Monday, November 26, 2012
Am I A Better Man?
(This article was the piece I wrote for the lodge when the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Abel Gomez asked me to be the Masonic Speaker for the month of November, 2012 for my mother lodge, the Iligan Lodge No. 207. I wrote everything that I wanted to say so that I will not forget what to say... :) When I ask him on what topic I was supposed to talk about, he said, "Anything you like Brod!" And it really frightened me because I have nothing to start with. It took me two days just to come up with the topic. And I really thanked God because what I wrote touched a bit of the Worshipful Master's message on Charity. So brethren, please feel free to give your comments. At least it will also help me improve my writing skills...if I really have any. Thank you and may the GAOTU continue to bless us and guide us in all our undertakings.)
Worshipful Master Abel, Very Worshipful Sirs, Worshipful Sirs in the East, Very Worshipful Sirs and Worshipful Sirs on the floor, Brethren, Good evening!
First and foremost, let me thank our Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Abel Gomez for trusting in me to be the Masonic Speaker in this month’s stated meeting. The task given me is frightening as I still up until now consider myself a young Mason who is in search of the light that will ultimately make me a better man.
It is in this field that I would like to dwell in my talk. Am I a better man?
Allow me to tell the story as to how I was led to Masonry. When I was still in 2nd year high school, my father asked me if I wanted to join the International Order of DeMolay. It was fortunate that I already had classmates who were members of the Order so it was not something new to me. The only thing was that I didn’t have the slightest idea what the organization was all about. Without second thoughts though, I said “Yes!” He must have witnessed something in it that made him asked me to join. To this, he supported me in everything that is related to the Order’s activities. The organization somewhat didn’t fail in its objective in molding me to what I am now. I know, because I have tried to become a better son, a good leader and a good citizen.
1984 was one year I will never forget. My father asked me if I wanted to join Masonry. It was not something that I found unusual for him to ask for it was he himself who asked me to join DeMolay. What keeps on pondering on my mind until now though is that how was he exposed to the craft that he asked his son to join it? A fraternity in which, he himself is not a member.
I was initiated to the degrees of DeMolay in 1974. 10 years later, he asked me to join Masonry. Though I know many Masons already at that time, I told him that I am still not ready. I was still studying then in Mindanao State University, Marawi City. He did not bring up the topic again. He died in 1988. And it never left my mind that one day, I will be a Mason.
1993 I submitted my petition to this Worshipful Lodge together with Worshipful Brother Wayne Chavit and Brother Al Espejo. Both of them were elected favorably and I was left behind for reasons which were at that time explained to me. I waited patiently until 1995 when I asked to be deferred so that I can try to settle the issues brought against me. 2003, 10 years after I submitted my petition, I reapplied and this time, it was Worshipful Brother Wayne Chavit who was the Master of the Lodge. After undergoing the process, I was balloted and favorably elected to receive the degrees of Masonry on May 15, 2004. I have always considered my election as a gift from the GAOTU as I got accepted 3 days before my marriage. I applied single but was initiated, passed and raised Married. This early, Masonry has somehow changed my life!
“Am I A Better Man?”
All of us who passed through that door which comes from the preparation room, was required to fill-up forms to apply for degrees, and were asked questions like, “Do you believe in one supreme being?” and “Have you prepared for your family in case of your sudden death?” or something in those lines. You all agree that these questions were asked, and that these questions were the basis for our acceptance as a candidate. Meaning, at this stage, it is clear that Masonry requires us to be believers of one Supreme Being, which is the first requirement. And that preparing for the future of our own family is what I consider as the second. These I feel is an indicator of our commitment to our religion and a responsibility to our immediate family. For beyond this is a chance for us to be of assistance of our goodness to the community from where we belong.
When we were initiated, we were again ask by the Marshall if it was of our own free will and accord in the lines – “…that unbiased by friends and uninfluenced by mercenary motives…” in our intentions but that for us to improve ourselves in Masonry. Which were again asked when we first made our first step inside the lodge by the Senior Deacon. Then again in the succeeding 3 stations which were answered in the same manner as in the door.
These connections made me ponder. For the thousands who passed through that same door, and for the thousands who made it to the sublime degree of Master Mason, how many can now say that through those portals, they have improved themselves and became better men?
I have asked myself, how will it make me a better man? How can I say that Masonry made me a better man?
Challenges had been hurled to me, in front of me, in my face, which tested my belief, my credence as to what makes me a Mason. Everyone would probably agree with me that our obligations answer all these questions. But, does it really? Have I really lived up to my obligations?
Our country was born through the blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers who are Masons. We are proud of them all. But I ask myself – “Will our children, our children’s children, be proud of us when we are done with our journey?” – in the assumption that we have made this a better world for them to live in once ours ends.
