The Masonic Trowel

... to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree ...

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

 Masonic quotes by Brothers

Search Website For

Add To Favorites

Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!

List of Contributors

PDF This File

Print This Page

Email This Site To ...


book i

the scholar the builders rejected

w. bro. j. s. m. ward

    "That virtue which may justly be denominated the distinguishing characteristic of a Freemason's Heart - Charity."

It is very significant that one of the first lessons taught to the initiate is charity, and when using this word we must remember that in its original sense, which was still in use in the 18th century, the word charity meant far more than the mere giving of money or relief to a person in distress. This, indeed, is but the outward expression of the true charity, which today can be best translated by the phrase, "Brotherly Love."

Although many of my readers will instinctively turn to a certain incident towards the end of the ceremony as the occasion when they first had the importance of charity forcibly, and somewhat dramatically, impressed upon their minds, as a matter of fact the method of their preparation and the manner of their progression round the lodge were intended to impress this lesson on them at the very beginning of their advance towards the Light. It is as if they were compelled to enact the Part of one of the most pitiable spectacles in our great cities; some poor, blind, old beggar, dressed in rags, through which his naked flesh can be seen, led by someone eke through the bustling streets, weak and penniless. A figure fortunately seldom seen in all its grim penury in England today, but still common enough in Eastern countries.

That it is intended to convey this lemon and so stimulate our sympathy for others is shown by this answer in the Lectures:-

Ques. "Why were you led round in this conspicuous manner?"

Ans. "It was figuratively to represent the seeming state of poverty and distress in which I was received into M., on the miseries of which (if realised) were I for a moment to reflect, it could not fail to make that impression on my mind, as to cause me never to shut my ears unkindly to the cries of the distressed, particularly a brother Mason, but listening with attention to their complaints, pity would flow from my breast, accompanied with that relief their necessities required and my ability could afford ."

Now it is important to notice that we are definitely told that the manner of progression is intended to make us realise the meaning of poverty and distress in others, and further that we should not merely assist the unfortunate financially, but listen to their sorrows with a sympathetic ear and pour the balm of Consolation into the bosom of the afflicted.

It is often sympathy, not financial assistance, that a brother requires, a fact which was forcibly brought to my mind by an incident which occurred in a lodge I recently visited. A brother rose and said:-

"Many years ago I lived in a boarding house in Bloomsbury and among the other Boarders was a Roman Catholic, who seemed to be a hard-fisted, unsympathetic sort of man, and by profession was a money-lender. One night, however, I obtained an entirely new light on his real character, which left a profound impression on my mind. At 10.30 p.m. there was a knock at the hall door. It was a message for this man who, as soon as lie received it, got up from his comfortable armchair, put on his hat, and went out in to the sleet and rain, for it was a vile night. I discovered that he did not return until breakfast time next morning and drew him into conversation that evening. It seems that he was a member of a certain Roman Catholic Society, the members of which took it in turn to visit members of their church who were sick so as to cheer them up. That night he had been summoned to the bedside of a dying man, a stranger, and had remained with him until the end. Now brethren, I thought that that was a truly Christi an and brotherly act."

On the other hand, a member of this lodge has been seriously ill for six months. I knew him long before he was a Mason and because I am an old friend I have visited him. He is now well on the road to good health, but I am sorry to say that not a single member of the lodge, other than myself, has ever been near him or shown the slightest sympathy or interest in him. I suggest that this is not right, and therefore I beg to propose that the following be entered on our minutes:-

"'That, in the event of the illness of any member of this lodge, the secretary shall make a point of ascertaining whether the invalid would like to receive visits from the members, and if so he shall arrange that various members from time to time shall call upon our sick brother in order to cheer him up and evince their genuine interest and sympathy'."

To the credit of the lodge, be it said, the proposal was unanimously approved, and it was clear that the former invalid had not been neglected from mere callousness, but simply because many were not aware of his illness and it had never occurred to others that he would like visitors.

The incident shows, however, a very practical method of putting into practice our protestations of brotherly love, and one which might well be adopted in all lodges. It is useless to preach brotherly love unless we take steps to apply its precepts. In this particular case there was no real lack of sympathy but there was a defect in organisation, a defect probably existing in most lodges, namely, the lack of a link between the sufferer and his friends. The Secretary is the obvious official to supply this link, and he should make it his duty to keep in touch with the various members of the lodge. Then as soon as he learns that one is sick, or in trouble, he should communicate with the other members who, when thus informed, should feel in duty bound to visit the brother and do what they can to alleviate his distress or inspire him with hope and confidence.

It may be thought that the average secretary already has his hands full with the multitudinous duties thrust on his devoted shoulders, and there is much truth in such an objection. This difficulty could be surmounted, however, if the Secretary made it a rule that if any brother be absent from lodge without sending an explanation showing that he is in good health and happy, after the close of lodge he should pass on the name of such a brother to an old Past Master, who would make it his duty to get in touch with the absent one and ascertain whether all is well.

There are many Past Masters who would be only too pleased to have allocated to them a definite piece of work of such practical utility.

We have seen that the lesson of true charity is dramatically inculcated at the very beginning of the ceremony, and so that it shall not be obliterated from the mind of the candidate by the subsequent incidents in the ritual, it is again emphasised towards the end of the ceremony by the test for m. s. As soon as the full significance of this has been explained to the candidate he is told to retire in order to restore himself to his per. c.. The object of this latter procedure is that there may be a distinct break in the ceremony, during which the candidate can meditate on the important lesson thus conveyed to him, before resuming his further course of instruction, while the emphasis laid on the loss of his former comfort reminds him of the feelings of the poor blind beggar whom he has thus symbolised.

In conclusion, let us not forget what the Lectures themselves say concerning charity, for therein we are taught that it is the best test and surest proof of the sincerity of our religion. Moreover, since Charity and Brotherly Love are but different words for the same all embracing sentiment, let us remember that by the exercise of Brotherly Love we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family; high and low, rich and poor; created by One Almighty Being and sent into the world for the aid, supp ort and protection of each other. Hence, to soothe the unhappy, sympathise in their misfortunes, compassionate their miseries and restore peace to their troubled minds, is the grand aim we should have in view.

These are indeed lofty aspirations, and form the very basis of Masonic morality. They are taught to the initiate by means of allegories and symbols as soon as he enters a lodge, with the definite implication that until he has comprehended them he is not properly prepared to be passed to a higher degree.

back to top

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United States or elsewhere.
It is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion
of Freemasonry, nor webmaster nor those of any other regular Masonic body other than those stated.

DEAD LINKS & Reproduction | Legal Disclaimer | Regarding Copyrights

Last modified: March 22, 2014