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The Rough and Perfect Ashlars
by Ed Halpaus
“Great leaders play to their strength. They don’t spend vast amounts of time attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades. Instead, they deepen their ability to do what they do best, until they do it as well as anyone.” John C. Maxwell
The Rough and Perfect Ashlars
Recently in the e-publication “Mehr Licht” I reproduced a short anonymous article called Judge Kindly: It’s a reminder to not expect perfection from a man simply because he has taken the degrees of Masonry; a Mason can be expected to be a good man, but if perfection is expected one may a time or two be disappointed. It points out that if one should encounter a Mason who is less than perfect, not to condemn the entire fraternity because of the behavior of one Mason; Masonry should not judged by a few failures, but by the average of its successes. I like that short article called Judge Kindly; and whenever I rehearse or deliver the 3rd section of the lecture of the 1st degree I think of it.
The 3rd section of the 1° lecture talks about the Rough and Perfect Ashlars: “By the Rough Ashlar we are reminded of our rude and imperfect state by nature; by the Perfect Ashlar that state of perfection at which we hope to arrive by a virtuous education, our own endeavors, and the Blessing of God.” Occasionally I will meet a stranger who when I greet him by saying “hi, how are you today?” he will answer, “Blessed, truly blessed.” I always smile and extend the right hand of friendship, because I know exactly what he means.
The virtuous education spoken of in the lecture alludes to the education Masons can get by studying the lessons and allegories of Freemasonry, which will lead them to studying the lessons, allegories, and parables in the Great Light of Masonry, (the Holy Bible); a Masonic student cannot avoid becoming a Bible student too. The words ‘virtuous education’ also allude to the learning available to us in our houses of worship: It has always been a truism that if you want to meet some of the best men in a community, and you can’t find them congregated in a Lodge all you need to do is attend a house of worship on a Sabbath; Masons tend to congregate there too.
It is a blessing of God when we, through the lessons we learn in the Great Light of Masonry, our houses of worship, and in Freemasonry, improve ourselves. While it is a blessing to improve by striving toward perfection, our improvement requires our personal endeavors to acquire the virtuous education that will help us become the better men we wanted to become when we petitioned our Mother Lodge for the degrees of Masonry.
You and I know that it is well nigh unto impossible to become perfect: Nevertheless, a good man applies the lessons he learns in every area of his life in his quest to become better than he was before his learning. Through our endeavors and applying what we learn we will subdue our discordant passions so that we can get closer to the perfection we seek; closer than we would be without the virtuous education and our endeavors.
Masons are the kind of men who want to improve: The beneficiaries of a Mason’s improvement are many: he is a beneficiary, because of his endeavors, education, and God’s blessing, he lives a happier life; everyone he meets is a beneficiary, because he treats everyone with kindness and brotherly love; his loved ones, wife, or significant other, children, parents, siblings are all beneficiaries, because he is nicer and more loving toward those he loves; he appreciates them for who they are and the important people they are in his life. The list of beneficiaries can go on and on, because we meet so many people every day every year; they all benefit from a Mason striving for the perfection mentioned in the first degree when he hears briefly about “that state of perfection which we hope to arrive at by a virtuous education, our own endeavors, and the blessing of God.”
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Last modified: March 22, 2014