The Masonic Trowel

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FREEMASONRY may be compared unto a human being. Like man himself, it consists of two parts - body and soul. The body of Masonry is the frame, the covering, the external phases, containing within itself the Masonic symbols, ceremonies, usages and customs. The soul of Masonry is the essence, the internal, invisible spirit, embracing within itself the Masonic ideas and conception a of the world and of life, the fundamental ideas and principles of Masonry: it is the immortal fire that animates and moulds the grosser frame, ever winding itself in love around all human things. The spirit of Masonry consists of that worship of the Great Architect of the Universe, which is manifested, when before the altar of truth, we solemnly pledge ourselves to an unfeigned trust in God, to an upright and conscientious rule of life, to an all- embracing love of our fellow-men. The fundamental ideas and principles of Masonry have ever prevailed among men, and therefore the spirit of Masonry is as ancient as mankind - it was born with the first man. The spirit of Masonry, the essence and soul of Masonry is nothing more than the spirit of humanity; our aim and object is none other than to honor, foster and promote the intellectual nobility and worth of the human race. This spirit of Masonry is the bright heavenly spirit of the Masonic art which exists and has existed everywhere and at all times, wherever and whenever man has existed ; it is confined to no time or place, to no prescribed form. The spirit of Masonry is that invisible sun-light, in which the mind may wander and contemplate truth; it is that sun-warmth which fills and pervades all human hearts, causing them to beat in love and unison; it is the sentiment of mutually sympathising minds," for  

" Man is one
And he hath one great heart. It is thus we feel,  
With a gigantic throb athwart the sea;  
Each others' rights and wrongs; thus are we men."  

This free, all-embracing spirit has, nevertheless, a visible body, an external phasis, namely, the Masonic symbols, ceremonies and forms. Freemasonry is no mere superficial, visionary idea, no Utopian scheme or fleeting shadow, no misty phantom of the brain; it assumes a positive form and shape, and enters into the outer world visibly and audibly, actively and effectively. Its symbols are mostly borrowed from architecture, which science teaches us a strict obedience to the rules and laws of morality, as sure and reliable, as it is embracing of the world and of humanity. It is a distinguishing peculiarity of Freemasonry, that it teaches its doctrines in symbols and ceremonies, and not in words. The halls of Masonry are halls of images, into which the Mason can enter, contemplating and reflecting upon the objects which meet his view. The ceremonies, usages and customs of Masonry are so many living images, which likewise invite contemplation and reflection. This visible embodiment of the spirit of Masonry has the great advantage that the spirit presents itself to our comprehension not in barren ideas or words, but in living shapes. Of particular importance are our Masonic ceremonies, our living symbols, because they require not only contemplation, but also action and performance - they lay claim to the whole man, requiring of him deeds and actions. The symbolic forms and ceremonies necessarily require a place where they can be performed and practiced; and no less do they require initiated adepts, who understand the symbols, who reflectingly contemplate them, who can teach their true meaning, and perform the ceremonies. The consecrated place for the symbolical representation of the spirit of Masonry is in the Lodge. Here the members of the fraternity unite in love, striving in noble emulation to fulfill the duties of love towards the Masonic art, and towards the Brethren. The Brethren, united in a Lodge, are a symbol of the fraternity bound in freedom and in love, and at the same time an emblem of mankind united in freedom and in love. The Lodge is the living union of the body and soul of Freemasonry. If Masonry was a doctrine taught only in words, then any one could read, study and think for himself at his home; but being a doctrine of. symbols, it requires a place where these symbols may be presented and where the symbolic ceremonies and usages may be practiced. The members of a Lodge have therefore a double duty imposed on them; first to practice the Masonic art, that is, the symbolic representation of the spirit of Masonry; and secondly, practically to perform among themselves the duties taught by the Masonic doctrines. No real, zealous Freemason will shrink from this double activity; he will rather be an industrious attendant at the Lodge meetings, and cheerfully assist in promoting the fraternal social life. It is certainly true that one can be a Mason without being a visitor or even a member of a Lodge, but only in the sense, that he cherishes within himself the spirit of Masonry. The fundamental ideas and principles of Masonry can certainly exist without a Lodge - not so Freemasonry; for this requires Masonic practice of the art, within the Lodge; in fraternal intercourse and fellowship with the Brethren.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014