"EMPLOY AND INSTRUCT THE BRETHREN IN
by R.W.Bro. W.Bruce Porter
Senior Grand Warden, Grand Lodge of Manitoba, A.F. & A.M.
52ND INTER-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE OF THE
OFFICERS OF THE FOUR WESTERN CANADIAN
In the Canadian Work, the Immediate Past Master, when
asked; Why the Master is placed in the East?, responds that
he is to "Open his Lodge and employ and instruct the
Brethren in Freemasonry."
This seems to be a rather curious reply, unless it refers to
only the duties immediately at hand. There is no inference of
the duties of governance, administration, leadership, or due
observation of the laws relating to the Lodges.
It is apparent in some cases that Masters, unprepared for
their essential position of leadership, accept this reply as
satisfactorily fulfilling the responsibilities of the office. The
status quo is then maintained for the year by opening and
closing the Lodge, repeating the ritual as required, reading
the minutes, discussing committee reports and participating
at the festive board.
Unfortunately, these Masters have neglected to read, or at
least be cognizant of the other instruction and admonitions to
the Master, throughout the "Work" and ceremonial. For
example, the Installation Ceremony in usual allegory and
symbolism, advises that the Brethren have committed the
government of the Lodge to the care of the Master, and he is
responsible for the proper discharge of the associated
The Master Elect, in like manner, is encouraged to educate
the members about Freemasonry; to practice in the
community at large, benevolence, justice and the precepts of
the Craft; and to observe above all the rule and guide of our
faith, the VOTSL.
The Master Elect is further advised, that in order to
successfully discharge his responsibilities, he should be firm
in principle and able and willing to undertake the
management of the work. A close scrutiny of various other
publications of the Grand Lodge, will complete the list of
expectations of the Master.
One would wonder, how much preparation was done by a
Master Elect, aware of all these duties and responsibilities
and would still arrive on the night of installation without any
detailed plan to ensure a fulfilling and successful year.
The Master Elect can not be excused from his responsibility
to undertake the management of the work, but first he must
have as much or more knowledge about the work, as those,
who he is to teach. But how and where does he gather the
The Grand Lodge of Manitoba, as in other jurisdictions has
the information available for the Master to use in
understanding the full scope of his position. How many
Masters actually take the time to seek out all this
information? How many realistically have the time? To be
adequately informed, a Master would have to review the
The Constitution of the Grand Lodge
The Bylaws of the Craft Lodge
The Lodge Officers' Handbook
The Book of Ceremonials
The Folio of Directives
The Manual of Protocol
And all similar publications
Many Lodges do not have an officer training program nor do
the officers have these publications at their disposal prior to
being installed as Master. The problem is obvious, the
Master Elect is not adequately prepared and in this
circumstance tends to imitate his predecessor or does the
minimum to get by.
Much of the information on the duties of the Master is
wrapped in the envelope of the ritual. There are many and
varied views on the strict sanctity of the work. We are
admonished to keep the confidentiality of what is written, but
the Craft in general has learned collectively over the years
that Masonic education requires an explanation of the
message and so we have a great variety of Masonic books
and literature discussing the system, within due bounds,
would it not be appropriate to do in the same manner, a
summary of the duties and responsibilities of the Master
including those that originate in the work?
This would provide a giant step forward in the instruction of
the Master Elect, without detracting from his enjoyment of
using or listening to the original version in the work. This
may also provide an opportunity to usefully employ the
custodians of the work.
At this particular time in our history, with membership
generally declining and some Lodge doors closing, the
quality of leadership is particularly critical, with the advent of
Masonic renewal in many of the jurisdictions, the
responsibilities of the Master will become more onerous and
time consuming The Master will have to be more innovative
in Lodge activities and programs, for example, the Master
must be committed to carefully allocating the use of time.
A significant factor indicated by research into the
expectations of men, considering membership in a service or
fraternal body, is the amount of time required to participate
and what the time would be used for, ie: amusement,
personal development, social activity, family involvement etc.
