R to L: GM Wilbert M. Curtis, DGM Michael T. Anderson, GSW “Big” Bryce Hardin, GL Ivory Johnson
The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas recently held the Grand Master’s Table Lodge on an open air rooftop overlooking a view of downtown Dallas, Texas. The event was hosted by Metropolitan Lodge No. 146, Wor. Jerome D. Lacy presiding.
The Table Lodge is a tyled Entered Apprentice Masons Lodge. It harkens back to the Mother Grand Lodge of 1717 where one of the reasons for its formation was to hold the Annual Feast. Soon the Grand Master of that time directed there be installed into the ceremony the old, regular and peculiar toasts and health’s of Freemasons. Over time a Table Lodge became a prescribed ceremony with a ritual all its own.
Table Lodges in Colonial America were quite common as many Lodges actually met in taverns and a full course meal became part of “going to Lodge.” As the decades passed and a new century began, Table Lodges were continued as a way to promote fellowship, kinship and pride in Masonry.
“The Table Lodge had a most unusual pattern. Its entire meeting was conducted around the table, and the helpings of food and beverage were served in such a way they did not interfere with the other concerns of the Lodge. The arrangement of tables resembled a giant horse-shoe, with the worshipful Master in the East, at the center, and both Wardens in the West, at the opposite ends. The Lodge was opened with an invocation and closed with a song.”
“At first, there was an address, followed by many toasts and songs, but as time went by the lecture was omitted and the number of toasts and songs decreased. The final figure that was set for the toasts was seven, and in some Jurisdictions that number is still retained today.”
Under its skillful formula, the names of objects in the room were changed. The table was the Trestle Board, the cloth – the standard, the food – the materials, the glasses became cannons, the beverage – powder, the bottles – casks, the napkin a flag, forks were pickaxes, knives were swords, and spoons were trowels. To fill the glass was to “charge” it, and to drink it was to ‘fire’”.(1)
Today a Table Lodge has its own set of rituals, with its own particular opening and closing ritual as well as a seven course meal with seven toasts, one after each course.
The ritual of The Ceremony of the Seven Toasts is as follows:
Right hand to arms. (The right hand touches the glass).
Ready. (The glass is raised breast high, aim extended forward).
Aim. (The glass is brought to the lips).
Fire, Good Fire, Fire All. (All drink).
Present Arms. (The glass is brought to the second position in unison with the Worshipful Master, then the glass is brought to the left breast, then to the right breast, then again to the second position so that the movement makes a triangle. This triangle is made three times: then the glass is brought to the table in three moves – it is first carried a little to the left, then to the right and finally forcibly in unison to the table).
The Battery, three times three ( clapping 3X right over left, left over right, right over left). (Done)
ALL Vivat, Vivat, Vivat. (Right arm thrust upward with each Vivat).
Advance swords. (Knife is raised breast high, arms extended forward).
Poise swords. (Knife blade is elevated slightly, about 45°)
Salute with swords. (Knife handle is brought to within a few inches of the chin with the blade elevated about 45°)
Swords at rest. (Knife handles are carried in unison forcibly to the table – preferably in a flat position to prevent table damage).
The Battery, three times three. (Done)
ALL Vivat, Vivat, Vivat. (Right arm thrust upward with each Vivat).(2)
Wor. Jerome D. Lacy led us in all the toasts except the one to himself and other Worshipful Masters. The toasts were as follows: To the –
President of the United States of America
Most Worshipful Grand Master and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge
The Worshipful Master and all sitting Masters
The Wardens and all sitting Wardens
Other Officers and visiting Brethren
To all Masons where-so-ever spread over the face of the globe
A great meal was had by all. The Table Lodge closed with all Brethren forming the Mystic Chain (arms crossed in front and clasped to the Brother to your right and left) and singing the ancient song written by Scottish Poet Laureate Brother Robert Burns in 1788– Auld Lang Syne.
Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should all acquaintance be forgot
And auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne
Some facts about Haas Yes he was expelled. I have the edict in front of me. He was not afforded a Masonic trial again. Our Grand Master cites a section (27.01c) that does in fact say that the EA and the FC should not be re-conferred. Doesn’t say that they can’t just says they shouldn’t. This is a lame excuse to take this action. If in fact this is this Grand Masters position they he should, he must, and is now bound to expel any Ohio Master Mason that has ever been a pro-tem candidate at their Lodge Inspection or any other time a pro-tem is used. There is no difference.
Lets be very clear about this WV is AF&AM and Ohio is F&AM. They are not the same degrees. So if I want to belong to AF&AM lodge then I must surely have to conform to their ritual and the same would also be true.
Frank was never given a masonic trial in WV and was never charged with a Masonic offense.; Even the Supreme Court of WV ruled that what they did did not follow their own rules. The only offense Frank was guilty of was trying to bring WV into the 21 Century.
