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Algoma District Travelling Square

 

MASONRY – BUILDING THROUGH GOOD WORKS, GOOD DEEDS, GOOD WILL, GOOD HABITS - January 19, 1959

 

PRESENTED TO: CONNAUGHT LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 511 BY ROYAL LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 453

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO

 

For its first journey for the year 1959, the Travelling Square was carried by Royal Lodge No. 453 to Connaught Lodge No. 511 on January 19, 1959.

 

MASONARY -- BUILDING THROUGH GOOD WORKS, GOOD DEEDS, GOOD WILL, GOOD HABITS

 

Condensed from an article by Leon V Stone, Past District Deputy Grand Master of Massachusetts and published in. the Christian Science Monitor, February 23, 1956.

 

FREEMASONRY, senior fraternal organization of the world, is today in the midst of the greatest growth of its long history.

 

The fraternity has outlived many attacks upon it and is now flourishing in English-speaking nations and the free countries of the world.  Membership is expanding and benevolence is increasing.

 

Masonry is a system of moral mysticism, expressing faith in God and eternal life, in old and simple symbols of the building art, and teaching brotherly love.  Down through the centuries it has continued its symbolic and ritualistic lessons for the benefit of its candidates and members.

 

Top officers of the craft in some nations serve as heads of their country’s government.  Past grand masters of the United Grand Lodge of England, for instance, include Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who after became King Edward VII; King Edward VIII; and King George VI.

 

Royalty in other countries, too, has served and is serving Masonry as well as country. Gustavus III, one time King of Sweden, is credited by some historians with having formed the Swedish Rite of Freemasonry, and kings of Sweden has been its head ever since.  Gustav VI is now grand master of Masons in Sweden.

 

In the United States, 13 Presidents are known to have been Masons. One of them, Harry S. Truman is a past Grand Master of Masons in Missouri. Others were Washington, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Johnson, Garfield, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Harding and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

 

Outstanding early American patriots who were Masons include o Paul Revere, Gen. Joseph Warren, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Isaiah Thomas, Jeremy Gridley, Richard Gridley, and James Otis.  The list multiplied rapidly as the young nation grew, with more and, more men in public life becoming members of the fraternity.

 

In more recent days, Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, has served as grand master of Masons in California.  Gen. Matthew B. Ridgeway, former chief of staff, and. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, World War II hero, are both members of West Point Lodge, 877.

 

Some five years ago, the doors of Freemasonry were opened to the Japanese people in Japan for the first time.  Gen. Douglas MacArthur had a part in this.  Prior to World War II, several Masonic lodges operated In Japan, all under jurisdiction of’ grand lodges in other countries and established for non-Japanese citizens.  The Japanese Government long banned any Japanese Masonic lodges and forbade Japanese subjects from becoming Masons.

 

Nevertheless, many Japanese became members of the craft in other countries but were denied the privilege of visiting Masonic lodges in their own country by their own government.  Today, however, there is a lodge in Tokyo for Japanese, following the postwar lifting of the ban.  It is under jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines.  Its officers are Japanese and the ritual work is done in the Japanese language.  Members of this lodge include government and business leaders of that country.

 

In contrast to the youth of Masonry in Japan, the fraternity in Scotland traces its history back to the 1200’s.  Mother Kilwinning Lodge No.0 is located at Kilwinning.  Edinburgh Lodge No.1 of Edinburgh has definite records of its activity as early as July, 1599, and could have been in existence long before that date.  Today there are 32 lodges in Edinburgh and more than 600 within the boundaries of Scotland.

 

But the story is different in many countries, where there has been a continuous decrease in the number of lodges and the number of Masons since 1924.  The trend started with the disbanding of lodges in Italy, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Spain, and Portugal, brought about as a result of edicts by dictators and tyrants.

 

Communism brought an end to Freemasonry in the Soviet Union.  After the end of World War II, some Masonic lodges were re-established in Austria, Hungary, Germany, and even in Italy where there still considerable persecution of Masons.

 

Slow but steady progress is reported in Austria, but the fraternity was virtually dissolved in Hungary.  In Germany nine of the existing grand lodges were united in June 1945.  More recently lodges in Colombia were forced out of existence and activities of those in Guatemala were sharply curtailed.

 

Persecution of Masons and Masonry is nothing new.  One historian notes that in Holland as far back as 1735, a crowd, aroused by a clergyman, destroyed the property of the local lodge.  Further meetings were then banned by the government.

