Like most Brothers, I want to tell them how great of an organization is, how it is so important in society, and how much it has enlightened me personally, and usually I do. However, sometimes I feel a bit apprehensive about giving give these inquisitors the old Masonic sales pitch: “It’s the world’s largest and oldest fraternity. It is a group of men with good morals that gather to improve themselves through a philosophical education, fellowship with like-minded people, and improve the world through charitable acts.”
Now most of you are probably asking “What’s wrong with that?”
Well…nothing if you are encouraging men to join the fraternity, but there might be something wrong with it if you feel that it is very important to tell the truth. It is easy to use some flowery language and an impressive description to sell the fraternity, but to be truthful about what really goes on within a Masonic lodge can be difficult.
Would you really want to explain to a prospective Mason what really goes on at a typical lodge meeting? Let’s imagine how that conversation would play out.
Inquirer: So what do Masons do?
Mason: Well, we have a couple of lodge meetings a month.
Inquirer: What do you do there?
Mason: We read the minutes of the previous meeting and make any necessary corrections to them. Then we pay the bills, read any correspondence, and vote on any new petitioners. Then we proceed to discuss business for about an hour. Like, last week we were discussing how we were going to put on a spaghetti dinner. Our Junior Warden had it all planned out and then one of the older Past Masters told him how he ought to do it. We also discussed how we might go about making the necessary repairs to the building. Then we closed the lodge and went downstairs to eat some generic-brand cookies and drink some coffee before going home.
Inquirer: I thought you had philosophical education.
Mason: We do when we perform the degrees.
Inquirer: How often does that happen?
Mason: Sometimes once a month. Sometimes we will go several months without doing any degrees.
Inquirer: What about the fellowship you were talking about?
Mason: That’s what the coffee and cookies are.
Inquirer: What about the charity?
Mason: Well, that’s why we’re doing the spaghetti dinner, so that we can raise money in order to write a check to the Grand Lodge’s charity.
Inquirer: That sounds kind of boring.
Mason: Want a petition?
Freemasons view the organization in the proper light, but they don’t always run the organization with that same philosophy. Freemasons need to take all of the great things that they have to say about the fraternity and actually accomplish them in lodge.
We need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
At your next lodge meeting, take a chance and walk the walk. If someone talks about the greatness of Masonic charity, stand up and make a motion to go visit a sick Brother or provide some service for a Masonic widow. Read a paper on Masonic teachings and discuss it with your lodge. Go out to dinner with your Brothers and have some real fellowship.
That way, the next time someone asks you “What is Freemasonry?” you can answer them with a clear conscience.
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