The Masonic Trowel

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From The Grand Lodge of Texas

As Masons, we are taught to symbolically use the Common Gavel and the other implements of Masonry to transform the Rough Ashlar into a Perfect Ashlar that is properly prepared to serve its building purpose. The Rough and Perfect Ashlars are two of the movable Jewels of the Lodge. The Rough Ashlar is a stone taken from the quarry in its rude and natural state while the Perfect Ashlar is a the stone after it has been cut, squared and fitted for the builders use.

As Masonic symbols they teach a moral lesson. The Rough Ashlar represents man in his imperfect state and symbolizes the uneducated man unaware of his potential. The Perfect Ashlar represents the educated man who is striving to perfect his relationship to God and his fellow man. Throughout the Masonic initiation process, the initiate is constantly admonished to develop his mental and spiritual self. This development should be a continual task and, in this sense, Masonry should be considered a life-long journey as we strengthen ourselves intellectually and morally. The Rough and Perfect Ashlars represents the Masonís transformation from an imperfect state to a state of perfection at which he hopes to arrive by a virtuous education and the blessings of God.

Within our Masonic education, we are exposed to issues related to fraternity and equality. The basic concept being that no man should consider himself better than another, that he should always be willing to contribute his time, talent, and resources to the betterment of Masonry and mankind in general, and to teach the principles of Masonry to our fellow Mason. However, before we can teach others Masonic principles we must understand and live those principles.

The lessons taught revolve around characteristics of moral excellence and responsibility that we should strive to emulate in our daily lives, within our families, as citizens in society, and in our Lodges. We can think of these virtues as ashlars or building blocks waiting to be arranged upon the Trestleboard where we are constructing our perfect moral and Masonic building.

What are these virtues? There are many and only a few are listed here: Prudence, Temperance, Chastity, Sobriety, Zeal, Honor, Fidelity, Punctuality, Forgiveness, Charity, Kindness, Generosity, Gratitude to God, Love of Mankind, Confidence in Human Nature, Truth, Justice, and Toleration.

As a Mason, one must strive to develop a character of moral uprightness. He must be true to his convictions, always follow the Masonic virtues, and resist the pressures of the world to lower oneís own standards. As Masons, we should be pillars of society and try to lift others up to a higher standard of moral and righteous living. As men and Masons our lives must be founded upon the highest principals of morality, integrity, and honesty.

Time does not permit each of these virtues to be discussed. Instead we would like to concentrate for a few minutes upon the last three Masonic virtues, which can be characterized as the crown of Masonic virtues, Toleration, Justice, and Truth.

Toleration. Toleration is the ability to respect the nature, beliefs, or behavior of others. Masonry teaches that every man has the right to his opinions and beliefs. No man has the right to dictate to another in matters of faith. Many in society have equated toleration with the acceptance of those beliefs and actions that are morally wrong. Toleration does not teach this view. While Masons should be tolerate of views that are contrary to our own, it does not mean we must accept those beliefs when they are morally wrong or conflict with the laws of God. Masons must practice toleration in our dealings with others and respect the right of the individual to his own faith and to form his own opinions. Masons must be defenders of toleration

Justice. Justice is equity, honor, and fairness in oneís dealings with others. It is moral rightness. Masons should judge others as we judge ourselves. We should always look for the good in others and their actions. We should believe everyone is honest and sincere in his beliefs and actions. Justice gives everyone his due, is not rash or censorious, nor hates sin so much that it loves mankind too little. As Masons were are encouraged to stand upright in our beliefs and deal justly with our fellowman.

Truth. Truth is the crowning virtue of Masonry. Truth can symbolize divinity and is the foundation of every virtue. The dictionary defines truth as fidelity to a standard and conformity to fact or actuality. Truth is most often used to mean correspondence to fact or with what actually occurred. As Masons, we should be sincere in all our dealings with others. Society today has a twisted perception of truth. People look for ways to pervert what actually occurred or was said to fulfill their own selfish goals. As Masons, we should stand for truthfulness and abhor the perversion of truth.

We should all strive to emulate the Masonic virtues. Toleration, Justice, and Truth: the great lights of Masonry. May they shine in our lives and in our lodges.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014