 

Alphonse Cerza, an American past master and Masonic authority, who has made a study of the anti-Masonic movement, says that the 1735 ban on Dutch Masonry resulted in one member holding a lodge meeting in his own home.  He was arrested.  When lodge members later appeared in court they refused to disclose the ceremonies or secrets of the Craft.

 

Finally, however, the group agreed to confer the degrees on anyone selected by the judge.  “The town clerk was chosen,” Mr Cerza says. “His report to the judges was so favourable that it was claimed that all the town officials then proceeded to join.”

 

Records show that soon after the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717 opposition began to appear.  In 1724 a society was formed in England whose main purpose was to oppose the craft with ridicule.  Other groups followed from time to time, but today the United Grand Lodge of England is said to be the largest grand lodge in the world.

 

Elsewhere persecution goes on.  Only recently it was disclosed that in Spain 21 men had been arrested on charges of attempting to reconstitute or to join Masonic lodges in Barcelona.  They were subsequently sentenced to prison for terms of 12 to 20 years.

 

Opposition in varying degrees is found in other countries.  But wherever the craft is forced to meet secretly or to go “underground,” it still continues to teach reverence to God as the source of all good; the practice of the Golden Rule; charity toward all mankind; the meaning of brotherly love, the greatness of truth; advantages of temperance; the value of fortitude; prudence and strict justice.

 

Almost ironically in the face of objections by some government, the lessons of the craft include renunciation of disloyalty and rebellion, and the need to be true and just to government and country.

 

One of the top leaders of the organization in the United States, Dr Melvin Maynard Johnson of Boston, who for 20 years headed the 33rd Degree, Scottish Rite for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of 15 states, is recorded as having urged members to “gain an understanding of the various types of government in the world… to think things through… and to be leaders in that which is good and true.”

 

Masonic records in Massachusetts show that Anthony Lord Viscount Montague, Grand Master of England, appointed Henry Price to be provincial Grand Master of New England in 1733. The next year, 1734, his authority was extended “to all North America.”

 

Henry Price, for whom a lodge In Charlestown, Mass., is named, exercised his authority as provincial grand master of New England by organizing the Provincial Grand Lodge of Massachusetts at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston July 30, 1733.  This is said to be the first duly constituted Masonic body in America.

 

That same evening Price constituted “the First Lodge in Boston,” now known as St John’s Lodge.  During its first 50 years it was known as “the First Lodge.”

 

Masonic officials say that these acts made Henry Price the founder of duly constituted Masonry in America.

 

Many of the most important events of the day were held at the tavern where the lodge was organized.  Henry Hope, a merchant from Rotterdam, was first master of “the First Lodge.”

 

Trinity Church was organized at that tavern historians say.  The repeal of the Stamp Act was celebrated there in 1767.  George Washington and Lafayette were both entertained there.  Freemasonry grew with the colonies and spread rapidly, playing an important role in the Revolutionary War.  Today there are nearly 15,700 Masonic lodges in the United States alone, all teaching the same high ideals that have withstood the test of time and overcome all attempts to suppress them.

 

In New York State the Grand Lodge is now observing Its 175th anniversary, The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of’ the State of New York began Jan 23, 1781, in the then British-occupied colonial city of New York.

 

Today there are 1,069 lodges in that jurisdiction with a membership of more than 308,200. This gives New York the largest Masonic membership of any state in the country. Climax of the 175th anniversary observance will be May 1, at the 175th annual communication of the Grand Lodge.

 

Membership in the entire United States in 1955 was reported at 3,964,657 by the Grand Lodge of Iowa which compiles such statistics annually. This total was 71,946 higher than the previous year and nearly double 1920’s -- 2,129,561.

 

Authentic worldwide membership figures are not available, due in part to the unsettled position of Masonry in many countries. Collier’s Encyclopaedia estimated that there were more than 4,500,000 Masons in the world in 1946.  Today it is estimated there are more than 6,000,000 Masons.

 

In its early days Freemasonry was considered a religion by many groups and individuals.  Search by the writer, however, failed to disclose specific mention of any one religion, Catholic or Protestant, while leaders of the Craft as well as hordes of members say that Masonry is not a religion but add that it is religious.

 

Henry S.C. Cummings of Brookline, a past master and. ardent student of Masonry, says that “the design of Masonry is to make each individual a builder -- a master builder; perhaps not with stone and chisel so much as through good works, good deeds, good will, good habits, and good intentions...”

 

Addressing new candidates, he said, “As Masons we would have you make use of the tools of spiritual thinking, of living in harmony with others, of translating symbols into gracious living...”