The second question we ask Entered Apprentice Masons is, “What come you here to do?” Most of us remember the answer, “To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Freemasonry.” This is quite a statement. It demonstrates that, when we petitioned a Lodge for the Degrees of Freemasonry, we recognized that there were things about ourselves that we needed to improve. It is said that the first step towards recovery (improvement) is recognizing that you have a problem. I would hazard a guess that most of us did not fully understand the magnitude of the change that Freemasonry can make in us, if we will work within her precepts and doctrine. I confess that I did not completely understand the journey on which I was embarking when I asked my Father-in-Law for a Petition. Yes, I came of my own free will and accord, but I did not have a lot of knowledge of the Craft, I just knew that my Wife’s Father was a Mason and he was a good man and I wanted to be like him.
There are some important lessons to be learned by this simple question and answer: Q: What come you here to do?” A: “To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Freemasonry.” First, we come, we are not brought, it is our choice and we enter into this of our own volition. No one can force us to become Masons, and, if they did, we would not properly learn the lessons of Initiation.
Second, we come to learn. To say ‘Masonic Education’ is redundant; Freemasonry IS education. Every step of our journey from profane candidate to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason and beyond involves learning lessons that should dramatically change our lives and our perspectives on how we treat each other, ourselves and our God. We should never stop learning as long as we can study the writings of great Masons, listen to lectures in the degrees or attend a Lodge Meeting. I have had Mason’s in their 80’s and 90’s attend Masonic Education events; they never want to stop learning.
Third, we come to learn to “subdue our passions.” What passions? Ambition, avarice, lust, anger, envy, hatred, malevolence, intolerance, revenge. These are the passions that infest the heart of Man; against which Masonry has always warred. One of the lessons that we learn is that we cannot overcome these passions without the aid and support from on high; only through the grace and help of God can we ever hope to overcome these passions.
Fourth, we come to “improve myself”, we do not come to ‘Perfect’ ourselves. The best and greatest Freemason is not perfect, because it is not possible for any man to be perfect. Pike tells us that when we achieve the Degree and title of Master Mason, we should have attained the ability to use our Moral Sense and Reason to have Habitual mastery of our passions. This does not mean we will never err, it means that our normal disposition does not include the lower passions. We can usually control ourselves, and when we do not, we quickly recognize our faults and seek redress with anyone we have offended.
Fifth and lastly, we seek to improve ourselves through Freemasonry. Freemasonry, as an heir to the Ancient Mysteries, is uniquely suited to this purpose. We cannot lose sight of the fact that Freemasonry is an Initiatic fraternity, which is designed to strip bare the old man to build a new man in his place. The white lambskin apron symbolizes this purity of soul that we seek to achieve. How does Freemasonry help us to improve ourselves? By systematically tearing down our old convictions and teaching us lessons of conduct and understanding whose roots are as ancient as our Race. While we perform our Rituals in a Corporate manner, the lessons are intensely personal and can only be achieved by us as individuals, opening our conscious to the teaching of the Ages. For some, this understanding will be evident on the night they are Raised to the sublime Degree of a Master Mason; for most of us this is a long journey that can last a lifetime, for we are always in need of more improvement. No man can impart the true secret of Freemasonry; we must all find this for ourselves.
What come you here to do? To learn to subdue my passions and to improve myself in Freemasonry.