Freemasons in Spokane move headquarters after nearly a century

Originally published on Spokesman.com

A group of men are huddled in a half circle inside the cold walls of the decrepit Selkirk building downtown. Many of them are wearing ornate aprons embroidered in different colors and patterns. One man talks from behind a podium with a broadsword stuck in a piece of wood in front.

A large stone sits to his right – a ceremonial cornerstone in dedication of the new-old building that will soon house several chapters of Freemasons, called “lodges.”

One by one, the tools of Freemasonry – the square, level and plumb – are used to measure the stone and inspect its worth. Then, corn, wine and oil are poured on its surface.

“May the all boundless offer nature bless the inhabitants of this place with abundance of the necessaries, conveniences and comforts of life,” says Jim Mendoza, Grandmaster of the Freemasons of Washington. “And grant to us all a supply of the corn of nourishment, the wine of refreshment and the oil of joy.”

Upon hearing these words, the masons cross their chests with their arms, their hands outstretched; they look like mummies. They bow their heads: “so mote it be,” they say in unison. The stone is perfect.

Sometimes, this is what being a Freemason is – fraternity, with a little pomp and circumstance. It’s much less exciting than the pop culture image of Freemasonry: Nicholas Cage in the “National Treasure” film franchise hunting down a fabulous hidden treasure stashed by the Founding Fathers – many of them Freemasons.

In reality, Freemasons are closer to a college fraternity (without all of the “buffoonery,” they jokingly say) than an all-powerful secret society. There are rules, expectations, a strong sense of community, and a deep history spanning as far back as the 14th century.

There are also many powerful and historical figures among their ranks: George Washington, Paul Revere, Theodore Roosevelt, John Elway and Steve Wozniak, the Apple co-founder, to name a few.

In Washington, Freemasonry began in 1858, and in Spokane, around 1880 – when settlers first arrived to the area. The first lodge was formed not long after. In 1910, there were enough masons to warrant their own building – the Masonic Center on Riverside Avenue (Theodore Roosevelt was present for the groundbreaking).

They stayed there for a century, until it was sold in 2013. The center was too large, and the amenities in too much disrepair to afford. The lodges headquartered there moved in with other lodges, with a plan to move out once the new center is complete. The ceremony Saturday was one of the last steps before construction and repair go into full swing at 506 W. Second Ave.

Many of the windows are boarded, and the walls have large, gaping holes exposing the outside. Several sections of the first floor are unfinished, showing the earthy foundation sitting underneath. Rather than move into a finished building, tradition is to either build a new one or find one that could use some tender love and care.

“We like to fix things up better than we found them,” said Richard Coffland, a deputy grandmaster.

By early next year, the space will look a lot different. The plan is to knock down the rusted metal beams on the first floor; the space will be shared by Spokane Lodge 34, Oriental 74 and North Hill 210. On the top floor will be a masonic museum and library preserving the storied history of Freemasonry in Spokane.

The second floor will be shared by the Scottish Rite, another branch of masonry, and Early Life Speech and Language clinic, which provides free research-based therapy for children ages 2 to 7.

Ashley Miller, the clinic’s development officer, said half of the second floor of the new masonic building was offered as a permanent home to the nonprofit. For the past two years, Freemasons have remained one of the clinic’s top supporters, having just put on a large golf tournament to raise funds.

“They’re always looking for ways to help us grow,” Miller said.

It’s self-improvement and improving the community, Freemasons say, that is the essence of being a Freemason – not necessarily the complex ceremonies or ornate dress codes. For hundreds of years, masons have donated to their communities, helped construct new buildings and repaired old ones. And all the while, they’ve lectured the fraternity is more about building human character than anything.

“In that sense, we are all architects,” Mendoza said.

As for conspiracy theories about Freemasons controlling the United States government, having ties to the Illuminati, or stashing treasure as portrayed in Hollywood blockbusters?

“I find it to be very humorous,” Mendoza said. “I look at it this way: I attend many of the lodge meetings where they argue over who’s going to bring condiments to the barbecue.”

