with others
He leans reverence for the Great creator
He learns how to pray
He learns how to walk uprightly and proudly as a Mason
He gains a better understanding of human nature, its weaknesses and its strengths under different conditions
He makes life long friends
He shares in the happiness and sorrows of others
He improves his habits and learns courtesy
He practices tolerance with a smile
He takes part in teaching others the Masonic way of life and in doing so, he has learned more that those he taught.
Hundreds of lessons have come his way and his life is made richer, better, happier and more satisfying in every way.
By upholding the basic tenet of Freemasonry, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", "he has learned that it is more blessed to give then to receive.
As you know brethren this is how "Masonry Makes a Difference" in a man's life and how he becomes a better man and the effect shows in our homes, our lodges, and in our communities.
Brethren, in conclusion, it is not the Masons who make the man better, but the man himself when subjected to Masonry's teachings.
A master Mason proposed the toast to the GM and GL at one of our major receptions. He so wanted to become a Mason that he literally had to stop someone in his car who had a Masonic emblem and that then led to him becoming a Mason. On the night he received his third degree, after the ceremony, he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper with the following poem that he has scribbled on it.
Being a Mason
I approached a man one day
Whom I had never met before
To ask if I can be a Mason
From there, it opened doors
A door that's opened many facets
That's helped me through and through
It's showed me how much I can be
And how much that I can do.
Being a friend, a helper,
Or even a volunteer.
The potentials here are endless
It just depends on where you steer.
If you steer towards pursuit
And involve yourself in more
There's no telling what will lie ahead
And furthermore, what's in store.
The pride I have inside a Lodge
Holds true when I'm outside
With the rules that govern this beautiful craft
Forever I will abide.
From Apprentice, to Fellowcraft,
To what I am today
It's made me stronger as a man
What more, can I say
In my brief time as a Mason
feel there are no others;
Knowing how many friends I've made
How many life long Brothers
Many Brethren have helped me through
There are so many Brethren to thank
Without their guidance and support
My Ship would have sank
Brethren, I spent much time deciding an appropriate message to bring to you this evening. This being my final official visit representing the Grand Master, what information might be interesting and favourably received? As I have been attempting to talk about and do things that may "make a difference", my choices were many and varied. Was I delusional in thinking I could really do much to make a difference in the Lodges or brethren of Brant District , or did either need to have a difference made? District Deputy's have been making a difference long before I came along and I expect following me will be many more endeavouring to make things different in Brant District .
Well quite frankly brethren, not much has to be different in Brant District . Most of the Lodges of the District are doing quite well, have good leadership, a number of brethren giving of themselves to assist and improve there lodges. In addition, this year in Brant District appears to have been a good year for attracting many new brethren to the Craft, moving them through their degrees and from my observation, "making" some very good Masons. I had been visiting lodges prior to this year, and especially attempting to visit wherever there was degree work going on and particularly initiations. A past District Deputy Grand Master had promoted each Lodge of their District support those Lodges initiating new candidates by having 3 brethren present for the new brother.
The point of all of this is I have never in my short Masonic career observed so many initiation and subsequent degree work and from all indications this is happening all across this Grand jurisdiction.
In Brant District , I am impressed not only with the quantity, but the quality as well. Observing these brethren go through subsequent degrees, whenever possible, has been most gratifying to see their dedication and preparedness to advance. I have been fortunate to observe two candidates advanced on a couple of occasions, and even three brethren on one occasion. How good it is to know the urgency is there, due to additional candidates willing to be advanced. However, a word of caution, let us not get so busy with degree work that Masonic education might be neglected.
In addition to this Brant District have had a number of other activities in and near the District.
A Lodge Secretary seminar was held, with the Grand Secretary, M.W. Bro. Terry Shand providing the instruction, a Grand Lodge of Instruction was held at Norfolk 10 in Simcoe, a prospective D.D.G.M seminar was held in Paris in addition to a Lodge Resource seminar and the launch of the Cornerstone Lodge program which could result in a number of Lodges of Brant District being so designated. I wish all those Lodges participating success with their endeavours and may Brant District have many Lodges designated Cornerstone Lodges.
So brethren not only are you and the constituent Lodges "making a difference" in and around Brant District but of greater significance you have contributed to making a difference in me and I thank you.
I have extended my Masonic knowledge throughout these activities and the duties of this position. My journey commenced with a commitment to you and to myself to do the best job I could do and hopefully at the end of my term, have the District be in an equal or perhaps even a little better position. Thanks to you brethren, I believe we have achieved the former as you accepted the Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master and Custodians, challenge to "raise the bar." My hope is that you will continue to raise the bar throughout the coming years and I anticipate that continuing through your efforts and the brethren who have joined our Craft, and demonstrated a keen desire and interest in completing their work in exemplary fashion, as these brethren progress and contribute to their Lodges and the District, I am confident we are in good hands. Utopia would be this influx and enthusiasm, along with the work ethic infiltrating all 13 Lodges of this District.
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