Tuesday, August 28, 2012


A Man can be a Christian and a Freemason - I know because I am!

“Therefore as God’s Chosen People, Holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 NIV

Regarding the quote above from the Holy Scriptures, which is The Great Light in Freemasonry, it mentions gentleness and this is many times a difficult thing to practice day in and day out. However, even though it is difficult to do it is something a man should do his level best to continue doing in order to be a Gentleman.

Being a Gentleman means being a Gentle Man. I’m certain you can think of someone you know who is a gentle man. Being a gentle man does not mean he is easy so-to-speak; he is firm and strong where it counts, but he is gentle where it counts too.

When you think of a man you know who has and demonstrates this, all too rare a quality, I think you will agree that this man is the kind of man you would like to be associated with, and possibly the kind of man you would like to use as a role model, or a man to emulate.

There is a Psalm that tells us how to be a Gentleman, it is Psalm 15: 1-5

“1 Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? 2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart 3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,
4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, 5 who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. 
He who does these things will never be shaken.”

Finding men who are Gentlemen can be hard to do sometimes, but a search for Gentlemen can be made easier if a person were to look for them in places they tend to congregate and hang out. The best places to look for Gentle Men who are real Gentlemen, Men who are firm in their values and hold a positive outlook on life is in a house of worship and in a Masonic Lodge.

If you are ever in a community that is new to you and you want to meet some fine people who reside in that community go to Church on Sunday. There you will meet some fine people, and some of the men will be Freemasons and some of the Women will be members of the Order of the Easter Star, as well as some fine Christians.

This Blog contains some of my Masonic Papers & also some questions I have received from various anti-Masons. Speaking of those anti-Masons, they have called me some terrible things in posts related to some of my You-Tube videos and in emails. It always amazes me that these people who are quick to tell others of their religion would talk of others the way they do; and I think it would amaze them to know I have been saved (A born again Christian) decades ago. It is true that Freemasonry does not conflict with the Christian Religion, and it's true a man can be a Christian and a Freemason.

Sincerely and Fraternally,
Ed Halpaus
3 John 1:2

“Rejoice in Hope; Be patient under Trial; and Persevere in Prayer.” Romans 12:12

Friday, April 30, 2010

Beauty and Bands 
by Ed Halpaus

In the old Masonic Ritual used in England prior to the union of the Ancients and the Moderns there were two rods used in the ritual, and they were named Beauty and Bands.

These names were allusions to the two rods spoken of by the profit Zechariah in the Great Light of Masonry: In Zechariah 11:7, 10, & 14 are some interesting passages referring to Beauty and Bands. The two staffs which Zechariah named were symbolic of the two roles God directed him to portray; that being two different kinds of shepherds. One shepherd showing how God would reject his people because they had rejected Him and the other demonstrating how God would give over His people to evil shepherds.[i] i.e. God providing the kind of shepherd the people deserve.[ii] Chapter 11 of Zechariah is an interesting chapter of the Bible to read and study.

According to Brother C.C. Hunt in his Book Masonic Concordance of the Holy Bible “the rod called Beauty symbolized ‘Holiness’ and that of Bands ‘Love.’ They were the rods by which the good shepherd led his sheep.” The Prophet Zechariah refers “to sheep, which, deceived by false shepherds, refused to follow the true leader,” and Zechariah therefore broke the rods, since the people were unheeding, “leaving the flock to their own fate.”

Masonically the rod Beauty “taught the same lesson as the lambskin; Bands, the cement of brotherly love and affection.” The disregard of these rods just as the disregard of the meaning of the lambskin and the lessons of brotherly love and affection, would bring unhappiness and suffering to the individual.[iii]

While the names of the rods are Beauty and Bands in the King James, or Authorized Version, as well as in the New Kings James version, in the other translations the names were translated into Favor and Union instead of Beauty and Bands. These more modern names I think are more telling of what the names mean; one was called Favor, (Beauty,) to ensure divine favor on the flock; Union, (Bands,) because such unity should be the result of the gracious leadership of the good shepherd.

