In conversations with the Brethren about the continued pursuit to grow and flourish as a Fraternity, we considered it to be a promising idea to republish the Past Masters Messages from the East electronically. And with your help, we were able to make it possible. As of now, the Trestle Board Archives section on the website (http://sunrise288.org/archives.html) is sectioned into years, from 2011 through the present. We are hoping to obtain more Messages as these invaluable glimmers of Light should always shine. (And if you are a Past Master of Sunrise/Lakewood Lodge reading this, feel free to send copies of yours as we would be our pleasure to add your Light to our Beacon.)
As with all of Freemasonry, our traditions have led us to become the world’s largest and oldest Fraternity. There are no substitutes for who we are and what we are. The pride for our Craft remains unmatched. The lessons “we have, and are about to receive,” come from a deep and rich history from the greatest minds in the world. And you should feel an immense sense of honor of being a part of that history. Included in “Making Good Men Better,” we should strive to add to the present, so we may be part of the growing history of the Craft, “so that, during the short space allotted us here, we may wisely and usefully employ our time. And in the reciprocal intercourse of kind and friendly acts, promote the welfare and happiness of one another.”
WM John G. Koratzanis, Jr.
In Freemasonry, we are never alone.
Every time I sit down to compose the Message from the East, I research the history and lessons throughout Freemasonry. From theories about the motives behind the building of King Solomon’s Temple, to the anti-Masonic movement (yes, they are out there, and they still make me laugh), to the endless webpages and YouTube videos of esoteric teachings and doctrines surrounding the magic of the Craft. The amount of information to be found is staggering and can quite overwhelming. And having the responsibility to share the Light which I receive, I was feeling rather alone.
To compose these messages, is not a small task. And the responsibility to impart Wisdom can feel solitary. So, I abandoned my research, and re-read an important message shared by a Past Master of our Lodge, who continues to shine Masonic Light with the Craft regularly.
As Masons, we are never alone. We learned this from the very beginning. By Entering our sacred Lodge and Passing through our Masonic Journey, we are continually Raised by one another. All that we do within our Craft is achieved by the help of our Brethren. We cannot decipher our ritual without one who knows it. We do not proceed within our degrees without the assistance of a Brother. And thanks to modern technology, a Brother is a text, email or past messages away.
Our Brothers will always be there for us, both in times of pleasure and need. We often hear, “It’s what we do.” And we mean it.
If we are feeling alone, reach out. If one Brother is busy, try another. It is truly amazing when we connect on a deeper level with those we never suspected. And if you are in the midst of feeling connected, there might be a Brother who is lonely. What would our text, email or phone call mean to him when he least expected it?
Sometimes on our Journey forward, we need to stop and look behind, to remind ourselves of who we were, who we are, and who we wish to be. And in the end, that is to be together.
WM John G. Koratzanis, Jr.
How far does your Cable-Tow extend?
While there are great speculations and interpretations in conjunction as to its symbolism, I believe the answer is as simple and powerful as when it was first considered within our glorious Craft.
It is symbolic of the attachment to our solemn obligations. It is metaphorical of our Masonic birth, that tether that leads us from darkness to light as we Entered the Lodge. But as we “press on and advance within its halls,” Masonry informs that the morality taught to us by allegories and symbols will unfold before us. The Cable-Tow has been, and will always be, an emblem of the bond of Love which unites us “in the ties of union and friendship.” But how long is your Cable-Tow?
It is not gauged by mathematical length or distance. It is measured by word and deed. The equivalent to the amount of sacrifice a Mason will extend for his Brethren.
There are times we hear, as we grow within and beyond the Lodge, our Cable-Tow becomes shorter, as an inference that we are to devote more of our resources toward the Brethren and the Craft.
I believe it is quite the opposite. As we expand our influence, the Cable-Tow must, in fact, should become longer, that we may reach further and higher to the detriment of our Brethren. The propensity to shorten our Cable-Tow, withdraw ourselves from our solemn obligations that erected our stance, guided our hands, and imbued our hearts with truth and wisdom before the altar, becomes easier over time until we no longer remember how simple it was to devote ourselves regularly.
There are the exceptions, of course, as related to family, neighbor, and vocation. We must learn to stretch the length of our Cable-Tow further and further every day. That elastic bond, or “bungee-cord,” will draw less and less, shove us beyond our comfort zone, and help us to exemplify the maxim of reciprocity; to “do unto others as we would have others do unto us.”
WM John G. Koratzanis, Jr.
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.
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