Sunday, January 24, 2010

Preparing to be Master

from the book titled "The Master`s Book"
by Carl H. Claudy

Library #: M14_CLA_2
Location: LoR
Publisher: The Temple Publishers
Published year: 1935
Pages: 122
Edition: 20th
Donated by: S. Broad
Condition: fair

The greatest honour comes to any brother with his elevation to the Oriental Chair of It Masonic Lodge. Few Wardens but look forward with mingled pleasure and anxiety to that day when in their hands will be placed the gavel of authority. He who early prepares to be a Master in more than name only arrives in the seat of authority with some confidence.

The wise Warden does not wait until elected Master to become familiar with the official books of his Jurisdiction; the Proceedings of his Grand Lodge; the book of Masonic low-it has many names, such as Code, Methodical Digest, Ahiman Rezon, Constitution and By-laws, etc.; the Manual in which is printed all that may lawfully be put in type of the ritual and ceremonies of the degrees, and most especially the by-laws of his own Lodge.

A Master is not only leader of his Lodge, but a member of Grand Lodge, in which august body he represents his Lodge. Familiarity with the Grand Lodge procedure, questions pending, legislation enacted, etc., gives him a perspective and enables him to act with intelligence and understanding. In the Proceedings of most (not all) Grand Lodges is the report of the Committee on Foreign Correspondence, under which apparently misleading title an official reviewer summarizes the activities of other Grand Lodges. The Master who realizes that he is not only an important cog in his own Masonic machine, but an integral part of a world-wide Freemasonry, early grasps the real importance and responsibilities of his position. Study of the Proceedings gives a perspective on the activities of Grand Lodge, with special reference to its charity, whether exercised in Masonic Home, Orphanage, Hospital, Foundation, outside relief or other form.

To be Master of a Lodge is quite different from being president of a club or society. The Master is called upon to decide questions of law and practice which he cannot leave to his brethren; the honor of leadership carries also the responsibility. That his decisions be wise and just, and of such a character as will draw commendation, not condemnation, from Grand Master or District Deputy, he must know the laws of his Jurisdiction, his own powers and limitations. He can obtain his knowledge only from a faithful study of book of Masonic law.

In some Jurisdictions only the Master may confer the Master Mason's Degree; in many may empower either his officers, a Past Master, or a well qualified brother to fill the East during the ceremonies of the three degrees. Never will the Master get the best co-operation in putting on a degree if he him- self cannot "do the work." The Master who knows his ritual can lead; he who will not "learn the 'work" is in a poor position to criticize faulty performances by others. Hence, an early study is important.

The degrees of Freemasonry are among the beautiful ceremonies of the world. They should be inspiring, uplifting, heartening, lovely to hear. If they fall short of perfection the Master is responsible-aye, even if he have only inefficient helpers, his is the responsibility.

Both Lodge and Master owe service to those elected to receive the degrees. The elected candidate has signed his petition, answered the questions, paid his fees, stood his investigation, come when called, submitted to proper preparation. Now his brethren-to-be are so to induct him into the mysteries that he may desire with all his heart to become "a good and faithful brother among us." He is entitled to a degree which will impress him; he has a right to hear the grand old words so spoken that they will make a deep and lasting impression on his mind. What he sees and hears should convince him of the age, the dignity, the importance, the solemnity of the Ancient Craft.

All this is a Master's work. The wise Warden lets no time go by before preparing himself for those busy days ahead, and regards dignified degrees, well put on, as important both to Lodge and candidates.

Few assets are more valuable to a Master than friends. In Freemasonry, as in the profane world, the art of making friends is encompassed in one phrase: "to have friends we must be friendly." Millions of men are so at heart; cold of exterior from no better cause than shyness. Many a man wants to tend his hand, wishes to say a cheery word or greeting, desires with all his heart to be "one of the fellows," ... and does not know how.

Yet it is so simple! For the root of personal shyness is fear of laughter-and laughter, like thunder, has yet to hurt anything living! The shy brother need only assure himself: "I will not be afraid of something which cannot hurt me - I will not think my brethren are more critical of me than I am of them - I will not waste time and strength wanting and not doing, when to say a cheery word and put out my hand needs but a muscular effort!"

Friendliness begets friendliness. The brother who is cordial will find hands springing out to meet his; will see smiles begetting smiles; will learn that genuine interest in a brother produces real interest in him. The Warden who leaves the West for the East interested enough to know all regular attendants by name will enter his year of responsibility with an asset than which there is no greater for the leader of a Lodge.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Masonic Obsessions!

by an "Old P.M."
circa 1928

It is a strange thing that Freemasonry at once an institution universal in its scope, unifying in its aims, and uplifting in its ideals; should have in its followers men who are strangely obsessed with one idea of its purposes.