Cornerstone Laying Ceremony of Spokane Masonic Center

October 22, 2016
Spokane, Washington

Most Worshipful Grandmaster, Grand Lodge Team, Distinguished Guests, Friends, Ladies, Gentlemen, Brethren All,

It is not the aesthetics of this building that matters, but the proper construction of its foundation that will bear the test of time.

Our Ancient Craft’s history can be likened to a pond, where a ripple effect can impact the entire ecosystem from one mere pebble thrown, though it’s rings in the water will cover a distance far mightier than its density. That’s how mankind’s history works – simple events influencing other events as it significantly produces one milestone after another.

The year was 1905 in this city of Spokane when a masonic temple was built to accommodate the growing interest in Freemasonry.
The same temple was expanded in 1925, which coincided with the peak of the fraternity, especially in this country during which time over 12% of the adult male population were members of the craft. The numbers generated by the strong interest produced enough dues that allowed many Grand Lodges to build on truly magnificent Masonic proportions.

As for the original Spokane Masonic Temple, now known as Riverside Place, it may not come as a surprise how Spokane Lodge #34 membership had grown from 16 members in 1880 to over 1200 by the year 1925. The total number of Masons in the State had grown from 1089 in 1880 when the Lodge was formed, to 46,409 by December 31, 1925. In addition to the growth of the Spokane Lodge itself, a number of new Lodges had been formed by the end of 1925 bringing the total Masonic population of the City to a total of 3,725 Master Masons.

Considered one of the grandest fraternal lodges in the western part of the Unites States and a principal structure in the Riverside Avenue National Historic District, the Spokane Masonic Temple was representative of the City Beautiful Movement as it was applied and adopted in this city.

After extensive research, other wise known as a Google search, I learned that the City Beautiful Movement was a reform philosophy of North American architecture and urban planning that flourished at the tail-end of the 1800s. The intentions behind this movement were to introduce beautification and monumental grandeur within cities, thus creating moral and civic virtue among urban populations. Advocates of the philosophy believed that such beautification promoted a harmonious social order that would increase the quality of life. However, some critics were apprehensive, recognizing the movement as overly concerned with aesthetics at the expense of true social reform.

On the contrary, most of the influential and prominent citizens of this city drew on their talents during its construction and period of development. This was a true reflection of the need and importance of the fraternal and social organizations to the mainstream community to keep up with the growing demand for added social interactions.

After a century of fraternal existence in the community, we decided to part ways with the famed structure that exemplifies the disciplined classicism that evolved from the Beau-Arts movement and the influence of other architectural styles of that period.

This morning we brought with us the same Landmark as before, a synthesis of virtues of the Ancient Craft in its genuine form by bringing it under the same hat of none splintered way of thinking, all in harmony together as we solemnly lay the cornerstone for this New Masonic Temple. A building whose masonic identity resides within its tiled recesses with the spirit animatedly flowing from those emblems as it typically expressed the individuality of our temples.

As we cheerfully conform to the ancient usages and established customs of the fraternity, we are presented with the three precious jewels of each station in the lodge, the square, a level and a plumb to constantly remind all present of its Moral & Masonic uses in our daily lives such us virtue, equality and rectitude.

This was followed by the Masonic Consecration of the lodge, a deeply symbolic ceremony during which the lodge following ancient custom, was anointed with corn, wine and oil: corn representing abundance and plenty,
wine the symbol of strength, and gladness and oil representing peace and joy.

With a continued desire to be the difference in promoting the honor and interest of the craft agreeably to its ancient forms and usage, allow me to share with you an excerpt from the original oration given by W. H. Ludden, Grand Orator, at the Cornerstone Laying of the Spokane Masonic Temple on October 6, 1904:

As the square angles of this stone symbolize virtue and its cubical form represents truth and perfection, so the foundation of Masonry and the perfect character of every Mason is based on virtue and truth.
With pleasure and gratitude, we meet here today to lay sure and lasting this cornerstone that there may be erected upon it a Masonic temple from which shall go forth a brotherhood of men to spread everywhere the eternal principles of truth and brotherly love. It shall be their purpose to smooth the rugged places in life, provide for the widow and orphan, and point out every man the right way. This stone will last for ages, but when the temple reared upon it has decayed and the stone itself crumbled to dust, the sublime principles of our order will still exist in their sublime significance.
A temple is reared upon a foundation rock, but the Masonic life and character is founded upon the principles of truth. No one shall enter here except he place his trust in the supreme architect of the universe, and the Holy Bible, the chief cornerstone of our order. How true it is that within this temple when completed will be cherished those virtues which adorn society and make the work a heaven even to those who cannot enter.
There are many temples of art in which we can cultivate our tastes, there are temples of science in which we can familiarize our minds with the works of nature and nature’s God, there are temples of religion in which we can prepare our hearts for the sacred communion of saints. But in all these, ambition may stir the passion or differences of opinion create contention and discord, destroying that peace without which earth has no joy and heaven can have no existence.
In the temple of Masonry only those human qualities which lie at the foundation of human brotherhood are called into action. Before the altar all animosities are laid aside. If man is to learn anywhere faith in his fellow men, careful scrutiny of his own conduct charity, liberality, fraternal love, kind consideration, it is in the courts of that temple.
It is because they who enter in pass on to good influences and noble purposes and kind associations that this temple of ours becomes like that ‘not made with hands.’ The completion of this building will be a permanent addition and ornament to our city and the lessons taught within its walls will bring and influence to our citizens that will be an eternal benefit.
The foundation of our temple we have now laid. With solemnities suited to the occasion, with prayers to Almighty God for his blessing, and in the midst of this assembly we have begun the work. We trust it will be prosecuted and that springing from a broad foundation, rising high in massive solidity and grandeur it may remain as long as heaven permits the works of man to last, a fit emblem of Masonic thrift and of the gratitude of those who have reared it.
We know, indeed, that the record of progress is most safely deposited in the universal remembrance of mankind. We know that if we could cause this structure to ascend, not only till it reaches the skies, but till it pierced them, its broad surfaces could still contain but part of that which, in an age of knowledge, hath already been spread over earth, and which history charges itself with making known to all future times.
We know that no inscription less broad than the earth itself can carry information of the principles we commemorate where it has not already gone; and that no structure which shall not outlive the duration of letters and knowledge among men can prolong the memory of our order.
But our object by this edifice is to show our own deep sense of the value and importance of the achievements of brotherly love and truth, and by presenting this temple to the eye to keep alive similar sentiments and to foster a constant regard for the principles of Masonry.
Human beings are composed not only of reason, but of imagination and sentiment; and that is neither wasted nor misapplied which is appropriated to the purpose of giving right direction to sentiments. Let it not be supposed that our object is to perpetuate a mere building, or even to cherish this particular spot. It is higher, purer and nobler.
We consecrate our work to the spirit of eternal truth, and we wish that the light of peace may rest upon it forever. We come as Masons to mark a spot which must forever be dear to us and our posterity. We wish that this structure may proclaim the magnitude and importance of the principles of Masonry to every class and every age.
We wish that infancy may learn the purpose of its erection from maternal lips and that weary and withered age may behold it and be solaced by the recollections it suggests. We wish that labor may look up here and be proud in this midst of its toil. We wish that in those days of sadness and sorrow that must come on us the desponding hearts may turn hitherward and be assured that the foundations of truth and brotherly love will stand strong.
We wish that this temple rising toward heaven among the pointed spires of so many temples dedicated to God may contribute also to produce in all minds a pious feeling of dependence and gratitude. We hope that this structure will stand years and years like the lighthouse on the shore, warning all who behold from danger and leading all with a pure and holy light to a life of peace and brotherly love.

On behalf of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington we thank you for being a part of this auspicious event and we wish you all the success.
God Bless.

Respectfully Submitted,
W. George Franco – Grand Orator 2017

Ernest R. Hazelwood 1927-2016

Affiliated Past Grand Master MWB Ernest R. Hazelwood passed to the Grand Lodge Above on Friday, October 21st at 8:01 p.m. He was surrounded by his Family, Wife – Dorothy, Daughters – Carol Ann and Debbie, and four of his Lodge Brothers. Ernie was 89 years old.

MWB Ernie will be buried at the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. A memorial service will be held in Albuquerque at a later date.