Zechariah finally broke both of the staffs; the breaking of these staffs named Favor and Union signified the breaking of the covenant by which the Shepherd had been keeping other nations from attacking His people, and signifying the dissolution of the unity between the south and the north, (Judah and Israel.)

By the way, mentioning the leadership of the good shepherd, above, reminds me of the attitude of prayer Masons assume. Our Attitude of prayer, with the left over the right and fingers at the shoulders, is also referred to as the ‘sign of the good shepherd.’ This is how a good shepherd would carry a lost or wandering sheep back to the safety and comfort of once again being a part of the flock.

About this old piece of the Masonic ritual our good Brother George Oliver, DD., says: “The application of beauty and bands to the science of Freemasonry was in much esteem with our brethren at the beginning of the present century [1800’s]; but at the reunion, (of the Ancients and the Moderns,) being pronounced inconsistent with the general plan of the Order, it was expunged, and is now nearly forgotten, except by a few old Masons, who may, perhaps, recollect the illustration as an incidental subject of remark amongst the Fraternity of that period.”

“The God of love my Shepherd is, and he that doth me feed, while He is mine, and I am His, what can I want or need?” George Herbert 1593-1633

The name of our Brother Dr. George Oliver is very familiar to many Freemasons, but aside from knowing the name some may not know all that much about him. He was born November 5, 1782 in Peplewick, England, and was educated at Nottingham. He became a school master and later took the orders of divinity in 1813. He become the Vicar of Clee in 1815. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1836 and became rector of Wolverhampton. He is said to have been initiated into Freemasonry by his father, Dr. Samuel Oliver, in St. Peter’s Lodge, Petersborough, as a Lewis. In 1813 he was appointed Provincial Grand Steward, in 1816 Provincial Grand Chaplain, and in 1833 Provincial Grand Master in Lincolnshire. Brother Oliver was a Masonic scholar and writer. His study included history, symbolism, law, morals, religion, ethics, and facts.[iv] Brother Oliver died March 3, 1867.

“I would live to study, and not study to live.” Francis Bacon

Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien = [French] = “Better is the enemy of well; let well enough alone.”

From the Great Light of Masonry: “Then I looked up – and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand! I asked, ‘where are you going?’ He answered me, ‘to measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.” Zechariah 2:1, 2 NIV

[i] Zondervan Life Application Study Bible note Verse 11:4-17
[ii] The New Oxford Annotated Bible NRSV note verse 11:8
[iii] Masonic concordance of the Holy Bible #668C
[iv] 10,000 Famous Freemasons by William R. Denslow Vol. 3

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Open Houses

Open Houses
By Ed Halpaus

Masonic Open Houses, or Prospective Member’s Nights, have been used successfully by Lodges for a few years now. Hosting such an event is not complicated, in fact, it is fairly simple to organize and hold, but it does take effort and dedication by the Lodge members.

I first became aware of this when I served as a Grand Lodge District Representative a number of years ago; a Lodge in my district held one, and it was a great event. They didn’t invent the concept, but they took the idea and ran with it. When this Lodge first held what they termed a Prospective Member’s Night the result was that 70% of the invited ‘Prospective Members’ attended, and of those who attended 80% of them submitted petitions. 3 months later they held another one, and that resulted in 50% of those attending submitting petitions. That Lodge kept doing it and because of that, neighboring Lodges began to do it too.

When other Lodges began to hold evening like this, they had good results too. However, since this is a law of averages membership effort the more it’s done the closer you come to a realistic result. Finally the average came to about 30%, so for every 10 prospective members attending the evening you could count on 3 petitions. There were times when it was sometimes more or less, but it averaged 30% over the long haul. When it was the prospective member and his wife who were invited the turnout of those attending was better than if it were only the men invited. It seems that wherever this concept is tried it works.

The key to hosting and evening like this is for the Lodge to decide that this is something they will work on to have it succeed: The more members who enthusiastically participate with the invitations and the event the better. The goal is to invite quality men and their wives to come to the Lodge for a pleasant evening to hear about Freemasonry under favorable circumstances from knowledgeable Masons. The purpose is not to sell them, but rather to inform those invited about Freemasonry and to have them meet some local Masons. A Lodge could also invite Masons from neighboring Lodges to bring guests, and to share in the evening.

