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ideas and principles of masonry

by Bro. E. A. Snell

I "The West Gate"

For the past several issues, we have discussed the question "Why did you join Freemasonry?" We have read the article Things the Public May be Told about Freemasonry. Can we now assume that each of us in his own way has found the answer to his own individual questions, "Why did I join Freemasonry?"

If so, now I pose the question, "How are we going to retain those ideals and principles of Freemasonry as laid down by our forefathers?" One way, I submit, is by the thorough investigation of all applicants by the Investigating Committee.

Masonry owes the applicant nothing. If there is any doubt, the Committee should give Masonry and the Lodge the benefit.

The applicant then must pass the following tests in the affirmative without reservation or equivocations of any kind:

  1. Will he strengthen the order and be an asset to the Lodge?
  2. Would I invite him to my home to become a friend of the family?
  3. Would he be invited to the home fo other members?
  4. Does he have the support of his family in seeking admittance?
  5. Is he financially able to continue his membership without depriving his family of the essentials of life?
  6. Are his reasons for seeking membership honorable and acceptable in the opinion of the committee?
  7. Is his desire for membership a voluntary one or due to the solicitation of some friend?
  8. Is the petitioner charitable by nature?
  9. Does he contribute to needy causes as his finances permit?
  10. Is he charitable in thought and action toward his fellow man?
  11. Is he prompt in his financial obligations and honorable in his dealings with others?
  12. Does he believe in a Supreme Being?
  13. It must always be kept in mind that "when anyone is said to be a Mason, the world at large may know he is one to whom the burdened heart may pour forth its sorrow and the distresses spirit prefer its suit; whose hand is guided by justice and whose heart is expanded by 'benevolence'. Will the applicant be such a one?
  14. Is he bigoted or prejudiced? A negative answer must be obtained.

When a man's character is in conflict with the universally admitted principles of Freemasonry, it is far better to refuse admittance than it is to consider the person who sponsored him. It is often better to lose a candidate than to gain a member who adds nothing. The main function of Masonry is to "make good men better"; it is not obligated to save sinners.

Membership is too priceless to be shared without 'due consideration'.

Let us look well to the West Gate!!

II. The First Step on the Journey.

As an old Chinese Proverb says "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."

The applicant has become the candidate when we accept his petition. Masonry now owes the candidate much. He is about to take a single step along the journey of Masonry. He expects to be taught. How better can we teach than by the exemplification in our daily lives of those lessons learned in the E.A. degree. He wants to learn everything a candidate should know. He has a right to expect that his Lodge will teach him not only the forms and ceremonies, through which he will pass when taking the degrees, but also the aims, purposes and ideals of the Order. He has a right to expect answers to those many questions that will arise as he moves along that first step. He has a right to expect that he will not be left to flounder around in the darkness when Light was the thing he requested when he was asked "What do you most desire?"

One of the duties of the W.M. is 'to employ and instruct the brethren in Masonry' or 'to give them good and wholesome instruction for their labors.'

Masonic Education and Inspiration is the first step of our thousand mile journey. At the 1977 Annual Communication of Grand Lodge, section 122 of the Constitution was amended to read: 'All business of the Lodges may be conducted in any of the three Craft degrees as provided in the ceremonies; except that when there are no F.C. or E.A.'s present, business must be done in the third degree.' [Ed Note:- There is no such restriction in the Grand Lodge of New Brunswick Constitution] The greatest argument presented in favor of this amendment was that education for the newly admitted Brother could be better accomplished. It is incumbent then upon the W.M. of every Lodge to set apart certain meetings of the year or a portion of several meetings, for the study and discussion of Masonry. To our newly admitted Brethren, especially, periodic sessions devoted to Masonry, its history, symbolism, development and its system of morality and brotherhood, based on the V.S.L., should help them to understand and appreciate the fraternity they have joined.

'Only through the medium of Masonic education and inspiration, originating in the Lodge room itself, may those who are admitted into Masonry be taught that ours is not a club or mutual benefit society, but a joint effort for individual self-improvement - an institution for learning and cultivating the art of living and building of character."

    --  (Designs upon the Trestle Board - H. R. Hermman.)

Let us make use of our medium of Masonic Education and Inspiration.

III. A Word from the Candidate.

"Speak clearly, if you speak at all,
Carve every word before you let it fall."

    -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

I am now your Brother and I hope you will not be offended by what I am going to say. It would pain me very much if I should be the cause of giving you one moment's heartache. You see, I want to be your brother in fact, as well as in intention of theory; but what I am going to say now has to be said, nevertheless, not for my sake - it is too late for that now - but for the sake of those who come after me, other candidates for the beautiful and instructive degrees of Freemasonry.

