Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Improve Myself in Freemasonry

One of the first lessons we learn in Freemasonry is that we are here to “Learn to improve myself in Freemasonry.” We also say that we “take good men and make them better.” If this is true, when does it stop? At what point have we improved enough to consider that we have accomplished this task? Has Masonry made you better, so you do not have any more to do?

Were you finished when you were Initiated, Passed and Raised? What is the one thing that you learned that made you say,” Great! I am better! I am done!?” When you were Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, the heavens parted and the Great Architect of the Universe inspected you with the symbolic Square, level and Plumb and declared you perfect? NO? Then it is possible that you had/have more improvement to make? That you have more lessons to learn?

Our goal in Freemasonry is not to be better than others, but to be better than ourselves. While I might be better than the self I was 5 years ago, there is still room for me to be better than the self I was yesterday. Anything that stops growing dies. I have presented Masonic Education to Brethren who were in their 80s and were wise, but they wanted to learn more. Improvement never ends, we should strive to continue to travel from the west toward the east, in search of even more Masonic Light.

The first thing required for Freemasonry to help you improve yourself is your presence. How can you improve yourself in Freemasonry if you are not present? Not just physical presence, but active presence in the lessons of the Ritual and the Fellowship with your Brethren. I know that you can learn much about Freemasonry by reading the thoughts of others, but you can learn even more by discussing those thoughts, and your own thoughts, with your Brethren in a Corporate setting. Freemasonry was never meant to be a solitary event, men organized themselves into groups to help each other and to learn from each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17. Another translation says, “Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.” It is important to gather with your Brethren. The Fellowship is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that you learn to trust each other, so you are willing to listen when a Brother points out an area where you many need to work on your continuous improvement. If I do not know you well, I may be upset or hurt if you point out a fault, but I should be able to accept this whisper of counsel and comfort from my Brother.

If you will be open to the lessons of the Craft and the thoughts of your Brethren, you can improve yourself even during a boring business meeting. How? By actively listening to the Ritual, by taking a part of the normal opening and closing and pondering, “What does this mean to me?” It is much more satisfying than pondering whether we should buy a new refrigerator for the Lodge. I improve myself in Freemasonry every time I attend Lodge or Masonic events. The idea for this article came to me while I was at the District Custodian’s School of Instruction. It wasn’t that I was not paying attention to what was being taught, but that I WAS paying attention and I heard things I needed to hear. Even in the repetitious ritual we were practicing.

How can you improve yourself in Freemasonry? Read your books; listen to the Ritual; learn from your Brethren.

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Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Kneel Where You Now Stand

Early in an Entered Apprentice’s Masonic journey he is told that we should invoke the aid of Almighty God before entering upon any great or important undertaking. He is told to kneel where he now stands to receive benefit of Lodge Prayer

Lodge prayer is corporate prayer where we actively pray for each other. As with everything in freemasonry, there is a lesson here. How often have you told someone or had someone tell you, “I will pray for you.”  Do you remember to pray, do you think that they always remember to pray for you?

The lesson is to pray “where you now stand.” Stop and pray where you are when you or someone needs prayer.

Do not defer prayer.

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Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

I Buried a Brother Today

Today, I buried a Brother. Not a blood relative, but a Brother, nonetheless. He was a Freemason. at 6 pm in the evening, I was called by the Grand Secretary, asking if I could gather some of the Brethren in the area to conduct a Masonic Funeral Service for a Brother from South Carolina. Due to travel restrictions imposed by the ongoing virus scare, his Lodge was unable to attend their Brother’s funeral.

We hastily gathered a group of four that were able to attend on short notice, with WB Jarrod Coffey prepared to conduct the Service with WB Jeremy Wilson, Brother Lee Benedict and myself. We assembled at the graveside, in the character of Masons with our Brother’s family and friends to pay our respects and give him honor. We wept with his family as the Bugler played Taps and the Soldiers folded his flag of honor and presented it to his family. We deposited the sprig of evergreen in his grave and ensured he was clothed in the Character of a Mason.