Masonry itself in all its aspects may with some become an obsession but I have noticed that in such cases the principles and tenets of the Craft are invariably used to emphasise the principles and practices of highly mundane action. In such cases the obsession is of value, and tends to the solidarity of human effort and advancement. So far, good, and if all the devotees of the Craft were so minded we should be in greater measure than we are a force for good, a greater support to all those endeavours which are animated by a great and generous desire for the good of others, and indeed for the advantage of humanity at large.

But the obsessed ones discount the value of the Craft universal, and hamper its fullest activity and influence. The reason for this is these Brethren are afflicted by myopia of the intellectual variety and can only see one object, not at a time but the same object at all times. This object, they cling to, nurse, fondle and parade with a vigour and enthusiasm worthy of a better cause! They do as Freemasonry is said to have done two centuries ago "taken a run" but without the saving grace of running themselves out of breath. Their influence and example are not of, or for, the best. The limit the activity of others and tend to create in some the lack of interest, indifference, and inattention discernible on many hands. Freemasonry is not to be "cribb`d, cabin`d and cofin'd" but it is, and must be maintained broad and deep and glorious.

It may be said that while this latter is the view and aim of wise Master Builders, all cannot attain to their perfection. That it is better to do one thing well, than to make a poor attempt at doing several things unsuccessfully. But this is a fallacy. All Freemasons of whatsoever rank and attainment are builders - they must go on building, not with one stone but many, not at one part of the building but throughout its whole course.

The evidence of the existence of Brethren obsessed by one objective is not far to seek nor is it needful to go into many details on the subject. It mat be said that there are but few such, and their presence may act as a spur to others. True, there may be few of them, but even so there are too many and their spurring only directs the spurred into a similar course of action and not into any wide or general progress. Besides Freemasonry is not effective if a spur is needed for it is necessarily slow and gradual in its movement, and takes the lii1e of least resistance being founded on love, patient, kind and long suffering.

Let us look at a few examples where these principles may well be substituted for the spur. Take Ritual, it is no doubt one of the most difficult subjects to deal with, being a well-ridden, over-ridden hobby horse to many. Your enthusiast loses no opportunity of correcting others, and of advertising, supposed superior virtues and powers of his own pet mount, which would rapidly become like "Uncle Tom Cobley's Grey Mare" if everyone invited took a seat on the proferred saddle.

Apart from essentials as to which I say nothing, I suppose there is not, never was, and never will be, anyone set form crystalised, unaltered or unalterable applicable to the whole Craft. One too often hears ritual enthusiasts correct the officers on words in open Lodge and at times even corrections from several different quarters. Oh, what a lamentable state of affairs! It would be like having a correctional committee who mistook the place and occasion for a Lodge of Instruction. There is ample room for patience, and broadmindedness here.

The Dinner which in many places succeeds the Lodge is an opportunity for a hobby horse rider to display his powers. He may be an authority on a good menu which by the way I have never yet found has ever been satisfactory to him. Or he may be a judge of fine wines, their bouquet and flavour, and remains unsatisfied with what is provided. There are other directions in which he may direct his prancing steed, and dictate to others what they ought, or ought not to do or have. The verbose speaker to, or after, a toast is much the same. He forgets, if he ever realised, that "Dinners were meant for eating and not talking." He winds out a speech of twenty minutes, or longer, duration while a five minute good speech would have a greater and more lasting effect on the minds of the hearers, than a twenty minute poor speech. I am entirely on the side of moderation and temperance in all things.

There are other directions where a broader view of things should be taken. The specialist in the use or demand for, the full titles and prefixes, and indications of rank. In their proper place and on proper occasions this is commendable, but Brother is a comprehensive and fraternal term more often than not. The stickler for wearing all the emblems, badges, and jewels he possesses might well revise his views and actions in accordance with a recent pronouncement by authority. The wearing of Masonic collars at dinner, the still too frequent "challenging" in general, and in particular without regard for the rank of the challenged Brother all need attention to prevent the spread of individual fads and practices. The most enjoyable Masonic Dinners I have experienced are those where these things are entirely taboo.

There are other directions too where the broad view should be taken, where symbolism, and exposition of principles should be carefully restrained and much in the conduct and conversation between Brethren be carefully watched. But I have said enough I think to indicate some directions where Brethren can and should widen their sphere of activity, of thought, or of practice. Where these should be tempered with fraternal feeling for others, where the real principles and tenets of the Craft as a whole and not in one particular, may be exhibited and carried into effect so that the "stately and superb edifice" may continue to be erected on the true foundation and be perfect in all its parts and honourable to the Builders.

