Being A Mason Is Not Easy

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Being a Mason is Not Easy! That seems like a peculiar thing to say, but think about it for a minute. Each time we attend Lodge we reinforce the lessons we learned when we initially took our degrees, but what is the purpose of those lessons? It’s “to make a good man better” is the trite answer. Has anyone ever asked you what that means? From our earliest years we have been taught the Golden Rule, say please and thank you, help the people who cannot help themselves, etc, etc., etc. The phrase “friendship, morality and brotherly love” is supposed to extend to everyone, not just our Masonic Brothers!

Being a Mason is Not Easy when our moral and ethical values are being questioned by the very people we are trying to help. Some church groups have attacked us on several issues and have raised doubts among the Brethren of those denominations as to where their loyalties should be directed. Politics and politicians have always raised any issues that would benefit them. Some social organizations have from time to time questioned our charity work which may have “infringed” on their territory. All these situations are not new and are being handled as each arises again like a Phoenix out of the ashes of their destruction. These concerns do not really bother me as much as what I have seen happening within the Fraternity for the past several years. We are no longer practising tenets we have learned among our own membership! The five points of fellowship do not mean anything more to many of our members. This is true for both the Mason who is not living up to his obligations and the Mason who is allowing the situation to continue without counselling the Brother. That is what Brotherhood means!

Being a Mason is not easy. It means doing things which you may not like or want to do. It means bringing attention to someone’s faults to help him overcome his shortcomings in the manner in which we have been taught. Instead of helping our Brothers, we have resorted to the same remedy that the profane have, “Bring Him Up ON Charges!”

Have we forgotten how to apologize, and how to accept an apology graciously? Are we all too proud to say I am sorry for what I may have said or done, even in the heat of a lively discussion? Each time we hold a trial for un-masonic conduct we degrade the Fraternity just a little bit. The rest of the world finds out about it and the incident becomes fodder for the lies and untruths that they speak about us. During the last five years the Grand Lodge has

had to have a committee that goes to specific Lodges and tries to settle disputes within the Lodge or maybe with another Lodge! The active members of the Lodge are taking sides and no one takes the time to whisper good counsel in the ear of the erring Brother? This in itself borders on un-masonic conduct. None of these disputes are brought about by outside situations but by the members from within. It’s disgraceful!

Being a Mason is Not Easy. It means that you personally must live up to a higher standard than your friend, co-worker or neighbour who is not a Mason. You must be better than he in your attitude, temperament, honesty, friendship, charity, etc., etc., etc. When we see a Brother failing down in some area it is our duty to try and help him in any manner that we can, that means financially, mentally and emotionally. We live today in a fast paced world which generates a lot of pressure on all of us. Not just the men in the plants and offices, but the women who stay at home and try to keep our lives sane and within the bounds of emotional security. When we come home or to Lodge we still carry a vestige of the emotional trauma with us. As a result, we are not always at our best and as such may do or say something that we would not ordinarily say or do. That is the time that your Masonic background should come to the rescue.

We must go the extra distance and ask what we can do, ask what happened and let the Brother pour out his troubles to you. You may not have to do anything but sit and listen but it will make a big difference to your Brother, and that my Brothers, is Freemasonry in action!

As Grand Master I am asking each of you to go out of your way to practice the tenets of Freemasonry on a regular basis. Every day when you get up I want you to think about the lessons you all learned and how you may be able to apply them to a problem you have at work, home, in your Lodge. Try and find a way to give good counsel to your friends, family and most especially your Brother. Try and heal the wounds that are presently in your Lodge and prevent any more from occurring. it would give me and the rest of the Fraternity the greatest pleasure to remove the Committee on Lodges from the Committee Book and to tell everyone it is not needed anymore. These simple acts by each of us will bring us closer together as a Fraternity and will build bonds of friendship that cannot be broken. If we can accomplish that we can eliminate Masonic Trials, which should only be used as a last, resort when all other avenues of resolution have. been tried and failed. Remember, not everyone can be a Mason because Being a Mason is Not Easy!

M. W. Bro. Donald J. Van Kirk