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Algoma District Travelling Square
POLISHING THE STONE - November 03, 1959
PRESENTED TO: SHUNIAH LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 287 BY CONNAUGHT LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 511
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO
Continuing on its way the Travelling Square will leave Connaught Lodge and journey to Shuniah Lodge Port Arthur, Ont. with the best wishes of the Officers and Members of Connaught Lodge.
POLISHING THE STONE
As we await the entrance of a new candidate on the arm of his guide, it recalls to our minds the time when we were in that sane condition and our own reception in to the lodge. How the sharp instrument stung our bare flesh, kneeling for the blessing of Heaven, the obligation, the secret work, receiving the apron and on to the place in the lodge where we were reinvested with that with which we were divested before the ceremony began.
Our progress places us in the Northeast angle of the lodge as the youngest E. A. in the fraternity and ready to begin raising our temple of life with the materials which Masonic Ritual discloses to us as we advance in the Craft.
We notice particularly the direction northeast. In this position a newly initiated brother is part way between North and East.
As we know from Masonic teachings the North is an area of darkness, the East is the direction from which all wisdom emanates. From these simple statements a very important fact is exposed to us as Masons. The North being a place of darkness, the symbol of the profane, unregenerated world filled with ignorance and sin, and the East being the place of Light, Wisdom and Perfection as far as Masonic Life is concerned.
A Brother has his path through the darkness lighted for him by his guide as he travels toward the E. in his first steps toward the full brilliance which shines from the Chair of Solomon. In simple words the first secrets of the Great Architect have been divulged to him. It is thus brothers that we have all wood, some quite recently, others, long ago.
We must also remember that the N.E. Corner is also the place where the foundation stone is traditionally laid when erecting a building. Much depends on the skill of the craftsman in shaping, fitting, and placing this component, as this is the keystone in the foundation of the structure and great care should be taken to make sure it is firmly set.
When we as Masons are placed in the N.E. as new E.A.’s, we represent the cornerstone of the temple of life which we can raise by following the teachings of Ancient Freemasonry. Also in the N.E. Angle we are presented with the working tools of an E.A. which are the Twenty-four inch Gauge, the Common Gavel and the Chisel. The Twenty-four Inch Gauge being divided into twenty-four parts reminds us that the day is divided into as many hours and should be apportioned properly, part for work, part for prayer and part for sleep and recreation. As good masons this urges us to spend time wisely. Much of the waste and confusion in human existence arises from man failure to measure his work by some standard or rule. His days are like heaps of stone to which no craftsman has ever brought a tool -- just a heap of rough raw material, which actually accomplishes nothing.
Unless we plan to spend time wisely, following the blueprint of Life, which we have drawn in our minds, and select carefully the materials with which we work, our cornerstones will not fit properly in to the structure of life, which we as masons are attempting to erect.
The Chisel is a tool of such temper and with such an edge as to make an impression on the hardest substances. We can compare this instrument to the moral teachings found in our rituals and in the V.0.S.L., and on this wonderful volume and applying the moral lessons found therein to ourselves, we are able to make ourselves into masons, fitting perfectly into the structure of our Masonic temple which will be a credit to the Craft and Society as well.
The Common Gavel is an instrument of labour and is used to create the force with which the work is done. The lesson it brings home to us is this. In order to accomplish anything, we must work at it and only things which we work for are of any value.
With the working tools of an E.A. and the moral lessons we as speculative masons derive from them, it is possible to raise ourselves to such heights as Craftsmen that we will be respected by society and in our lodges, and will grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man.
This cornerstone we have been discussing is the symbol of all the teachings on which the Masonic Order is founded. It is known in the ritual as the Ashlar. You notice that the Rough Ashlar which is in the N.E. is a rough uncut piece of stone, fresh from the quarry, and has not yet felt the efforts of the skilled craftsman. To us this represents the E.A., newly initiated into the brotherhood and according to ritual the new Mason must be worked, moulded and taught by us, his brothers, with the working tools of an E.A. in order to shape him in to an object acceptable to the Fraternity and to entitle him to receive a greater share of the secrets which will be disclosed to him in the higher degrees.
According to the dictionary a Rough Ashlar is uncut freestone just as it comes from the quarry, and through proper handling, with correct methods of working, and perseverance the workman can bring forth a Perfect Ashlar capable of forming a solid foundation for the tallest building.
An eminent sculptor was asked “How do you carve such beautiful statues?” He replied: “It is the simplest thing in the world, I take a hammer and a chisel and from a selected mould stone I knock off all the stone I do not want, and there is the statue. It was there all the time.” A poet says of the stone:
“Isn’t it strange, that Princes and Kings
And clowns, that caper, in sawdust rings
And common folks, like you and me
Are builders for Eternity.
Each is given a kit of tools
A shapeless mass, a book of rules
And each must make ere life has flown
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.”
The kit of tools is those talents with which God has blessed us, to enable us to fulfil our mission in life. We are told in the V.0.S.L. that one received five talents, another two talents and another only one talent -- to each according to his ability. We know by the laws of nature that if we sow, we reap. It is just as true that if we do not use the talent: we have it is taken away and we lose it. Our duty is clear for each to discharge his allotted task to the best of his ability and to share with others, that the building might be complete and perfect. Thus, each will assist to carry out the Grand Design, of being happy and communicating happiness to all mankind.
The book of rules is the V.0.S.L., that Great Light which will guide us to all Truth, for the Light shineth in the darkness and cannot be put out. If we are Free Masons we should study this wonderful Book and our ritual to discover the inner meaning, so that we can perfect our stone and present it as our gift to the Great Architect of the Universe and if found acceptable in His sight to be placed in His Divine Edifice.