 

Address:

Dorothy Hazelwood

86 Riverview Rd.

Edgewood, NM 87015-6719

 

Fred B. Frye, Secretary

Edgewood Lodge No.82

612 Granite Point Trail SE

Albuquerque, NM  87123

505-263-6248

What Freemasons Can Learn from The Pope

I’m what the old guys would call “a tech guy.” What that means to me and what it means to them are two very different things. To them, it means I know how to do something as far as this whole ‘internet thing’ is concerned. While I may get tripped up on the technicalities of specialization of my profession, they’re right about one thing, I’m a millennial through and through.

There’s been a lot of confusion about the word ‘millennial’. I subscribe to a field of thought that views millennials as the post-generation generation. Unlike Generation Y, which is who most people confuse with Millennials, Millennials act in a new way of being human that relies primarily on digital technology as our most natural way to connect with others. That means that it includes any age group, nationality, or culture of human who live and breathe in the digital world as much as they do in the physical.

Millennials, because of our use of technology to connect with others, naturally see the world through a lense that is much broader than people who grew up without a real-time window into the lives of others. Freemasonry across the world has understood that we have “a marketing problem”, however, what many freemasons don’t realize is that you can’t solve it with a new logo or a tagline. We have to adopt new technology in order to speak the new language millennials understand: social media.

For those who don’t really understand why so many social networks exist, the explanation is actually fairly simple. Each social network has its own purpose. Linkedin is ideally used for work connections, Pinterest is used to collect beautiful and inspirational images, Facebook is the place to keep up with friends and acquaintances, Twitter is optimal for connecting with strangers to discuss mutual interests and topics, and Instagram is where we share memories visually. All of these networks help enhance our human experience by connecting with many many more people than we otherwise could.

Jason Silva is someone who I would consider to be an archetype of a 21st century philosopher. This video is a little piece he did that explains the network.

Now comes the interesting phenomenon: following celebrities. People follow them because they want to feel like a part of their life and enjoy in the moments that they feel are special to them. And the oldest celebrity office in the world, the Pope himself, finally joined instagram in March of this year. Frankly, he’s killing it.

Millennials crave authenticity and transparency. These are things that become more and more difficult for institutions as they age, so the Freemasons and the Catholic church face a similar challenge in that regard. However, when an old institution like the Vatican focuses their Instagram account on the humanity of those precious passing moments of the present, old institutions become very relevant.

So my call to action is, every lodge should have someone instagramming, whether they do it personally and include the fact that they are a Freemason in their bio, or by posting on behalf on of their lodge. The focus should be on the fellowship, not the regalia. The secrets of our brotherhood are the bonds between brothers, and everyone can relate to or aspire to that.

What Came You Here to Do?

By VW Zane P. McCune, DDGM 13

picGood Evening Brethren, welcome to autumn in the Pacific Northwest. This is actually my favorite time of year. The rainy days upon us have quickly greened up our summer lawns and the sunny-crisp days of September are the last glimmers of summer fading away. We are reminded that the chill of winter will be knocking on our door shortly, and with it comes the shadowed silhouette of leaf-bare branches.

Our year is beginning to draw to an end. For many, this time is reminiscent of the sands in the hour glass noticeably and yet quickly diminishing and as a result we begin to naturally look inward and examine what this year has meant. And this has given me cause to reflect on our Grand Master’s message this year.

Before becoming a Freemason, this fraternity, this society you have joined asks of you one question – simple, yet profound – what came you here to do?

I hope your answer is just as profound.

Because none of us needs to be a Freemason. And want I mean to say is that we all choose to be a Freemason. We choose this life because something in our nature is responding to a mysterious call. And as such, your Masonic journey is really like a mission. Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to learn to subdue your passion and improve yourself in Masonry.

Learning to subdue your passion. Which at first blush seems a bit counterproductive. Don’t we learn as a child to be passionate about what we do? For the initiate of our Masonic order, this is one of the first and most important points of Freemasonry and yet this is often vulnerable to misinterpretation, and consequently it merits some examination.

First, we must understand why we use the word passion. As it relates to our ritual, I believe we are talking about an affection of the mind. Oxford Dictionary refers to this type of passion as “Any kind of feeling by which the mind is powerfully affected or moved; a vehement, commanding, or overpowering emotion.”