As it was mentioned in a recent discussion on this topic, attitude is everything. As in anything that is worthwhile a positive attitude is contagious, and will go a long way in securing a favorable outcome. The attitude of the Lodge membership, positive or negative, will have a significant impact on the success of the program.

The first thing to do is to tell the members of the Lodge about it and how it works. It is usually best when the plan is explained in Lodge so that the Masons present can ask questions and voice concerns as well as support. Once the plan is adopted those present can then help spread the word amongst the rest of the Lodge members
Next the plan should be talked about in the Lodge newsletter, so that each member knows about it, and a date should be set to begin implementing it. Each member should know that, at the next communication, a list of those to invite will be compiled.

At the next communication it should be talked about and discussed if discussion is wanted, then the Lodge could close early for coffee and treats to allow time to compile a list of those to invite. This is where the members would each be given pads and pens, and then asked:

Who is your best friend, is he a Mason, if not would you like to have him as a Lodge Brother? If so put his name on your list.

Who is your best friend at work? Is he a Mason? If not would you like to invite him and his wife to our Open House?

Who is your next-door neighbor, is he a Mason?

Who is your wife’s best friend, is her husband a Mason?

When you go to your house of worship who do you hope will be there so you can visit with him, is he a Mason? Would you think it would be good if he was?

Do you have kids at home, if so who is your son or daughters best friend, is the best friend’s dad a Mason?

Who do you like to do business with, is he a Mason?

Who do you look for in the Hardware Store who gives friendly and helpful service, is he a Mason?

How about in the Grocery Store, is there a man there you go to for assistance and conversation is he a Mason?

I’m certain you can think of some other good questions to ask that will give the Brethren something to think about. The key to these questions is for Masons to think about men they might know who might be the kind of man who ought to have the opportunity to hear about the Masons and know how to ask for a petition.

Asking questions like these is easier than just asking a brother to contribute a name of a prospective member. Asking questions like these is important because they result in qualified referred leads from a brother Mason. The brethren are encouraged to put as many names on their list as they can think of: If it is only one that’s O.K., but if it’s more than one that’s even better.

One of the things to have present is a telephone book. If your Lodge is in a small community this next step is easier than in a large metro area. After the lists are put together then the names are reviewed with the brethren; should this name stay on the list to receive an invitation to a prospective member's night? If yes then his address and phone number is looked up, spouses name if known is added to his on the list. If the brother wants to delete someone from his list then that is done. What we're after is someone he wants attending and someone he thinks would come to our Lodge.

The object is to get qualified prospects; every salesman knows a referral is the best kind of lead he can have to tell his story, make his presentation and land another client or customer. We won't be selling anyone on anything here, but we will have a list of men who would be referrals from a friend to come to our Lodge and hear about Freemasonry.

After the list is completed another time is set up to meet again to sign and mail the invitations to those on the list. Then someone who is good at such things prints up the invitations and the envelopes to have ready for the next meeting.

The next get-together is to get the invitations signed by the brother who put his friend’s name on the list, and to answer any questions or concerns that may come up. The invitations work best when the inviting brother signs the invitation and less effective when it is signed by the Master. The invitation needs to be signed by someone the recipient knows.

The invitation will state the date and the time, what the event is, and that there will be a meal with dessert and a speaker. Then the inviting brother needs to know it is his duty to follow up the invitation with a call asking if his friend received the invitation, and then offering to give his friend and spouse and ride to the Lodge and back, and to answer any questions that might come up. This call can be in person or on the phone as the brother thinks is best for him to do. If a question comes up our brother cannot answer, he should contact the Master to make sure the question is answered and then our brother can return with that answer.