Why Should I?

by Bro. "P.Q."
circa 1928

Why Should I? I must explain that I am not making any breach of confidence in the remarks which appear in this article, for not only was a free consent given to the opinions expressed by the speaker, "if you think it will do any good to help men like myself." Moreover, the opinions are not those of one but of several who have been to me lately to know my advice on the question of becoming a Freemason. I have, therefore, at least mentally brought applicants into an entity as regards position in life, mentality and sincerity, and I found it odd that their views and difficulties might be summed up in the phrase " Why should I?"

In each case the enquirer came of his own accord to get my opinion because I was known to be a big Mason, although they were unable to describe how or why I was entitled to that description. Anyway, they had the ordinary sources of information, they were right and partly wrong. "Ah!" said he, "that is why I have come to see you". I have found that the scraps of information were generally wrong. "Quite so," I said, "that is because the people you gone to know probably less, and it is a case of blind leading the blind, and even where your informant member of the Craft (that is our name for Freemasonry) he has probably got a wrong idea of what entitled to tell an enquirer, and so puts him off by a sort of cloud of ignorance or mystery.

"If I ask you to tell me now, what would be your reply, based on actual experience or sound information, what would you tell me?"

"Oh, I think it must be a jolly good thing, because it raises such a lot of money, according to the papers, the purpose of magnificent schools for children and pensions for old people."

Another enquirer said that may be very true, but the money is spent only on Masons or orphans of sons, and "I reckon they ought to spend the money on any deserving case outside what you call the Craft."

I said "That is where your information is short, but could only fill that up if you were a Mason. But are not the schools and pensions which cost voluntary subscriptions of Masons running into £300,000 a year sufficient cause for admiration?"

"My word, yes!" said the first man, "for while I was on my holiday I saw a magnificent lifeboat which I was told was one of several given and maintained by the Masons, and you must have seen the other day that the Freemasons gave 1,000 guineas to the Lord Mayor's Fund for the distressed areas and on many other occasions for different purposes."

"That's all very well, but you must remember that Freemasonry is not a benefit society where you pay so much a quarter for certain benefits which are sure to come at sickness or death. All the benefits in this respect are free and voluntary. If you are left with an orphan, it by no means follows that you can get the child into a school, or if you are old and worn out (you don`t look it, now), you have no right to a pension except for the generosity and goodwill of the members.

Now what does all this suggest to you, or what is there left to help to obtain a good opinion of the Craft? You have to pay a subscription which is managed by other people on what is known as the principles of the Craft, and as you can't be expected to know exactly what these are till you are a member and have gone through the whole of the ceremonies I cannot very well explain them at length, but this I can tell you, that what I have said about the freedom of its generosity is at least a reason for thinking that Freemasonry means love towards its members, the desire to help them in distress, and one other point, a straighter dealing between Masons and the ordinary man. Is think that enough, but there, you see there is much more be told, and if this is not enough, I must tell more later."

"Here! but are there not fees to pay every year else how could it carry on?"

"Good man! these fees go in administration of Lodge and to Grand Lodge, and for printing and the like; some pay the cost of dinners or part of them and in keeping up a private Lodge benevolent fund. Apart from these fees the contribution to the schools, etc., are quite voluntary."

"Hold on a minute. What has that Freemasons` Hospital and Nursing Home in the Fulham to do with all this charity?"

"Oh, that is purely the outcome of the generous feeling of many Brethren who found not many years ago that there was not a hospital in London Masons could be exclusively treated for reasonable fees. It was formed by a good many Masons years ago, and has proved so beneficial that it is not large enough, and will have to be rebuilt in the suburbs to hold about 120 ordinary patients beside nursing home patients, all of whom must be Masons, children or near relations of Masons.

"There now! Go away and think about the answer your own question."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Lodge Name

from the book "Sidelights on Freemasonry"
by Rev. John T. Lawrence

EVERY Lodge has a name and a number. The choice of the latter is a matter with which the Lodge has nothing to do, but the former is the concern of the Lodge, and it is only due to the Lodge to suppose that it received as much consideration as everything else affecting its welfare. When lodges were few and far between, and the light of Freemasonry was only dimly visible from one beacon to the next, it was easy to ring the changes on a few names replete with real or fancied Masonic significance.