Which is why we come here, to this temple of virtue, to learn to subdue our overpowering emotions. Because passion taken to an extreme overcomes our reason. And are we not instructed by the virtue of PRUDENCE which teaches us “to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictates of reason, and it is that habit by which we wisely judge and prudentially determine all things relative to our present as well as to our future happiness. This virtue should be the peculiar characteristic of every Mason, not only for the government of his conduct while in the Lodge, but also when in the world.”

In other words, when you combine these concepts into one thought, we can say that “to learn to subdue my passions” means to through the virtuous teachings of Masonry one learns to bring commanding and overpowering emotions and desires into subjection and control. This is quite the contrary to the situation in which a man’s passions and emotions have control over his sense of logic and reason – a situation which Masonry seeks to remedy and which is often described through the all too well known cliché of making a good man better. In other words, it is not within the capability of our ego-driven self to keep passion in check. We must learn to do this.

How?

By improving oneself in Masonry. At first this seems like almost an obvious statement – for why else would one be here? It’s so vast it almost seems like the perfect “catch all” statement. But before we gloss over it and commence with scheduling the next feast and celebration, let us consider the nature of this declaration.

For it is a personal commitment. You joined to improve yourself.

Unfortunately, the Masonic experience for some is reminiscent of the fallacy of what has become a tag line for an entire generation – Here we are now, entertain us. But nothing could be more opposite from the truth. Freemasonry exists for YOU to discover her treasure and no one should expect it to be done for them. You come here to improve yourself in knowledge of Masonry. And it is through and from this expansion of knowledge that we begin to learn to conduct ourselves with peace and harmony with those around us.

First with our brethren, but then with the outer world. And consequently, we become a better, more improved version of earlier self.

As Masons, we are called to labor and be laborers. From the very first step in our Initiatic journey we are taught symbolically how to make use of every hour of every day by the 24-inch gauge.

We are taught to divide our time equally between our service to the Supreme Architect and our worthy brethren, to our society through our vocation and to the refreshment of ourselves which includes, presumably, our family.

This is why it is so hard for many of us to sit idle, wasting the hours away accomplishing little but the short lived thrills of passing amusement.

It’s simply not in our nature as Masons.

If you stop and think about it, we are constantly working on a temple – whether it’s our spiritual, temporal, or our personal temple.

We build – that is what we do, and there is no rest for the weary.

You see, this is why our Grand Masters theme this year encapsulates the very essence of what it means to be a Mason. It’s not simply a theme but rather a reminder of the declaration you made when you chose to become a Mason.

‘Be the Difference’ by its very nature is calling our craft from refreshment to labor

once again.

So brethren, I ask you again, what came you here to do?

And with that…Let us now set to work.

Freemasons… Ministers of Civility?

This is an election year, in case you didn’t notice! It seems to be all anyone is talking about, so I guess I will talk about it too! For must of us its harder and harder not to get caught up in the fervor of this election cycle in our ever increasingly media driven society. Whether its your television, computer, tablet or phone you are probably getting news alerts every few minutes to announce the newest political insult to one candidate or the other (in reality these insults are falling directly on our republic, more on that later). Members of both political extremes would have you believe the United State’s survival is hinged on a single issue, and if you don’t agree you are some kind of traitor. The only breaks seem to be when the news reports on celebrity scandals. Its no wonder ever one is on edge.

