Thursday, March 31, 2011

Masonic Reality vis-a-vis the Lofty Ideals of Masonry

by VW Joseph Hufano, PDDGM

Does reality often manifested by the corrupt state of man's heart and his stubborn determination to hold on to his worldly ways somehow influence us Masons to depart from the lofty ideals of our Craft?   Those among us who have steadfastly and sincerely practiced the virtues taught us by the rituals and lectures of the different degrees into which Masonry, as a progressive moral science, is divided will answer the question with a "righteous NO".   But those who have professed adherence to the lofty ideals of Masonry and at the same time have remained slaves to their carnal passions and covetous love for mundane things will answer it with a "wayward YES".  Let me explain these statements.

When we applied for membership in the Craft, we are expected to have done so with the right intent or the proper motive, which is, invariably, "to learn to subdue the passions and improve myself in Masonry".  To attain this intent or motive, we were admonished to engage ourselves in an honest-to-goodness study of the various aspects of Masonry, particularly its philosophy - its teachings, precepts, principles and ideals -  and then to live by them in daily life.   We were admonished thus because Masonry is monitorially defined as "an institution having for its foundation the practice of the social and moral virtues" and because its principal purpose is, in the words of the late WB and Chief Justice Manuel V. Moran of Pangasinan Lodge No. 56, "to create in the world a band of men to whom others may look for example and inspiration - men who others will say are men of honor, virtue and charitable feelings".

If follows, then, that one who calls himself a Mason and Brother but has not learned nor does he practice the various virtues upon which Masonry is founded is a great pretender or hypocrite.   On the other hand, one is deserving or worthy of being called a Mason and Brother if and when he steadfastly holds on to, or consistently upholds, the lofty ideals of Masonry and at the same time refuses adamantly to succumb to the allurements of worldly pleasures, titles and honors.

Moreover, one is deserving or worthy of being called a Mason and Brother if and when he faithfully fulfills all his obligations and charges, if and when he responsibly performs all the pledges and promises he made when the degrees of Craft Masonry were conferred on him.  After all, to a man of honor, his word is his oath.   If he has pledged and promised to do certain things or to refrain from doing certain things, he must abide by his pledge and promise.

As Masons, we have been charged, for instance, to regard the Volume of the Sacred Law as the great light in our profession;  to consider it as the unerring standard of truth and justice;   and to regulate our actions by the divine precepts it contains.  We have been enjoined, furthermore, to learn in the volume of the Sacred Law the important duties we owe to God, to our neighbors, and to ourselves.   But, have we strictly obeyed that injunction?   Besides, toward the end of every Lodge meeting we pray that God help us practice out of the Lodge those great moral duties which are inculcated in it and to reverently study and obey the laws which He has given us in His Holy Word.   But, do we really mean to do those things we say in our prayer?

If we are to be worthy and exemplary Masons and Brothers, we must convince others, more by deeds than by words, that we actually use the Volume of the Sacred Law as one of the great lights in our profession, the two others being the Square and the Compasses.   We must, moreover, earnestly endeavor to erect our respective spiritual buildings agreeably to the rules and design laid down by the GAOTU in the great books of Nature and Revelation, which constitute our spiritual, moral and Masonic trestle board.

There can be no doubt that the Fraternity equips us with an adequate number of useful teachings and symbolic working tools, whereby we may lead rich, abundant and meaningful lives.   Ironically, however, there are still not a few misguided elements in our fold.   They are the "unworthy Masons and Brothers".    They include those who do not comprehend Masonry, those who understand Masonry but compromise its principles and ideals for their selfish benefit, and those who ask what Masonry can do for them instead of contributing to Masonry's best interests.   These undesirables or misfits now dwell among us because we have not been very circumspect in the process of investigating petitioners for Masonic degrees.   We are supposed to admit into our fold only those who, unbiased by friends and uninfluenced by mercenary motives, freely and voluntarily offer themselves as candidates for the mysteries for Masonry;  only those who are prompted to solicit the privileges of Masonry by a favorable opinion conceived of the Institution, a desire for knowledge, and a sincere wish to be serviceable to their fellow creatures;  only those who we firmly believe will cheerfully conform to all the ancient established usages and customs of the Fraternity.   But, we frequently do not live up to that supposition or expectation.   As a consequence thereof, we now reap the whirlwind of correcting the irregularities of those undesirables or misfits in our midst.

That is the stark and awful reality we have to admit and accept.  Although the characters and lives of those unworthy Masons and Brothers do not reflect any credit or honor on our venerable Institution, it is still our duty to reach out to them and to extend to them the Five Points of Fellowship.  Who knows, our earnest endeavor to help them reform themselves will make them realize that they must do that which they declared in open Lodge they had come here to do, namely,  "to learn to subdue the passions and improve myself in Masonry".    We must convince them, by both precept and example, that they should allow themselves again to be influenced by the pure principles and imperishable ideals of Masonry, so that, eventually, they will also become worthy and exemplary Masons and Brothers.

As we earnestly endeavor to reach out to those unworthy or undeserving Masons and Brothers, we may as well adopt this famous prayer as our very own :  "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;  the courage to change the things I can;  and the wisdom to know the difference!"

Source :    The Cabletow     Vol 87, No. 3  September-October 2010

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"The most difficult task of Masonry is to make our fellow brethren bearers of that understanding to seek the means of knowing the ways of life of our fellow men, their customs, and their history also."   -  Ill. Waldemar Hait, 33°, PSGC (Valenzuela)

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