What does it mean to be a Freemason?
The answer to this question becomes clouded and vague over time throughout our Masonic journey. The meaning can be diverse from one Brother to the next, but within the commonalities “that binds us together in the ties of union and friendship,” are the answers that should be considered regularly.
Most of us were introduced to Freemasonry either through family, friends, television programs or books. We learned that our Founding Fathers were Masons. We then learn, with these considerations, that as Freemasons, we are to live and govern ourselves by higher standards.
We were introduced to Brotherly Love upon our petitions. We asked a Mason to become a Mason, and in turn, brought us to our Lodge and acquainted us with the Brethren. Some of us might have considered these new men in our lives as strangers, but hanging above the doorway to our Lodge is an incontrovertible Truth, “There are no Strangers here… Only Friends you have not yet met.”
As an Entered Apprentice, we learned to give of ourselves; to provide Relief to those who should need it. To soothe the aching heart, to sympathize with other’s misfortunes, and to restore peace to their troubled minds. “Should you ever meet a friend in a like destitute condition, it will be your duty to contribute to him…,” is not about material worth or value, but used as an allegorical illustration.
The ideology of Truth within our Great Walls is the lynchpin of our Profession. It is the Divine Attribute and the foundation of every social and moral virtue. It is synonymous with Sincerity and Honesty. The higher idea of truth within our Masonic system is symbolized by the Holy Bible, which is “given to us as the Rule and Guide for our faith and practice.” You cannot have Faith without Truth.
We then learn that as a Freemason, we have Friends and Brothers wherever we may travel. It doesn’t matter whether a Brother is a Trooper, an accountant or a medical technician, for we are taught that to “Meet on the Level.” And we consider in our ordinary lives outside of the Lodge, when we meet a Brother, all other distinctions are done away.
WM John G. Koratzanis, Jr.
Do you understand the difference between Membership and Fraternalism?
This question dawned on me not too long ago when I overheard a friend talking about another Fraternal Order.
“I am a member,” he said.
Curious, I pressed on. In simplest terms, he told me that he was a Member, pays his dues and every so often, reads the group newsletter. I asked him why he did not participate, and he told me he did not get much out of it.
Merriam-Webster states that Membership is “the state or status of being a member and the relation between an element of a set or class and the set or class.”
Membership is also many people belonging to a faction or group in which the individual reaps the personal benefit. You pay fees and/or dues to be accepted into and obtain an individual reward in the form of assistance or money. The American Automobile Association is a good example of Membership. And yes, I am a member of that as well.
Fraternalism has the same foundation, but propels us towards an entirely different definition. Fraternalism is defined as “of or befitting a brother or brothers, and of or being a society of men associated in brotherly union, as for MUTUAL AID or BENEFIT.”
The wages we receive as Master Masons are the opportunities to assemble with one another, to hear and see our beautiful ceremonies and to receive Light through sharing thoughts and ideas. These wages are not to be taken lightly. For those with open hearts and minds, each degree, each passage of our ritual and each personal connection we work towards lead us closer to that “world of Light, Life, and Love.”
Our reward for membership in our great Fraternity grants us Brotherhood and friendship; opportunities we might never have had elsewhere! And these benefits far surpass any other financial gain or profit we might receive through any other membership or career.
In closing, I ask you to strip away all the vices and superfluities, look into your hearts and ask the question, am I a member, or am I part of a Fraternity?
WM John G. Koratzanis Jr.
As the New Year approaches, it reminds me that this year is quickly coming to a close. It seems as if it was just a short time ago that I assumed the Oriental Chair and presided over one of the greatest Lodges in our Fraternity. It was an ambitious year and I am proud of the goals we met together and look forward to playing a part in achieving our long-term goals.
As I reflect on the past year, one thing that stands out above all is what a tremendous amount of support and guidance I received from the Past Masters; thank you. I will be sure to pass it forward. In the end, I only hope that the Brethren feel I represented our Loge and the Fraternity as a whole, with the respect and integrity it deserved.
I would like to thank the Officers for their support and dedication to our Lodge. You were always there for the Brethren and gave so much of yourselves so that the Lodge may prosper. All of you are a great reflection of what a Mason should be.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Brother John Koratzanis as he rises to the East (if elected :). I wish you the best of luck and know that the Lodge will be in great hands under your care.
One last note — there are so many worthy Brethren I would like to thank but I'm limited. So, I would like to thank my Dad (Raymond Rowley) for all of his guidance, and RW Michael L. Tucker, DDGM Emeritus for being such a great mentor to me and many others.
