True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Masonic Charity

In the first degree, we are told to practice Charity. Under the Grand Lodge of California, in fact, we are told during the perambulation of the second degree:

“…and now abideth, Faith, Hope and Charity, but the most important of these is Charity”
In the lecture of the first degree, we are told:
“The form of a lodge is oblong. It extends from east to west and from north to south, and is said to be thus extensive to denote the universality of Masonry, and to teach us that a Mason’s charity should be equally extensive, for in every nation and in every clime are masons to be found.”

“The covering of a lodge is no less than the clouded canopy or star decked heaven, where all good men hope eventually to arrive by aid of that theological ladder which Jacob, in his vision saw, extending from earth to Heaven. The three principle rounds of which are Faith, Hope and Charity, which admonish us to have Faith in G-d, Hope of immortality, and charity for all mankind. The greatest of these is Charity, for Faith may be lost from sight, hope ends in fruition, but charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realm of eternity.”
But, what is charity? Merriam-Webster defines charity as:

Middle English charite, from Anglo-French charité, from Late Latin caritat-, caritas Christian love, from Latin, dearness, from carus dear; akin to Old Irish carae friend, Sanskrit kāma love
: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
2 a
: generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also : aid given to those in need b: an institution engaged in relief of the poor c: public provision for the relief of the needy
3 a
: a gift for public benevolent purposes
b: an institution (as a hospital) founded by such a gift
: lenient judgment of others
The most common concept of charity is giving, either time, money, or property. However, there is a more important function of charity, that embodied in the definition 1 and 4. To have a benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity (brotherly love) and to be lenient in judgment of others.

Why is then, that as freemasons, who are enjoined to a practice of brotherly love and charity, so many focus on the charity of giving, and not on the charity of loving? Could it be because reaching into your pocket for some ones is easier than stretching your heart?

To me, charity doesn’t mean giving money or services, charity means having a charitable HEART. By this, I mean we should ever be willing to see the best in our brethren, to cast the best light on their actions, to see them in the most positive light, to hear their words in the most positive light, in the most CHARITABLE light.

This is not to say we do not find brotherly love and charitable miens in lodge, quite the opposite! Yet, sometimes we need to see the obvious put into words or hear the words spoken so they have a greater impact on our lives. By the influence of brotherly love we are to regard the whole human race as one family… who we are to aid, support and protect.

On this principle, masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion, and causes true friendship to exist among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance. Brotherly love is a principle, and charity, in attitude and actions, is the outward expression of that affection.

I lost a brother today. He has been sick for a long time, and finally succumbed to sum total of his ailments. Br. Bear was a good man, a charitable man, a chef par excellence, who, despite his illnesses, afflictions and incapacities, came to Orange Grove Lodge to prepare meals for the brethren.

I haven’t seen Bear for over a year now, being out of the country and he being so sick, but his passing reminded me of a brother so full of Masonic charity and brotherly love that it was a beacon for all of us, an example for us to rise to, and he will be missed.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons, my brotherly love prevail, and every social and moral virtue, cement us.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post.

My sincerest condolences to you and to Br. Bear's family for our loss.

Br. Arthur Peterson

Anonymous said...

Most excellent Brother TD!

The most common translation of 1 Corinthians 13:13 is:

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

What Bible scholars have shared is that a closer translation is:

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

And the best semantic approximation of that word "love" to current english language usage is "agape" or "Brotherly Love" and all that this entails.


Anonymous said...

My condlonces Theron. It must be so difficult being so very far away as well.

Congratulations on a nice blog!

Jesus teaches: Matthew 6:1-13

"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. "Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."

A Charitable Heart indeed!

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