It is well documented that WV Grand Lodge has taken their cause to other states to try to convince them to cut ties with Ohio over this issue. Our grand Master has chosen to take the easy way and has bowed to outside pressures. He has also basically slapped the 3 previous Grand Masters in the face by these actions. I will be sending a letter of protest to our Grand Master, maybe he can expel me in return.
A Brother E-Mailed me a response to Greg Stewart’s article on the Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl Ad which I had sent him.
“So we go online and speak out against this atrocity and in doing so we link ourselves to the myth. How many years had masonry survived with this type of public outcry? Unless we begin to teach masons to live the lives taught by our fraternity and stop trying to be a social icon, Masonry will continue to be ridiculed. It is only when you can show that the myth is in fact a myth and that we prove it every day by the way we live our lives, that Freemasonry will regain it honored reputation. The more we bend to clamor in public, the more the critics come after us. If we disregarded the critics they have no one to argue with, thus the argument dies for want of a debate. Sadly you and others do not understand this. But I urge you to really reflect on it. A well spent life is mightier than the sword or any media response.”
I guess I just don’t get it. At least he thinks I just don’t get it. But I would say that he doesn’t get it.
This is the attitude of Freemasons of 50 and 100 years ago – never talk about the fraternity, never mention to anyone that you are even a Freemason. Everything about Freemasonry is secret. Not one word about the Craft should escape a Mason’s lips.
This is one of the reasons Freemasonry missed many good candidates back then. A guy 50 years old would finally say to his buddy, “I have been waiting 20 years for you to invite me to join Freemasonry. How come you never asked me?”
Old time Masons never asked another to join. Those who desired to join Freemasonry had to ask a Mason. Some Masons would demand that they ask three times before they would consider recommending them.
Anti Masons that spread lies about Freemasonry are not to be answered. Leo Taxil’s Masonic hoax, even after he recanted and admitted he made the whole thing up, was still believed by many people because Freemasons never would refute it.
“Turn The Other Cheek Freemasons” do not believe that disputing or refuting lies about the Craft are a productive use of Masonic resources. They do not believe that Masons should stoop to the level of their detractors. Masons are above all that, they say. What Masons need to do is lead by example and all these crazy charges will just die the death of untruth all by themselves.
And problems within the Fraternity, well we don’t talk about them either. The refusal of some Masons to allow African Americans in their Lodges, their constant black balling of any applicant who isn’t Christian, Grand Masters expelling Master Masons without a Masonic Trial, Grand Masters closing Lodges and pulling charters without reason or recourse, are all problems that Brethren must solve without discussing these problems in public. “Airing dirty laundry” is definitely a no-no with “Turn The Other Cheek Freemasons.”
And if these problems emanate from other jurisdictions, well sticking one’s Masonic nose into other people’s business is a double no-no. That’s their business, that’s their problem.
And so stand “The Turn The Other Cheek Freemasons.” Withdraw from society, have nothing to do with it, let people do what they may but Freemasonry will live on, no matter what.
But it won’t. The younger generation will never join an organization that refuses admittance to non Whites and non Christians. It just ain’t going to happen. And who would join an organization that is in league with the Devil? And someday soon Malecraft Freemasonry will have to change its policy on women. The fact is Mainstream Masonry is dying a slow, agonizing death.
THE MERCEDES-BENZ HOAX IS A 21st CENTURY REMAKE OF THE LEO TAXIL HOAX.
Freemasonry was never designed to be a Monastic Brotherhood or a Cloistered Sect. Paul Revere is rolling over in his grave right about now. So is Joseph Warren who died at the battle of Bunker Hill fighting for liberty in America. As a Grand Master he used Freemasons to transmit anti British communications among the Patriots.
Not answering your critics is naïve and very detrimental to your cause. The big lie repeated over and over again without refutation will gradually stick. No one knew this better than Goebbels, Hitler’s Propagandist Minister.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”- Goebbels
The fact is turning the other cheek doesn’t work. This is the real world where the truth doesn’t always become self evident. Sometimes we must help the truth be known. Failure to do so only empowers our enemies. And the big lie is believed because it must be true if no one will stand up for the truth and dispute it. People interpret silence as acceptance of guilt. If you were unjustly charged with sexually molesting a child, would you remain silent in hopes the truth will win out or would you deny the charges and do everything you could to refute them?
“Turn The Other Cheek Freemasons” are hurting this beloved fraternity and are hastening the demise of the Craft.
Today’s guest writer, Canadian Brother Mark Kapitan, comes to us by way of Canadian Brother Wayne Anderson’s weekly Masonic newsletter. Anderson publishes a new or old-from-the-Masters article each week and forwards it to everybody on his list. Topics cover a wide variety of issues and interests but they are always Masonic. If you would like to get on Brother Anderson’s list simply E-Mail him at email@example.com . Word to the wise, the newsletter is dark for the summer, except for this recent very special edition.
