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masonic matters


by Ed Halpaus Grand Lodge Education Officer Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

"Set them a good example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us." Paul in Titus 2:7-8  

"One day [Brother] Booker T. Washington was in haste to catch a train, he hurried to a horse-stand and asked the driver of a cab to take him to the station. 'No,' replied the driver, 'I've never driven a black man, and I never will.' 'All right, friend,' replied [Brother] Washington cheerfully.

'Just hop into the back seat and I'll do the driving.' The astonished cabby did as he was bidden, and [Brother] Washington caught his train." Jacob Braude  

In this issue of Masonic Matters there is a paper written by Brother Ola Morken of the Grand Lodge of Norway. Brother Ola's paper was sent to me by my good friend and Brother John Hegge, Assistant Grand Tyler, of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. Brothers John and Ola are friends, and Brother John thought I would enjoy reading what Brother Ola wrote. He was right, I did enjoy it.  

Brother Ola is from the Grand Lodge of Norway, which adheres to the Swedish Rite of Freemasonry, I think Brother Ola's writing is well worth reading. Enjoy!  

"Virtue is an angel, but a blind one, and must ask of knowledge to show her the pathway that leads to her goal." Horace Mann  


By Brother Ola Morken VIII°  

In the Swedish System of Freemasonry there are 4 important virtues that we cherish and hold high throughout the entire system, from The St. John through St. Andrew and finally the Chapter. In fact these Virtues are our moral and ethic guidelines in, a set of regulations in our Masonic work. We learn about them, we practice them during the rituals, and we are even passing tests in how we live and think by these rules, or virtues. The 4 Virtues are:  


We learn how to protect our ways of learning the rituals and symbols, used in this connection, by not revealing anything to outsiders. In ancient times Silence was also a token of sorrow. We are told, and reminded of, the old proverb that Speech is Silver, while silence is golden. In our relations with family, friends, and colleagues it can sometimes be better to keep silent instead of criticize, or express our discontent, and not to spread slander or rumors. Silence can mean respect, regard or consideration for others. Silence also proves that we are trustworthy. Sometimes it is just good medicine to go into you own private room and in silence communicate with the Great Architect of the Universe. It is said that if we in silence listen to our inner voice, we will eventually find the Acacia.  


Prudence is very much related to silence. We are taught to be careful, considerate and prudent in our relations with other people, as well as in business. Reckless action can do great harm to others, as well as to us, just the way harsh or inconsiderate words can harm. Prudence and consideration shall be the guidelines of our relations with other people. This does not mean that we shall compromise truth and honesty, but that we shall think before we act. There is no place written that we, and we only, possess the absolute truth or knowledge.  


The Latin word Temperantia may also mean to "abstain from." It means that we shall know the art of self restraint, self command. We shall recognize our shortcomings and humbly recognize the fact that the road to wisdom and acknowledgement is long and bended. We shall always prepare for repercussions and pitfalls along the road.  

MERCY (from Latin) CARITAS.  

We usually say that the merciful, and well-doing humans, do not feel fear, because a good conscience will follow him everywhere. The Latin word Caritas is the same as in English care, charity etc. These words express love. Mercy is a virtue originating from Love. All good doing, or charity, will not be real if these actions are not done out of love. According to Paul in the Great Book, all our gifts, faith, and knowledge, are nothing unless they do not have love. We can give and donate from our material abundance, but if consideration and love are missing, it might as well be a simple transaction. In our Masonic Laws it is written that the greatest reward a Mason can receive is that of having a good conscience.  

To be a mason is a life long commitment. Our Masonic duties shall follow us every day, not just during Lodge meetings. And to measure our success we should every day; consult our most qualified consultant - our conscience, and ask the question: Have we today fulfilled our Masonic duties? So mote it be! Ola Morken, Saturday March 6, 2004. Thanks Brother Ola that was great.  

"Make no judgments where you have no compassion." Anne McCaffrey  

I recently bought a book of the poetry of Brother Robert Service. I bought it because it was a very nicely done oversize illustrated edition. It's a nice book to have by my chair in the living room, to look at and enjoy. I like to look at the old photos in the book which depict some of the life in the gold mines of the Klondike in the late 1800's.  

One of the photos shows 4 men outside a log cabin in some newly cleared land; one of them is sitting on the ground with a sandwich in his hand, another is writing in a notebook resting on his knee with his foot up on a stump, and then there are two men in the foreground facing each other with their two right hands joined in what appears to be a Masonic Grip.  

When I think of that I think of something that is important to me, and that is Fidelity. In the second degree there is a line that refers to being in the charge of a trusted friend and having no need to fear any danger. That's what fidelity is - Trustworthiness. Fidelity also refers to being faithful and loyal with our strict adherence to our promises and vows, and thoroughness in the performance of duty.  

Prior to what we now call the Common Era there was a deity called "Fides or Fidelity, which was sometimes represented by two right hands joined and sometimes by two human figures holding each other by the right hands."i  

Fides was the goddess Fides. There were no sacrifices made to her on her altars, and the only offerings made to her were flowers, wine, and incense. Her statues were represented clothed in white, with a key in her hand and a dog at her feet. In ancient medals the virtue of Fidelity is symbolized by a heart in an open hand, but more usually by two right hands clasped.  

Horace says she is the sister of Justice. Cicero says, "That which is religion toward God and piety toward our parents is fidelity toward our fellowmen." The Romans had a God named Fidus, and in ancient Rome there was an old piece of Marble to Fidus on which were depicted two figures clasping each others hands as the representatives of honor and truth, without which there can be no fidelity or truth among men.  

There is a lot communicated from one Mason to another in the grip of a Mason. When we feel the grip that you and I give to each other we are telling each other that we can trust one another. We communicate silently that we are safe in each others company; safe from harm, physically, mentally, and financially. We communicate to each other that we are brothers under the skin, and that Brotherly Love will prevail.  

It is important that we live up to our status as a Mason in all our actions. When we wonder what that should be, all we need to do is to read again the Charge that is sometimes given at the closing of a Lodge of Freemasons.  

Charge at Closing  

Brethren, you are now to quit this sacred retreat of friendship and virtue to mix again with the world. Amidst its concerns and employments, forget not the duties you have heard so frequently inculcated and forcibly recommended in this Lodge. Be diligent, prudent, temperate, discreet. Remember that around this altar you have promised to befriend and relieve every brother who shall need your assistance. Remember that you have promised to remind him, in the most tender manner, of his failings, and aid his reformation; to vindicate his character when wrongfully traduced; suggest, in his behalf, the most candid and favorable circumstances. Is he justly reprehended? Let the world observe how Masons love one another.  

These generous principles are to extend further. Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all. Recommend it more especially "to the household of the faithful." By diligence in the duties of your respective callings; by liberal benevolence and diffusive charity; by constancy and fidelity in your friendships, discover the beneficial and happy effects of this ancient and honorable Institution.  

Let it not be supposed that you have here labored in vain and spent your strength for naught; for your work is with the Lord and your recompense with God. Finally, brethren, be ye all of one mind; live in peace, and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you!  

"Wisdom is knowing when you can't be wise." Paul Engle  

"Understanding a person does not mean condoning; it only means that one does not accuse him as if one were God or a judge placed above him." Erich Fromm  

"The Holy Bible gives us our duty to God; the Square, our duty to ourselves; and the Compass, our duty to our fellows."

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Last modified: March 22, 2014