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.”
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
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.”
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.
[iii] Grand Lodge 1717-1967 page 22
[iv] ibid page 23
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