A talk given by Wayne D. Anderson, D.D.G.M. Frontenac District, G.R.C. 2015-16
Freemasonry is a Verb! – But first some history
When the SW says (as part of the opening of lodge) “…await the return of the Junior Deacon.” What does this mean?
In the early years of Freemasonry there were many secret groups or societies working against the Crown of England. Parliament enacted the “Unlawful Societies Act” of 1799 banning all Secret Societies that required their members to take oaths. Its prime object was to suppress all secret activity that could involve the Jacobites and the Roman Catholic Church. After considerable debate In the House of Commons, the Bill was passed with some amendments. One was to specifically exclude Freemasonry from the requirements of the Act. This, it is thought, was because of the loyalty to the Crown expressed by the Members of Parliament, both the Commons and House of Lords, who were active members of Masonic Lodges as well as Grand Lodge.
As a result of the exemption, all Masonic Lodges, on their meeting night, were required to list the names of all members and visitors attending. This list was prepared by the J.W. and handed by him to the J.D. for the latter to deliver to the Clerk of the Peace. The J.D. then returned to the Lodge post haste and reported to the S.D. The S.W. could then turn to the W.M., report the return of the J.D., and the W.M. would then open his Lodge and conduct Its business.
Later this requirement was amended to a list of names and addresses of all members of a Lodge to be returned by the Lodge Secretary to the Clerk of the Peace annually.
This requirement for an annual return ceased In 1967 when an Act of Parliament repealed the Act of 1799.
Freemasonry is a Verb!
They say Freemasonry is dying, that its glory days are long past. They say that people are just too busy for our gentle craft and worse yet, that the younger generations of today have no interest in becoming masons. What if statements like these were really just excuses for the real problems that we face? What if the truth is that men today do come to our portals seeking the magic and mystery they hear about our fraternity and instead what they find is a poorly attended, mismanaged organization that is neither welcoming nor fulfilling?
What men expect to happen when they first enter a Masonic Lodge is of course dependent on variables we have no control over. What men actually experience is a different story and not only is it something we control but it is our responsibility to control it! From the very first moment someone knocks on our door whether it be through an email, a phone call or a brief conversation in passing, it should be treated as a serious inquiry. Even if the person is never heard from again, it is our responsibility to create a serious dialogue about the craft. Why? Because if it is not serious to us, then how can we hope to bring in serious candidates from the outside world amid its concerns?
Look around at the modern world. We have access to more types of entertainment and excitement today than could have been imagined even a few decades ago. Our progress with technology has brought us many useful things, but nothing can compare to the power of the internet. On an information and communications level, it has completely connected us across the globe to an extent never experienced before in human history. To take it a step further, many people today are equipped with smart phones that are arguably the most powerful tool man has ever carried around with him. With a few taps of the screen, you can see and learn anything, not to mention instantly communicate with countless people.
The good news for Freemasonry is that with all these advancements in technology, mankind still grasps for something to hold on to in the darkness of his own existence. Indeed, with all our modern technology, we are still searching for meaning in our lives just as we did millennia ago. How we discover meaning today depends on a multitude of conditions but the energy we put into finding it constitutes our very lives. To put it simply, who we are is still very much defined by what we do.
Some men find themselves in sports, raising a family, or a career. Others find themselves in marriage or a hobby. Those men who can’t find all that they are searching for in the material world are driven inward in search of a more meaningful truth. In Freemasonry we call this truth “Light.” When a mason begins his search for Light, his progress depends on two factors. One is his direct access to men already in possession of it and two is his willingness to work for it.
This willingness to work and the desire to improve are what really distinguish a master from an apprentice and an initiate from a Cowan. When we as Masons actively take up this work, we make Freemasonry a verb and continue the Great Work that truly brings glory to God and this ancient fraternity.
While a smart phone is the most powerful tool that technology has brought us, one of the things that it cannot do for us is this work. The Internet can bring candidates to the door of a Masonic Lodge, but it cannot and will not ever be able to initiate a man into true Masonic light. Only a Lodge of Freemasons can do that and as long as there are those willing to engage in this work, Freemasonry will maintain its sacred position in the world.
BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE
BE PROUD OF WHAT YOU DO AND
BE PROUD TO BE A MASON.