The big question is could you, if asked, explain how Freemasonry makes good men better? Or does it? That’s what Kapitan, a relatively new Freemason, wants to find out. And his quest has culminated in a fascinating paper he presented just this week.
A Young Mason’s journey to find, the making of a good man, better.
by Brother Mark Kapitan, F.C.F. Ivy Lodge No. 115 A.F. & A.M. G.R.C.
This talk was delivered at Rideau Lodge No. 460, Seeleys Bay, July 5, 2012
The journey starts for many of us, with the initial contact of someone who will probably be our sponsor. We sit down with a person, whom we have never met before, or may not know very well, and ask questions in order to decide whether a Masonic journey is for us. This is probably one of the most important decisions many of us have to make at this time, do I join, or not, remembering that our choice will be based on an enormous amount, of limited information. I recall sitting with my sponsor for three hours, who, during this time, did a very good job of answering all my questions, and quite frankly, telling me absolutely nothing. But, the one comment he did make that tweaked my interest, was that “Freemasonry takes a good man and makes him better”. Personally, I know as men, we have no problem re-assuring ourselves, that yes, “I” am a good man, however, as many of us can attest, it is not uncommon for our better halves to remind us, there is always room for improvement. Upon hearing this oh so wise reminder in my head, it became one of my reasons, to fill out an application, and join Freemasonry.
After a successful Examination, a report is given and we are balloted on. A letter follows from the Lodge, and if positive, your date of Initiation is chosen. You now ask.. What will be next? Well, the journey continues with the big night, nerves are on high alert, and one questions oneself, “what am I doing here”? Everyone is so friendly, smiling at you, shaking your hand, one could assume the best, or the worst, is about to happen. It is at this time; at least it was for me, that the nerves got a kick in the stomach. One of those new friendly faces informs me that I am going to have to change out of this nice suit I have on, and into an interesting pair, of what is best described, as pyjamas, and even further, that I will be blind folded for a short period of time. As the meeting starts and you are not yet part of it… I am sure some of us have wondered if it would not be wise to change our minds, and leave. After all, I was sure I could get down the stairs and out the door, before the Tyler, who distracted with returning his knocks, could have gotten to his sword. Finally, some of the Brethren come out, one asks some questions, making references to an ancient penalty, which you are not to worry about of course, and this again sends the mind off wondering, what have I gotten myself into? Then that point of no return occurs, you pay the requested monies, and another Brother, with what appears to be a spear, is there to make sure you are properly prepared.
It’s now time! You are walked around a room blindfolded, listening to every word, from all directions, trying to remember, how many did I see come in, are they behind me, in front of me, what’s happening, what will be next? Your head is bursting with so many questions. You repeat something, seal it, and then, the Blind fold is off. You are moved here and there; different Brethren are coming up to you and overwhelming you with parts of the ritual. Finally, at last, it’s done. The Master comes down to the level, congratulates you, which is followed by a round of applause from all those in attendance, and then asks the big question, “Do you have anything you would like to say?” Wow, what a question! Let’s see, I’ve come here dressed up in a suit, paid you 3-4 hundred dollars, was paraded around, dressed in pyjamas no less, initially blind folded, in front of 20+ men I have never met before, been over whelmed with some of these strangers speaking to me individually, have been asked to change back to my suit, only to come back in and be overwhelmed again, the whole time not understanding half of what is said to me, and YOU are wondering if I would have anything to say? Of course I do, what just happened? And, ultimately, how will this make me, a better man?
Many of us continue on our journey to be Passed and Raised to the degree of a Master Mason, proving each of our degrees in front of the members of our lodge, or depending on the evening, perhaps a few more than normal. I have often made this statement with regards to the Degrees: The First, is the one that just happens. I feel that this is the Degree that binds us as Brethren, for here, we all experience the same thing, with pretty much the same results, nervousness and confusion. The Second, is the one you do for yourself, we practice and learn, wanting to do it well; and finally, the Third, this is the one we will never forget.
After this point, when one has been raised, it might be difficult for the Mason to see, just how does Masonry, take me, a good man, and make me, better? And it is here that I began my quest for an answer. From what I thought I could see, my memory was improving through practicing of the Ritual for my degrees, was I on my way to becoming a better man? I was quickly reminded by my lady who was still asking me “did I forget” … it was garbage day, or, that we were going to her mother’s tonight. Improved memory??? I guess she would tell you, I was still suffering from that well known man’s disease called, selective hearing Or listening.
