Many an excellent address has been given about the principles and tenets of Freemasonry. These talks are essential and inspirational. Such an address was given by the Installing Officer, W Bro Johan Haasbroek, at the Lodge Jacob De Mist Installation last Thursday, entitled “A Masonic Way of Life”. I have his permission to build on what he said in an attempt to further inspire us and entitle my talk “Freemasonry in Action”.
A good business will establish certain principles which will then be put into practice in the market-place. The manner of implementation of these principals will determine the success or otherwise of the venture. Progress in Freemasonry can be measured in a similar fashion i.e. by the degree of effectiveness with which we put our principles into practice.
Wonderful stories abound about our fraternity and I would like to share with you just a few of the many that I have come across.
Is it not very exciting when a prospective candidate, in all sincerity , indicates that he wishes to join as he has been impressed by the example set by a member or members of the Order? I came across this again fairly recently and, as I had joined for similar reasons, it brought back memories.
I grew up in a small Karoo town where my late father was a member of a Lodge. At a relatively young age I got to know some of his Masonic friends and realised how friendly and kind they were. I was struck by the good works that they did and, indeed, our family had cause to become recipients of their benevolence. My father owned a small motor bodyworks business. At the time I was about 12 years old and one Sunday afternoon I noticed that his motor car was leaking petrol. He and I went to the garage that he hired, jacked the car up, saw where the leak was and planned to repair it temporarily with a sealant. In order to do this the petrol needed to be drained and I climbed underneath the car and loosened the pipe through which the petrol flowed. In the process petrol spilled on my arms and upper body, as well as on to the floor. It must have run too close to the lead-light which in all probability caused the short. Fire erupted all around me, and the garage was swiftly burned to the ground, along with 3 cars. My father and I were rushed to hospital with severe burns. Who took us to hospital? None other than a Freemason, who then rushed home to fetch my mother and also supplied transport to and from the hospital in the days that followed. By the time we were discharged , these good Brethren had organised far bigger and better premises so that my father’s business could continue with as little disruption as possible. They offered the use of a motor vehicle and assisted in acquiring essential tools that had been destroyed. They then continued to supply a support system, assisting in various ways, until things had once again normalised in our daily lives.
Another story happened some years later when the brother in charge of the Lodge premises noticed that a tramp, who had recently arrived in town, was loitering around the Temple building. He approached him and to their mutual surprise they realised that they had served together during the 2nd World War and knew one another. As a further surprise - the local brother established that the tramp was a Freemason and confirmed this on checking with his Lodge in the then Transvaal. He was taken home, cleaned up and given new clothes. The Brethren then met to discuss how best to help the brother. He ended up being a lodger at our home. He was a bookkeeper and employment was found for him. He was introduced to the local AA and attended their meetings regularly. He also attended Lodge meetings. Everything went extremely well for almost exactly one year until one evening he was found lying in a gutter heavily under the influence of alcohol. He was brought home and put to bed. He must have sobered up somewhat during the night because the following morning he was missing and sadly, as far as I am aware, has not been seen or heard of again by those who had helped him. Although this story did not have a happy ending, it does serve as a good example of the lengths that dedicated Brethren will go to in order to try and uplift a fallen brother.
More recently, a highly respected lady at the Church to which I belong openly stated that she would earnestly rebuke anyone who may be negative about Freemasonry. She had been brought up in extremely difficult circumstances and the Freemasons has ensured that there was bread on the table and education for the children. What is in all probability a spin off from Freemasonry is that she has, over the years, been heavily involved in benevolent activities.
I have been an APGM for almost a year now and have derived much pleasure and enrichment from the experience. I continue to be impressed by the meaningful way in which many Lodges and individual Brethren are putting our Masonic Principles into practice, and firmly believe that it is this type of behaviour that validates our very existence. It can, indeed, be described as “Freemasonry in Action”.
Brethren we can certainly be proud of being members of this Ancient and Honourable Order.
W Bro Malcolm Lotter
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