The Masonic Trowel

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Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth

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

“I am sir, a Brother of the Angle.”[i] Izaak Walton

“That all who are happy, are equally happy, is not true. A peasant and a philosopher may be equally satisfied, but not equally happy. Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness.” Samuel Johnson

How To Enjoy The Happiest Day Of Your Life
By Brother and Reverend Joseph Fort Newton
In the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin - 1947

“We can do anything for one day. So, just for today, let us be unafraid of life, unafraid of death which is the shadow of life; unafraid to be happy, to enjoy the beautiful, to believe the best.

Just for today let us live one day only, forgetting yesterday and tomorrow, and not trying to solve the whole problem of life at once. Lincoln said that a man is just as happy as he makes up his mind to be. Suppose that we make up our minds to be happy just for today, to adjust ourselves to what is – our family, our business, our luck. To try to make the world over to suit us is a large order. If we cannot have what we like, maybe we can like what we have.

So, just for today, let us be agreeable, responsive, cheerful, charitable; be our best, dress our best, walk softly, praise people for what they do, not criticize them for what they cannot do. And if we find fault, let us forgive it and forget.”

“Praise the Lord. Happy are those who fear [revere] the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.” Psalm 112:1

Contribute As Liberally ……..!

Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth are the three great principle tenets of Freemasonry. In the Lodge these three tenets are represented by the Master and the Wardens of the Lodge. These Three Principle Tenets of Masonry are symbolized by the three columns of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty.

“Truth is the Column of Wisdom, whose rays penetrate and enlighten the inmost recesses of the Lodge; Brotherly Love, the Column of Strength, which binds us as one family in the indissoluble bond of fraternal affection; and Relief, the Column of Beauty, whose ornaments, more precious than the lilies and pomegranates that adorn the pillars of the porch, are the widow’s tears of joy and the orphan’s prayer of gratitude.”[ii]

These principle tenets of Freemasonry are closely related to the Three Graces which are Faith, Hope and Charity, and which are also known as the Theological Virtues. It is said the greatest of these is Charity, in that context we as Masons we are taught to come to the assistance of a distressed worthy brother; just what does that mean?

If we look in the Great Light of Masonry using the Authorized Version we find in 1st Timothy 1:5 “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” However, in the New International Version the same verse reads: “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Charity means Love, Brotherly Love in particular, and in action.

Relief is a means of Brotherly Love, and has a lot to do with the Master’s instruction; “to contribute as liberally as you can do” etc. The contribution we are admonished to dispense does not mean only money. “To relieve the distressed, to sooth the unhappy and to restore peace to their troubled mind is the grand aim we have in view.” When we think of that sentence we might realize that charity, love – brotherly love – has as much to do with other forms of aid and assistance as money, maybe even more.

Many times someone we know, even a brother Mason, could use our love in matters that have nothing to do with money. There are a myriad of ways a person can be hurting, and where we as Masons can relieve their distress. There are a number of ways a Mason can relieve the distress of another when money is not the problem, but I will attempt to sum it up in just a few more words. You can help a friend or a brother by caring, doing what you can to restore peace to his troubled mind, by being the friend you feel he needs.

“For this relief much thanks; ‘tis bitter cold and I am sick at heart.” Shakespeare

From “The Great Light of Freemasonry: = “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.” KJV

“Familiar acts are beautiful through love.” Percy Bysshe Shelly

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

[i] A nice sentence to lead off with, but Walton is here speaking of Angling or his love of fishing.
[ii] Masonic Concordance of the Holy Bible “Relief.”

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Last modified: March 22, 2014