If there is a commitment to come great, if not then we try to get a commitment for another time when the next open house is to be held. There are times when other commitments will conflict, so a turn down, so to speak, is not always permanent. It's important for the Mason to know that a rejection to the invitation is not a rejection of him or of Masonry, just the time etc. This is important because sometimes people are reluctant to give a referral out of fear that their friend might become angry because of the invitation. But this is not a logical emotion or fear; when someone is invited to something by a friend he will come or not based on his wants and schedule, but he won’t be angry because his friend thinks enough of him to invite him to something. Rejection happens, and it's important to keep it in the proper perspective. Not everyone invited will come, but of those who do - know you have a quality qualified friend to hear what Masonry is all about.

The evening should begin with friendliness and fellowship from the Masons and their wives. There is no basket out for money for supper; either the Lodge stands the cost or the brother pays for him and his wife later, but no money basket etc. because it could detract from the mission, and that is fellowship and information.

Next comes supper and a welcome from the Master or a Master of Ceremonies. After supper everyone should adjourn to the Lodge Room. There could be a short video tape shown on Freemasonry, and followed up by one knowledgeable speaker. Then adjourn for more fellowship over coffee and dessert in the Lodge dining area.

Some Lodges will also include a speaker from Order of the Eastern Star, and maybe a youth group, which is good since we want to convey that Freemasonry includes our families. How the evening is planned is flexible, the important thing to remember is to have a Prospective Member’s Night that is pleasant and informative. Once the first one is done the second and subsequent events are easier to do, but they should be 3 to 4 months apart.

It is made clear to the members that we will sell or pressure our guests. They will not be urged to fill out a petition at this get-together; that is something the Mason who invited his friend will talk with him about at another time. However, petitions will be in the packet given to each man, (handed to him by his friend,) who comes as a guest of the Lodge. The packet should contain relevant information. Some good items to include are pamphlets from the Masonic Information Center such as:
“What’s A Mason?”
"Who are the Masons and What Do They Do?”
“There's No Sin in Symbols;”
“Get a life;”
The little wallet card “A Mason;”
And finally - a petition.

This idea of an ‘Open House’ goes to what many think is true: ‘The more men who know what Masonry is, the more men there will be who will want to become a part of it.’ The trick is to tell the story of what Masonry is to enough men who would make good Masons, and this referred lead way is a very good way to do that.

Words to live by: The Stone Age was marked by man's clever use of crude tools; the information age, to date, has been marked by man's crude use of clever tools.

Seek to mentor a Brother Mason: It’s good for him, it’s good for you, and it’s good for Freemasonry!

Stewards, Deacons, and Wardens

Stewards, Deacons, and Wardens
by Ed Halpaus

Every once in a while questions come up about the Rods of the Deacons and Stewards, as well as about the Columns of the Wardens in Speculative Masonry. Questions come up too about the great brazen pillars Boaz and Jachin.

All of these questions are related in one way or another. A few years ago I wrote an article on the Rods and Columns, but when I went to find it, it couldn’t be located; however, I did find my notes for the article, so I thought it would be quicker to begin to answer some of these questions again than to continue my search for the old article. My wife tells me I should compile as many of these old articles as I can for a book; “at least,” she says, “it will make it easier for you to locate some of the articles you keep looking for.” It’s a good idea.

Questions arise about why the wardens have their columns, which they dispose in certain ways? What do those columns represent? Why white and black rods for the Stewards and Deacons, and how should they be carried? How should the pillars of Jachin and Boaz be disposed in Lodge, which one is which?

Those questions come up from time to time when I visit a Lodge, and they come up every once in a while by email and telephone. Looking into the answers to these questions and into the information you will run across while doing your research is very relaxing, and enjoyable. Cracking the books while in a comfortable chair and room with a nice beverage near is a great way to spend some quality time. As we begin on this journey I will mention some books that you may have, or that you can easily find in a book store, or library; they might be found in your Lodge library: By the way some of the best money a Lodge can invest in its future is to continue to add to its Masonic Library; it doesn’t take a large amount of dollars to have a growing library. Finding and buying used books is one of the best ways to build up a library. A great source for used books is Brother Harold Davidson, Librarian of the Philalethes Society, and Founder of the Billings Masonic Library: In addition to him being a great guy, he is a very knowledgeable Mason who has used books for sale – he can be reached at brodave@wpt.net

A fine place to begin a search into answers to questions is in Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia. In my opinion every Lodge should purchase a copy of this book for their library, even if it’s a one book library; the Lodge Education Officer can put it to good use. Coil’s tells us “The two Wardens’ columns, it is possible but is not certain that these represent Jachin and Boaz.”

