Let Him Enter
M.W. Bro. R.V. Harris, PGM
Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia
The greatest day in one's life is not the day of your election or appointment to some important office but your 21st birthday when you were clothed with all the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship.
The greatest day in your Masonic life was not the day you became Master of your Lodge or even the Grand Master but the day you became a Mason, when you first heard those words "Let Him Enter".
Previously to that important moment a Petition had to be signed and presented to the Lodge. then there was an Investigation, and it was determined whether you measured up to our standards. There were 25 qualifications or more which you were required to have, and you were found "worthy and well qualified". Then you had to pass the ballot. Then you were "duly and truly prepared"; you were "divested of all metallic substances"; you were neither naked nor clothed, barefoot nor shod, etc.", and in that state you stood at the outer door and gave three distinct knocks. The door was opened and some questions were asked and answered, and then you heard the momentous words of the Master, "Let Him Enter". You thought then that he meant that you were to enter the lodge room and he meant that and he meant much more than that. For you entered something more than the Lodge room. "Let Him Enter", what?
1. An organization with a tremendous tradition:
reaching back into the dim and distant past; even to the builders of prehistoric times; to the beginning of the building art; when the right angle was a secret-the principles of the vertical, stresses, the keystone, the principles of mechanics, the level, plane, pulley; the beginnings of sculpture and design; to the days of the Tower of Babel, and Babylon-to Egypt, Tyre, Greece and Rome; to the Comacine Masters; to the Middle Ages; to the great builders of temples and tombs, the pyramids and the Parthenon, the bridges and stadia of ancient Rome, the churches and cathedrals of the bygone centures.
To Freemasonry in its operative days belongs the credit for the wonderful cathedrals that stand for all time, and their beauty and grandeur; the great art of building and cultivation of the arts, of sculpture and design, and architecture and the fine arts.
Then we come to that important two hundred years, 1500- 1700; and the period of transition from operative to speculative Freemasonry, and to that momentous year 1717 when four lodges comprising about 100 members were formed into the first Grand Lodge. More than 235 years have since elapsed, and today we have about 40,000 lodges, with over five million members. That one Grand Lodge of England has grown into about 100 Grand Lodges and all over every part of the world, in every civilized nation, we find thousands of temples and lodge rooms, with many Homes, benevolent funds, elaborate and impressive degrees, a literature of great interest and a wonderful system of organization; a fraternity pledged to serve mankind. How?
Through countless homes and hospitals for the aged, the sick, the orphan and the friendless; through millions invested in benevolent funds. The whole fraternal world is on fire with this vision of service of Masonry along similar lines. Every jurisdiction now has its Funds of Benevolence or its Home for the aged, or both. In the United States along there are 64 homes. In Nova Scotia we have our splendid Home at Windsor. The Royal Arch serves mankind and the Craft in a variety of ways, principally by scholarships and through orphanages. The Knight Templar body in Canada and the United States has made education of the children its benevolent purpose. In the United States loans are made to college students; in Canada the Order assists in the education of children of their deceased members and in a variety of ways through its Welfare fund. The Scottish Rite has its funds to assist the welfare of mankind such as that established in the United States for research work in the vast field of mental diseases. The Shrine Hospitals, 18 of them for crippled children have brought health and happiness to tens of thousands of children regardless of class or creed or color.
Masonry has been the inspiration of 1000 other fraternal orders; all inspired by the same vision of service; all a vast army serving mankind, all classes, creeds and races; leading them on to higher thoughts, nobler deeds, greater achievements; the greatest service organization devised by man next to the Church of God; a fraternity pledged to serve mankind.
2. "Let Him Enter"
A society of good fellowship - a band of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, except that noble contention, or rather emulation who best can work and best agree; bound together by the realization that we are all members of the same organization; bound to stand by one another; bound to speak no slander, nor listen to it. Something altogether different from the world outside, where pomp and circumstance and external trappings count, where rivalries and bitterness exist, where ambition and greed and selfishness are the marks of some men's greatness - a real brotherhood and fellowship. We are asked to shut out the world behind us and to enter a new world of men united by brotherly love and affection, where men have promised that their word is to be their bond, men who act by the plumb, who meet upon the level, who part upon the square; a chosen band of brothers who naturally seek each other's welfare equally with their own, who remember or should remember the five points of Fellowship. You know them, foot to foot, knee to knee, hand to back, breast to breast, mouth to ear. The inner circle where there is the sense of comradeship and fellowship, where we stand all for one and one for all; the greatest band of brothers the world has ever known.
