Page 27 - MFM August 2013
P. 27

Montana Freemason  August 2013                           Volume 87 Number 3

    The language of Freemasonry is reflective of         Masonic jewel of the Marquis de Lafayette, the young
the language of the revolutionary Age of Reason          French nobleman who served in the Continental
and Enlightenment. While the evidence I have just        Army on Washington’s staff - wounded at the Battle
provided is only circumstantial, and not the only        of Brandywine, suffering at Valley Forge, participant
mirroring of language and Freemasonry, it should         in the British surrender at Yorktown - and was
cause us to reflect on the nature of the words that we   considered adopted son by George Washington, to
speak in our meetings. Some of the ritual formulas       whom the Marquis sent the key to the gate of the
that we use in our monitors today were not used          Bastille, seized at the his symbolic destruction of it
exactly as such during the famed days of 1776 (but       during the French Revolution.
many were!). However, the spirit of them existed.

    Many of the words and phrases and ideas that we      
rehearse in our Masonic ceremonies are meaningful to
us, but they become moreso when we can understand
them in the context against which they were prepared.
Occasionally the passages that we memorize sound
lyrical, but are virtually dead to us, unmeaning out of
their original context, or misunderstood because the
underlying nuanced meanings have changed.

    Was mere membership in Freemasonry the
fountain of the American Revolution? Or was there
something more in Freemasonry itself? Read again
some of the quotes provided above, and seek out more
of them - the internet is overflowing with virtue
quotes from our Founding Fathers. And the next
time you sit in lodge, listen closely, and reconsider
the words said at the end of every meeting in a new
context, with the ears of a man of that revolutionary
age. Then ask yourself: what is virtue?

    I recommend flipping through Introduction to
Virtue Ethics: Insights of the Ancient Greeks by
Raymond J. Devettere.

    Curious readers are invited to come and visit the
Montana Masonic Library and Museum in Helena,
where they may find preserved an iconic artifact
of the American Revolution’s “drummer boys” - a
drum passed down through a family of Freemasons.
The original owner was taught to play it by a man
named “Drummer Bill” Miles, who first fought for
the British, and then the Continental, Armies, and it
saw service in the subsequent War of 1812 with the
British, and the American Civil War of the 1860’s.

    We are also privileged to display an amazing
piece of American Revolutionary heritage, the

                                                            Page 27
   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32