Jones, in his ‘Freemasons Guide and Compendium’ says; “it seems that Jachin and Boaz do not stand like sentinels in English Lodges, for the two columns were formerly given more prominence by being placed on either side of the entry way so that one must pass between them to enter the Lodge.”

Jones also says he is of the opinion that the two Wardens’ Columns took the place of the larger columns which were abandoned. And, evidently, in English Lodges the two Wardens’ Columns are all that is left of the three great pillars. Well if that’s true they couldn’t represent Jachin and Boaz, they must be Strength and Beauty, Doric & Corinthian. But why then do the Wardens Columns have round globe-like features on their tops? (Possibly those in the Lodges in England are not shaped like ours in the U.S.)

Again Coils: “Early rituals (1730) spoke of “Three Grand Pillars” which supported the Mason’s Lodge, and represented the first three Grand Masters. In the 18th century [the pillars] stood before, to the side, or behind, the Master and one was similarly placed with respect to each warden.” I have been in one Lodge where the pedestals for each of the three principle officers were representations of each of the Grand Pillars.

In Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry it says this about the Senior Warden: “He represents the column of Strength. He has placed before him, and carries in all processions, a column, which is the representative of the right-hand pillar that stood at the porch of King Solomon’s Temple. The Junior Warden has a similar column, which represents the left hand pillar.”

Ah, this helps to answer the question about which pillar is on the left and which is on the right; it is the left and right as you are facing East. But an easier way for me to remember the right and left pillar is by left being on the ‘north, and right being on the ‘south.’ The pillar Boaz is placed on the ‘North’ side, and the pillar Jachin is placed on the ‘South’ side in the Lodge Room; far enough apart to pass between them; this passing is important.

Another question that comes up about the columns is which globe is to be placed on which pillar. The answer to this question is not very well known, but it is not difficult to find the answer: The pillar Jachin supports the Celestial Globe in the symbolic Masonic Lodge because, Jachin was of the priestly line, (See 1 Chronicles 24:17): The pillars, in addition to other symbolism, also symbolize church and state: Boaz was the ancestor of the kingly line of David, so the pillar Boaz is topped with the Terrestrial globe. There are some Lodges that have the pillars and thus the globes reversed; when this happens the Brethren witnessing the Middle Chamber Lecture in the second degree are receiving information about the pillars a bit skewed and not exactly correct according to Freemasonry or the Holy Bible (The Great Light of Masonry).

Getting back to the columns disposed on the Wardens pedestals; the Wardens Columns, and the Deacons Rods are related. The Rod or staff is an emblem of power, and as with the Wardens Columns they are a Badge of Office, when a King carries it, it is called a scepter, but when carried by an inferior officer it becomes a rod, verge, or staff: At one time the Deacons, Stewards, and Marshal of a Lodge all carried Rods. The Rod or Staff in addition to being an emblem of power and authority is a symbol of protection. “Thy Rod and thy staff they comfort me.” In the Military the Rod became a “Baton” in the hands of the Marshal, and the Baton was adopted by Freemasonry as the badge of office for the Marshal of the Lodge.

Smith’s edition of the Pennsylvania ‘Ahiman Rezon,’ which is quoted in many sources, refers to a procession in 1778 where the Wardens carried ‘wands tipped with gold,’ and also the Wardens Columns. At the time of Webb’s Monitor, published in 1797, and as shown in Preston’s ‘Illustrations of Masonry,’ the Deacons received the Columns as the badges of their office. A short time later, meaning soon after 1804, but most likely before 1807, the Columns were transferred to the Wardens and Rods were given to the Deacons. According to Mackey’s Encyclopedia - after 1822 all the “Monitors” referred to the Columns for the Wardens and the Rods for the Deacons. So after about 1822 the columns were everywhere recognized as the insignia for the Wardens, and the Rods, Wands, or Staves, as belonging to the Deacons.