After proving our third, some of us believe we are ready to assume the role of an Officer and most actually do, to the delight of the many recycled Past Masters, however, for many of us, it is difficult to get up and speak in front of others, myself included. I presumed the proving of degrees, would help prepare for the journey through the chairs, allowing us the opportunity to somewhat feel comfortable, speaking in front of others, at least in our own Lodge. Interests are peaked during this time, yet I feel often, are not tapped. For many of us, we want to be more involved, but being new, don’t know how to, are afraid to ask, are simply just assigned ritual, or, may have been deterred with that famous phrase, “Because that’s the way it’s always been”. Looking at my own Masonic journey thus far, you can imagine that I have heard those words on more than just a few occasions. Another of my favourite phrases is, “wait until you have sat in the East”….. I see! It would be preferred that we Rock the boat when we are all a little older, and a lot less stable on our feet. In all fairness though, these two statements are both very viable comments to many. The first shows that we, as a fraternity, have stayed true in the longevity of our institution, and the second would reference obviously, experience and education. Is this how a good man is made better, longevity, experience and education?
I was hoping this wasn’t the full answer, as some things are in fact being done differently and are not the way they were. To start with, many older Brethren have often told me that when they joined the Craft, one would have to wait possibly several years just to get in the Junior Steward’s chair. This would mean that many men would have been 10 plus years a Mason, before they became the Master of the Lodge. During these times, although some Lodges were doing plenty of Degrees, many still found the time to do some form of Masonic Education, and turn outs were good. The time spent waiting to get in the officer line up, combined with the journey itself of ten plus years, would provide one the experience and education needed to make the second statement true, “Wait till you have sat in the East”. One could also add that with reference of the charge “to make a daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge”, many of the older Brethren, in fact, did.
This charge, was it put forth to encourage oneself to go out, find it, to take the initiative, seek knowledge through education, and then, put it in place? We all know this is not always an easy task, as for many of us; we need to see what is missing, in order to desire it, or know it is in fact missing. Was this charge to encourage one to find what makes a good man, better?
In today’s time of hustle and bustle, we find in many Lodges there are few new members joining, or there is a lack of attendance, which is forcing many Past Masters to do the officer line up, in various rolls, several times. In order to resolve the pressure on the PM’s, we find many Masters are being made in a considerably shorter time, in many instances; it is 5 years or less. Leaving us with these questions: are these Brethren good with the ritual? Are they good men? Are they good examples of Masons worthy to project a public image of the Craft? Of course they are!
However, do they have many years of Experience in the Craft? Are they Masonically Educated? Familiar with the Protocol and Etiquette expected through experience and practice? Would sitting in the East, be a sign of Experience and Education, as it once was, in only 5 short years? These last few questions prompt me to ask, did this become the “fast track” to making a good man, better? And, do they, as the older masons did, make that daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge?
Third Degree Masonic Tracing Board
The Answer to the last question I feel is best summed up, this way; when I look at this call to make a daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge, which as stated was done by dedicated older Brethren, in their time, I find in our era, we profess a desire to, but, find it easier to provide an excuse not to, which usually involves, “having no time”. These days, I look at this act of making a daily advancement and compare to something as simple as eating. Some of us use a knife and fork, yet others, like me, should use a shovel. Some chew and enjoy every bite and others couldn’t tell you how what they ate, tasted like 20 minutes later. Many eat healthy, and others, junk they shouldn’t. But the most honest reference I can use to compare this daily advancement, to eating, is in this hustle and bustle of the busy lives we lead presently, one must surely admit that it is not uncommon to skip a meal, even though, we know that it is not healthy, or good for us. Unfortunately, it is easier, after a few times, to develop a bad habit rather than the “better” one.
This question, “how does Masonry make a good man better”, I have asked of many. It often made me feel like a youngster asking his parents, where do babies come from? I am sure in the time Freemasonry has been around, and from many different geographical areas; someone must have answered this question. But why was it so allusive to me. Am I looking in the wrong places, asking the wrong men? Truthfully, many I have asked could offer me no more than, it just does. For them, being good men, who have been in the Craft for many years, well, maybe it just did. Others, suggested it could be found in education. What Education? The Mechanics, the History, the Ritual, Operations, Protocol and Etiquette, is it any one of these, all on them, or is there something more?
After being Raised, I enrolled in the Masonic Arts and Sciences Course or as it was originally called the Master Masons Course. This course offered me the education in many of the areas I have just mentioned. It is a correspondence course that has been available since 1984, yet many of the Brethren, young and old, have never heard of it, or know very little about it. At present there are only 259 grads since its inception. Did I find the answer to my question in education? Am I a better man? Nope! Just a Mason with a little more education than I started with, and the privilege of adding the initials of FCF, A Fellow of the College of Freemasonry, to my Masonic Signings. The completion of this course has offered me many different opportunities and experiences, for upon being a Grad I was invited to an Alumni group, where education, is ongoing. We have a forum for questions and debates by many experienced and well educated Brethren. Could I possibly ask my question here?