Please remember all of those in need during this Holiday Season.
WM Roy J. Rowley
"WHY IN THE EAST?"
In the Ancient Mysteries of Freemasonry, we discover that the East was regarded as the most sacred part of a Lodge hall. As the cardinal point of the rising sun, it was and is still considered symbolic of Light. There were two main segments that held the East in high regard in Ancient times – the “sun-worshipers,” and those of more “enlightened religious intelligence.” Therefore, we find that the East is the seat of the highest office in a Masonic Lodge.
Since the start of my Masonic career, I look to the sunrise much differently. It reminds me of my constant search for enlightenment, and how much this Brotherhood has impacted that search in a positive way. Unlike a cloudy day, where we are at the mercy of the weather, or night, where we are at the mercy of the earth’s rotation, we have the ability to search and discover all the light that you care to embrace.
Therefore, I encourage everyone to participate in a Lodge meeting or a Lodge function to see an old friend, to spread light and to receive light from each other.
WM Roy J. Rowley
DID YOU KNOW?
The letters found in the word GOD, are also the initials of three Hebrew words with Masonic significance:
G — Gomez— Beauty
O — Oz— Strength
D — Dabar— Wisdom
A Lodge Room in Two Countries
At one time, Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 of Standstead, Quebec, occupied a Lodge room bisected by the international boundary. It had entrances from the Canadian and Vermont sides, and the membership was just as international as the site.
"The Great Creator having been pleased to remover our brother from the cares and troubles of this transitory existence, thus severing another link from the fraternal chain that binds us together."
Our Fraternal Brotherhood has been at the forefront of my mind as of late... for no matter what direction the political winds may blow or what disaster may strike next, we find that the special bond of unity and Brotherhood we experience within our Fraternity can only be severed when a Mason is summoned to the Lodge on High
From Lodge to Lodge, from District to District, from state to state and from country to country, the strength and universality of our Brotherhood is always on display, not by simple words or gestures, but by our actions. For the good men of this Brotherhood continue to show leadership and compassion by giving of their time and efforts for anyone that is in need, especially a Brother Mason. What is more important, is that we as Masons do not look for recognition or praise in any fom, we just want to be able to extend our cable tow for as long as it may stretch - for the betterment of those in need.
Brother George Washington said, "Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair."
Such a short and direct quote... but so true. It is what makes me proud to be a Mason because that is what we do. Whether it is within our community, in Lodge, or another state, the good men of this Fraternity continue to set the example with good dees and random acts of kindness.
Finally Brethren, let us remember that our Masonic Brotherhood has the ability to unite all beliefs, religion and races by setting the standard for all mankind.
WM Roy J. Rowley
As our Lodge prepares to bring our next few Candidates from darkness “to see the light by which Master Masons work” – I am reminded by our ritual, that the Candidate will be presented with all of the light that Masonry has to offer.
But what is this “Light” in Masonry that we speak of?
Masonic Light, presumably, is presented as being knowledge, Truth or Wisdom. However, that knowledge and Wisdom in regards to Speculative Masonry has a more hidden meaning which opens the door to wide range of awareness – when sought after.
Light in Masonry has a far more important and mysterious meaning to our membership than we sometimes perceive. The symbolism of Light is one of the first lessons presented to a new candidate – and continues to be an important source of knowledge for all of us.
Our Masonic source of Light is and has always been God. The Bible is our rule and guide to follow for enlightenment. As it is written, Masons are the “sons of light” while all others seemingly walk in darkness.
Be proud, Brethren, that we meet at Lodge with the written word of God, the True Masonic Light, displayed for us all to derive knowledge and wisdom. Indeed, we do make good men better.
WM Roy J. Rowley
Spring is upon us... the warm sunshine mixed with the sprinkle of rain is awakening all walks of life from the hibernation of winter. The flowers are blooming and the grass is green, which reminds me of the evergreen and its relationship to our Masonic ritual.
Remember: "This evergreen is an emblem of our faith in the immortality of the soul. By it we are reminded that we have an immortal part within us which will survive our earthly dissolution and which will never, never, never die..."
So, as you continue to plan the Trestle Borad of your life this Spring - I hope your faith in God and our Fraternity is renewed - for you are a part of the best Fraternity on the Earth. Stand tall and be proud, my Brother. We are Masons.
Hope to see you at the lodge!
WM Roy J. Rowley
In the Entered Apprentice Examination, we ask the candidate, “As an Entered Apprentice Mason, whence came you?” The answer, “From the Lodge of the Holy Saints John at Jerusalem.”
