A Message from the Deputy Grand Master,
What is the purpose of your Lodge? The reply is usually, “to raise Master Masons”. True, however what then? Our real purpose has been to educate, but beyond our ritual of opening and closing and possibly a degree conferral, our Lodge meetings are not different than those of any other organization. Masonic enlightenment has been forgotten or at least has been pushed aside for expediency. It is foolish to think any member will understand all of the mysteries and real secrets of our Fraternity merely by being raised a Master Mason. When the candidate is told he received all of the instruction available in a Blue Lodge, it should only apply to the instruction during the degree and not be taken literally. History or historical figures don’t populate the questions of younger Masons. They want to know about our symbols, philosophies, and ceremonies and then reflect on what each of these is to teach them.
Today we have an insatiable desire for members, which causes our candidates to be overly accommodated. Ritual, once the crowning jewel of our order, is shortened and their lessons go largely unexplained. Candidates are told, during explanatory lectures, symbols are beautifully explained in the Monitor, which he can read at his leisure. Rarely are the symbols ever mentioned during a regular meeting. The numbers of orphaned candidates are a result of the lack of instruction; as is the fact we don’t require the candidate to invest anything – not their time nor their finances. Many times, there is a lack of commitment on behalf of the Lodge and candidate. The mentors, once the superstructure of the Lodge, have been ravaged by father time. The Masonic Experience, and those able to provide for it, has been lost to accommodation.
A friend and dear Brother, I hold in high regard, recently told me, “The design of Masonry is a pathway to self-improvement through study, reflection, and practice. There are those who seek to better themselves by attacking and smearing the reputations of their brothers. Masonry teaches against these practices, but if you do not study and accept what Masonry teaches, how can you practice Masonry?” However, if we don’t teach Masonry, how can we expect men to learn? To learn, to subdue, and to improve are the reasons for someone to join the Craft. The directive is not to be better than your brother, but to be better than yourself. We are taught to have charity for those who differ in opinion; charity for their faults and errors; and charity for their wrongs and injustices. The individual lodges are a place to harmonize opinions and subdue passions.
The young Masons are seeking the same Masonic experience, not just of our fathers, but of our grandfathers and early adopters. They are willing to give of their time and financial resources if there is a value to be gained. They do not want to be accommodated or seek instant gratification. They certainly do not want to be just a number, which is, unfortunately, the driving force within our Craft. If the experience is meaningful, poignant, and impressive, then the right of initiation will be a significant achievement and not instant gratification. The young men, knocking on our Lodge doors, need to find inside the mystical and legendary society they have read about. They will also maintain their membership if what they seek is made available to them.
There are many well-meaning brethren working overtime to make Freemasonry something other than Freemasonry. Masonry is not all inclusive and certainly not for everyone who seeks admission. We are not common. We are Freemasons. We aren’t supposed to blend in but are to stand out. Let’s restore and maintain Masonic education and instruction in our Lodges.
R∴ W∴ Steven A Pence
Deputy Grand Master