As the social distancing and self-quarantines stretch on, Freemasons are feeling the itch to get out and have some fellowship with their brothers. While not quite the same as sitting around a table and chatting over coffee or an aqua vitae, many Freemasons have already found a way to indulge in discussion with like-minded brethren […]
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, HarperOne; Anniversary edition (September 9, 2014) ISBN-13: 978-0062390622
The Alchemist is an interesting story of a young shepherd’s journey to find a treasure at the Pyramids in Egypt. His quest brings him many adventures and he encounters interesting people from whom he learns the lessons of life.
One of the most valuable lessons I took from the book is that, “people fail to recognize the food things that happen in their lives every day as the sun rises.” We often look at the negative, what we do not have, instead of appreciating what we do have. While we should appreciate what we have, we should not be satisfied, if it does not match our dreams. We know and are obligated to achieve them. According to Coelho, “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation”.
This book is best understood to be a parable of our journey through life and how we should engage the messages we learn along the way.
Millennial Apprentices: The Next Revolution in Freemasonry, By Samuel Friedman, Fairport, NY, SelfPublished, 2015,. ISBN-13: 978-0996652803.
Samuel Friedman has written a thought-provoking book, Millennial Apprentices: The Next Revolution in Freemasonry, to help the Craft understand the needs and wants of the next generation of Freemasons. As a new Mason and a Millennial, he is well-suited to address this topic. He does a pretty good job describing the Millennial Generation; I came away with a better understanding of this group. This understanding is important as we hope to attract this very large generation into our ancient Fraternity.
Mr. Friedman describes how Freemasons were involved in many of the democratic revolutions of the past, including the American war of independence from Great Britain. He feels that Freemasonry has abdicated our responsibility of being a beacon of moral and philosophical light to our communities and nation.
The Observance Lodge concept is discussed and Mr. Friedman believes this to be an important aspect of the lodge experience going forward, especially for the Millennial Generation. He feels that this generation will find the solemnity and structure of an Observant Lodge appealing and meet their needs.
While I enjoyed the book overall and found items that will be useful for me to take and try to enact in my lodges, I do not agree with some of his conclusions. This is most true when he discussed that we should not have National Flags in the Lodge and also touched on other social issues that Grand Lodges are struggling with in today’s changing times. I recommend this book for any Brother trying to better understand the next generation and how to shape our Craft to meet their needs.
We are in the midst of a crisis, we cannot hold Masonic meetings, we cannot meet together in person for any reason. Tonight, was the scheduled Regular Communication of the Valley of Augusta Scottish Rite; we all missed the fellowship and activities of our Fraternity. Our Degrees of the Scottish Rite have lessons that we can use during this time. As Masons, what are we called on to do during this period of isolation? How can we toil in the Quarries when we are apparently being forced to be idle?
For some, this may feel like a welcome respite, a time for rest and recovery from our labors, and it can be; but it can also be an opportunity to labor in different quarries, or to move from the Quarry to the Trestleboard and lay down designs, rather than following the designs of others.
In the Scottish Rite, we learn many lessons throughout the Degrees of our Craft. The 13th Degree, Royal Arch of Solomon, discusses the idea that work is not just toil; it provides us with the things that make life worth living. We learn the lesson that we should not be idle, we should work for the betterment of ourselves and others. Since many of us are away from our usual vocations, we have time to do some work on our avocations. The 26th Degree, Prince of Mercy or Scottish Trinitarian, we are taught to study so that we may learn and so that we may pass knowledge and wisdom to others. It is not a suggestion, it is a Charge, an Obligation, to continue to improve in knowledge and to share that knowledge with our Brethren.
The 22nd Degree, Knight of the Royal Axe or prince of Libanus, teaches us that Masonry is work. Our primary example in Freemasonry is the Craftsman, the Builder, not either of the two kings that are depicted in our Ritual. We take this lesson: Work is sacred, we are called on to do our work as if we are doing it for our Creator, for we are. One of the lessons of the 32nd Degree, Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret, is that to work is to worship. The 32nd Degree also teaches to put all things in balance.
So, back to the original point, what work can we do while we are isolated from each other? Brethren, the possibilities are endless, but here are a few:
- Spend time with your family, do those things that make them feel happy and loved. Remember, they are also going through trying times.
- Spend time with your God in Prayer, reflection and study.
- Call your Brethren, let them know you are thinking of them. Emails and Social Media are nice, but nothing beats a familiar voice.
- Pull out a Ritual Lecture that you want to learn and work on it to help your Lodge and your Brethren. They can be obtained from your Director of Work or from the Masonic Manual.
- Read a Masonic Book, if you do not have any, there are many that can be downloaded from the Internet.
- Read Masonic Blogs or listen to Masonic Podcasts.
- Pick something in Freemasonry that you love and write about it. Do not worry about being a great writer, just get your thoughts out on paper. This will help you flesh out your thoughts and gain a better understanding of the topic.
- Set up virtual meetings using Free Teleconference, Zoom or some other application. Some phones will let you conference call on the phone, avoiding any outside applications. Discuss your thoughts on a specific Masonic topic, or just “talk amongst yourselves” for some fellowship.
Brethren, our labors must never cease. We can accomplish much, even in these circumstances.