This is just one Of the important factors in the overall plan for
the year to meet the requirements of an increasingly diverse
membership. To be effective in his one year term of office, a
Masonic education and leadership program dedicated to the
Master should be mandatory, during his term as Junior and
If a comparison were made between the organization chart
of Grand Lodge and that of a private business corporation,
we would find many similarities. The Grand Master, would be
the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, with jurisdiction
over the entire sales or service area covered. Assisting the
Grand Master would be a multitude of committees and
bureaucrats preparing and publishing various plans of
instruction and directives. There would be a "Board of
Directors" to scrutinize all suggestions from the hinterlands
that might result in change. The District Deputy Grand
Master would be the Region Manager, responsible to the
C.E.O. for the efficiency of collecting delinquent accounts,
supervising the labors of the volunteers and generally
ensuring the harmony of the work place. The Master of the
Lodge would be the local Branch Manager, accountable for
whatever went wrong, regardless of where it happened.
Sound familiar? Such is the way of progress.
While this is a frivolous comparison there is a valid point to
be made. In real world terms, a C.E.O. responsible for the
well being and contentment of thousand of company
members, would never hire a Regional Manager or a local
Branch Manager, without first providing them with a suitable
education and leadership training plan. Masonic jurisdictions
would be well advised to institute a similar practice.
The Grand Lodge of Manitoba in concert with the Masonic
Renewal Committee of North America is actively developing
a Masonic renewal plan for the jurisdiction. There is much
confidence that this approach will directly improve and
prevent recurrence of those problem areas that have been
building over the last thirty years. There is much yet to do,
but at least the problem is finally recognized and is being
Through the ages Masonry has withstood great adversity
and survived, with some adjustments, to carry on, better
than before - and it will again. The enduring life of
Freemasonry is the system itself, the principles, tenets, the
altruistic teachings, the beliefs of it's adherents and it's
universality in brotherhood. We learn that the earliest
manuscript constitutions began with a convocation to the
Almighty Father in Heaven and subsequently included a
series of what is now called - "The Old Charges" which was
intended to govern the Craft and their behavior. These old
charges also included procedures used to make a Mason
and an obligation. The beginnings of Masonry, then included
a religious connotation, moral instruction and an obligation.
Through the Eighteenth Century, the ritual slowly took shape
by the efforts of many minds until reaching full development
following the union of the two English Grand Lodges.
The ritual is of vital importance, as it serves as a common
thread throughout the Masonic world. Even through some
variation in the wording and form of ritual is evident, they all
exemplify the same fundamental truth. The great importance
of the ritual is that it is an essential means of passing
Freemasonry from one generation to another and of
teaching the noble precepts which have served the Craft for
hundreds of years. The Initiate, even though interested and
impressed by the spectacle and quaint phraseology of the
words, may view it many times but not fully grasp the
essential message contained in the presentation.
It is necessary to live out the precepts set forth in the ritual to
discover the full meaning of the teachings of Freemasonry.
To just portray a good degree and leave the understanding
to the new Brother, is not enough. The ritual must be
explained to bring out the tenets and principles alluded to
and then the full meaning of these must be conveyed to
ensure understanding. This done, the candidate must be
reassured of what he was taught by seeing in his new
Brothers the exemplary attitudes and conduct that give
visual expression to the principles taught.
I have found, that most newer Brethren have an interest in
how Ancient Freemasonry really is, and how far back the
teachings of the Craft can be traced. Some time ago, I came
upon an historical record, that illustrates the point. Robert
The Bruce, King of Scotland, sent in a letter to the Pope in
1320, a document known as "The Declaration of Arbroath",
which really was a declaration of Scottish independence.
The declaration outlined unjust interference of England in the
affairs of Scotland, in which activity, England was being
supported by the Pope. In an impassioned manner, the
Scots declared they would protect their rights and liberties in
these words;- "For it is not glory, it is not riches, neither is it
honor, but it is freedom alone that we fight and contend for,
which no honest man will lose, but his life." The letter went
on to gently remind the Pope that he was " Vice Regent of
one who makes no distinction between Jews nor Greeks,
Scots nor English."
