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ARE OUR MASONIC CUSTOMS RELEVANT – April 17, 2012
Kaministiquia A.F. & A.M. #584 BY PORT ARTHUR LODGE A.F. & A.M. #499
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO
Ritual, decorum, manners; are these things relevant in today’s society? Will these things be relevant in our century?
First off, what do we mean be relevant? A standard dictionary will tell you that anything that has a bearing on or connection with the subject at issue is relevant to that issue. We find that something is relevant if it possesses social applicability. So, do our Masonic customs have social applicability? Are they applicable in today’s society.
Brethren, I stand before you today because of Masonic customs. Fear of public speaking is recognized as one of the most common phobias, of all people. For 30 plus years I avoided any situation that might place me in a position of having to speak in a public forum, except when playing music or singing as I was not alone doing this. I did not have to. THEN I BECAME A MASON.
After our 1st degree, we were told about these things called “proficiencies”. Then they said “here is how we are going to help you memorize them”. And we said can I really do it I have never done that before but I will try my best, and we made it through with some great trepidation
After we had memorized each proficiency, we were encouraged to demonstrate reciting it. And we were told we are going to be there to help you do it. Again with some trepidation.
Then we had the opportunity to go into the chairs where we watched, and we listened, and we learned, and before long we were standing at every meeting and reciting the duties of the office that you were appointed to. Then when we reached the office of Junior and Senior Wardens we had to learn the lectures for the degrees, again with some trepidation.
Now you may not see it but I see Brethren here to be more competent, confident and capable than they were before than they used to be, and I credit a great deal of that to our Masonic Customs. What Freemasonry in general and Masonic in particular has done for me and countless others is to make it possible for us to step out of our comfort zone in an environment of support and encouragement. And by doing so it enables us to become more the man we want to be.
So, are our customs relevant in today’s society? Do they have social applicability? I don’t think there has ever been a time when they were more relevant than they are today.
Funny about relevance, though. It’s part of the big picture, the grand scheme, and oftentimes we don’t recognize something as being relevant to us as an individual until we have gained the perspective of looking back on it across time.
For instance, way back when we first became a Mason, had the brethren come to me and said, if you do this it will help you to overcome your fear of public speaking, “I would have said, No Thanks, I have no need to speak in public.
Or if they said, “We used to be required to memorize this stuff, but it’s no longer a requirement so it’s up to you.” I probably would have said “Thanks, but I’ll pass.”
But instead, they said, “This is the way it was done by generations past. We strongly encourage you to do it this way, and this is how we can help you to do” And then we said “I can do that”
That’s one beauty of Masonry. It gives us the tools we need, sometimes without our even knowing we need them, to become more than we are. Our customs are tools just like the many other tools we have in Masonry for teaching, learning, and understanding ourselves and our fellow man.
So, Masonic Customs: relevant or not relevant? It is easy to see the relevance of them to the Lodge, to the organization, to the fraternity as a whole. They encourage harmony. They promote civility, they cause uniformity. But are they relevant to you, the individual man and Mason? More importantly, how do we go about making them relevant to our fellow Brethren and to our future Masons?
Men come to Freemasonry for individual reasons but we’re finding, and I don’t believe this to be anything new, that most men come to Freemasonry for one or more of the following reasons:
(1) They have a friend or family member in the fraternity and they want to share it.
(2) They have heard and read of the so called secrets of the Freemasons and they want in on it.
(3) Or, they have realized that something is missing from their life and they think Freemasonry will help them find it, whatever it is.
Most men who are actively searching for that missing something don’t really know what it is. It’s just a vague sense that there must be more. Whatever the reasons a man come to Masonry our purpose is the same. We take good men and make them better.
Consider that simple sentence “We take good men and make them better. It’s not “We take good men and enable them to become better”. It’s not “We take good men and encourage them to become better”, “Ask them to become better”, “Hope they will become better”.
It’s WE TAKE GOOD MEN AND MAKE THEM BETTER
And how do we make them better? By using the tools that our ancient Brethren handed down to us. Our Masonic customs have very real and very practical purposes. They are tools for teaching and tools for learning, but as with any tool they must be put to use in order to be productive. The carpenter’s hammer is nothing more than a hunk of iron until the carpenter picks it up and puts it to its intended use, and then the most magnificent structures can be built. Likewise, if we place the hammer with no instruction in the hand of someone who has never seen a hammer he is likely to think it a great tool for squashing bugs. The relevance of the tool becomes meaningful when its purpose becomes clear.
We pick up those tools and teach our younger Brethren how to use them. And then, only when they are ready, we place those tools in their hands so that they may continue to build, and to shape, and to strengthen and to secure. Our Masonic Customs have been tried and proven to be true by the generations of Masons who have gone before us. The benefits of them, the lessons they teach are timeless. Our ancient Brethren recognized their value and laid out our Masonic Customs, not to teach proper behavior, but because they are essential to the growth an development of man, They are just as relevant today a they were in the beginning. Our mission should we choose to accept it, is to pass them, intact and unimpaired, on to future generations
Rt. Wor. Bro. Waino Jacobson