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masonic matters

Who runs a Masonic Lodge?

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

“Tolerance comes with age; I see no fault committed that I myself could not have committed at some time or other.” Brother Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” Albert Einstein

Who runs a Masonic Lodge?

Who runs a Masonic Lodge? Who is the Mason in charge, or who should be the Mason in charge? Is it the same person?

Some will say that the Master for the time being is in the one who is in charge, and that would be a correct assumption. However, the truth is that no one Mason is the only one in charge of a Masonic Lodge. It’s true the Master is responsible for a lot of things, (if not everything,) that goes on and happens in a Lodge, but he serves as Master because he was elected to do so by the members of his Lodge. The members of the Lodge are in charge of who they wish to represent them in the elected offices.

The other officers were either also elected, or they were appointed by the Master, and they are in charge of the things they are charged to do. The Master is there to help the appointed officers with their jobs should they need his help. Depending on the skills of the Master he may be able to help the other elected officers with their duties as well, but it is expected that they are capable of doing the tasks they are charged with.

One of the nice things about a Masonic Lodge is that there are always Masons who are willing to lend a hand to help any of the officers when they would need it. Many times they will make an actual offer to help, and many times they are asked for their help. The help they are willing to give is always appreciated.

However, it is not good Masonic conduct to just step in and take over a part of a job for one of the officers by any Mason whether he is another officer, a Past Master, or another member of the Lodge. It, in my opinion, is also not good Masonic conduct for an officer to slough off some of his duties to another officer.

Many times someone will think that it would be a Past Master or the Lodge Secretary who is really in charge. But here is the bottom line as far as I’m concerned when it comes to a Masonic Lodge. “We are all in charge of ourselves first, foremost, and always, and we are in charge of other things only when we are given the responsibility to be in charge by someone else,[i] if we haven’t been given that responsibility we’re not the one in charge.”[ii]

“It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously.” Peter Ustinov

Our Deputy Grand Master, Andy Rice, is planning a trip to England next year, which Masons and their wives can go on, so for those who will be going to England I have some information about the Mason’s Company of a few Hundred years ago you might find interesting, and possibly you might be able to take a walking tour and see where their old building was.

“In 1463 the Company obtained a lease for ninety-nine years of some land and buildings in the city [London], between the present day Basinghall Street and Coleman Street; the buildings were converted at that time to become the first Mason’s Hall.” An interesting fact is that at the end of the 99 year lease in 1562 the Company purchased the property “outright” for the sum of £200.[iii]

I’m sure you know of the London Mason’s Company and some of its history. However, I found this bit of information I thought you might like to read about in the book “Grand Lodge 1717-1967.”

“In 1472 the Company was given a Grant of Arms, the highest token of official recognition.” The Company had a motto; “God Is Our Guide,” but after 1600 the motto was changed to; “In the Lord is all our trust.” In 1481 Edward IV gave the members of the Mason’s Company the right to wear a livery, which is regalia. “At the marriage of Edward VIII to Catherine of Aragon in 1509, the Mason’s were listed [with a rank] No.42 and were allocated five yards of space ‘on the rails’ for the procession.”[iv]

“Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it.” Shakespeare

In a book I have there is a section called interesting lives and interesting facts, and in it there is this short story about Queen Victoria.

“Her exalted rank did not give Queen Victoria immunity from the trials of [being] a Grandmother. One of her grandsons, whose recklessness in spending money provoked her strong disapproval, wrote to the Queen reminding her of his approaching birthday, and delicately suggested that money would be the most acceptable gift. In her own hand she answered, sternly reproving the youth for the sin of extravagance and urging upon him the practice of economy. His reply staggered her: ‘Dear Grandma,’ it ran, ‘thank you for your kind letter of advice. I have sold the same for five pounds.”

Just who this Grandson was is unnamed, but many of her grandson’s became Masons.

“The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not “What a lovely sermon,” but “I will do something.” St. Francis De Sales

“For so work the honey-bees
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king and officers of sorts;
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home,
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad,
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds;
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent-royal of their emperor:
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold,
The civil citizens kneading up the honey,
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate,
The sad-ey’d justice with his surly hum,
Delivering o’er to executors pale
The last yawning drone.”

From Henry V by William Shakespeare

From “The Great Light of Freemasonry: “For though you walk in the midst of trouble, He will revive you; He will stretch forth His hand against the wrath of your enemies, and His right hand will save you.” Psalm 138:7

“The hardest trial of the heart is, whether it can bear a rival’s failure without triumph.” Aitken

Political Freedom, Religious Tolerance, Personal Integrity; Freemasonry – it’s not for everyone.

[i] By election or appointment.
[ii] E.R.H.
[iii] Grand Lodge 1717-1967 page 22
[iv] ibid page 23

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Last modified: March 22, 2014