Who are the two Saints that we speak of?
The first is St. John the Baptist. By all accounts an ordinary man who was described as humble with, above all else, an unbelievable commitment in his obligations to God.
Second, is St John the Evangelist, who became the patron saint of Freemasonry. The Gospel of St. John is the most Masonic for the main theme is LIGHT.
We as Masons celebrate these two men at the feast of St. John which is historically noted below:
“In Christianity, the symbols of the celestial feasts of Janus became assimilated into the two feasts of the two St. Johns. These feasts are always held at the same time, at or near the winter and summer solstices. In the traditional Roman calendar, these feast dates of December twenty-seventh and June twenty-fourth, were celebrated as the dates of the respective solstices. In fact, the solstices occur a few days earlier, which respects the astronomical facts that the sun’s ascent and descent have begun by the feast dates. The summer solstice marks the start of the descending one-half of the calendar year, while the winter solstice marks the beginning of the ascending half, of the suns path on the plane of the ecliptic thru twelve constellations. Thus, there are two phases of the suns movement, an ascending one and a descending one. What motion that has once attained its maximum, can only diminish in strength to its minimum. Thus, it is said of St. John the Baptist, whose birth day feast day is the summer solstice, “He must increase, but I must decrease”, since he was 6 months older in the womb than the infant Jesus.”
History informs us that both men have dedicated their lives to being humble and giving, as having love for their fellow man, and love for their God.
Let us, as Masons, re-dedicate ourselves and follow the principals of Freemasonry that are spoken of so often within the halls of our Lodge. Let us remember the fine examples that the St. Johns’ have left for us to follow. Let us continue to make “Good Men Better.”
WM Roy J. Rowley
Where were you first prepared to be made a mason?
I believe we all know the answer to that question, and, the answer was honorably put on display recently by our Most Worshipful Grand Master, Walter R. Kaulfers.
The sitting Worshipful Master at Durand Lodge No. 179 of F&AM had recently lost his teenage son. This young man was full of life and had made it known that he wanted to become a Mason (he was active the the DeMolay). So MW Kaulfers opened his heart and with amazing gesture, arrived with his supporting Grand Staff at Durand Lodge and post-humously made the sitting Masters' son a Mason. It was incredibly moving, as all of us present could feel the power of our Masonic link within our hearts.
So let us follow the great example and commitment of the Most Worshipful.
Let us stretch forth our hand to support a fallen Brother, whether or not he be a Mason.
Let us visit the sick and remember them in our prayers.
Let us not forget the elderly that loneliness may be unknown to them.
Let us be charitable to those in need.
If we do all this, my Brother, we will be true Masons and therefore be deserving of the favors of Freemasonry has bestowed upon us.
WM Roy J. Rowley
As Masons we learned in the Entered Apprentice Degree that the Symbolic Supports of a Lodge are Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. Without these supports a Lodge may stand but you can be sure that it will eventually fall.
The WISDOM of the Past Masters and members, not just the Worshipful Master, is essential in the government of a Lodge.
The STRENGTH of all the brethren is necessary if we want our Lodge to continue to flourish. The BEAUTY of a Lodge is the fruit of the labor of those who give of themselves.
Remember then, my Brethren, should we expect our Lodge to be adorned with beauty and to continue to flourish for future generations - we all must continue to give of ourselves. And thus, the fruit of your labors will continue to secure a place for future generations to experience the WISDOM, STRENGTH and BEAUTY of Masonry.
WM Roy J. Rowley
Meeting an old friend is always enjoyable. It is one of the bonuses in life, for it enables you both to recapture and re-live earlier moments that might otherwise have remained buried in your past.
To be a brother is to be a friend. In being a friend one must be as tolerant to others as to himself, thus the self is made larger and stronger. A good friend is one who will lend as though giving and repay more than is lent.
Finally, cherish your friends… they make up a man’s wealth more surely that gold… for a man without a friend is like Lodge without a Mason.
WM Roy J. Rowley
The holidays are upon us and this year is coming to its end. I would like to wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday season.
As Masons, let's not forget all of those who are less fortunate and spread some good tidings. Take the time to reach out to friends and family. This year's end completes a journey and starts anew. Now that my tenure as Worshipful Master is ending, I have learned many valuable lessons.
The gains of few are many, but the gains of many are endless. Do not try to stand alone assist and be assisted. A good leader uses all that is available to him, a good Mason makes himself available. I will continue to be available and dedicated to the craft and the Brethren.
I cannot express how grateful I am for all the support and loyalty I received this year. Thank You all from the bottom of my heart.