3. "Let Him Enter"
Enter what? A school, intended and designed to make its votaries wiser and better. How? By teaching them to see and think, buy inculcating great lessons of life and faith and citizenship, such as Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance and Justice; Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth; Fidelity; Liberty, Equality, Fraternity; Faith, Hope and Charity.
What lessons there are for us in the Rough and Perfect Ashlar or in the Living Stones built into that stately Temple of our citizenship, or that wonderful Temple of our Spiritual Building, whose twin pillars are the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.
4. "Let Him Enter" What?
A holy sanctuary; the beginning of a series of ceremonies, rich with meaning-meanings interpreted to the initiate centures ago; old before the Christian era began; the mysteries of Ancient Egypt, of Asia Minor, Persia, Greece and Rome; the faith of Israel; the doctrines of Buddha; the teachings of Christ; everything is permeated by the sublime principles of all faiths and all civilizations. Freemasonry today is "the heir of all the ages in the foremost files of time". The man who enters this sanctuary and misses the spiritual meaning of it all, has lost most of its tremendous meaning.
Masonry like other orders, presents its drama, its pageant, its wealth of display, its ceremony and dignity, and few, if any, other orders out rival Freemasonry in these respects; but Freemasonry goes one step further - it interprets these ceremonies to the initiate and explains their meaning and symbolism, and most of us are satisfied with the meanings given us. But Freemasonry goes still one step further than that; it gives you a hint here and there, that you are to seek for still other meanings, for more light - further light; you are told of a Lost Word and the hope is held out that the wisdom of future generations may discover and bring to light this Lost Word; in other words you are to study, and meditate upon these things, and seek until you find the great riches hidden behind and beneath the symbolism placed before you.
Let me illustrate:
Take the Apron - first of all it is a badge.
Then we are told it is an emblem of innocence, that its whiteness is an emblem of purity of life and rectitude of conduct.
But behind all this there is something more; for have you ever realized that for every Mason made, a lamb must be slain?
And what does that suggest to you? Who, but the Lamb of God in whose blood we shall all be washed and made whiter than snow? No wonder the apron is the badge of a Mason.
Freemasonry is the greatest treasure house of hidden wealth found anywhere in modern life.
Such are the privileges of Freemasonry; social, benevolent, intellectual, spiritual, and historical. But privileges imply obligations, and obligations imply duties; - to God, to the Order, to our neighbour, to ourselves.
Many enter Freemasonry and take the obligations and then forget them. I won't attempt to set them down; you know them, they are familiar words; to ourselves - "To circumscribe our desires, etc." "To avoid all intemperance and excess."
Brethren, if Masonry is not to become a meaningless series of rites and ceremonies, a school of hollow platitudes, a society for selfish ambitions, an empty sham, then the obligations we assumed at that altar must materialize into action, for the good of others, for the community in which we live, for the order we all love, for the empire to which we bear allegiance, for God whom we all profess to serve. Masonry must be made to mean something in our lives and in the lives of others, our homes, our neighbours, and the community in which we live. No flashy emblems will then be needed on our necktie, our fingers, or our motor car radiators; but our Freemasonry will be evident to all; our Order will be still greater than all others, and the world will know our Order as a band of men, with the Divine Light flooding their souls and their lives; a light unto their feet, leading them to higher thoughts, nobler deeds, and greater achievements, radiating the same light out in the service of others, to God and our fellowmen. And we shall be in the words of Tennyson,
"A goodly company, the flower of men
To serve as model for the Mighty world
And be the fair beginning of a time.
I made them lay their hands in mine and swear
To reverence their King as if he were their Conscience
And their conscience as their King.
The world needs many men today;
Red-blooded men along life's way,
With cheerful smiles and helping hands,
And with the faith that understands
The beauty of the simple deed,
Which serves another's hour of need.
Strong men to stand beside the weak,
Kind men to hear what others speak,
True men to keep our country's laws
And guard its honour and its cause;
Men who will bravely play life's game
Nor ask reward of gold or fame.
He has not served who gathers gold,
Nor has he served whose life is told
In selfish battles he has won,
Or deeds or skill that he has done;
But he has served who now and then
Has helped along his fellowmen."
This paper was presented by M.W. Bro. R.V. Harris, PGM, Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, and was donated to the Board of Masonic Education by Bro. G. Vickers, PGS, Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia.