The MM's OB and the FPOF


This act of consecration is contained in the M.M.'s OB.  The candidate dedicates 
himself to those duties which every Mason owes to his brethren.  The various 
parts of the body are used as symbols to illustrate the lessons of brotherly 
love, in which are encompassed all the duties man owes to his brother.  These 
are known to Masons as the F.P.O.F.  Their original place was in the F.C.D. but 
in the course of time they were given their present position to emphasize the 
duty and beauty of fellowship.

The desire for fellowship is primitive and powerful.  At one time membership in 
a tribe was essential for protection.

The human story is the story of the breaking down and building up of human 
associations; for, while people find it difficult to live together in harmony, 
they find it even more difficult to live apart.  Out of the warmth of human 
contact there has come the ability to speak and to write; to appreciate the 
good, the beautiful, and the true; to delve into the realms of philosophy and 
science; to scale the heights of art and religion.  Fellowship may begin as a 
matter of human necessity but it can become the source of human grandeur.  
During the ceremonies of all three degrees, and especially in the M.M.D., the 
candidate is made aware that harmonious fellowship is the salient purpose of the 
fraternity.  Seldom do we find the various elements of fellowship demonstrated 
so effectively as they are exemplified for every M.M. in the OB. and ceremonies 
of the third degree.  Here is the central theme of Masonry summed up concisely, 
and communicated symbolically by reference to various parts of the body.  The 
elements of genuine fellowship are without number, but they are classified for 
every M.M. under F. headings, known throughout the fraternity as the F.P.O.F.

The first P. is related to the H. and reminds us of the common manner of 
greeting, especially in Europe and America.  "H. to H., I greet you as a 
brother."  We cannot overestimate the significance of the human hand in the 
bodily organism.  In biblical times it was regarded as the organ of mediation 
and transference.  Consecrations, ordinations, healing, and blessings are 
communicated by the imposition of hands.  Hands are clasped in token of a 
contract and also as a pledge of friendship.

Certainly the clasp of the hand indicates an absence of malice.  It shows the 
absence of any harmful weapon that a hand might conceal and demonstrates a trust 
without which fellowship is impossible.

The second P. is related to the F. and reminds us of our duty to stand with our 
brethren or to accompany them for their good as well as for our own.  It is 
commonly held that man's principal needs are food, clothing, and shelter, but 
there is a fourth without which the other three are meaningless.
- 2 -

This is companionship, which is to be distinguished from the broader concept of 
fellowship.  It may be regarded as a segment of fellowship.  It is dramatized 
for Masons in the second of the F.P.O.F. the expression "F. to F." conveys the 
idea that we stand together.  Some of us have had periods of loneliness which 
help us to appreciate the tragedy of being unattached.  When a man becomes a 
Mason he knows that he is not alone.  Standing with his brethren he is saved 
from the pangs of desolation.  This blessing requires us to remember always, for 
our good and the good of others, that we stand together "F. to F."

The third of the F.P.O.F. is related to the K. and emphasizes our need for 
reverence.  Behind man and all his achievements is the work of a divine Creator 
before whom we can only ask, "When I consider Thy heavens, the moon and the 
stars which Thou hast ordained, what is man?"

A genuine fellowship among human beings is not possible if we stress our own 
accomplishments, but only as we acknowledge our dependence upon a power greater 
than ourselves.  Such recognition binds us into a fellowship and the accepted 
symbol in our Masonic teaching is the K. bent in reverence as we pray for our 
brethren and for ourselves.

The fourth of the F.P.O.F. is related to the B. and reminds us of man's need of 
a friend and brother to whom he can entrust his secrets.  The B. is regarded as 
the repository of a man's heart and soul.  Here a man's inner self is securely 
insulated from all the other selves around him.  He has an inner being, a 
private self, to which he must be true.  He must be his own man.  But too much 
privacy may lead to morbid and exaggerated introspection.

Besides privacy, a human being needs sociability.  He must keep himself open to 
others so that he may enjoy a measure of communion with them.  But this too has 
its danger.  His individuality may become dissolved in the unconsciousness of 
mere community life.

The Fourth P. in the Masonic analysis of fellowship provides the remedy.  A man 
opens his heart, not to the whole world, but to a brother and friend in the 
confidence that what is said will be kept inviolable.  Confidentiality is the 
qualification to which he is bound in the OB. of the M.M.D.  The pressure of B. 
against B. assures him that his inner self is not forfeited, nor has he cut 
himself off from full communion with his fellow men.  To experience fellowship 
on this level is a precious privilege and to betray it shocking villainy.

The Fifth and last of the F.P.O.F. dramatized in the M.M.D. is symbolized by the 
B.  This portion of the body is associated in our minds with bearing burdens, 
lending support to those in need, and remaining staunch under all circumstances.
- 3 -

The strength of a man's B. is regarded as the measure of his independence, his 
self-reliance, his initiative, and his personal responsibility.  

To be told that one is a man with backbone elicits a sense of pride in all of us 
that we are not leaning on others but carrying our share of life's burden.

Every old soldier knows that he is expected to carry his own pack.  He must not 
push it off on someone else's back.  But in the same sacred volume there is the 
instruction to "bear ye one another's burdens".  This is no invitation to 
forfeit our independence, but rather an invitation to add a new dimension to 
life.  No man must stagger on alone until he sinks under the load that life 
places upon him, when the shoulder of a brother might ease it for him.  This is 
the meaning of the H.O.B.; it symbolizes the support we owe to a brother, when 
he is threatened by the variety of burdens that may be laid upon him.  In 
particular, we must protect his reputation from idle gossip or malicious 
slander, especially when he is absent and cannot defend himself.  This calls for 
loyalty, courage, and discretion of a very high order, and epitomizes the spirit 
of fellowship required of every M.M.  Thus the various parts of the body, the 
H., the F., the K., the B., and the B. become valid symbols to assist us in 
understanding the various qualities of fellowship in our Masonic fraternity.
	               From - Beyond the Pillars
	                   "Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario
	               Abridged by: R.W. Bro. Stan Payne
	                    Starbuck Lodge # 180 G.R.M.