I have asked myself the purpose of the craft, my purpose in the craft, and my most logical answer is “to do my best to make myself better and probably along the way and as a result make life better for everyone.” To be honest, almost every non-members impression that I know of thinks that it is a fraternity of the rich, of the famous. That joining Freemasonry will make them better-off. Now I have come to understand that this ancient and honorable organization is neither, for I am neither rich nor influential, but I now have friends and brothers who are and in whom I can say I can be on the level. It is one of the main reasons why Masonry has become meaningful to me.
The first teachings that I recognized were given in the entered apprentice mason. It gives recognition to the importance of God as One Supreme Being. Upon entering, we were all poor blind candidates who are in search of light. This light I understand is the goodness God has given us in this world. We were asked to kneel for the benefit of prayer for it is important that before we undertake any important undertaking, we must first invoke the blessings of God. The Perambulation also talks about the goodness of being one with God and His people. Our obligation is an addition to our commitment to God’s goodness as it strengthens our commitment with Masonry. We made vows sealed with a kiss to the Sacred Volume of Laws. A review to it is very much appropriate for us to recall those obligations and for us to practice out of the lodge those great moral duties. The first degree then is to establish our relationship with God. This experience I would like to ask myself and at the same time my brethren, to everyone, this question, “Has this affected your lives even just a bit?”
The second encounter with the light, which all of us fondly use, was when we were passed. At the entry we were again announced to those present that we are seeking further light in Masonry. I would safely surmise that we are very happy with the first so we pursue for the second, hoping that it was not just to accomplish something out of requirement…that we be able to make it to the 3rd. Which I presume as actually what everyone thinks during that time. I don’t blame anyone on this for I too am guilty with the feeling. But I would totally accept negative reactions to this statement as my own fault if I am wrong for it is but my assumptions.
Being passed was another stage which we underwent and with this important teaching as stated in the last line in the perambulation…”And now abideth Faith, Hope and Charity, these three; but the greatest of these is Charity.” One of the very important teachings of Masonry which I find very hard to achieve. Faith in our God, Hope for our Future and Charity towards Mankind. Faith in God, I was born with it, we were all born with it. Hope for our Future, the reason of my existence and of everyone else. Charity towards Mankind, now that is something I am partly guilty of not being able to accomplish to the max. The third probably is the hardest for it is usually hard for us to part of our hard earned monies. But unbelievably, one of the most pleasant and elating feelings of doing every time we do charity. Feeling uncomfortable in parting with hard earned monies is reversed to elation and happiness when we give in to charity not just to our brethren but most specially to total strangers in this area. Have you tried giving randomly to a stranger? Have you tried sharing what you have? Have you tried sharing what little you have to those who have less or none at all? Once you have, I’m sure you’ll find it a bit addicting. The expression of people on the receiving end is a reward unequal to the amount given. And specially if after the act, the expression of appreciation is accompanied by a heartfelt word and acts of appreciation. That is priceless.
Now for the sublime degree. The awe-inspiring peak. The moving end of the beginning. We are reminded of the process which we undertook in the 1st and 2nd degrees. We are enlightened so to say. The perambulation goes back to God. But this reminder, we came from the dust, to the dust we shall return. We rose from the ranks, to the ranks, we shall return. And a lot of other adages relating to the thought. We now have been accepted as a full member of the craft. We have died and rose again. The obligation now is very long.
In the process that all of us underwent, all the memorization and everything, I ask the question to myself…”What have I learned?”
Have I really become a better man? My answer to this question in all honesty, is that I did my very best to live up to what Masonry is trying to impart to me. For it will be a waste of my time and your time, if all the things you taught and imparted during all the degrees that we just all undertook just went to deaf ears. You my brethren had done your best for me to understand what this ancient and honorable fraternity is all about.
Daily I am challenged with the thought that my actions will reflect my involvement with Masonry for almost everybody I know, knows that I am a Mason. And that almost everyone knows what Masonry is all about, right or wrong impressions. And that almost everyone expects us to act honorably because we are Masons.
Masonry has a lot in store for those who seeks its true essence, its true meaning, its true light. I have made it for just a few years and I see where it will take me in the future. I am not perfect nor I wanted to be, but probably with all the teachings that the craft has to offer us, it will ultimately lead me and those who seek further, the light that will shine our path towards our final journey. To meet the GAOTU and be welcomed to His kingdom as His servant.
Brethren, I have related this to ask you and to remind each of us, to go back to the basics of the teachings of the fraternity for it is very important that we never forget what we are here for. Work not just for ourselves but for everybody around us. Let us labor for our family, for our children’s future, for the future of our craft and for the future of our country.
I sincerely hope that in my small way, I have sent a message through. And I heart fully wish that this reminder, which is actually my intention, will get support from everyone. Or at least awaken the original meaning of our intentions of pursuing this travel. Which will ultimately give a true meaning and a concrete answer to the question, “Am I A Better Man?”
Thank you so much for allowing me to stand in front of you and for giving me the opportunity to be the Masonic Speaker for this month’s stated meeting. Good evening!