We did not know this man, but he was our Brother. We cherish his memory here, we commend his spirit to God who gave it, we consign his body to the ground.

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Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Do Just One Thing

Lately, I have thought and written about the duties of a Lodge to the Brethren, the duties of a Mason to his Lodge and getting things done. I want to discuss a few things that we can do to improve ourselves and our Lodge experience. Before we discuss this, we need to define the Lodge. A Lodge is not a building; it is a group of Freemasons meeting under the Authority of a Charter. So when we discuss our duties, we are talking about the duties we have for each other.

First: Attend Regular and Called meetings, it is hard to know and care for your Brethren if you are not here. If you have been absent and might be a little rusty, give me a call, as Director of Work, I can get you back up to speed on ritual, etc.

Second: Try to spend time in fellowship with a Brother that you do not normally spend much time with, you might find that you have something in common and can build stronger bonds.

Third: Attend planned  fellowship  nights,  game  nights,  dinners,  anything we  can  do  to  build  stronger  bonds with our Brethren.

Fourth: Think about what Freemasonry means  to  you. Consider presenting these thoughts to your Brethren, we can all learn from each other.

Fifth: Tim Bryce, a Masonic and Business Blogger, has some great advice: “Do just one thing.” If all members did “Just One Thing” for their Lodge, it would be a better place.

I am not suggesting we do anything extremely labor intensive; perhaps it is something as simple as making coffee;  greeting  every  member  when  they  arrive;  calling  Brethren  to  remind  them  of  Lodge  Meetings; preparing and presenting Masonic Education; covering an Officer’s Station when there is an absence; helping to clean up after breakfast. The options are endless. If we all did “Just One Thing,” the Lodge, overall, would be better, and we would be better, because we are the Lodge. ☀

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Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Maintaining Fellowship during Social Distancing

I have often quoted a Chinese Curse, “May you live in interesting times.” I have since discovered that this is probably not a Chinese curse at all, but the sentiment is still the same. Interesting times are rarely calm and peaceful. Well Brethren, I believe that we are living in “interesting times.” In order to try to protect ourselves from the possibility of a Pandemic, we have virtually shut down our society, and our Society. Our sacred band or Society of friends and Brothers have been directed not to meet face-to-face for a period of time, awaiting further guidance from the Health Officials.

How do we maintain fellowship with our Brethren during this time of Social Distancing and Quarantine? Be deliberate; have a plan. Do not leave it to chance encounters or leave it to others to do. If you are coming up on a time that, under normal circumstances, you would be attending a Lodge Meeting, or other Masonic-related function, call the Brethren with whom you would normally interact. Set a Conference call or Video Conference to discuss items of interest or just to visit with your Brethren. There are many free options that will facilitate these types of meetings. If you do not use the various versions of Social Media, communicate by text, email or best of all, a phone call.

Challenge your Brethren to consider a part of the Ritual (that can be discussed outside a Tyled Lodge) and hold virtual discussion groups. Send out a link to an interesting Blog Post or Masonic Article (better yet, write your own) then gather your Brethren together, virtually, to discuss. At the scheduled time for our last meeting of Clarence H. Cohen Daylight Lodge 749, we held a meeting via Zoom to respond to questions posed in advance. Brothers Forrester and Moore initiated a Video Cast to share Masonic ideas with the Brethren that login. You are only limited by your imagination, and the Grand Master’s Ruling.

Remember to call and check on your widows and shut-ins (which is most of us now.) Worshipful Masters should develop a calling tree and task his Officers to call and check on all members of the Lodge.

On the other hand, use this time to spend time with your family, as important as Freemasonry can be, it is not more important than your family.

Finally, make plans for a major time of fellowship when we are allowed to gather once again. Make it a purely social event so we can reestablish those bonds of friendship and brotherhood in person.

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