The other evening, after I had passed through the first part of the degree, I tried my very best to hear every word the brother was saying who was delivering the lecture explaining the floor work. What I did get were wonderful lessons expressed in the most beautiful language that it ever has been my privilege to hear. But, I am sorry to say, I was able to hear only part of it. The conversation of those brethren in the far corner of the room drowned out what may have been the most important part of the lecture. I wouldn't know. You see, whether I wanted to or not, I just had to hear those "stage whispers".

The brother giving the lecture tried his best to hold our attention; that conversation seemed to bother him, too. At first he tried to talk a little louder to get above that conversation in the corner, but it seemed to hurt his throat to have to talk so loud. Then he stopped several times, hoping perhaps that that would suggest to those brethren to subdue their voices sufficiently to permit him to continue his lecture. It was a long lecture, too, and the brother giving it had, no doubt, spent many hours learning it. And even if it were all printed where I could read it at my leisure, I doubt if I would ever be able to catch again that elation and inspiration which that beautiful ceremony had brought me. I am sure it was not the intention of those brethren to allow me to hear only a portion of that enlightening discourse; but just the same, their thoughtlessness deprived me of parts of the lecture which they themselves may not be able to give. It interrupted the elevated thoughts and feelings with which the lecturer was inspiring me. Just what of beauty, of elevation of thought, of true inspiration to nobler deed and greater achievements I have missed, I will probably never know. This king of inspiration, unfortunately, does not come very often.

    --  R.E.C.Bruckner, Texas Grand Lodge

The lessons to be learned here are simple:

  1. All officers must speak clearly so that nothing is lost.
  2. No visitations and side line conversations should be tolerated.

IV. "The Second Step of the Journey"

"All things are soon prepared in a well-ordered house."

The second step in the journey of a thousand miles might be:-How can we assist the Worshipful Master in his Masonic Education and inspiration? Perhaps if each one of us took the time to fill out and complete the questionnaire below and then mailed it to the Worshipful Master of our Lodge, it might help them prepare for a "well-ordered house".


Name: _______________________________________________

Age: _____________________________

Occupation: ___________________________________

Do you attend Lodge regularly? If not, why not? ______________________________

Do you believe Lodge meetings, aside form degree nights, could be made more interesting? How? ________________________

Would you like to take part in Degree work? __________________________________

Are you interested in becoming an Officer? __________________________________________

Would you care to become a member of any of the following committees?

  1. Investigating Committee________________
  2. Entertainment Committee?__________________
  3. Sick and Visiting Committee?________________
  4. Finance Committee?_________________
  5. Education & Research Committee?____________
  6. Instruction Committee?___________
  7. Attendance Committee?_________
  8. Paraphenalia Committee? ________

If called upon to assist would you be willing to volunteer your service? _________________

What particular work of the Lodge are you interested in? ______________________

Have you any suggestions for the improvement of the Lodge? ____________________________________________

Do you have any interesting hobbies? _________________________________________________

Please list List any special programs you would like the Lodge to sponsor ____________________________________________________

Comments: _______________________________________________________________________________

Mail this to the Worshipful Master now - "Let it not be supposed that you have laboured here in vain and spent your time for nought".

V. The Journey

One of the first things one had to study in World War II pre-Aircrew Mathematics and Science, was the study of vectors and velocities. It was almost impossible for an aircraft to be on course without constant correction. The applicant who became a candidate and who is now a member has advanced several steps along the thousand mile journey. Where he has erred, it will be expected that he was corrected. He now aspires to become as officer in the Lodge.

"Is he duly and truly prepared? Is he worthy and well qualified?

Has he made suitable proficiency in the preceding steps?"

All questions must be answered in the affirmative if our Brother is to be an officer of whom we can be proud to say, "We look forward with pleasure and anticipation to the day when he will be our Worshipful Master."

Our selection must be very carefully done, keeping in mind the age old admonition: "Who best can work and best agree."

It is incumbent upon each Worshipful Master to continue the Masonic Education, Inspiration and Preparation of the newly appointed officer, since as an officer it is expected that he will be more knowledgeable than other members of the Lodge. With that goal in mind, I make the following suggestions:

  1. Plan at least one workshop during the year and invite all Past Masters of the Lodge and insist that all officers be present. Invite a Grand Lodge office as a resource person.
  2. Plan at least one dinner meeting during the year to which all Past Masters of the Lodge would be invited and insist that all Officers be present. Have a definite Masonic paper presented for discussion.
  3. Plan a panel discussion on some important Masonic subject and assign the newly appointed officers some part in it. The panel discussion to take place at a Lodge meeting.
  4. Draw up a visitation program and assign certain officers to be the official visitors to certain Lodges in the District. Insist on a report at the next regular meeting on the results of their visit.
  5. Assign the newly appointed officer a task that he will like to perform and that will be of interest to the Lodge.

Other ideas will come to mind that could easily be used. The interested officer will hopefully induce the interest of some other members of the Lodge.

We should be well on our journey and every step brings us closer to our goal. Hopefully, Masonry in your Lodge has made some progress along the way. Are Congratulations in order?

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Last modified: March 22, 2014