Here is an explanation as to why they are white, “the Steward’s Rod is an imitation if the White Staff borne by the Lord High Steward of the King’s household.” That’s a real simple explanation as to why Freemasonry adopted the White Rods for the Lodge Stewards.

The Rod is the badge or ensign of the office of the Stewards of the Lodge, or of the Grand Stewards in the Grand Lodge, on the top of which is the same insignia as is the Stewards Jewel and the same system of Jewels and Rod Tops follows for the Deacons as well.

The first formal account of the Stewards and their White Rods is found in the Book of Constitutions from 1738. On June 24, 1724, is recorded, the Stewards were walking “Two and two abreast with white rods.” The use of the White Rods comes from the political usages of England, where the Steward of the King’s household was appointed by the delivery of a staff, the breaking of which dissolved the office. In those times, going back to the reign of Edward the 4th, at least, the “White Staff” was the proper insignia for both the office of Steward and Treasurer. In 1792 Preston wrote about the “Grand Treasurer with his staff.” In America the custom of the Treasurer carrying a Rod has been abandoned. However, the custom was derived from the old custom of the Treasurer of the King’s household to carry a staff as the ensign of authority.

In the old “customary books” we are told that the Steward or Treasurer of the household received the White Rod as a badge of office from the King himself. The King would present the Rods with these words: “Tennez le baston de nostre maison.” (Receive the Staff of our house.)”

An interesting comment in Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry is this about the Deacons of a Lodge. “The proper Badge or Ensign of office of a Deacon, which he should always carry with him in the discharge of the duties of his office, is a Blue Rod surmounted by a pine-cone.”

Over time the color of the Deacons Rods, at least here in America, became Black. In the two-volume set of the “New Century Dictionary,” this is from the beginning of the last century, (the 1900’s,) not our New Century. Under the meanings and examples of the word “Black” I saw two words “Black Rod,” and this is what it says about the Black Rods: “The chief gentleman usher of the Lord Chamberlain’s department of the English Royal household; also usher of the Order of the Garter, whose principal duty is attendance on the House of Lords, in which he is responsible for the maintenance of order (named with reference to the Black Rod he carries); a similar official in British colonial legislatures.”

Since the duties of the Deacon’s are to carry messages from the Senior Warden and orders from the Master about the Lodge, the Pine-cone was replaced with a Square and Compass as the top-piece of the Deacons Rod. Inside the Square & Compass of the Junior Deacon is a representation of the Moon and of the Sun for the Senior Deacon. As mentioned above the same S&C with the Moon or Sun is in the Jewels of the Deacons, which they wear because it alludes to the Three Lesser Lights, and why the Senior Warden is in the West and the Master is in the East.

Regarding the use and carrying of the Rods by the Stewards and Deacons: Basically the Deacons and Stewards pick up their Rods when they are called upon to carry out the duties of their office; however, there are exceptions. The best place to learn more about this is in “Lodges for Instruction,” which are carried out by the Board of Custodians, or Grand Lecturers; different jurisdictions have different titles for our Brethren who are certified proficient enough in the work to instruct the rest of us.

As far as carrying the Rods is concerned, in my jurisdiction, the rods are to be carried in a 23 ½° angle when walking, grounded straight up and down while standing; the 23 1/2° is emblematic of the axis of the earth.

The Wardens Columns represent the pillars at the porch of King Solomon’s temple, Jachin and Boaz. If one would inspect the Columns in some Lodges we might find that in addition to Globes being represented on the Wardens Columns there are also Lilies, Network and Pomegranates depicted in the carvings of the wood. While the Columns of Doric, (representing Strength,) would be quite plain, and the Corinthian, (being the most beautiful of the 5 orders,) would have two rows of leaves and eight volutes sustaining the abacus, and it wouldn’t look like an orb, or globe. But that is assuming that the Warden’s Columns are an accurate depiction of what they represent – in the more modern production of the columns it would seem to me that they would be turned out on a lathe for a faster, simpler product, and thus be much plainer. I think that the appearance of the Warden’s columns will vary from Lodge to Lodge.