Its not news to say that fear is the best motivator of people. Our minds and bodies are wired in such a way that fear can easily override our rational mind and our compassionate heart. This makes sense from a survival point of view, when predators waited behind every tree to attack, but in the modern world it is sometimes misplaced, and can be used to manipulate us. It has long been known that base survival instincts manifest as emotions can be used as tools to control our thoughts, limit our freedom and of course sell us things.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-36-17-amOur Constitution guarantees freedom of the press because it’s the best way for the people to communicate with each other and their Government. When it works well it informs citizens of what they need to know to protect their personal interests, and to keep the Government accountable to the people. In principal this is a great and important part of our Republic. Unfortunately like many rights it can also lead to abuses. Much of today’s media has become a platform for retail marketing; this includes social media and with the pretense of reporting important news chooses to bombard you with constant and ever increasing vitriol. Its important to remember that you did not elect the members of the press, and while freedom of the press is crucial to our nation, it is largely a business intended to make money. If they can use fear to do that, well in my opinion, they will do that, its just good business. With twenty four hour a day, seven day a week news telling you to be afraid or angry you have to have come a long way in subduing your passions to resist. I feel I should add here that not all news media is run this way, and not all journalists are profit motivated. I wish I could say that responsible journalism was the norm but I can’t say that.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-36-29-amBecause we live such short lives it’s easy to assume this is one of the worst election cycles ever, but that is not true. The election of 1800, between Adams and Jefferson was one of the worst. Through political surrogates they both attacked each other on the most personal issues, portrayed each other in the worst light. In those days our young republic was by no means a sure bet for survival, and everyone knew it. That said, today we remember BOTH Adams and Jefferson as great presidents and patriots and use them as examples of great Americans. This is an important point to remember as we engage in political discussion today. In two hundred years subsequent generations may well wonder what all the fuss was about.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-36-41-amSo what has this got to do with Freemasonry? As I have shown in earlier blogs there are elements of our Craft handed down to us that are at least 600 years old. During those centuries we have survived many contentious times, and for the most part have emerged stronger. Operant Masonry survived the great wars over religion in England, as well as wars about the style of government. We survived the wars between England and Scotland, as well as England and France. Speculative Masonry survived the American and French revolutions, as well as the American Civil War. The lessons we learned during those periods of conflict continue to serve us today. A simple example is the prohibition against discussions of politics and religion in Lodge. How long would we have lasted as a guild and then a fraternity if open conflict over monarchy or parliament had erupted or debates between Catholic and Protestant religions? Not long I assure you. Our behavioral strategies go much further than simple prohibitions. A Masonic Lodge culture has evolved in which everyone gets to speak his mind on important decisions, and strong Masters prevent the discourse from becoming contentious and experienced Past Masters soothe ruffled feathers when the decision is made. We can do this because our core beliefs are based in four very important concepts. The first is to preserve the unity of the Craft, a brotherhood based in brotherly love. We can do this because we have as a foundation a belief in Faith, Hope and Charity. Faith in a good God, who will, if we listen, guide us to a better future and a faith in the fundamental good in all men’s hearts, Hope in a better world for ALL people, and Charity which calls all of us to extend a hand in friendship to all people in need, even in the darkest times. I don’t mean to leave you with the impression we are perfect, we are all of us imperfect ashlars seeking to improve ourselves.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-36-51-amI would call upon my brethren to remember these principals in the weeks to come, leading up to our next election. Within our Lodges we have maintained, for the most part, something becoming increasingly difficult to find in the outer world, civility. This is something we as Masons can bring to the larger world. In a time of so much passionate division, men who have learned to subdue their passions can be of crucial importance. We should counter unbridled passions in debate with reason and civility, remembering that like in Lodge when the decision is made we are still a Nation, and we must cherish that nation at least as much as our opinions. As Masons we should recognize that the United States was the first nation to adopt so many Masonic tenets and it remains the best example of the world we would create as any nation on earth. We should meet darkest despair with the light of a divine hope that permeates our Craft, and with Charity in our hearts gently remind our countrymen (and women) that each person has his or her own story that makes their beliefs valid to them. We could remind our friends and family of our shared humanity, that we all have hopes, and dreams as well a fears, no one thinks they are doing wrong.

Finally Brethren, lead through example. While you might leave the Lodge after the Volume of Sacred Law is closed, you carry your obligations in your heart. Lead by example. Become your best version of the embodiment of your obligation as an example of others. Respect the opinions of others as part of respecting their humanity. Remember that at the center of the black and white tiled floor sits the altar of Masonry. It is in balance we find our civility. It is my opinion that this is our opportunity to become ministers of civility to a world that has for now lost sight of the value of civil discourse.

God bless the United States of America, and all good Masons everywhere.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-37-01-am

Anatomy of the Closing Charge, part 7: The Closing Prayer

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“And now may the blessings of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and may the moral and social virtues cement us.”

