Page 7 - Jan 2015 Bulletin
P. 7

Grand Master’s
                                             Sts. John Message

Our Code of Statutes requires each lodge to observe Holy Saints John Day during the month of January. This observance is
to consist of a tyled table lodge and a luncheon or dinner. When a lodge fulfills this requirement, it is in fact observing not
one but two ancient traditions of the Craft, honoring our patron saints and enjoying fellowship at a table lodge.

We honor the patron saints of our order, Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. During the Middle Ages,
many guilds and orders adopted patron saints for protection and for examples of conduct. The reasons for adopting a
particular saint have been both obvious and fancied.

Saint George - the patron of farmers, his name means 'farmer' or 'tiller of the soil.' In many countries, the agricultural year
begins on his feast, May 6, with songs of thanksgiving sung in the fields for a blessing on the new crops. Another example is
that of Saint Christopher the patron of Tow Truck Drivers and with a related feast on July 25th - Offero (Christopher) was a
powerfully built man who wandered the world in search of novelty and adventure. He came upon a hermit who lived beside
a dangerous stream and served others by guiding them to safe places to cross. Offero took the hermit's place, but instead of
guiding travelers, he carried them safely across the stream. Christopher's service at the stream led to his patronage of things
related to travel and travelers, people who carry things, burdens, etc.

The selection of these two saints as patron saints by the Craft is neither as obvious as Saint George and framers nor as
fancied as Saint Christopher and Truck Drivers. Masonic historians are not sure when their selection occurred, but there is
documentary evidence connecting Saint John the Evangelist with Masonry as early as 1598, more than one hundred years
before the formation of the first Grand Lodge. The first Grand Lodge, which was formed in England in 1717, held quarterly
assemblies, similar to today’s Grand Lodge Communications. One of the assemblies was held on Saint John the Baptist
Day, June 24, and another on Saint John the Evangelist Day, December 27.

Why were the two Saints John selected, rather than one or two other saints? Both devoted their lives to Jesus, but in
different ways. The Baptist was the first of the Christian ascetics, living in the desert on a diet of locusts and wild honey.
He wore a cloak of camel hair and preached a fiery message of repentance. His condemnation of the conduct of King Herod
eventually led to his execution. His every act was characterized by zeal, the same zeal that should actuate all Masons.

Despite the fact that our ritual refers to the two saints as parallels, the Evangelist was in fact the opposite of the Baptist. He
was the favorite apostle of Jesus, and remained at the crucifixion when all of the others had fled. He wrote not only the
fourth Gospel, but also three letters and the Book of Revelation. He was the only apostle that escaped martyrdom, living a
long life first in prison in Patmos and then in Ephesus. His constant message was “Love one another.” His learned
teachings are a perfect counterbalance to the Baptist’s zeal. The lives of both Saints John are examples for our lives, passion
counterbalanced with reason.

We celebrate the Saints John though the conduct of the Table Lodge. This is a remembrance of our origins in Great Britain.
Lodges used to meet in pubs, where in addition of the serious work of instructing Entered Apprentices and Fellowcrafts, the
members enjoyed feasts, fellowship, singing, jokes, toasts, and wine. We also refer to this celebration as a Festive Board,
another term for table lodge, in a restaurant after every monthly meeting. The fellowship and fun of this gathering greatly
strengthened the bonds of brotherhood enjoyed by the members of the lodge.

To conclude, I would like to quote an article that appeared several years ago in the Knight Templar magazine.
When a Table Lodge is a feast and not pie and coffee refreshments, when the table service is attractive and complete, when it
is a time of cheer, mirth, and singing as well as eating, then it becomes a true Table Lodge. The "mystic tie" becomes more
tangible when we experience the true feeling of brotherhood, and we can see that the old toast, "Let us eat, drink, and be
merry, for tomorrow we shall be better friends," exemplifies the true spirit of our mystic tie.
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