“Authority is not power; that's coercion. Authority is not knowledge; that's persuasion, or seduction. Authority is simply that the author has the right to make a statement and to be heard.” Herman Kahn

Words to live by: “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority and don't interfere.” Ronald Reagan, Fortieth President of the USA.

From volumes of Sacred Law:

“For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him. Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come? No man has power [authority] over the wind to contain it, so no one has power over the day of his death. As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.” Ecclesiastes 8:6-8 Tanakh NIV

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17:18 New Testament

“And (further) their Prophet [Samuel] said to them: "A Sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the covenant, with (an assurance) therein of security from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this is a symbol for you if ye indeed have faith." Qur’an 002:248 Yusuf Ali Translation

Please remember: if you would like to participate in the latest Masonic Monday Question, please go to http://www.lodgebuilder.org and click on the Lodge Education forum. When you have an answer send it to masonicmonday@gmail.com the Masonic Monday Question for the week of 02/01/10 is: What is the significance of the termination of the names of the assassins?

“Those who enjoy responsibility usually get it; those who merely like exercising authority usually lose it.” Malcolm S. Forbes, 1919-1990, American Publisher, Businessman

“You can delegate authority, but you can never delegate responsibility for delegating a task to someone else. If you picked the right man, fine, but if you picked the wrong man, the responsibility is yours -- not his.” Richard E Krafve

Seek to mentor a Brother Mason:
It’s good for him, it’s good for you, and it’s good for Freemasonry!

Keep the "Great" Lights in Sight

Keep the “Great” Lights in Sight
by Ed Halpaus

Some things we might think should be known by every Freemason aren’t always as well known as we think. In the United States, and maybe some other countries, the Three Great Lights of Masonry are disposed upon an Altar in the center of the Lodge Room. Some are surprised to learn that the protocol of not walking between the Master of the Lodge and the altar, so as to even temporarily block his view of the Three Great Lights, is not always known by every Freemason. A Mason isn’t likely to know this unless he is either very observant or he has a mentor to inform him of such things. Informing a Brother of what he should know about Masonry is very important. Just as it is important to inform a Brother about the rule of not walking between the altar and the Master when the Lodge is at labor it is also important to explain why there is this protocol.

The simple explanation is that the Master must keep the Three Great Lights in his view when he presides, so that he can draw inspiration and wisdom from them as he presides.

I often wonder what each Mason in the Lodge Room thinks of when he hears that short explanation and I also wonder if he gets the opinion that having the Great Lights in view is only important for the Master. What do we, as Brethren who attend the Lodge Communication, either as a side-liner, or an officer, think about having the Three Great Lights in our view? Do we think on those things, think enough to draw inspiration to assist us in subduing our discordant passions?

The design, or layout, of a Lodge Room for a communication as an Oblong Square with all the officers and Brethren arranged on the outside border of this oblong square we all have the Three Great Lights in view. And with but a few exceptions our view of the Three Great Lights is not interrupted, so we do know they are there and can look at them if we wish. We can, as the Master does, draw on the lessons of the Holy Bible, Square, and Compass, while we are in Lodge and have the opportunity to interact with our Brethren, as well as to keep the lessons of The Great Lights in mind when speaking and voting.

I once met a Mason who was wearing a Masonic ring that I thought was about the best Masonic ring I ever saw; it had The Three Great Lights on it: It depicted the Volume of Sacred Law open with the Square and Compass disposed upon it. I thought if I ever see one like that for sale I sure would be tempted to buy it, but I haven’t ever seen one elsewhere, and I neglected to ask him where he got it. But a ring like that could serve a Mason well in continually reminding him of the important lessons contained in The Great Light, and in the symbolism of the other two Great Lights.

