ideas and principles of masonry
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
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:
- Will he strengthen the order and be an asset to the Lodge?
- Would I invite him to my home to become a friend of the family?
- Would he be invited to the home fo other members?
- Does he have the support of his family in seeking admittance?
- Is he financially able to continue his membership without depriving his
family of the essentials of life?
- Are his reasons for seeking membership honorable and acceptable in the
opinion of the committee?
- Is his desire for membership a voluntary one or due to the solicitation of
- Is the petitioner charitable by nature?
- Does he contribute to needy causes as his finances permit?
- Is he charitable in thought and action toward his fellow man?
- Is he prompt in his financial obligations and honorable in his dealings
- Does he believe in a Supreme Being?
- 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?
- 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
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:
- All officers must speak clearly so that nothing is lost.
- 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".
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?
- Investigating Committee________________
- Entertainment Committee?__________________
- Sick and Visiting Committee?________________
- Finance Committee?_________________
- Education & Research Committee?____________
- Instruction Committee?___________
- Attendance Committee?_________
- 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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
back to top