From Darkness To Light
Something significant happens, or at least should happen for Masons when an initiate confirms in whom he puts his trust. The response can easily be overlooked but it does have importance for all three degrees. When we witness that response and let it pass as mere formality, we miss part of the beauty, knowledge and understanding we as Masons are challenged to seek in this life.
The initiate is told that he is in then hands of a true and trusted friend whom he can follow with firm but humble confidence. It is useful for each Mason to reflect upon the meaning and the implications of that statement in the larger sense. Every man seeks answers to the fundamental questions of his existence: What am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Our Masonic art guides and directs each man to know himself by providing a carefully constructed course in self-improvement, self-examination, self-discovery, self-analysis, self-realization along with an understanding of his relationship with the Creator. Of itself, Masonry does not, nor can it, make good men better, but that great work of moving from Darkness to Light must be done by the Mason striving each day to be a better man before the Deity in whom he puts his trust.
Regarding initiation as a mere ceremony may mean very little, however, in a symbolic sense initiation is really a picture of a man starting on the journey of life. It is a journey of moving from darkness toward light through the three degrees. It is a journey from the unreal to the real, from darkness toward light and from out of the shadows of mortality into the way of life everlasting. The candidate sets out on a mystic journey on an unseen road, traveling West to East and East to West by way of South seeking the location where truth is known, and life reveals both meaning and mystery. The journey makes him fully aware of the moral lessons contained within the lectures and how they should be used in building character and understanding and trust in the Deity.
It is a fact that from the time of our birth until the time that we pass through the valley of the shadow of death we need a guide to keep us on that path. It does not lie within man to direct his own steps on that path. Freemasonry sets out the principles along with many guideposts in its teachings. Simply, but unmistakably stated, from our first steps to the last we live and walk by Faith and not by sight. The V.O.S.L. lays out the path in clearly defined terms.
The Freemason, who understands the concept of needing guidance from a Higher Power, has arrived at the beginning of wisdom. Man cannot find his way alone in the rough and tumble of life nor can he, as an initiate find his way in lodge without humbly trusting his guide and his mentor. He leans on his guide, he follows him and he fears no danger. Trusting his guide is a model for trusting God in whom he vows to put his trust.
Freemasonry is a moral science, and it teaches that we must learn the way and the will of God, not in order to use Him for our own purposes, but to be used by him for His own ends. The difference may seem minor at first; it is really the difference between true faith and a false faith – between religion and superstition. In Freemasonry morality occupies first place and without it, Freemasonry would not be Freemasonry.
The journey out of Darkness toward the Light has a deep and abiding meaning. It offers answers to the persistent questions that are as old as creation. What am I? Whence come I? Whither go I? It tells us that the West is the symbol of this world and the East is the world of above and beyond
The Mason properly instructed and guided learns the secret that the soul has its setting from beyond the world of sense and time and is given by the Creator to discipline and develop us. Our life on this earth is not a futile quest in which we are engaged but that life has meaning and purpose. Freemasonry teaches that we are guided and guarded by a Friend who knows the way and can be trusted to the end. There is the promise that we can penetrate the veil that dims our eyes. We will be able to see and hear the truth of the V.O.S.L. and the lessons contained therein when we a ready and worthy to receive it. There is a biblical injunction that tells Mason to let their light shine. The light, however, will not shine unless the Mason takes the time to fill the lamps with oil.
What the candidate and/or member gets out of Freemasonry starts with his rebirth - initiation. What he ends up with depends on himself, for what the Mason is sent to seek is the beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. If the Freemason seeks diligently, he will get more out of it than he puts in - not materially but spiritually and mentally.
We need to learn that truth again and again. It is emphasized in the ritual line by line, precept by precept as we move around the Altar and up the winding stairs and beyond that into the light and joy of eternal life. The Freemason needs always to consider the summary statement by an eminent theologian, “Remember light shines into darkness – never let the darkness remove the light.” So, when the initiate responds by saying that he puts his trust in God we rejoice with him welcome him to the Fraternity that has a true and trusted guide in this world and in the next.
References: Book of the Work 2007: Short Talk Bulletin, MSA and material published by the Committee on Masonic Education.
by R. W. Bro. Garnet E. Schenk, F.C.F.
Copied from the Grand Lodge of A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario