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FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY - October 02, 1990
PRESENTED TO: SHUNIAH LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 287 BY THUNDER BAY LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 618
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO
The doctrines of Freemasonry afford us with many lessons to assist in our continuing ascent into a greater knowledge of ourselves and the Craft. One of the greatest being Jacob’s Ladder and the Staves or Rounds discussed in the J.W.’s lecture. Faith, Hope and Charity, Faith in the G.A.O.T.U., Hope in Salvation and Charity toward all mankind.
Faith in the G.A.O.T.U. must be considered paramount when we look at Masonry, for without this firm foundation our Order, as we know it, could not exist. I believe that anything born of man that is to serve man’s greed must surly fail, but that which is born of God must justly continue. Our Order, based upon the love of God and service to our neighbour, can only grow as men strive to improve the 1ot of their brethren and themselves, placing the common good before their own. Being in a word, Selfless. Faith is such an important part of our system, that even our first exposure to Masonry calls for a question, “Do you believe in the existence of a S.B.”? If the candidate cannot answer in the affirmative he must be refused. Faith, in many respects opens every door of our institution. In every Degree we are received in His name and only after the acknowledgement of His presence and protection can we proceed. We must not only have faith in God but faith or trust in our brother, when you remember how you were received into Masonry, neither naked nor clothed etc. and the thoughts that must have gone through your mind when you were invited to put on the Uniform. Only a great deal of trust in our friend would lead to such a choice. A choice we all have carefully made. But more than just faith in our neighbour and of course in the G.A., our belief in the fundamental privileges of man, that we so fervently profess to admire, must ultimately cause in us a change. A change in our ideals and goals. I can personally vouch that even the slightest exposure to these fundamentals can make a difference. Recently, I encountered certain individuals and the thoughts and feelings I experienced I found repugnant. My so called firm belief in the Brotherly Love had left me and the Black Spectre that replaced it, quite frankly, frightened me. We must acknowledge the fundamental teachings of our Order, for without these powerful reminders I may have continued in my prejudice.
This faith naturally creates in us a hope. Hope in Salvation. What greater joy can there be than to know that when life’s labour is complete we have a place in that temple not made by hands eternal in the heavens. But as we await our “final reward” we must realize there is a great need for hope in the “here and now”. Our hope, as speculative Masons, is in the undoubting spirit of man. As we learn to apply the fundamentals of our Order to our lives, we will grow to become the people God has intended and this hope we have nurtured in our hearts will spring forward and affect those around us. Thereby creating a better world for ourselves and our children.
On the last earth day my daughter and a friend bought and planted a tree at Boulevard Lake. This simple act of hope aptly illustrates more than my words could explain. She has planted a tree under which she will never sit but her children and children’s children will play on and enjoy. Hope in Salvation... in the apron charge of the first Degree we are taught to “observe that blameless purity of life and conduct that will enable us to stand hereafter before the G.A.O.T.U. unspotted by vice and unstained by sin”. From a Judeau-Christian view point, keeping in mind our non-sectarianism, I must admit I was bothered by this obvious contradiction to the Christian doctrine, for as we all know, salvation is the gift of God, not attainable by works, lest any should boast. I spent a great amount of time researching and trying to resolve this question. Some of the P.M.’s I consulted told me not to worry about this small portion of the work, but I feel, for the serious student, all parts must be understood if we expect to comprehend the whole. If we look again at this passage in the Book of the Work we will learn its secret. It does not infer we can earn salvation by our deeds, but that we must work daily in our attempt to be worthy of saving. To live our lives as true and faithful craftsmen.
As our scriptures tell us of Faith, Hope and Charity, the greatest of these is Charity. We can have all the world may contain but if we lack Charity, we have nothing. If I were asked what part of the Initiation ceremony do I remember most? My speedy reply would be what I like to call the Poverty Plea. Would you give if it were in your power? If I had the deed to my house in the anteroom I would have gladly given it, to avoid the feelings that moment created. This lesson provides us with a unique opportunity to examine our feelings regarding charity. Do we give enough? Can we give enough? Our charity must be from the heart, we must be cheerful givers. Many appeals are received by the Lodge. It is not incumbent on the Lodge to provide assistance in every case, indeed her only duty is to apprise the Brethren of a need so our own feelings of charity can be exercised and grow. For just as any muscle, if not used will wither and die. But even as we are considering what we can do for our neighbour, we must keep in mind our own families, for the time spent in Lodge steals from us a portion of the lives of our loved ones. A friend once told me “don’t let others spend your time for you”. We must decide how and why we spend our time.
The lessons learned in the Freemasons Lodge can help us in our relationships with family and friends. Our moral instruction, if regarded seriously, will lead to changes in our behaviour and social intercourse, if we are open and display Brotherly Love can serve to increase our awareness of others.
Masonry, my brethren, affords each of us with opportunities society often denies, for within these walls beat hearts warm for friendship. We are at liberty to communicate with all brethren regardless of what the social register states or implies.
During our summer recess we had a visit from a friend whom we had not seen in many years and after seeing Masonic articles in my den he asked, “What do Masons do”? I told him, “we take good men and make them better”, and then I quickly apologized for giving such a trite answer. As he was presently living in Montreal I explained, “If my Mother Lodge was Oka Lodge No. 1 and my friend was a Mohawk Indian, as well as a brother, we could visit without fear. In a Masonic Temple we are all Brothers each with different goals, ideals, professions and talents. Here within the benevolence of our Order we are able to greet every man as a son of Adam, a brother of the dust.
Just as the J.W.’s lecture reminds us, Faith in the G.A.O.T.U., Hope in Salvation and Charity toward all Men, these are not just mere words but a creed to live by. A plan to provide us with a meaningful and rewarding life. A plan of service to God, our family and friends.
Presented by W. Bro. R. Jackson