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

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tis the season...

In California, December and January are the season for the installation of new officers. Elections are held at the November Stated Meeting, and, if the officers are qualified, installation follows shortly thereafter. I mention this as last night, Saturday, Dec 8, I attended the installation of officers for Evergreen Masonic Lodge #259 in Riverside, California. The installation went as is usual for these events, lots of warm fellowship, a good dinner, and good humor. A word about qualifications: In California, the Inspector (District Deputy Grand Master) must sign off that the principle officers and Senior Deacon are ready to assume their stations. In the case of the Senior Deacon, he must demonstrate that he can do the floorwork, and give the Staircase Lecture proficiently. The Junior Warden must be able to Open, Obligate, Close and give the lecture of the master in the first degree, The Senior Warden must be able to Open, Obligate, Close, and give the master's lecture in the Second degree, as well as demonstrate that he knows the regular form return proficiencies in all three degrees. The Master must be able to open, obligate, close, and give the master's lecture in the third degree, as well as run a stated meeting. These are the individual requirements, but the officers must also demonstrate to the inspector that they can work together to confer the degrees, and the Master, Senior and Junior Wardens must also answer, in written form, a series of questions regarding masonic law, tradition, lodge operation, and education. At the installation, each officer is invested with his jewel of office, the deacons and stewards with their rods of office, the tyler with his sword, and the master, with the charter of the lodge and the tools of a master mason. The duties of the master are enumerated, along with the additional obligations of master mason, to which he must give his positive assent:
You agree to be a good man and true, and strictly to obey the moral law.

You agree to be a peaceable citizen, and cheerfully to conform to the laws of the country in which you reside.

You promise not to be concerned in plots and conspiracies against government, but patiently to submit to the decision of the supreme Legislature.

You agree to pay a proper respect to the civil magistrate, to work diligently, live creditably, and act honorably by all men.

You agree to hold in veneration the original rulers and patrons of the Order of Masonry, and their regular successors, supreme and subordinate, according to their stations; and to submit to the awards and resolutions of your Brethren, when convened, in every case consistent with the Constitutions of the Order.

You agree to avoid private piques and quarrels, and to guard against intemperance and excess.

You agree to be cautious in carriage and behavior, courteous to your Brethren, and faithful to your Lodge.

You promise to respect genuine Brethren and to discountenance imposters and all dissenters from the original plan of Masonry.

You agree to promote the general good of society, to cultivate the social virtues, and to propagate the knowledge of the Art.

You promise to pay homage to the Grand Master for the time being, and to his officers when duly installed; and strictly to conform to every edict of the Grand Lodge or General Assembly of Masons, that is not subversive of the principles and groundwork of Masonry.

You admit that it is not in the power of any man, or body of men, to make innovations in the body of Masonry.

You promise a regular attendance on the committees and communications of the Grand Lodge, on receiving proper notice, and to pay attention to all the duties of Masonry on convenient occasions.

You admit that no new Lodge should be formed without permission of the Grand Lodge; and that no countenance should be given to any irregular Lodge, or to any person clandestinely initiated therein, - being contrary to the ancient charges of the Order.

You admit that no person can be regularly made a Mason in, or admitted a member of, any regular Lodge, without previous notice, and due inquiry into his character.

You agree that no visitors shall be received into your Lodge without due examination, and producing proper vouchers of their having been initiated in a regular Lodge.

These are among the Ancient charges and regulations of Free and Accepted Masons, and to these your assent must be freely given. Do you submit to these charges and promise to support these regulations, as Masters have done in all ages before you?
I was struck last night, as I was when I stood where Wr. Vic Ropac stood to be installed, of the historical connection, the majesty, and the weight of the duty that was the station of the master. The master is the leader of his lodge, the final rule there, but at the same time, his power was circumscribed by rules and traditions that he must also submit to in order to execute his obligation to the brothers in his lodge, to his brethren in freemasonry, and to the grand lodge of which he is a member. All of us who have been installed as the master of a lodge are aware of that sudden awareness, of the weight settling on our shoulders, of the responsibility we have undertaken weighing down on us. Of course, if we are properly prepared by our lodge, by our life experiences, by our dreams and our labor, it is not an unwieldy weight, but it is there. For me, it did not fully realize until just after we all retired to the dining room and my father and uncle congratulated me. The incoming master of the lodge chose to have representatives from the other lodges act as his installing team. Wr. Manny Blanco, of Moreno Valley #804 was the Master of Ceremonies, Wr. Franklin R. Lee, the inspector acted as the Installing Officer, and Wr. Walt McCurray, of Temescal-Palms #314 in Corona acted as the Chaplain. The Jobs Daughters, of course, presented the flag. During the dinner, I met an Entered Apprentice from Evergreen Lodge, who recognized me from my blog picture, the Lodgeroom International Magazine, and from the Lodgeroom US forum. Its always nice to meet a new brother and get his views of masonry. Refreshing. All together, it was a great night, and good to see that Evergreen is continuing to grow and extend its 128 year history forward.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us.
The image gracing this entry is the East at Evergreen Masonic Lodge.


Galen Dean said...

Bro. Dunn,

I can certainly identify with your words, as I am preparing to be installed this Saturday as Master of Fellowship Lodge. It is indeed a humbling experience to serve the craft in that capacity.
Galen Dean
Fellowship Lodge #668
Yucaipa, Ca

Noonshyne said...

Just don't plan to attend the Installation of Bakersfield #224 scheduled for 12/ has been canceled. Seems the GMofC has suspended the current Master and forbade him to attend the Installation. The Officers-Elect and Appointed have resigned.

Theron Dunn said...

Br. Noonshyne

I have no information on what you are talking about, and since the master of the lodge and the Grand Master of California are unlikely to weigh in on this, it does not seem appropriate, or germane, to even bring this up.

Knowing the Grand Master as I do, I will assume that his actions are fully in keeping with the constitution and rules of the Grand Lodge of California, and that I will, at the next grand communication, given more information before voting top sustain that action.

Meantime, if someone from Bakersfield 224 wants to prefer charges against the Grand Master for exceeding his authority or whatever, I am sure the email address of the Junior Grand Warden is available.

I do not pretend to have a clue what the issue is, and would be just as happy leaving it to the master, the grand master and the brethren of Bakersfield #224 to sort out.

Traveling Man said...

Brother Dunn:

It is the same situation in CT and I am preparing to assume the South having been elected Junior Warden at out annual meeting.

I am enthused that officers other than the Master are required to prove they can perform their duties before their installation. I think that would be a worthy model for our jurisdiction to follow in the future.

Be Well And Enjoy The Season,

Traveling Man

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