In this final look at the closing charge we end the charge with prayer. First to call down the blessings of heaven upon every mason then to ask that we find love in our own brotherhood between one another, and then finally, that both good behavior and courtesy in other words civility will bind us together.

Much like we evoke the blessing of deity “when any great and important undertaking” begins, the closing charge finalizes its admonitions to the brothers in the same way. This may seem curious at first and we might ask, why not pray at the beginning of the charge? But of course, the point is, the prayer is at the end of the charge because it truly is the beginning of the masons work as he leaves the lodge for truly great and important work. The prayer is telling in that our work requires a partnership between the divine described as blessings resting on our efforts as masons here below and that indeed there is a seriousness about our work that we should not take lightly. To have divine providence rest on us is a literary way of saying that we require divine guidance, a partnership with the divine with those present and every mason around the world that has placed the lamb skin apron around him and pledged his life for those values and that more than just our mortal efforts are needed, we require the benefit of the eye of providence to watch over and guide our every action. 

9348dabfe6e6374d3697e5199d2c83f9At the conclusion of the charge we are at the door, our bag is packed, we have all our provisions, we have been given our instructions and we are setting out on our mission. “Our mission”, you ask? Yes, masonry is not JUST a social club nor a philanthropic organization, no, far from it. Masonry is that repository of ancient esoteric wisdom that has been passed to us from great minds from all ages, often at great cost, for the soul purpose of the improvement of the individual and the advancement of mankind. The father of our country, George Washington, put the mission of our craft this way when he said, “Freemasonry is founded on the immutable laws of truth and justice and its grand object is to promote the happiness of the human race.” Each of us are expected to participate in this grand object to promote happiness and add to that grand objective. That starts first in our own hearts and masonry teaches and promotes those virtues that aid the seeker in discovering love of self and love of others first in his own heart and then through his interaction with his brothers which then leads to others within his sphere of influence in the world at large.

Taking on the work within the lodge helps each mason to work both as an individuals and with others for the common good. These small tasks, from serving others by fixing the coffee, to attending a youth program, a fundraising activity, and other such activities are part of learning the responsibility which makes us better prepared for taking our “grand object” out into the bigger world. Perhaps it would be good to think of lodge as a microcosm of the world where there is a safe place to learn how to more effectively communicate, take on new challenges and responsibilities of working together making us better prepared to take those values out into the world where our example can both be seen as a preferred way of living and be seen as being the difference in our families, communities, and world at large that improves them all.

The closing charge reminds us that we are not an island, that we are a team of unique individuals with individual skills and talents who are bound together of our own free will and accord for the common good of creating a better world. This binding strengthens us, transforms us, teaches us and we become better for it, better men, useful hands in the Great Work begun so long ago by those great visionaries of the past who saw the great need in wearing the humble workers apron and have, with great courage and hope, passed on to us this work into a future world that they hoped would be enlightened, free, loving, and kind. A world much like the one we now live in due in great part to their undying efforts. Yes, there is strife and war, and violence surrounding us still, we are not blind to that unfortunate truth, but as a greater whole, we are an improved nation of good people who freely follow civil laws that keep us safe and moral laws that are motivated by love and that improvement over the darkness of the despotic past should never be lost to us. Our role as masons is to become that continuous catalyst in the world, sentinels to maintain these great ideals and values that have created the world we are free to enjoy, to promote truth that brings peace and happiness to all we encounter, to help the poor, to aid the sick, to guide the lost, and to comfort the widow and orphan, to be the light in the darkness of the world of ignorance and bring clarity to all our existence. Masonry is a force for good in the world and our closing charge is that last great reminder at the end of every meeting of WHO WE ARE.

I hope you have found this deeper, step-by-step look into the anatomy of the closing charge of value and as you stand at the alter and hear its words at your next meeting, I hope you will hear the voices of those who have echoed these sentiments from time immemorial and I hope these seven parts will help remind you of its unique importance to our craft and more especially, YOUR unique importance to not only our fraternity but to the world. The charge is that ancient sacred baton passed into your hand to carry into the next leg of the journey east. Are you ready?

 

May God add his light to this work,

Most Fraternally,

WB John Lawson

Grand Chaplain,

Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington.

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