We all now that there are many important things about Freemasonry such as Fellowship, Peace, Harmony, Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth, Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice among others. At the Grand Lecturer’s Convention In October, R\W\Richard Kessler stated, among other things, that Ritual was the most important thing. I think we all agree that ritual is important and separates us from other organizations, but the most important thing? When he went on to explain that our ritual tells us how to behave and why, he had me. Our ritual instructs us about all the other important things of Masonry.
The Grand Lodge Officer Training Manual states that the “Staff Officer’s main responsibility is education, both for individual Masons and their Lodges.” Here, then, are some thoughts about Masonic ritual, education, and our beloved fraternity:
In the EA Degree, our ritual states that “Masonry unites men of every country, sect, and opinion and promotes true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained perpetually at a distance.” Also, our aims are to relieve the distressed, to soothe the unhappy, to sympathize with them in their misfortunes, to compassionate their miseries, and restore peace to their troubled minds. How? How does Masonry do those things?
The Lodge System of Masonic Education describes Freemasonry as an educational institution that makes good men better through immersion in Masonic principals and morality and our ritual instructs us in that regard. EAs are to acquire useful knowledge. Working tools of each Degree reshape our character and promote brotherhood. We go from the rough ashlar to the perfect ashlar – reshape our character – by EDUCATION, our own endeavors, and the blessing of Deity. One EA Charge says we are to improve in Masonic knowledge and converse with well-informed brethren.
In the FC Degree, we hear that “here on the broad platform of brotherly love [i.e. the Masonic Lodge Room], the high the low, the rich, the poor may meet together with one common purpose, the perpetuation of each other’s friendship and each other’s love.” FCs are to apply the useful knowledge acquired as EAs.
We learn in two ways: from direct experience with reality through the five human senses and from others – thus references to the 7 liberal arts and sciences (in addition to architecture, geography, navigation, and the arts dependent upon them) in the Middle Chamber lecture. Why? Why did/do Masons need to know about music, grammar, rhetoric, astronomy, geography, and navigation?
According to LSOME, in order to recognize frailties of human existence, arouse the conscience to action, and to stimulate the noble and generous impulses of the human heart so that we can truly help, aid, assist, and connect/bond with one another.
How important is knowledge through education? In the MM Degree lecture it clearly states, “He that will so demean himself as not to endeavor to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding, may be deemed a useless member of society, unworthy of our protection as Masons.” Wow! Read that again. We each have a duty not only to learn, but to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding (not only the Masonic stock of knowledge).
Education enables us, to become wiser, to understand one another so we can tolerate one another, to accept and appreciate our differences, to use better judgment in our interactions so, ultimately, we can love one another. That is why we not only offer Masonic educational programs such as LSOME, MDC, RTTE and Master’s Chair, but also promote non-masonic education of all manner and types, have locally stationed Grand Lodge Staff Officers; and stress ritual. We shouldn’t have ringers continually reciting the longer more difficult passages of ritual. Each of us loses a little bit because we can’t fully know/understand the work someone else recites. Each of us needs to become intimately familiar with The Standard Works and Lectures (our code book) in order to really learn, understand, and implement the lessons of Freemasonry throughout our lives.
Masons don’t want to control the world – we want to change the world. Education, especially education our ritual enjoins, is how we attain the peace and harmony necessary to do that. Let’s get better educated and work as teams of Masons and Lodges to change our world so that life without (i.e. outside) our Lodge Rooms reflects the peace, harmony, morality, and brotherhood within.
Masonic Development Course to be Offered
Masons seek different things from Masonry at different points/stages in their lives. Each looks for wisdom in the allegory, symbols, and ritual for knowledge, truth, guidance, and wisdom. The Masonic Development Course, although developed originally for newly raised Master Masons, offers something for everyone, even the most senior Right Worshipfuls and DSAs, and will be presented for both Erie Districts on three different days (2-3 hours each, max) at the Sweet Home Masonic Hall at 641 Sweet Home Rd in Amherst. Dates, times, and locations were designed for minimal conflict with other Masonic events, to control costs (not to exceed $25), and enable brothers to enjoy meals with family.
March 7, 2015 (Saturday morning) 9:00-12:00 (registration at 8:30). The Entered Apprentice Degree will be discussed, including the Ritual, Tradition, and History of Masonry (origin, purposes, and famous Masons.
March 31 2015 (the 5th Tuesday evening) 6:30-9:30. The focus will be on the Fellowcraft Degree, especially an explanation of symbolism in the Middle Chamber lecture.
April 29 2015 (the 5th Wednesday evening) 6:30-9:30. The topic will be the meaning of the Master Mason Degree and the Hiramic Legend.
Classes will be 2-3 hours in length (none will exceed 3 hrs). Dress is slacks and sports coat. Brothers who complete the course will learn a lot about Masonry and receive a framed Diploma. Masons who have already completed the MDC are invited to retake it for new material, new insights on lessons already learned, and lively debate. Attendees should bring a (current) code book – The Standard Works and Lectures. Registrants will receive a MDC booklet.
DSAs and Worshipfuls or higher who are interested in helping to present topics or anyone with questions should please contact either Right Wor. Gary M. Galbreath, Grand Steward, at hiram105 [dot] gg [at] gmail [dot] com or Right Wor. Robert Drzewucki, Grand Sword Bearer, at rdrzewu [at] yahoo [dot] com.