District Information & Events
Local Lodges & Events
Algoma District Travelling Square
SOUNDING BRASS AND TINKLING CYMBALS - May 11, 1963
PRESENTED TO: KENOGAMISIS LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 656 BY HORNEPAYNE LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 636
Sincere Fraternal greetings and good wishes of the brethren of Hornepayne Lodge No. 636 accompany the presentation of the Square.
Ask the average Mason what has happened to genuine Masonic charity and he will expostulate all over the place while rattling off an impressive list of organized projects of a benevolent nature. He will tell you of the Masonic Home or the benevolent fund. In his province, of hospitals for crippled children, research programs for mental illness, prevention of blindness, muscular dystrophy. He may tell you of a visitation program in veterans’ hospitals if he is more informed than the average member.
Pin him down and ask him what his Lodge does in the way of benevolence. He may tell you that a portion of each member’s dues goes to help operate the Masonic Home or support the benevolent fund where there is no home; that sometimes a goodly sum is collected in voluntary contributions for those projects and besides, the dues of several deserving hard-pressed Brothers are remitted every year.
still further and ask him what he is doing, as a Mason, to carry out his
individual obligation. He will show you his collection of cards and enumerate
the checks written to a dozen projects and the income tax deductions claimed
during the last year,
Then nail him to the mast and ask him, is that all? How long has it been since you went on foot and out of your way to aid and succour a needy brother? Chances are his look will first be one of astonishment; then pity; then he will mark you down as well meaning, perhaps, but slightly off your rocker.
There was a time when it was one of the sweetest by-products of the teachings of our Fraternity. Read the minutes of any Lodge chartered before the turn of the century and you will learn about true Masonic charity. How the brethren got together and built a modest home for the widow of a member, donated a cord of wood or ton of coal to a widow in need even though her husband had not been a Mason. Though mentioned in the minutes these acts were not accompanied by any fanfare, but the community knew about them and the prestige of Freemasonry reflected that knowledge. We occasionally do hear of examples of genuine Masonic charity today and when we do the impact upon both individual and community is tremendous, why do we then neglect that phase of our Masonic life that can have the most gratifying results?
We have reached the status where we don’t want our benevolence on an individual basis, quiet and modest, from one heart to another, even if that is the most effective manner. We want the right hand and everyone else to know what the left band is doing. We want our charity well organized with campaigns, slogans, and quotas. We want super-duper institutions with bronze plaques on every wall and. door.
We do not want to be bothered by anything that will require more time and effort than the writing of a cheque. We are not attacking organized Masonic charities. What is being attacked is the laziness, the complacency, the lack of vision with which we pour great sums of money into organized benevolences, and then with self-righteous congratulations to ourselves, let it go at that.
1. Wherein do we fall short? How often does the master call for reports of sickness and distress in a Lodge meeting?
How often are the members of a Lodge called upon to assist in person, in some act of true Masonic Charity? How many years have gone by since you, a Mason, have given of yourself in an act of benevolence, or charity, or brotherhood? How about the other members of your Lodge?
Do the members of your Lodge look upon the payment of their annual dues as the full discharge of all obligations pertaining to charity -- an act which relieves every individual member of further concern or responsibility for the year ending December 3l?
2. Let us look at the other side of the coin.
Given the challenge to practise Masonic charity in its intimate and personal form, by a specific request almost any Lodge and almost any individual Mason will respond with enthusiasm. Freemasonry would then come to have a new meaning for those involved.
Any Lodge, large or small, which expresses the joy of giving of itself in a truly personal act of charity, discovers that it has literally been born again.
A Past Master of a Lodge which had raised a staggering amount of money to meet a relief emergency, declared: “That incident was the best thing that has happened to our Lodge in the 40 years that I have been a Mason, for, until then; most of us had no clear idea of the true meaning of Freemasonry.”
3. What does it all add up to?
In my opinion we are missing a golden opportunity for a great Masonic revival when we let our passion for bigness and efficiency dulls the spirit of true Masonic charity. There simply is no substitute for the personal touch on the local level where it counts. Freemasonry should be a relationship with individuals.
Whenever a Lodge is closed something is mentioned about contributing to the relief of distressed members, their widows and orphans. Lip service? Sounding brass and tinkling cymbal?
Not unless we make it so. The Brethren are here; they are as generous and kindly as they ever were. It is up to someone to give them occasion to do what they have obligated themselves to do. Given that opportunity, Masons will respond in such a manner that the revival of freemasonry will no longer be a fond hope— it will be here and now.
From The Bulletin, Masonic Relief Association of the United States and Canada, Vol. 79, Jan/63