One of the last duties I have this year is to Qualify our next Worshipful Master. I would like to congratulate Brother Roy Becker-Rowley on his election as Worshipful Master. I have no doubt the Brethren will offer him the same wonderful loyalty and support they afforded me. I wish him the best of luck and a very successful year.
In closing I would like to express how honored I am to have served as your Worshipful Master. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget or regret. Be well and have a great day.
WM Todd Murray
I would like to chat about change.
It has always been a part of our lives. It is all around us. Change can either be beneficial, or detrimental. From the time of conception we change daily. Recently there was a good change in our collation room. We received a donation of a shuffleboard table that has added a lot of fun and fellowship to our time spent at the lodge. Masonry is changing as well. Unfortunately not all good. One of the detrimental changes I've observed is the lack of participation, which is the backbone of Masonry. With it we learn, with it we enjoy, with it we prosper.
There is no way to obtain the benefits from Masonry without participating. When a brother is not active in our fraternity, not only does he miss out, the brethren does as well. I understand the lack of participation is mainly caused by the changes in today's lifestyle. A lot of us find ourselves overwhelmed with work schedules, family commitments and other activities that consume our lives. This is a challenge in masonry. Many feel that Masonry takes up too much time, wrong, there is not enough time for Masonry. Masonic time spent is of the highest quality. The challenge is to fit it into our schedules. Remember there is a lot of family activities in Masonry. Many brothers are spending their time moving the craft forward and running these events. They need participation. Find the time, come out, enjoy, help and benefit.
WM Todd Murray
Our summer is now coming to a close and we recently had the pleasure to honor some of our Brothers for their efforts and dedication to the Craft. The 20th Masonic District held its annual awards luncheon. The Lodges of the district presented awards for the outstanding efforts of their Brothers. Longevity pins were also issued to the dedicated Brothers for their many years of continuous service. We celebrated many years of dedication and service of our Brothers with 50 or more years as Masons. A Gold Token Degree was held in their honor. This Degree represented the lessons learned in our three Degrees and congratulated our Brethren for the many years of successfully practicing these principles.
Every Mason had to put forth much dedication and effort to become a Master Mason. We all did this freely and willingly. These principles do not end here. Masonry would not exist without the efforts of our Brothers. It is not a business and it cannot sustain itself. I discovered that my dedication and efforts I have put into Masonry has always been a pleasure. The more you put into Masonry the more you will benefit from it. Masonry is always rewarding and pleasurable.
I had met two Brothers that had become inactive in Masonry over the years. Both of them had a tragic event occur in their lives. In both cases, Masons reached out and contributed the help and support they needed. These two situations were unrelated. Both Brothers were reminded of the beauty of Masonry. These Brothers decided to get back involved and are now glad they did. If you have become less active in our craft, don't wait for tragedy to occur to get back involved. Remember why you became a Mason. Get involved, you will not regret it. Masonry is still here, and as great as ever. Until we meet again, be well, and may God bless you.
WM Todd Murray
As we now come to the midway point in this year and our lodge is about to go dark for the summer. I would like to leave you with these thoughts. When you take a break from the hustle and bustle of our Masonic activities, I urge you to not stop our practices. We are only dark to allow us more leisure time with our families during the summer months. Our obligations and practices should never be paused.
Please keep in mind that charity is always needed and folks in need, are always there. Forget not the duties you have heard so frequently inculcated and so forcefully recommended in our lodge. Due good unto all men, every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. These principles should be continued during our outage. Also keep in mind the friendships you have forged in Masonry are not just for 10 months a year. These are for life.
Don't forget your Brothers this summer. Keep in touch and spend some leisure time with them as well. In my effort to keep this message short and to the point, I leave you with this. Have an enjoyable and safe summer with your families. Travel well and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you.
WM Todd Murray
Once again the Grand Lodge Masonic year has come to a close and we welcome our new Most Worshipful Grand Master. History has shown us new ideas and changes are to come. It's amusingly ironic that one of the most commonly known things about Masonry, is that it never changes. Let's not forget, that mainly refers to our Landmarks, Principles and Ritual. That being said, experience shows us that our Leadership changes frequently, as well as their ideas. Changes are apparent.
