Harmony in Lodge
W.B. Randall M. Sloan
I became a mason in 1984 due to the fact that my observation of men whom I knew to be masons impressed me. Not by asking me to join but by setting an example of what Freemasonry is all about. I was especially drawn to that part of my being passed to the Fellowcraft Degree where, in the Charge, I was encouraged to "persevere in the practice of every virtue." I thought to myself "this is what my mentors were doing". I was then admonished that I was expected to conduct myself in a certain fashion during the "regular assembly". I was to "preserve our ancient usages and customs sacred and inviolable and induce others, through example, to hold them in veneration." Now to me this meant that I should promote good ritual within the Lodge and practice those Masonic virtues formerly noted, not only outside the Lodge but most importantly inside. As you will remember the rest of the charge states, in part, that "you are not to palliate or aggravate the offences of your brethren; but in the decision of every trespass against our rules, judge with candor, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with mercy." This is what Freemasonry is all about. Fraternity. Through fraternity all the virtues of freemasonry shine through. Our fraternity has the same rights and privileges to all members. Studious work gives each of us a common knowledge of the work to be done. We are drawn to each other because we are filled with goodwill and a desire to assist one another, honour each other with respect due to a fellow creature and to practice that joy when called upon to do so by charity to a brother. Charity does not necessarily mean monetary means. Charity can come in the form of the simple respect to another that you would expect in return. "Do unto other as you would have them do unto you".
Charity is synonymous with Brotherly Love. This is more than a belief among Freemasons. This is a reality that allows men to form a philosophy for their life's guidance. Brotherly Love is placed as the first of the founding principles of Freemasonry. Where true Brotherly Love exists there can be found harmony and goodwill. We are expected to act with one another honestly and straightforwardly, without petulance or petty quarreling. From very early times Freemasonry has provide an opportunity for men to meet and enjoy the pleasures of friendly companionship in the spirit of helpfulness and charity, and guided by strict morals. I still recall the warm feeling I have when a harmonious night in Lodge has been fulfilled. When I look forward to the Festive Board and the Masonic mirth and wisdom passed on by our brothers. I also recall the evenings when some brothers come out of Lodge and can't wait to leave. This is an occurrence that should never happen according to our Masonic teachings. In my opinion, there is nothing more important than the HARMONY of our Lodge.
It's easy these days to sit back and complain about every little thing you observe. It is not easy to observe what you are used to and see CHANGE. The only thing that remains the same in this world is change. Freemasonry has made tremendous changes over the centuries and you know what? It is still a very attractive lifestyle. Remember that it is a lifestyle, not a ritual practiced in secret that keeps the candidates interested. The ritual is used very effectively to teach the virtues of Freemasonry and as such is of great value and should be protected. But change is inevitable. The rituals practiced today are not the exact ritual practiced in the past. Maybe part of the reason is that as society matures so should Freemasonry. As the english language changes, so may the ritual change. Freemasons of the future will surely look at our present day ritual and wonder about certain aspects. Try reading the minutes of ancient lodges in England and you will see what I mean.
We all have a natural dislike for change. Sometimes we feel it robs us of some part of our past. I know that when I go back to my hometown area and expect to see the old neighbourhood I am appalled at the condominiums and parking lots that now cover the area. But you know what, those people need a place to live and to park their vehicles. Change? I don't like it either..but it's there and I have to make the best of it. If I really don't like it I leave. I don't need to make life miserable or try to disrupt the harmony of the neighbourhood just because I don't think what they are doing is right. I certainly wouldn't like them to show up on my doorstep and make my life miserable or disruptive. As the charge in the first degree states "As an individual, let me recommend the practice of every domestic as well as public virtue. Let Prudence direct you, Temperance chasten you, Fortitude support you, and Justice be the guide of all your actions. Be especially careful to maintain in their fullest splendor, those truly Masonic ornaments which have been amply illustrated : Benevolence and Charity."
In summary, my brethren, may our labours of the evening lead us in the promotion of truth, botherly love and harmony. May the efforts of our fraternity dispel any spirit of discord which may arise, enrich our lives with charity and may those acts of kindness and forebearance towards one another be uppermost in our thoughts and actions.