What I was finding, was some very interesting educated views from scholarly Masons, providing discussions and debates far superior to my knowledge, about various topics that I was interested in, the protocol and etiquette, Ritual, and History. Yet, as a member, and a very young Mason, I could not find the nerve to ask my quested question, but hoped I could find the secret by searching in the Q & A’s of the alumni forum history. No such luck!
My patience, or lack of nerve, was rewarded a few months later, and you can imagine my excitement when I received an email, with this exact question from the Alumni, The Making of good men better, What does this actually mean and how do we do this? There it was. Honestly, I must have checked my email for replies every 10 minutes for that whole day.
Many answers where offered to this question, but one in particular caught my attention, causing me to read it several times. I will read to you the answer, which came from Brother Terry Spalding – Martin FCF;
“These same questions come up time and time again on the various Masonic email forums. It is a phrase, thrown out there with little thought, or meaning.
I consider Freemasonry, to be the biggest and oldest self help group in the world. The emphasis, is on “self”.
For the most part, our society wants everything given to them. We will move mountains, if it means we don’t have to do any work. Thus, making men better is generally perceived as something Freemasonry “does” to men.
It is, actually something Freemasonry makes available to men. Freemasonry holds it out, and then, the brother has to do some work in order for it to happen.
Another trite phrase is, “you get out of it, what you put into it.” But it’s true. If you just sit on the bench, nothing much happens. You don’t become better, you don’t become any smarter, and you don’t become anything, other than older.
Brethren frequently discuss the relevance of learning ritual. What’s the use of learning all that archaic language, and then saying it to someone?
Psychologists say that speaking in public is more fearful to the average person than dying. Rather than give a eulogy, we’d prefer to be in the box. By learning ritual, we expand our capabilities for memorization. Something many of us, haven’t done since public school, if ever. By delivering ritual, we overcome our fear, and learn to public speak. This capability boosts our self worth, and self confidence.
Consider each one of the officer chair duties. Each one of them teaches a skill of some sort; Keeping minutes, learning the lodge membership list, interacting with people we do not know, Meeting a new man, and, taking responsibility for showing him around, Setting goals, Organizing volunteers to accomplish a set goal. Each chair, has something of value.
But, we actually have to do it ourselves. Nobody can do it for us.”
This is probably the most practical response, that I have seen or heard to the question I have been asking. Myself, believing that this is at least part of a possible solution, that Freemasonry offers us what we need, right here, in our Ritual, Protocol and etiquette, history, mechanics and very simply, in our operation of the Lodge. Then I have to ask this question, “If we do these very things offered in Freemasonry, “poorly”, will we get the same results”?
It’s an interesting thought! Should we not take pride, in what, and when we do things? I believe the answer is, yes! So, how do we achieve this? Is it through Education? Again I would say, yes! Then one may ask, what education, who will teach it and who needs it?
Going back to my eating theme for the answers, What Education, any number of things we eat, can provide us with nutrition and enjoyment, or, very simply, satisfy a hunger. Who will teach, well, some of us like to cook, and those that don’t, have probably been asked to take a turn cooking, at some point. Truthfully, our wives would tell us, it always tastes better when someone else is doing the cooking, and I believe some of the recycled Past Masters would feel the same way, with that reference. And, the who needs it, we all have the need to eat and most importantly, we all like to eat.
It may be bold of me, a Mason of just over 2 years, to make the comment that we all could benefit from some form of education, but I will offer up this situation for my defence. This past December my Daughter turned 16. My Lady suggested that I should be the one to teach her how to drive, after all, I should have more patience, because “I was a Mason”. My surprised look prompted her to offer up in her defence, “making a good man better”. I couldn’t argue with that statement and, after several successful lessons teaching from my 30 plus years of experience, it was still recommended that we enroll her in Drivers Education. Firstly, for the Insurance breaks, but, in all honesty I must admit, that with Driving, I have been doing it for so long, some bad habits might have crept in, not to mention the changes in the laws over the years, that I may have missed learning. After a few short classes I started hearing things like, “do you know that was a rolling stop?” Or “You are speeding” at 5 km over the limit which most of us are guilty of. As a man, who is proud to be a Mason, I display Masonic emblems on all our vehicles, so truthfully, I do not mind being reminded by her, or, re-taught for lack of a better word, as it can only improve the way I drive and the way I project being a Mason in the public eye. When I wrote this paragraph, I couldn’t help but be reminded, that there are many circumstances where someone will view our behaviour, to evaluate what they will considered to be acceptable behaviour for themselves.
I have stated, and it is a fact, Speaking in public is a very tough area for me. It is much easier when the ones you are speaking to, work for you. Knowing I couldn’t afford to hire all of you, I thought I would ask some fellow Brother for some constructive criticism of my, talk prior to me coming here. Those that have read or heard this, all seem to get something different from it but have encouraged me to change very little. Brother David Ross FCF did however offer me a thought of his that I wanted to share.