When Freemasonry was de-christianized, five hundred years
later, this prescript was introduced and became one of our
most cherished principles that permitted Freemasons of
many faiths to join together at the same altar, without
compromising their freedom to worship the God of their
I have touched on the requirement to not only teach the
principles and tenets of Freemasonry, but it is equally
important to teach the meaning of these fundamental
precepts. The new Brother, as well as those of long
standing, will appreciate further understanding beyond that
which is given in the ritual. Not because the traditional intent
is inadequate, but that we must at all times encourage the
best possible enlightenment of the membership.
The teachings of Freemasonry are well founded and have
remained the universal standard of good human
relationships through good times and bad. As the cycles of
history continue to be repeated, the morals and behavior of
the masses are affected by the fashion of the day, but
Freemasonry continues intact.
I never cease to be amazed, when I read of conditions and
events long past, so different and yet similar to what is being
experienced today. For example, a recent magazine article
stated the following:
Abuse did not suddenly appear in the 1960s' with the
feminist movement, as has been claimed. A British
philosopher, John Stuart Mill, commented on the subject as
early as 1869: "From the earliest twilight of human society,
every woman was found in a state of bondage to some man.
How vast is the number of any men in any great country,
who are little higher than brutes, and this never prevents
them from being able through the laws of marriage, to obtain
a victim." In British Common Law, husbands were authorized
to chastise their wives with any reasonable instrument. Later
the law was modified so men could beat their wives so long
as the weapon was no thicker than a man's thumb - which is
how the phrase - Rule of Thumb -came into use. In the 19th
Century, a judge stated: "if no permanent injury has been
inflicted by the husband, it is better to draw the curtains, shut
out the public gaze and leave the parties to forget and
Such was the views of those who were charged with guiding
moral behavior of the public during the same time span
when Freemasonry was confirming it's form " In perfect
unanimity and accord, in which we all greatly rejoice, so may
it long continue until time shall be no more."
It is a testament to the vision and vital purpose of those who
framed and maintained the "Genuine Tenets of our Time -
Honored Institution." In a period of greatly different public
conception of ethics and morals. Translating what has
happened in the past, we must make Masonic education,
including the teaching of the meaning of our tenets and
principles, first priority.
The Scottish Rite Bulletin in Minnesota published the Ten
Commandments of Freemasonry, which was reprinted in the
Freemason in November 1975. This is an excellent example
of explaining the meaning of Masonic Terms:
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF FREEMASONRY:- are
the key to those things which are fundamental of a way of
life, which Masonry teaches, and endeavors to impress on
The first group of three may be termed -
attitudes towards others - Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
BROTHERLY LOVE teaches a proper respect and
friendship for our fellow man.
RELIEF is that duty to render assistance to others who
need our help.
TRUTH is that divine attribute which is the foundation of
every virtue and which should be the guide in our lives for
dealing with others.
The next group of three may be termed - The spiritual
attitudes. These are Faith, Hope and Charity.
FAITH is the foundation of our belief in those spiritual and
moral values which distinguish man from beast.
HOPE is that state of mind which leads man
dangers, trials and tribulations, to achievement of worthwhile
CHARITY as distinguished from relief and alms
that noble love of our fellow man which causes us to strive to
achieve those things looking to the improvement of
The third group may be termed physical and mental
attitudes. They are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and
TEMPERANCE is that restraint the individual exercises in
all matters which prevent the impairment of his faculties
through over indulgence.
FORTITUDE is a steadiness of purpose which
man to undergo perils, danger and even pain in order to
accomplish worthwhile purposes.
PRUDENCE is that ability to reason, to plan
ahead and to
lay out a proper course for the accomplishment of those
things which contribute to our well being.
JUSTICE is a virtue consistent with both divine
law. Is that guide or standard by which we can determine
what is right to be done and so to achieve a just and well
These TEN COMMANDMENTS OF MASONRY present no
new fundamental truths, but they simply present time
honored standards of conduct which have in all ages
contributed to a well ordered society.
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