Page 14 - MFM Nov 2014
P. 14

The Crossroads of a Mason

Brian Bezner, Grand Orator, Grand Lodge of California 2013-2014

In my travels throughout this year, which has included    The lessons, obligation, and duties of the first degree
conversations with many of you, I have discovered         might seem the easiest to meet, but they seem to be
something that is fundamentally important: each           the hardest for us to practice on a daily basis. As a
Mason comes to a crossroads in Freemasonry. Does          DeMolay, I was given a set of seven precepts that I
he casually take the obligation and maintain his current  was to use to govern my actions on a regular basis. I
status quo or does he strive to truly understand and      might not have been the best at consistently practicing
apply the exceptional components of our craft? Our        all of them. But, I would tell myself, “It’s okay, I am
teachings provide a foundation for each Mason’s life,     just a kid.” We are men. As Masons, we are not allowed
which guides his overall conduct. The foundations of      to pick and choose the virtues we practice. We all took
our ritual – our Masonic teachings – are having the       the same obligation and, although it might be hard,
impact that they were intended to have. Our members       we must practice Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. We
are more aware that their words and actions impact        must govern our actions agreeably to the dictates of
how we are viewed as individuals and as members of        Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice.
Freemasonry.                                              The best way to apply that which you have learned is to
Our members are committing to our craft and have a        internalize those teachings rather than just regurgitating
growing desire for education to understand the ritual     them. Memorizing ritual is something that all of us
on a deeper level. Our candidates are seeking a deeper    have done and, for some, it comes easier than others,
connection to what it means to be a Freemason today.      but do we understand it? I recall that my eighth grade
There is a thirst for more scholarly works on the         English teacher, Mrs. Davis, made us memorize the
history of Masonry. There is a surge in understanding     poem, Oh Captain, My Captain by Walt Whitman.
the subtle points of our ritual that are more profound    Once we memorized it, we were to recite it to the
than we might think, such as the geometric shape          class for a grade. It was a very easy task for me. It was
that is formed with the rods of the Senior and            not until four years later, when I was a senior in High
Junior Deacons at the altar. Focusing on all parts of     School that I learned the poem was about Abraham
our ritual and how they fit together is paramount to      Lincoln and appreciated the meaning. Even if we are
understanding our heritage from operative Masons          able to memorize and recite our ritual, it is important
and our connection to a Supreme Being. As is set forth    that we understand what we are saying. Also, when
in our first degree lecture, “When the whole building     we internalize our ritual it becomes a part of us. As a
was completed its several parts fitted together with      result, it is much easier to apply and practice.
such exact nicety that it had more the appearance of      Internalizing the ritual requires each one of us to
the work of the Supreme Architect of the Universe         practice our virtues on a daily basis with Masons
than that of Human Hands.” Our needs are the same         and Non-Masons. Practicing our virtues with other
as those of our earliest brothers—they were seeking       Masons should not be difficult because we are well
something that was not found in their daily lives –       aware that we cannot fake our way through a fraternal
beyond the church, their career, and their status in      interaction the way we might on a job interview or
society. They were looking for something that would       first date. Unfortunately, we are not always mindful
lead them on a path of completeness. There was a          of practicing our virtues with all Masons. We often
need to be part of something that would allow them        fall into the trap of catering more to those holding
to be with like-minded individuals. We all come to the    leadership positions within our fraternity, because
fraternity looking for similar things.                    human instinct dictates that we should be looking to
Our first experience in the Lodge is our initiation.      improve our own positions. We might ask ourselves,
Each of us must understand that, although we have         “What can this person do for me in the future?” and/
advanced through the degrees, the lessons imparted        or “How can they help me to gain such notoriety and
during the first degree are to remain with us. Once we    distinction?” The truth is that we are all here for each
have been passed to the degree of Fellow Craft and are    other. The actions of one Mason, good or bad, reflect
raised to the degree of Master Mason, we tend to forget   on every single one of us. Just as we don’t get to pick
what we have learned in preceding degrees. We must        and choose which tenets and virtues we practice, we
be mindful that no matter how long we have been part      don’t get to pick and choose which Masons we practice
of this fraternity we are continually striving to meet    them with. The same holds true for those who are
the guidelines given to us as an Entered Apprentice       not Masons. We must practice our tenets and virtues
MPagaeso1n4 .                                             with all people. We may never get a second chance to
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