His Comments…. “Back to the “good man better” topic. My personal opinion, is that I am a better man for being a Mason – funnily enough, my wife believes that too, and that is because I truly ‘believe’ what I am saying when I recite ritual, and I try to follow its lessons – especially the second half of the Installation General Charge. The problem we face is, that many of the brethren doing the ritual can recite the work word perfectly, but they do not necessarily understand the ‘true’ meaning – if the teacher does not understand the subject fully, then the pupil, (or candidate) has no chance. Again I look to education to make a difference. Learning ritual and understanding ritual are two completely different things.”
Is Masonry working for me at this point in my journey? After my Initiation, I was posed with this question from my spouse, well, what is it about? I am sure many of you might have been asked something similar. How do I answer? In my infinite wisdom, I responded, it’s about morals; you know making a good man, better. A short time after me answering this question to her, I recall an incident, when driving on the HWY, and being cut off, I proceeded to voice, within our car of course, what I felt would be a good solution, to my dissatisfaction. My better half enjoyed offering her opinion to my comments, “well that isn’t very Masonic”. Truthfully, I would have to admit; in the beginning, after joining the Craft, I did hear that comment on a numerous occasions. As I tend to hear it a lot less now, I would like to believe that Freemasonry, is offering me the results through my activeness; as opposed to the alternative, she just got tired of saying it. But, honestly, I believe she simply found a new way to say it. Instead, she now offers “making a good man better”. I haven’t asked her yet, but her comment of making a good man better would imply that maybe I’m not the only one in our house that believes I am a good man.
In closing, from the view offered by our fellow brother Terry Spalding-Martin FCF, I must say, for me, my feelings are, he does have the answer to my question, and has simply, laid out the short version. Freemasonry offers what is required, and our own action is the key to success. In hind sight, every bit of our involvement has offered us the opportunity to work toward this; starting with our coming forward of our own free will and accord, asking questions of our sponsor, filling out an application, our roles in the Initiation, the degrees, our proving, visiting, all our participation, what we do while we are here, the desire to do it well but most importantly, learning and the acquisition of knowledge. I did however find two additional points not fully spelled out in his reply that seemed to be obvious. First, no time line was offered to achieve the goal, so, it must be an ongoing, continuous journey, and one should strive to stay involved, even if it is just in the form of making the effort to attend our regular Lodge meetings. Secondly, it seems much of it often involves us doing it together, as brothers, supporting one another, and working together for our common goal. If all of these things are true, and I believe they are, I must thank you Brethren, for assisting me, with my own continuing journey, by making a good man better.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BROTHER MARK W. KAPITAN
Initiated into Freemasonry May 4th 2010 at Ivy Lodge No. 115 A.F. & A.M. G.R.C. which is located in Niagara District A, and was Raised on December 7th 2010. Proved his Third Degree February 1st 2011 and immediately enrolled in the Masonic Arts and Sciences offered by the College of Freemasonry that day. Became a graduated of this course 9 weeks later on April 2nd 2011. Joined the Royal Arch Masons on April 8th 2011 and completed the RAM Degree on June 10th 2011. Was a part of the District Degree Team’s Annual Degree on July 9th 2011 and will be again this year on July 14th .
In July 2011, enrolled in the District Deputy Grand Master Course and became a graduate 3 weeks later. Enrolled in the original, and at the time new, Worshipful Masters Course in September of 2011, graduating from this course a week later. September 2011, became a mentor of the College of Freemasonry. December 3rd 2011, spoke at the St. Thomas District’s Lodge of Instruction about the College of Freemasonry and the Courses offered.
January 3rd 2012, was invested as the Senior Deacon of Ivy Lodge No. 115 A.F. & A.M. G.R.C. and was enrolled as Senior Sojourner in Chapter January 13th 2012. Has attended a couple of business meetings for the Grand Lodge, Committee of Masonic Education and assisted in the restructure of the new modular system.
When we think of the Three Great Lights the first one that comes to mind is the Volume of the Sacred Law. It is our rule and guide and in many jurisdictions it is opened to the passage that belongs to the degree the Lodge is working.
Next one would think of the Square. It is also the Master’s symbol and we always part on the Square. In addition throughout Freemasonry everything needs to be squared. In the world of the uninitiated we think of a square deal or a square person.
Lastly comes the Compass. Very little is said about this third Great Light other than than its use is to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions in due bounds. Yet without the compass the square might not exist.
Let us ask at this point what is the fourth part of a circle? And how does one get a perfect right angle? Perhaps the Compass is instrumental in the attainment of these ends. Maybe it is not such a third rate symbol after all.