Of the lodges on the register, about three hundred were in existence at the beginning of the last century. To be accurate, at the time of the Union, the last Lodge warranted was No.339. Of these, one hundred and one met in London and seventeen in foreign parts, and there remained two hundred and twenty~one for all England and Wales besides. There was not much chance, therefore, of one Lodge interfering with its neighbour by reason of similarity of name, and consequently such designations as Friendship, Charity, Fortitude, Unanimity, Hope, Fidelity, Perseverance, Peace, Philanthropy, Faith, Integrity, Rectitude, Temperance, Honour, Harmony, Tranquillity and the like, flourished freely.

For the curious it may be of interest to note that at the time of writing there are sixteen lodges called Unity and eight Unanimity, which means the same thing; eighteen Harmony, eight Benevolence, seven Philanthropy, seven Charity, seven Sincerity, eight Peace, five Emulation, four Honour, twelve Fidelity, eleven Hope, sixteen Friendship, thirteen Perseverance, six Faith, six Industry, eight Prudence, seven Fortitude, seven Loyalty, and eleven Concord, besides others bearing similar names; illustrating public and domestic virtues of different kinds. That is to say, two hundred and nine in all, of which one hundred and eighty-one were warranted before 1856, which shows that this style of nomenclature has had its day.

Perhaps it may be considered Pharisaic to make this somewhat exclusive claim to the possession of a particular virtue, and possibly our Brethren feel unworthy to label themselves so distinctively; or, more likely still, it is owing to the large number of friendly societies which have sprung up during the last half-century which favour this style of designation.

Several of the above lodges possess a combination of two or even three of these names, and others strongly emphasise the virtues they live to illustrate, such as Universal Charity, True Friendship, Perfect Unanimity, and the like. Some combinations are rather curious, such as Fortitude and Old Cumberland, Somerset House and Inverness, and they represent amalgamations.

In the absence of reference to Masonic sentiment or virtue, our forefathers were in the habit of procuring some celebrated person stand in as godfather. Shakespeare, Pythagoras, Burns, Milton, Socrates, Clive, Nelson, and Wellington are among those whose names are enshrined and kept green in the warrants of some sixty-five lodges. This number, it should be said; excludes those lodges named after some one living at the time of the warrant.

Local associations have, of course, had much to do with the choice of these worthies. Thus Wyckliffe is very properly commemorated at Lutterworth, Charles Dickens at Chigwell, Sir Francis Drake at Plymouth, King Harold at Waltham, where the hero king was buried, Sir Isaac Newton at Cambridge, Wolsey at Hampton Court, Gooch at Swindon, Homer at Smyrna (the poet's reputed birthplace), Hereward at Bourne, and Canute at Southend-on-Sea.

It was reasonably to be expected that Masonic dignitaries would not be forgotten, and thus we have fourteen lodges dedicated to the Earl of Zetland, nine to the Duke of Sussex, thirty-six to the late Grand Master, and four to the Marquis of Ripon, whilst seven lodges have taken the name of the present M.W.G.M. since his accession to that office. In 1863 Lodge Rose of Denmark was very suitably warranted with relevance to the marriage of the Prince of Wales, and H.R.H. the Princess of Wales stood godmother to some eighteen other lodges about the same period. Her late Majesty Queen Victoria has given her name, to sixteen lodges.

The practice of calling a new Lodge by the name of a person still living, however distinguished, is one which needs to be discussed in all its bearings. In some cases no exception can be taken. For instance, there are lodges which bear the honoured names of Kitchener and Roberts, Lathom and Gould, but the names thus immortalised are those of persons whose reputation has been made in public capacities. If it be desired to do honour to the private virtues of some well known local personage, it must be remembered that the Lodge may long outlast any recollection of the very name of such person. He may have merited the esteem and affection of those about him, but it certainly seems hard upon posterity-which, after all, has never done us any harm that we should burden it with a perpetual charge in the shape of the payment of our debt of gratitude. In one district abroad there are no less than eighteen lodges, Chapters, &c., out of a total of forty-one, that bear the names of purely local worthies.

With regard to this practice, one suggests with great diffidence that the party concerned, if still living, may live long enough to "break his record" and cause the Lodge to regret its name, and perchance ask to have it altered, or to be erased, and start again. It is the practice of many Grand Masters, to refuse to grant a warrant to a Lodge. proposed to be called after the name of a living person.

To call a Lodge after the name of the place in which it meets displays some lack of inventive power. One Lodge the writer once visited is called by the name of the terrace at the end of which the Lodge premises are situated! and a good many are called by the, name of the sign of the licensed house in which the meeting's are held, and if of historic value there can be no objection.

