The Three C's
by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota
“It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.”
President Calvin Coolidge-1922
“I love a hand that meets my own with a grasp that causes some sensation.” F.S.
To all our friends and Brothers who are celebrating holidays in December and
January I extend my best wishes to you and yours; may everything that is good
and wholesome come to you and yours in the coming year.
“The pleasantest things in the world are pleasant thoughts, and the great art in
life is to have as many of them as possible.” C.N. Bovee
Freedom, Fervency and Zeal - Chalk, Charcoal & Clay - The three C’s of
The symbolism relating to Freedom Fervency and Zeal in our lectures today can
also be found in the earliest known records of degree work in the eighteenth
century. These three qualities of the Entered Apprentice are said to distinguish
the servitude of the Apprentice:[i]
The word ‘Servitude’ being used here is, to me, interesting especially when we
explore the meaning of the three C’s.
The first C: Chalk = Freedom. Okay, servitude and why it’s interesting to me.
One definition of freedom is to be a state of exemption from the control or
power of another. Another definition would be not bound or not in any captivity;
it is a rule in Freemasonry that no man can be initiated into any degree of
Freemasonry who is at that time restrained or deprived of any of his liberties.
So servitude as it is used by Brother Mackey does not mean the Apprentice is in
any respect in the position of being deprived of his freedom as a bondsman, serf
or slave. As far as Freedom, Fervency and Zeal are concerned it means that the
Apprentice’s work should be done freely and in Freedom; meaning willingly,
generously, readily and without restraint. So the word freedom is not taken in
this part of the ritual as meaning liberty. It is, rather, meant in the earlier
Anglo-Saxon meaning of frankness and a generous willingness to work or perform
The second C: Charcoal = Fervency. As Charcoal symbolizes Fervency the
Apprentice will show his fervency in his warmth, friendliness and earnestness,
in his eagerness and willingness to learn the lessons of Freemasonry and in his
willingness to help his Lodge as opportunities arise. A quality of Charcoal is
also durability; it is so resistant and enduring that from the time when no man
remembers when, surveyors would place a shovel full of Charcoal near a place or
other marker, so that if the landmark were to be removed the charcoal would
remain there for centuries until it is dug up by another surveyor. Charcoal will
not be consumed or cease to exist until it has a source of oxygen and has been
touched by fire. When applying the symbolism of Charcoal to the Mason - his
devotion to duty, his willingness and eagerness, his fervor for learning and
working in Freemasonry will not be short lived.
The Third C: Clay = Zeal. Clay is an interesting symbol to represent Zeal,
because Zeal is represented by enthusiasm, diligence and an ardent affection.
So to be zealous means to be ardently active, devoted and diligent in devotion
to a task, or in this case to the fraternity. Clay is also interesting to me
because, if you have ever tried farming or gardening in clay soil you know how
ardent you need to be in working clay ground. Clay in this case represents
mother earth which is always employed for man’s use. This also reminds me of the
use each freemason can be to the Craft, and also to each other as friends and
“The discovery of that which is true, and the practice of that which is good,
are the two most important objects of philosophy.” Brother Voltaire
Things that aren’t so or things that appear to be something they are not.
Every once in a while a person will come face to face with the fact that what we
know to be true just isn’t true after all. When this happens it can lead to an
expression of an “Aha Moment,” like a light being turned on and finally the
meaning of something is clear. Or it can lead to skepticism and demanding proof,
because the belief held is so firm that no matter what - that persistent belief
in a mistaken idea needs more than just an explanation to change.
A persistent belief in a mistaken idea is placed in a person’s mind by another;
consistently repeating things that are not true and speaking as one who knows
what he is talking about.
This is evident in some of the myths that have been promoted against some groups
of people over the centuries by others who wanted to suppress or even eliminate
them. This continues even today in many parts of the world, and also with the
There is an interesting book that gives a good account of them called ‘Enemies
Within – The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America.[ii]’
When we study specialized history, such as this book does, we will find that
almost every group might have at one time or another been the prey of another
stronger group, which, I think, can be summed up as someone who is different
from his neighbors, who is not known very well and is thus suspect in his
beliefs and motives.
For a taste of what this book is about you could read the Short Talk Bulletin
Volume 80 – October 2002 – No. 10 which is written by the book’s author Robert
Alan Goldberg, and it makes for a good topic for a Lodge Education piece.
If you are still looking for a book to give to a Brother Mason this holiday
season this book, while it is not a Masonic book, is a good book for Masons to
“All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of actual life springs
Brother Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe 1749-1832
From the Great light of Masonry = “Early in the morning of the twenty fifth day
of the ninth month, which is month of Chislev, in the one hundred fortieth year,
they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt
offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the
had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals.
All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had
prospered them. So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days,
and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and
a thanksgiving offering. They decorated the front of the temple with golden
crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the
priests, and fitted them with doors. There was very great joy among the people,
and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed. Then Judas and his
brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that
season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and
gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty fifth day of the month of
1 Maccabees 4:52-59 in the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books-The new Oxford
From the Study Notes: “Judas set the rededication of the Temple exactly three
years after its pollution and three and a half years after Antiochus’ capture of
Jerusalem, (see Daniel 7:25 and 2 Maccabees 10:3.) The Hanukkah[v]
festival, celebrated for eight days like Solomon’s dedication of the first
Temple (1 Kings 8:65-66,) and Hezekiah’s reconstruction (2 Chronicles 29:17,)
commemorates this event.”
[i] Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry; Clegg 1929 edition.
[ii] By Robert Alan Goldberg – Yale University Press – ISBN 0-300-09000-5
[iii] Gentile literally means ‘other nations,’ In this quotation Gentile
refers to the Greek Nation which had prevented the Jews from observing their
religious practice in or out of their temple, which followed Antiochus’ capture
[iv] Special Thanks to Brother Stan Shapiro of Albert Pike Lodge for his
help in understanding Biblical history.
[v] Hanukkah means ‘dedication.’
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