Today’s elucidation on the subject comes from Brother Wayne Anderson of Ontario Canada. He says that whoever wrote this paper made it feel like a play. Squire Bentley says, Aye, but it could use a few more characters. Brother Anderson offers a weekly Sunday Masonic Newsletter in which many fine educational and historical Masonic information can be found. If you would like to get on Anderson’s mailing list please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Third Great Light
Author and Date Unknown.
Many hundreds of workmen are laboring on a great building –a Gothic cathedral which one day will be a poem in stone, a hymn to the Most High, a glory of architecture which will enthuse and make men reverent for a thousand years and more in the future.
There are many Fellows of the Craft; expert cutters of stone and layers of ashlars. Some build flying buttresses; some carve intricate and beautiful designs for the interior. In a hut nearby–it is called by the good old English name of “lodge”–the Kings’ Master Mason bends over his plans and draws his designs upon the trestleboard, as did Hiram Abif in the long, long ago.
A knock sounds upon the door. To his impatient “Enter then, and be quick,” a lad pushes upon the portal and stands bareheaded before the Master Workman of them all.
“Well, well? What is it, thou? I am busy upon the King’s work…”
The ‘Prentice bows his head. “Honored Sir,” he begins, timidly, “Full seven years have I served; now I would make my Master’ Piece, and it please you to let me try.”
The King’s Master Mason lays down his work and turns, interested.
“So! Seven years- how the days do pass Thou art young to be a Fellow of the Craft, surely!”
“A man grown, Sire. Twenty-one summers have gone over my head.”
“Hm. Twenty-one. ‘Tis man’s estate, but- art sure thou art ready? Art sure thou canst cut or carve or set the stone sufficiently well to pass the eyes of thy superiors?”
“Aye, Master, I am sure…at least, wilt thou look at thy records? There is naught against me. I have done thy bidding. I have brought no dishonor upon the Craft. I have labored long and with my heart as well as with my hands. I have paid attention…why, Master, thou thyself hath instructed me!”.
“Aye, aye. A good lad…I know. And so thou wouldst make thy Master’s Piece and be a Fellow of the Craft! There will be then, another lad enrolled as an Apprentice–in a year, mayhap, he will be entered on my books and become an Entered Apprentice, even as didst thou, so few days ago…”
“Six years ago, Master!”
“Six–or sixty–they are still few for the building of a Cathedrals Well, what wouldst thou of me?”
“Permission to try, Master…and that thou shouldst prove my square! ’tis old, old, and while I believe it to be true, I must e’en know it is true before I try for mine honor.”
The Master Workman nods approvingly. “Thou hast been well taught, in truth! To Work with an unproved square on important stone is folly. So be it. Thou hast my permission and- after the midday meal, bring me thy square.”
“Sire, may I see thee test it?”
“Now, now! Surely thou knowest better than that! How know I thou canst make thy Master’s Piece successfully? Show thee the great secret of the square? Ah, no, lad- not until thou hast much more of age and experience…but bring me thy square!”
It is after the midday meal. A few, perhaps, have eaten it upon long tables in the lodge. If a good day and warm, many have refreshed themselves without using as tables, stones ready for the setting. ‘Prentices have brought great flagons of cold water from a spring, hard by. Women from the town have carried huge baskets of food for the hungry workmen, and wives and daughters and mothers and sweethearts stand about chatting with their men while they eat. Then a bell rings and all go back to work – all except the Entered Apprentice, who, square in hand, stands again at the door of the lodge, knocking.
“Come in, thou–so! It is an old square, forsooth! Where got you it?”
“From Fellow Eben, Master–’tis he who has taught me much, and he who loans me his cherished tool. He believe it true, he and I, but we would be certain!”
“Eben–& good man. He would know soon enough if his square were awry. But wood doth warp and steel doth bend-I will test thy square. Be off with thee, and return in an hour!”
Pulling his forelock, the Entered Apprentice departs. What thoughts crowd his mind! The Master’s Piece he will attempt to make; what task will be set him to do? A rough ashlar to be made perfect? A stone carving he must labor over? Or will he be given twenty stones and a helper and told to build a wall, or start or complete a buttress? Whatever it is, he will have a true square. If he is to fail, it will not be because of a faulty tool. Well he knows how good work, true work, square work is tested when it is submitted by an Entered Apprentice as a Master’s Piece! Not easily do the Fellows of the Craft admit a newcomer to their ranks. The Entered Apprentice who is to become a Fellow must know his work. He must know his angles and his mortar, his gavel and his level and plumb. He must understand how to work a broached thurnel, and how to tap lightly on his irons or heavily to break a great piece of stone…stone costs much in time and labor to bring from the quarries and no false work can be permitted ’tis the King’s stone!