To me seeing the altar with The Three Great Lights disposed upon it, and seeing, in my mind’s eye that ring, gets me to thinking about all there is to know about The Three Great Lights of Masonry. There is a lifetime worth of beneficial study for the Mason who wants to learn everything he can from these Three Great Lights. It’s my opinion, and maybe mine alone, since I’ve never seen anyone else write about it, that all of us in the Lodge could look at the altar and The Three Great Lights, and think about them before we get up to interact in the Lodge.

When we enter the Oblong Square we know as the Lodge Room, it seems that it might be a good idea to leave the cares, and concerns of the everyday world outside of the Lodge Room door, and spend a few minutes in silence meditating on Freemasonry; the tenets and virtues might be a good place to start. Then when the opening ceremonies begin and the Great Lights are disposed maybe for the moments the others finish their duties we can view the Great Lights and be reminded of the lessons Masonry passes on to us about each one of them.

After we pray and conclude the final moments of the opening ceremony by the Pledge to the Flag, (at least here in the U.S.,) if we do our best we might be able to keep the precepts enjoined by the Three Great Lights in mind as we proceed in all our doings. And if we’re diligent the lessons and precepts of the Three Great Lights and the other lessons of Freemasonry will be in our minds and doings outside of the Lodge too.

A friend and Brother mentioned recently about some Lodge Communications when some important subjects were discussed that discussions became heated. We would all prefer to avoid heated discussions in Lodge as well as elsewhere, but being human beings we don’t always do what we would prefer. However, the design of the Masonic institution can help us avoid heated discussions. Again if we keep in mind how the Lodge Room is laid out with one Mason (the Master) in charge, with all discussion directed to him, and The Three Great Lights in our view as we sit or rise to speak in Lodge, we might be able to keep any discordant passions from rising to the top.

Another important protocol to observe is that in Lodge we are not supposed to talk amongst each other; not even to answer a question that has been posed by a Brother sitting anywhere other than the Master’s chair; when we rise to speak, we don’t speak until we are recognized by the Master, and when we are recognized we speak to the Master on the question or matter before the Lodge, not to another Brother.If we answer a question posed by anyone other than the Master we still address the Master to answer it. Speaking to the Master, (so all can hear,) helps us stay cooler than if we were to look at another Brother who we might not feel all that Brotherly towards at the moment.

Pondering and studying all that we can wonder and learn about in Freemasonry will help us become the better men we wanted to become when we began our Masonic journey. A truism that one can hear in many houses of worship is this: “If you can ignore something, you don’t really know it, you don’t really understand it, and you haven’t really internalized it.” As far as Freemasonry is concerned if this is the case, the Mason hasn’t begun to have a learning make a positive change in his life: Masonry is a way of life, but to make it so we need to study it, know it, understand it, internalize it, so we can apply it to our life. Then the individual Mason will see some positive changes.

“Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.” Brian Tracy

For anything to become a way of life we don’t study something just once and be set for life. The more time we spend studying and absorbing the underlying lessons available to the Mason from all the allegories and symbolism of the Craft, the deeper our awareness and understanding of them will become. And the deeper our awareness becomes, the more consistent we will be in reflecting that awareness in our actions. Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz – paraphrased

“I've never known any trouble than an hour's reading didn't assuage.” Charles de Secondat

“The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is the knowledge of our own ignorance.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Words to live by: “The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that a smart man knows what to say, a wise man knows whether or not to say it.” Frank M. Garafola

From volumes of Sacred Law:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 Tanakh NASB

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32 New Testament NASB

“Verily God is not ashamed to set forth as well the instance of a gnat as of any nobler object: for as to those who have believed, they know it to be the truth from their Lord; but as to the unbelievers, they will say, "What meaneth God by this comparison?’ Many will He mislead by such parables and many guide: but none will He mislead thereby except the wicked,” Qur’an 002:026 Rodwell Translation

“Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace.” Bhagavad Gita

“Seldom if ever was knowledge given to keep, but always to impart. The grace of this rich jewel is lost in concealment.” Bishop Hall

Seek to mentor a Brother Mason:
It’s good for him, it’s good for you, and it’s good for Freemasonry!