[Square & Compasses]    

Freemasonry as a Sacred Retreat

John W. Taylor
Dona Ana Daylight Lodge No. 78, Kingston Lodge No. 16,
Ninth Masonic District, Grand Lodge AF&AM of New Mexico
PM 1972, 2003, 2004, 2005; DDGM 2002-2003, 2003-2004

Brethren all,

Concerning making changes in Freemasonry and/or attempting to define Freemasonry as a social club and community service organization...

In the installation of officers the Master is admonished; "You admit that it is not in the power of any man, or body of men, to make innovations in the body of Masonry."

In the anteroom lecture we are asked "Do you seriously declare upon your honor that you will cheerfully conform to all the ancient usages and established customs of the fraternity?"

We all answered that question in the affirmative, from the youngest Entered Apprentice to the Most Worshipful Grand Master.

In closing a Lodge the Master admonishes us; "Brethren, you are now to quit this sacred retreat of friendship and virtue to mix again with the world".

I am still at odds with the definition of Freemasonry as "that's who we are and what we do" as it pertains to Lodges being involved in community projects, involvement of the Lodge in the outside world away from the Lodge.

In my mind, Freemasonry is a sacred retreat away from the outside world where we live our day-to-day lives. The Lodge is meant to be different from that world. In that outside world men are separated by politics, religion, property, money, status and you-name-it; in the Lodge that is all cast away, we meet on the level. In that outside world men solicit members into their clique; in the Lodge we do not, (we didn't use to). The Lodge should not be a clique and we should not have cliques in the Lodge. In that outside world men are egotistical, materialistic, domineering, and self serving; in the Lodge we experience the death of the ego, the materialism, the urge to dominate, the selfishness and realize the birth of the spirit, the spirit of Freemasonry (or, as they say in the military, esprit de corps). In that outside world men are too busy to join and be active in a fraternity; in the Lodge some men, somehow, find that they really do have time for their Lodge, for Freemasonry; others just fade away and contribute nothing and get nothing from their Lodge, or from Freemasonry.

I believe that the teachings of Freemasonry will produce men who will become active in their communities and community projects. The activity of the Lodge in community projects is good; activity of the Freemasons as individuals is greater, better and farther reaching. The Lodge is obligated to civic projects from year to year as the Master and members see fit. The individual Mason, so trained and committed to the tenets and principles of Freemasonry, will serve his community in civic affairs for his lifetime.

I think we should return to the basics of what Freemasonry has been, is now, and will be in the future, as a sacred and spiritual retreat from the ego-oriented world outside. The teaching and practicing of the tenets and principles of Freemasonry is "who we are and what we do". The public and community projects we are involved in is not "who we are and what we do". I realize that some cannot see that. I realize that some are still living in that outside world when they come into the Lodge, and cannot retreat from that outside world; they cannot leave that outside world outside. To separate from that outside world one must believe in Freemasonry. To separate from that outside world one must accept the tenets and principles of Freemasonry. To separate from that outside world one must practice in the Lodge and away from the Lodge those tenets and principles taught in the Lodge.

In my opinion, if one believes in Freemasonry, if one accepts Freemasonry, if one practices the tenets and principles of Freemasonry he would not propose changes in Freemasonry, he would not bring concepts of change from that outside world into the Lodge. There is nothing wrong with Freemasonry. If a man's ego comes between him and his commitment to the Lodge it is he and his ego that is at fault not the Lodge. To really be a Freemason one must accept the death of his ego and the birth of the Masonic spirit; he must adapt to Freemasonry, (Freemasonry will not adapt to him), he must experience the Masonic experience.

The Masonic Experience: The Search, The Journey, The Esprit de Corps
(Author unknown)

Participation in the dramatic presentation of moral lessons and in the working of a lodge provides a member with a unique opportunity to learn more about himself and encourages him to live in such a way that he will always be in search of becoming a better man, not better than someone else but better than he himself would otherwise be and therefore an exemplary member of society.

Each Freemason is required to learn and show humility through initiation. Then, by progression through a series of degrees he gains insight into increasingly complex moral and philosophical concepts, and accepts a variety of challenges and responsibilities which are both stimulating and rewarding. The structure and working of the Lodge and the sequence of ceremonial events, which are usually followed by social gatherings, offer members a framework for companionship, teamwork, character development and enjoyment of shared experiences.

They All Came Just For Me

By: Bro. Richard L. Jenkins
For the brothers of Cass Lodge 412, Griswold Iowa.

Something big is going on here.
Or so I thought that night,
As the Masons came to gather round
the Great and lesser lights.

One from here and one from there
From places far and wide,
They came to do, I knew not what,
As they gathered there inside.

But from each man I was greeted
With a smile and voice of cheer.
One said, "so you're the candidate.
The reason that we're here."

I scarcely knew just what he meant,
For this was my "first degree."
There must be much for them to do
Before they got to me.

Surely these guys would not travel
for the sake of just one man.
Yes, there must be much for them to do,
Before my part began.

The "Brother Tiler" was my company
As I waited at the door
To step into this brand new realm
I had not known before.

They shared with me the three Great Lights
and some tools of the trade,
That I might learn a thing or two
of how a man be better made.

When at last I had been seated
In this brotherhood of men
The Master then began to bring
The meeting to an end.

And with all things then completed,
They stayed a little more,
To eat and drink and share a laugh
Before heading toward the door.

But as we left I understood
And then began to see.
That they all came for one reason.
They all came just for me.

Dear brothers I pray every lodge
Will make new ones like me,
Feel as welcome as these brothers did,
When they held my First Degree.

The poem above expresses only a small but very important aspect of the concept of the Masonic experience.

In my opinion the Masonic experience is "who we are and what we do". Making Masons by short form robs the candidates of the Masonic experience. But that is another paper.

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A Page About Freemasonry is http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/