The Master Mason
You are now a Master Mason, and as such, you are entitled to all the privileges of Masonry, both in your lodges and in the Craft at large.
The Master Mason Degree is properly known as the Sublime Degree; it is the summit of Craft Masonry. The Moral aspects of a Mason's character are foreshadowed in the Entered Apprentice Degree. He who lives sincerely by the principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, strengthened by the virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice, is truly a moral man in the literal meaning of the word. A Master Mason has a public as well as a Masonic character, and his conscientious effort should ever be to support that character with dignity and sincerity.
The Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft Degrees were practised in the Operative era, and their teachings convey principles that are taught through the Operative sciences. But the Master Mason Degree applies more to the Speculative era; its philosophies are a culmination of the experiences that man accumulates in his progress from youth to manhood. In the first and second degrees you were surrounded by the symbols and emblems of architecture; in the third degree you found yourself in a different order of symbolism, one cast in the language of the soul, its life, its tragedy, and its triumph.
The outstanding features of the Master Mason Degree are the Master Mason's obligation in the first section, and the dramatic presentation of the Hiramic legend in the second section, all so completely summarized in the lecture covering its historical, philosophical, and symbolic teachings. The Master Mason's obligation contains within itself, a complete code of Masonic conduct. The Hiramic legend is one of the Landmarks of the Craft. Without the story of the Temple Builder, our Fraternity would lose its distinctive character. In this legend we find dramatized the ultimate lessons of Masonic Philosophy - fidelity in the face of adversity, victory over death, and the immortality of the soul.
During your progress through the degrees, you observed that you were continuously seeking more light. This is indeed but a symbol of your progress through life in which you seek truth; as you progress, more light or truth is revealed, but, when the end of the journey is reached, you realize that the ultimate revelation of Divine Truth can only come to your individual consciousness through the grace of Almighty God.
Remember Now Thy Creator
Few passages of the Holy Writings will be so often recalled as this beautiful passage from Ecclesiastes XII. In it, the wise writer expresses, in figurative language, some of the profoundest realities of human existence, prefixed by the thrilling exhortation of "Remember now they Creator in the days of thy youth". Of all the quotations, allusions, facts, and names taken from the Great Light and made part of the Masonic ritual, none has a more secure place in the hearts of the Brethren than this beautiful passage.
The Landmarks compiled by Dr. Albert G. Mackey, a respected and learned Masonic writer of an earlier day, are listed in the booklet that was presented to you at the completion of your degree. They are twenty-five items of basic importance to the Craft which are not subject to change, and whose strict preservation is essential to the stability of the institution. These twenty-five Landmarks are generally accepted by all recognized jurisdictions, but the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia has declared the nine listed on pages 3 and 4 of the booklet of paramount importance.
The Grand Lodge
As a Master Mason you are subject to the laws, rules, and edicts of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, which is presided over by the Most Worshipful the Grand Master. He is assisted by other principal officers who are the Deputy Grand Master, the Senior and Junior Grand Wardens, the Grand Treasurer, and the Grand Secretary. The province is divided into sixteen Masonic Districts, each of which is presided over by a District Deputy Grand Master, who, as his title indicates, is the personal representative of the Grand Master in his District during his term.
The laws and rules governing the Grand Lodge are enumerated in the Book of Constitutions which has also been presented to you. This book also contains the Declarations of Principles covering Freemasonry in Nova Scotia, the Acts of Incorporation of the Grand Lodge and of the Masonic Home at Windsor, the regulations of various awards of Grand Lodge, and the regulations covering the formation and government of constituent lodges. The government of your lodge is covered by the by-laws which have also been presented to you.
Both these books should be read carefully, and kept available for your review, as many interesting points do arise from time to time that may be clarified by reference to them, a good knowledge of them is essential to the smooth operation of your lodge.
Your Mother Lodge
You are now a full-fledged member of your Lodge and as such you have responsibilities as well as privileges. Your lodge exists by virtue of a Warrant from the Grand Lodge. Among other things, the Warrant gives the lodge the privilege of selecting candidates from among those who petition for its degrees. In the exercise of this right, your Brethren have seen fit to accept you into membership, and it is now up to you to demonstrate that they have made no mistake. This you can do by honorably discharging your various duties in such a manner as to merit the rank and title of Master Mason.
