- Besides, make sure that he is not biased by any mercenary motives, and that he does not view the Symbolic Lodge as nothing more than a stepping stone for what he thinks is something more desirable or where he can have more fun. Rather, he should view the Symbolic Lodge as a group of good and true men who expect him, if admitted, to "dedicate and devote his life to Thy (God's) service, and become a true and faithful brother among us," as well as to strive to be consistently a member of the Lodge in good standing.
Yes, you must explore in detail all these areas and others similar. Conduct your inquiry with the utmost tact, discretion, and diplomacy.
If your report contains derogatory information, you must assist the Worshipful Master in reminding the brethren of the Lodge that such information should not become a subject or gossip and rumors and talk to the detriment of the petitioner. This may result in his acceptance or rejection by the brethren.
Remember, Brother, that what you are looking for is positive statements attesting to the petitioner's good name, or his bad name, as the case may be.
Why should you conduct your investigation in an unhurried and thorough manner?
An investigation so conducted is a means of preserving the Craft's reputation, of ensuring harmony, of promoting our advancement and our progress in our service to God and man, of maintaining our reputation before the world, and of confounding those who oppose us by accepting none but good men and making better men of them - men whom we are proud to address as "Brother", men who can be counted on to practice fidelity even unto death, if need be, to keep the faith of our Masonic forebears and to pass on, unsullied, to those who will come this way after us.
You, Brother, are in the best position to help your Lodge make Masonry hard to get into or, to put it in another way, a "quality product", which is not to be sold cheaply. You, as well as we, your Brethren, must make sure that only men who are worthy of Masonic membership are the only ones we want. We cannot afford less.
Lest you forget, not only your Lodge, but also other Lodges - nay, the whole Craft - are counting on you to make unhurried, complete, impartial, and unbiased investigation of everyone who files a petition for Masonic degrees.
Do not ever lose sight of the universality of our Fraternity. "The form of a Lodge is oblong. It extends from east to west and from north to south, and it is said to be thus extensive to denote the universality of Masonry and teach us that a Mason's charity should be equally extensive; for in every country and in every clime are Masons to be found."
What affects one Mason affects all the others. When, as a Lodge, we admit a man to join our fellowship and to acquire the status of a Master Mason, we are opening thousands and thousands of doors to him over the Masonic world. We are giving his the right to wear the Square and Compasses and to have a claim upon the kindnesses of million of Masons.
All components of the Craft look to you, Brother Investigator, for the security and well-being of our ancient and honorable Fraternity. You are under the gravest of obligations to discharge your duty as best as you reasonably can. When you have efficiently accomplished this duty, you will have rendered us, your Brethren wherever dispersed, an invaluable service. You will have complied with the dictates of your own conscience and the Masonic law that specifies your duty in this field.
What will be your compensation?
Besides being satisfied for having done your job well, you will know that you have been the eyes and ears of the Craft during this period. We, your Brethren, may or may not tell you, but deep in our hearts we are sincerely grateful to you.
You, Brother Investigator, have a solemn responsibility. Look well to it!
With fraternal respect and esteem,
Your Brothers in Masonry
Much of the foregoing "epistle" is based on the Short Talk Bulletin of the Masonic Service Association, November 1992.
For further information, read other pieces of Masonic literature on the subject, such as the following:
* "The Investigating Committee," Short Talk Bulletin, MSA, June 1988.
* "The Candidate," Short Talk Bulletin, MSA, May 1930.
* William C. Councell, PGM, "Masonic Investigation," in Freemasons for Unity & Amity.