I encourage you to keep open minded to the change. Our Fraternity has great and honorable principles. These never change. Continue to practice and make good use of them. It is a vital part of our goal, taking good men and making them better. The changes we face are to keep us current with the times, help us grow and assist with our mission. Honor your passed Leaders by respecting their efforts and continuing their successful ideas and changes. Respect the new Leadership by embracing their new ideas with true effort. Assist them with loyalty and support. As our Worshipful Leaders come and go, their legacies remain. As time always changes, so must we. Welcome new ideas, use them to continue your work. Good ideas will last, bad will pass. Remember the great principles we have practiced since our beginnings were once new ideas. Be well my Brother. My love and support for you and the craft will never change.
WM Todd Muray
I would like to touch on the topic of getting back to our roots. It appears to me that in these hectic times we seem to always find ourselves in a hurry and rushing through everything. It is also apparent that some of the Brethren are being rushed through Masonry as well. You submit your petition, are initiated EA and pressured to complete your examinations and degrees. WOW that was intense, glad that is done!!! Hey Brother take a chair, get in the line, the east awaits you. Are you ready? Make sure, you are making a commitment to continue to the East. You must be dedicated. The future of the Lodge depends on it. OK, OK I'm in. There you are, in the East, the Worshipful Master. Look at you, dedicated and devoted. I bet you can't wait till your year is over. OH NO, you're burnt out, you need a break, take some time off, STOP!
Brother let us not forget our roots. Our founding fathers took their time and developed a great Fraternity with wonderful privileges and principles. Honor their efforts, do not rush your Masonic journey. Do not just learn the words. Take your time, make sure you understand the lessons and incorporate them into your life. It is of the utmost importance that you remember all the teachings. Do not discard them as you proceed forward. Masonry is a life style to be enjoyed, honored and respected.
You understand that there are guidelines and time requirements in which you must complete your degrees and examinations. This is fine, but don't just memorize and rush through . Understand and enjoy your hard work. I'm not saying not to move forward quickly. Some Brothers want to progress quickly and enjoy the pressure. I just hope that you will learn and enjoy the trip as you travel. It is not a job it is a journey. If you enjoy it, the Brothers that assist you, will as well. Travel well and as quickly as you like, but not so swiftly that you miss most of it. The roots of Masonry are, by design, meant to be a long, well learned and understood journey. These lessons are meant to assist you throughout your entire life not just a small part of it. Life is too short, make sure you enjoy it, Masonry demands it.
WM Todd Murray
One of the most important things that Masonry has taught me is that you are never alone. Be tolerant, embrace this and allow others to be a factor in your life. Accept this lesson from Masonry. Almost everything in Masonry takes more than one person. Such as our cipher, without the help from a Brother you would not understand it, your exams take two. The five points of fellowship cannot be done alone, you cannot open a lodge by yourself and even during your degrees you had a Brother to conduct you. Just about the only thing in Masonry done alone is your personal decision to become one. All that being said, why would you deal with life alone, your Brothers are always there. Welcome this luxury, your Brothers and their families are there in times of pleasure as well as need. Include them in your daily life as well as your Masonic life; they are one in the same. Forget not to return this blessing, reach out to a Brother in need or one who is doing well. Keep in mind this fraternity is not just about charity and assistance, it is a brotherhood first. Need is not only health or financially based, it could be a wide range of issues such as loneliness from the loss of a family member or bad times at work. Whatever the reason, reach out and assist or just enjoy your Brothers and their families as well. Our time here is short, make the best of it. Finally Brother, live in peace and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you.
Fraternally Yours, WM Todd Murray
I ask you, what are Masons? To me, they are good men that do good deeds, always willing to help those in need, give back to the community and never ask for praise in return. Even though we are quiet and secretive, most of the genereal public knows who we are and that we are here. Do you know why? I believe it is because all of those who have gone this way before. They met the task, honored their obligations and made a difference. Remember, go in the "same way and manner as all who have gone this way before."
Our foreathers set the bar and made their mark. They made our Craft great and memorable hundreds of years before us. That is why the pulic knows who Masons are. Do not let that die on our watch. Remember why you became a Mason. Remember your obligations and all those who have gone this way before.
Let us too, make a difference and keep our Fraternity great. Be proud in being a Mason, attend our communications, be heard and assist your brethren. Get involved! I promise you, it will be rewarding and pleasurable.
I understand that time changes many things, but I assure you that some things have not changed. You are a Mason!
The Craft needs you, the brethren love to see you, and there is still plenty of work to be done. There is strength in numbers; together we can meet the task. The survival of Masonry depends on us. Remember that you knelt before our altar and took your obligations. "On younder book, that oath you took, should you break it, NEVER!"
The tapers are still burning; let us together make their flames eternal. See you soon my Brother. Until then, "live in peace, and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you."
WM Todd Murray
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