At its surface, the Christmas holiday has no intrinsic connection to the fraternity of Freemasonry. What I mean by that is no where in the degrees does it link itself to any particular holiday in its practice, in particular the Christmas holiday season.
There are, however, certain celebrations that have become a part of the fraternity which are linked to one of the interesting symbols that resides at the heart of the practice. Without any specific reference, Masons are said to come from a Lodge of the Holy Saints John, the specific why and how of this connection is lost in the sands of metaphorical time, but some connection infers a balance to the celestial equinox (from summer to winter and back again).
Through this link, winter is said to be represented by the Saint John the Evangelist, whose feast day falls on December 27th.
This Holy Saint John has an interesting symbolic significance, in that, as John the Baptist (who represents the other Holy Saint John) was the precursor to the coming Christ, John the Evangelist is said to be the first disciple at the Lake of Genesareth who recognized the Christ and believed that he had risen.
Of the Saint it is also said that he was the only disciple of Christ to not to forsake him in the hour of His Passion at the foot of the cross. John the Evangelist is also called the Apostle of Charity, which may be in part, his connection to Freemasonry in addition to his unwavering resolve and purity of his love of the divine.
In creating the original construct of the two Johns, the conclusion that I came to was that they struck a balance between zeal and knowledge.
The Baptist who was the precursor of the Christ living in his zeal for the coming son of God and the Evangelist as the representation of knowing that the Christ was the son of God. Only in piecing the component of knowing did it become clear to me that it was not about the degree of knowledge gained, but the degree to which the Evangelist trusted his intuition, to know what was before him. An interesting parallel comes in the book of Matthew where this very lesson is communicated to Peter from the Christ who says in Matthew 16:15-17
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
This is somewhat out of original context, but illustrative of revealed knowledge based on experience, on learning.
John the Evangelist came to that knowledge by his experience with the Christ.
Another way of looking at this experience is coming from darkness to light, an awakening, and if you take it further, the dawning of awareness. This awareness sits squarely with the idea of Sol Invictus, or the conquering sun which overcomes its captivity of night from the summer solstice and again begins to vanquish the night in its ever increasing minutes of daylight.
Looking at some of the other symbolic connections, the Evangelist is said to relate to the alchemical symbol of the up pointed triangle which represents fire, where again we can see a link to light and knowledge. When we combine the alchemical sign of the Baptist with that of the Evangelist, we create the star of solomon, and the duality of fire and water, further, the duality of light and dark and summer and winter.
Further work attributed to John the Evangelist are the Epistles of John, and the book of Revelation, though his connection to them in later centuries has been contentious, as much of his life from 2000 years ago is lost to time. Within the church his feast day is first mentioned in the Sacramentary of Pope Adrian I near 772 A.D.
The message of the church, and something each of us can take away from John the Evangelist is to “Apply thyself, therefore, to purity of heart, and thou shalt be like Saint John, a beloved disciple of Jesus, and shalt be filled with heavenly wisdom.”
The feast of the Evangelist is little remembered today, except within Masonry where it is celebrated by a few lodges that still practice the Table Lodge ritual where brothers gather together to celebrate it with toasts to those brothers present and absent. in the past, it was considered a feast day of high importance for Freemasonry because of its proximity to the holidays and the presence of lodge members being close to home. Because of this, It gave those brothers a festival to meet under to punctuate the closing of the year. Meeting like this though is something less convenient in this modern day as most with families travels abroad to celebrate the holiday.
Because it is celebrated less does not diminish the importance of the day, nor the symbol itself, as in the modern ritual we are reminded that we come from the Holy Saint John’s in Jerusalem, and as such we should pause and reflect on just what that means. John the Evangelist gives us an important lesson to pursue knowledge and wake from the darkness and renew our commitment to the awakening light of the Victorious Sun. Even taken out the Christian metaphor, we can salute with Sol Invictus, as knowledge is re-awakened from its cold wintry defeat.
Through the lens of symbolism, John the Evangelist gives us a means to find resonance with the holiday of giving and compassion to the fraternity of brotherly love, relief, and truth.
Thank you for sharing this.
Well done, enjoyable, and appreciated. The Johns deserve study, respected, and a raised canon.
Just in time for Christmas there’s a reason for the brothers of Halcyon Lodge in Cleveland, Ohio to celebrate. Earlier today the following was posted on the Clerk of Courts website for Cuyahoga County.
DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ARE GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS GRANTED IN FULL AS TO NON-OFFICERS MICHAEL HOWARD, JOEL MICHALEK, CHRISTOPHER MICHALEK, TOME COSTE, HALCYON CHARITIES. SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS GRANTED IN PART AS TO DEFENDANT OFFICERS CHRIS SNOW, TODD WARMINGTON, LYNN ERIC CHIPPS, SCOTT KELLY. ONLY ISSUE THAT REMAINS FOR TRIAL IS RETURN OF “PERSONAL PROPERTY MASONIC IN NATURE AND UNPAID DUES.” ALL OTHER CLAIMS FAIL. DEFENDANTS OWED NO FIDUCIARY DUTY TO GRAND LODGE AND DEFENDANTS ACTED IN GOOD FAITH TO PRESERVE ASSETS OF LODGE. THE COURT FINDS THAT THE VOTE TO TRANSFER ASSETS WAS DONE IN ACCORDANCE WITH BYLAWS. IN REGARDS TO NOTICE, ALL HAD NOTICE OF THE STATED (NOT SPECIAL) MEETING AND NO EVIDENCE WAS PRESENTED THAT ANYONE COMPLAINED. THE COURT ALSO DETERMINES THAT WRITTEN NOTICE OF THE ACTION WAS NOT REQUIRED BEFORE THE VOTE ACCORDING TO BYLAW 21.04, WHICH REQUIRES NOTICE ONLY FOR SPECIAL MEETINGS NOT STATED MEETINGS. FINALLY, THE COURT CONCLUDES THAT BYLAW 9.01 IS NOT APPLICABLE AS “ANY OTHER SUCH POLICY OF TEMPLE OWNERSHIP *** SUBMITTED TO TEMPLE COMMITTEE” AS THE ACTION WAS NOT FINANCING OR CREATING INDEBTEDNESS. PRE-TRIAL SET FOR 01/12/2010 AT 02:45 PM. PRETRIAL SET TO SCHEDULE ADDITONAL COURT DATES INCLUDING TRIAL DATE. CLPAL 12/22/2009 NOTICE ISSUED
According to the court’s ruling, the brothers of Halcyon Lodge acted in accordance with the Masonic bylaws and in good faith.
Our congratulations to the brothers of Halcyon Lodge.
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Well done. I will be referring to this in our Lodge education program this month. Thank you for your hard work.
This is awesome. I will be using it for our monthly masonic education, hop your don’t mind. Credit will be given.
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