Your first duty is regular lodge attendance; only through such can you hope to imbibe the spirit of Masonry, to learn the customs, usages, and traditions of the Craft, to understand and appreciate the beauty of the work, and to enter into the true fraternal fellowship of the Craft.
You should pay your dues promptly; your lodge has financial obligations, and you as a member must assume your share.
Probably your greatest responsibility as a member of the lodge is in connection with the ballot. It is essential that you should understand the ethics of the ballot box. As more than one black ball rejects an applicant, and as the ballot box is secret, you are invested with absolute power over the Masonic future of every applicant on whom you vote. This is a sobering responsibility in the discharge of which the welfare of the Craft should be your only consideration. If you KNOW of anything against an applicant which would prevent him from becoming a worthy member of the Craft, you should vote accordingly. On the other hand, mere personal antagonism is not valid ground for rejection. The fact that you have a personal prejudice against an individual does not necessarily disqualify him as a candidate. Political, business, or social differences should never influence your vote, which should be based on your honest appraisal of the applicant's character and be tempered by broad Masonic charity. Of all Masonic confidences entrusted to a Brother, the ballot is one of the most important. Its processes should always be treated with utmost respect and sacred confidence. It can never be discussed within the lodge room and should never be discussed outside.
In becoming a Mason, you have made a definite investment of time and money; whether or not this investment proves to be a good one is very largely up to you. Individually, as a result of your experience thus far, you should already be a wiser and better man; your Masonic future is largely in your own hands. Each man gets out of Masonry about as much as he puts into it. If you would get the most out of your membership you must be willing to work. Learn the ritual and be available for any service that the Master may require of you. Serve on committees, help with little chores, visit the sick, attend funerals and Church services. A modest consistent demonstration of your interest and ability may result in your being elected to an office; the privilege of going through the various offices will be a rich experience.
You should, at all times, conduct yourself with dignity and decorum, both within and without the lodge room. Never allow yourself to be drawn into any argument or situation through which the Craft may suffer disrepute. Do nothing during degree work that will spoil the work for the candidate or embarrass the Master; the impression that a candidate received during his degrees leaves a permanent imprint on his Masonic life, so be careful that he receives nothing but the best from you. Courtesy and affability at all times create the warmhearted fellowship which binds us together in brotherly love and affection.
The most important part of our Masonic work in this jurisdiction is the operation of the Nova Scotia Freemasons' Home, founded at Windsor in 1910. The property has been enlarged and renovated, until at present it has accommodation for about 50 guests. It provides a high standard of accommodation for elderly Brethren, their wives or widows. It is the only Masonic Home in Canada, a fact of which we can be justly proud. It is supported by a portion of your initiation fee, by a portion of your annual dues, and by income from endowments. Many of the lodges contribute much to the welfare and happiness of the guests by visits and gifts. A visit to the Home, at your earliest convenience, is earnestly recommended; we are sure it will make you as proud of it as we are.
There are some other aspects of charity that should be mentioned at this time for your information so that you may regard the subject in its wider form. Although Charity is one of our principal tenets, Freemasonry is not a charitable organization in the literal sense of the word; you will note that the amount of our dues would preclude such a possibility. But many worthy cases of need are assisted by practical sympathy in a manner appropriate to the circumstances, and your promise to "help, aid, and assist" may sometimes be tested.
One of the pleasures that you may now experience is that of visiting other lodges. To do so, you should carry an up-to-date dues receipt, properly signed, and be prepared to be briefly examined on some of the secret work. Passing this examination should be a matter of satisfaction and the visits will greatly enlarge your enjoyment and knowledge of the institution, as well as widen your circle of friendships. Many lodges organize groups for inter-lodge visitation in which case you would be "vouched for" and would not be required to be further examined. You will find that all lodges welcome visitors warmly and treat them with utmost courtesy and hospitality.
We hope your Masonic membership may bring you much happiness and lasting satisfaction. The ritual and lectures speak for themselves; practice and experience will develop their meanings. These booklets have only endeavoured briefly to supplement the teachings of the degrees for your ready understanding as a beginner. We hope that they have stirred your interest for further reading and study in which you will find much enjoyment.
This paper is derived from a booklet prepared by the Grand Lodge Of New York, suitably amended in Nova Scotia, to educate newly raised Master Masons. It was donated to the Board Of Masonic Education by R.W. Bill Marks in May 1990.