What goes on in the lodge? What mystic powers does the King’s Master Mason use to try Eben’s square? What a wonder it is, this great knowledge; this power to make a building grow where was but a pile of stones! A square is either square or awry. The tiniest fraction out and the walls lean, the stones seat insecurely the one upon the other. But with the square perfect, the stones can be perfect, the walls true, the building a lasting monument to God…Within the hut the King’s Master Workman closes the door and bars it.
Perhaps he has set a tiler or two to guard it– those who set tiles on roofs are less busy than the layers of walls. Sure that he is free from the prying eyes of those who might climb up to the open space beneath the eaves to listen-and, if it rains get thoroughly wet from the droppings from the roof, or from cowans who never built more than a low wall of field stones, huddled the one on the other to keep the cows from wandering–secure from prying eyes, the King’s Master Mason takes from its place his compasses.
Long they are and rough to look at, made of sturdy oak with an iron hinge, but with fair and true brass points.
Next a sheet of clean white parchment; ’tis costly, this parchment, but seven years! The King’s Master Mason shakes his long white hair about his seamed and lined old face. Seven years–one third of the lad’s life! ‘Tis worth it, even though parchment be expensive!
On the rough table he lays it, and weights its edges down with clean stones. With the compasses he scribes a circle upon it, a generous circle perhaps a cubit across. The sharp brass point scratches in the parchment so the circle is plain to see.
From his rack of drafting tools the King’s Master Workman takes a straight edge–finest work that Fellow Edwin could make. Long had he labored with the block of close-grained ebony, brought from across the seas, to make it true. Backed with strong ash, smoothed of edge, until like the silk that women wear in the East, and straight as the line that divides the sea from sky.
The Master sights along its edges, more from habit than distrust. Then with care he lays it across the circle, so that it touches the tiny puncture in the center made by the stationary leg of the compasses.
“Now, the square-point mark!” he mutters. “‘Tis no matter where I make it-the good God so made this mathematical wonder that I cannot fail, put it where I may.” With one point of the sharp brass pointed compasses he makes a dot on the circle. As he has said, it makes no difference where. Then with two shorter, straight edges connecting the dot on the circle with the circumference. Narrowly he looks.
“What? Do mine eyes deceive me? Is it really out of true?” He picks it up, again lays it down, adjusts it carefully. He looks again, first from above, then from each side. “Nay, I was wrong. They do coincide. Each is equally true–the square I have made by the secret and the power of the compasses–the square which Ebon has used–which now the young lad will use.”
The King’s Master Mason picks up his tools, rolls again the parchment and puts it away. “I could wish I might show the lad,” he sighs. “But it would never do. And likely he hath not the mind to understand. Indeed, who hath the mind to comprehend? What a wonder is the good God to provide such perfect ways to make things perfect. Now why, doth one suppose, doth a dot on a circle, when connected to points in a line with the center, become the juncture of a perfect square? Never a fraction of a fraction of an inch wrong! Always is the angle right the angle of the level on the plumb, a right angle indeed. Who comes?” as a knock sounds on the door.
“Tis thine officer who presides over the Fellows of the Craft – who but Hiram?”
“So. Enter then. I have but now tested Eben’s square for a lad who will try to make his Master’s Piece…”
“Would mine had been tested!” mourned Hiram. “Remember, Master? I did not ask for the testing of my square and it was not right angle, but an angle askew–it cost me a year more of Entered Apprentice Work before thou wouldst let me try again!”
The Master smiles. “Aye, I remember. Well, thou hast tested the tools oft enough since. But Eben’s square is true, a very right angle indeed.”
“While a square is circumscribed within the circumference of a circle, it is impossible that it materially err!” agrees Hiram.
“Aye, the point within the circle–the line across–the lines connecting –they make precepts which all Fellows must, and all men should, heed. Didst ever think, Hiram, that that applies to tools of brass and iron and wood, applies also to character and conscience and mind? Try the square by compasses, the circle, the point within it, the straight edge; so should man try his soul. Let the point be the individual. Let the circle be that boundary beyond which his passions and prejudices may not stray. Let the circle be a holy doctrine—he cannot, then, do any act which is not square, nor materially err in any conduct…”
“Tis a Pity all cannot know and understand, as dost thou!”
“Aye. But so it is ordained. The square is mine–mine by virtue of being the Master. It is for me to know, for me to try, for me to test the square. But the compasses-they belong to the Craft, since it is by the compasses that I do test the square which Craftsmen use!”
“Square and compasses!” mused Hiram. “All that glorious building, the most of which is yet to be, would never be, without the square and the compasses!”
“And neither square nor compasses would be possible without the wonder of the mathematics which God hath set in the midst of the compasses for the use and guidance of us, His Craftsmen,” answered the King’s Master Workman, reverently.
“Aye, aye, so mote it always be!” answered Hiram, bending his head.