In some cases the old Roman name of the town has been hunted but by some brother of classical attainments, and the result has been to incidentally to give a fillip to the appetite for historical research in the neighbourhood. Thus we find Lodge Olicana at Ilkley; Eboracum at York, Lindisfarne in North Shields, Beaudesert at Leighton Buzzard, Cestrian at Chester, Cornubian at Hayle, Claro at Harrogate, and Vitruvian, Ross.

There are, ten lodges "Light." One of these, No. 2721, is London and all the rest meet in India, and for the most part possess a geographical qualification; e.g. "Light in Tirhoot," "Light in the Himalayas." A very ambitious name is "Light of the Craft," No. 362, meeting in Jubbulpore.

The "Stars" are very numerous in the Masonic firmament as in the celestial, There are sixteen of them; and all but two are, abroad, these being "Star in the East" at Harwich, and the "Star" at Greenwich. Of the rest, the greater number are connected with the four cardinal points, e.g. there are six "Stars in the East". Apart from these and not so readily traceable in the year-book are such names as "Morning Star," "Rising Star," &c.

St. John has stood godfather to no less than forty-two lodges, and two hundred and forty lodges in all are dedicated to various Saints, the whole calendar apparently having been ransacked.

And it is not surprising to find eighty-nine lodges whose names have the word "Royal" prefixed. Seeing what an effect upon the imagination is produced by the old T.I. Mother Lodge of Kilwinning, it is not surprising to find the name of the cradle of Scottish Masonry incorporated into the names of some forty other lodges, distributed in all parts of the globe.

Some curious names are "Inhabitants," "Noah's Ark," "All Souls," "England's Centre," "Nil sine labore," "Silent Temple," "Sun and Sector," "Parrett and Axe," "St. George and Corner Stone," and "Strong Man," among doubtless many others.

Of names of real Masonic significance there are comparatively few. There are in this country three lodges named Ionic, five Doric, and four Corinthian, a King Solomon, three Lewises, a Perfect Ashlar, Abiff; a Pentalpha, Keystone, Pentangle, Square and Compasses, Sun Square and Compasses, Three Grand Principles (3), and Three Pillars - that is to say, not many more than a score; or about one in a hundred. Abroad there are three Corinthian, one Doric, two Hiram, one Ionic.

Local history often solves the problem of what the new Lodge is to be called. Robin Hood at Eastwood, the seven Abbey Lodges, Athole in the Isle of Man, Border City at Carlisle, Camalodunum at Malton, Caradoc at Swansea, Dorothy Vernon at Bakewell, Eleanor Cross at Northampton, Hotspur at Newcastle, Hengist, Horsa, and Rowena at Bournemouth, Humphrey Cheetham in Manchester, Ivanhoe at Sheffield, Limestone Rock at Clitheroe, Merlin at Pontyridd (the reputed birthplace of the bard), Rose of Raby at Staindrop, and William of Wykeham at Winchester are all names to be highly commended. Peveril of the Peak at New Mills is also worth noting. If the Three Graces at Haworth refer to the three Sisters Bronte that Lodge must be included, but the date, 1831, does not suggest the association, for the Sister's Bronte were but schoolgirls at the time. Moreover, neither prophets nor prophetesses have any honour in their own country.

The lord of the manor or some neighbouring historic property often suggests a name. Thus we find Londesborough at Scarborough, Eastnor at Ledbury, Bute at Cardiff, Wentworth, at Sheffield, Wharnecliffe at Penistone; Talbot at Swansea, and Sir Watkin at Mold. Current history and even current politics are sometimes studied with this object. The year 1902, which witnessed the Coronation of our present Sovereign, was responsible for one London, five country, and two foreign lodges being called Coronation, whilst three other lodges gave expression to a similar feeling of loyalty by calling themselves after the king's name. Class lodges are responsible for many new departures in nomenclature, but these are referred to in a separate chapter.

To continue our analysis; the Lodge rejoicing in the longest name is possibly that one in Karachi, Lodge Khan Bahadur B. Rajkotwallah, No. 253I. When the hearty good wishes of this Lodge are conveyed to another, which one of its members may be visiting, it generally happens that the Secretary of the Lodge visited does not trust his memory, but asks to have it put down on a piece of paper.

The Middlesex Imperial Yeomanry is a fairly good mouthful, but it possesses the advantage of a familiar ring which the other lacks; so does the Incorporated Society of Musicians. On the other hand, there are six lodges which altogether only trouble eighteen letters of the alphabet between them. These are the Oak, the Rye, and the Ivy, all London lodges, and the Dee, Lyn and Era.

There are thirty-eight lodges whose names run to but four letters each. On the whole, the palm for brevity may be given to Lodge Dee. One other name of dignified proportions is the Premier Diamond of the Transvaal.