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

Monday, February 18, 2008

Freemasonry: Service Bureau or Initiatic Society?

I recently saw this posted on The Three Pillars:
My brothers, you are missing the point. Masonic lodges and masonically-affiliated groups, donate millions of dollars to charitable and humanitarian activities and causes. But I feel that we can do more. And I mean collectively, as an organization. Of course, any mason is free to donate his own resources and time, to any charitable cause he wishes. No one denies this, in fact, I wish all of us did more.

But, there is so much more we can do collectively, as an organization, than could ever be done individually. Each of us labors in the quarry, we all have the working tools. Our lodges are erected to God, and dedicated to the Holy Saints John. We are enjoined to improve ourselves in Masonry. But, how we improve ourselves is matter of the individual conscience, and the individual human spirit.

Many lodges around the USA, have adopted one or more charitable causes, often far removed from traditional Masonic charitable work. For example, a lodge in Kansas City supports Public television, a lodge in Seattle, supports the arts in Seattle. See:

Our lodges can:
  • Open up their lodge halls for humanitarian and non-governmental organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Expand support to Masonic youth groups, DeMolay/Job's Daughters/Rainbow.
  • Expand support to other youth groups: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.
  • Expand support to other non-governmental organizations, like the Big Brothers/Big Sisters, both financially, and with "sweat equity".
  • Open our lodge halls to educational causes, like adult literacy, and provide financial support
  • Reach out to single-parent families, offering to mentor fatherless and 'at-risk' youth.
And the list goes on, because, sadly there is an ocean of emptiness in our society, many lives that need to be touched, by the callused hands of Masons. Are we all deaf, to the cries of pain in our midst? Are we only listening to the alarms at the door of the lodge, which are caused by our membership? Are we not all members of the human family? Do we not believe in the Brotherhood of Man, and the Fatherhood of God?

ALL mankind has a claim upon our good offices. How we answer the call, is up to us.
This begs the question:

Is Freemasonry a service organization, or is it a fraternity of good men, an initiatic society where a Peculiar System of Morality, Taught by Allegory and Illustrated by Symbols is enacted?

This is a fundamental question, and the very need to ask and answer this question demonstrates how far from our base we have come in the past fifty years! Wr. Jarrod Morales of Inland Empire Lodge in Rialto, California, perhaps put it best when he wrote:
I don't believe that Freemasonry is a charity organization, but Freemasons should do charitable deeds such as those noted above.
There is the key! Freemasons should do charitable deeds, that is one thing we are taught in the first degree. AS INDIVIDUALS. Freemasonry is not a charity, not a service bureau, and as Br. Steve Schilling of Matawan Lodge, New Jersey said:
Change the world by one personal act of kindness at a time, the world already has enough assembly line charities.
Recently, this blog noted that Freemasonry Has No Role Outside Freemasonry, echoing the senitiments expressed by the Most Worshipful Lord Northampton, Pro Grand Master, United Grand Lodge of America:
There have been suggestions that the Basic Principles should be capable of redefinition from generation to generation, although those making those suggestions seem reluctant to reveal which of the Basic Principles they wish to redefine. I would suspect that one area they would like to redefine is the prohibition of the discussion of religion and politics at Masonic meetings, and the bar on Grand Lodges or individual Freemasons making public comment on matters of religious, political or state policy when acting in their Masonic capacities.

In that context, I was rather surprised that some of you had been discussing the role of Freemasonry in a changing Europe and how Freemasonry can influence, for the common good, the social and moral development of the new Europe. The Home Grand Lodges – England, Ireland and Scotland – would respond that Freemasonry has no role outside Freemasonry and that the only influence it should be seeking is over itself and its members. We firmly believe that it is not Freemasonry but the individual who can have a positive influence on society. We see Freemasonry as an intensely personal journey of self-discovery, knowledge and personal development. We hope that the individual, during his journey, will absorb the principles and tenets of Freemasonry, so that they become a part of his nature. In that way he will make a contribution for the good of society. If the individual, imbued with the principles of Freemasonry, does not work for the good of society we should then question whether Freemasonry has fulfilled its purpose.

( SNIP )

...Freemasonry is not, and should never be allowed to develop into being, a lobby group – no matter how universal and noble the cause.

Full Text here
Freemasonry's job, if you will, is to teach good men through the powerful ritual to improve the spiritual man within, to build that spritual house, that house not made with hands. The man, thereafter, filled with the teachings of the lodge, the spiritual, internal growth engendered by the lodge, will OUTSIDE the lodge, put them into practice. The goal of freemasonry, as a lodge, as a grand lodge, is to improve the man, that the man might improve society.

It is a great misunderstanding of the purpose and teachings of the craft, though an understandable and, yes, laudable though misguided one, to consider that the fount of spiritual awakening and learning should become the agent of societal change. The brother who so considers the craft cannot be faulted for so misunderstanding the very purpose of the craft, but it is a misunderstanding none the less.

It is upon the individual brother to execute charitable deeds, as his conscience directs him. Freemasonry, the institution, teaches us to seek that on which we can best work and best agree, not to serve the community, but rather, to serve our brethren. This is not, however, to say that a lodge cannot assist the community through public works, lending or renting facilities, or even by giving money. That is not, however, the purpose of the lodge! The lodge exists to serve the brethren, as a place of meeting, a place of learning, a place for camaraderie, and a place for working.

A lodge, however, is not a place, not a spot that can be pointed to definitively. Oh, sure, a lodge meets in a building, but the building is not the LODGE. The lodge is a construct, a concept, a meeting place which can be, as we are taught, on the highest hill or the lowest vale, as the lodge is said to exist from ...East to west and from north to south, from the cloud decked canopy to the depths of the earth... A lodge is, symbolically, on the earth, any and everywhere.

The lodge is of the earth, a gateway, a place for spiritual growth. Freemasonry in gestalt, is the path upon which the mason must travel and work. It is the MASONS job to walk the path and do the labor. The final word will come from an anonymous brother:
Our charge is to be charitable when we see an opportunity for it. Not to create a bureaucratic process whereby cash is raised to create a system of providence for the chronically needy. Our charge is not about providing a sense of relief for our guilt at prospering over another, our charge is to actively watch for opportunities to be of service to our fellow man.

May the blessings of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Theron,I believe as masons we have the duty to better ourselves.Not only as men but as Masons.we shouln't think of just our causes but all causes.Im finding the more I try in masonry the more obstacles I run into.seems alot of people look at me differently.Why I don't know however as a man I want to be treated as such.I can do the Marshalls job all I need is the chance.I feel you are very intellegent,We are blessed to have you in our lodge.Sincerely George Lyons

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