In preparing tonight’s address, I decided to read to you an article written by a PPGM, R W Bro Joe Salem. The article appeared in the 1988 Spring Ball magazine and will reappear in this year’s magazine.
“Freemasonry is not, as many believe, a secret society, nor is it a friendly society for mutual insurance against illness or distress. It is true that Masonry has secret modes of recognition which every Mason is sworn to preserve inviolate but its teachings contain nothing that is secret or suspect.
Many and various are the objectives that its opponents have attributed to Freemasonry, some worthy, some political, and some even traitorous. The fact is, that “Freemasonry” is an organised society of men symbolically applying the principals of operative masonry and architecture to their characters. It looks to unite men in the bonds of brotherly love and mutual friendship and has no ulterior aims of any sort.
It is a life to be lived, not a formality to be observed; a life to be lived, not a set of empty creeds to which lip-service only is given. It is a life grounded in religion, organised in morality, mellowed by good fellowship, humanised in Charity, and dedicated to service.
The teachings of Freemasonry are all based on a code of ethics and moral behaviour which has been pronounced by the sages of every country and every land as those alone which will lead to that universal peace, happiness, welfare and brotherhood which we all desire but seem incapable of bringing to fruition. Uninformed and bigoted men have proclaimed Freemasonry as an enemy of the Church and the State, yet Masonry bars from discussion all matters of political and religious import and demands of its members loyalty to the laws of the State wherever they may live and that they abstain from all plots and intrigues whatever their nature or purpose.
It is true that every Masonic ceremony opens with a prayer, and no ceremony may be conducted save with the Bible, Koran or other Sacred Volume lying open in the Lodge; yet Freemasonry is neither a religion nor substitute for such, for while religion tends to divide men into many sects, castes and denominations, the purpose of Freemasonry is to unite men in the common bond of brotherhood whatever their political or religious views and affiliations, as long as they profess a belief in the Great Architect of the Universe, whoever they deem him to be, and are willing to preserve inviolate the “secrets” already referred to. No atheist is ever accepted as a member of a Masonic Lodge.
These are facts which everyone is entitled to know. Not everyone attending church is a Christian, and not every member of the Order is a true, practicing Freemason. It has been well said that Freemasonry is no longer on trial but every individual Freemason is. Freemasonry cannot be judged by the wrongful acts of individual Masons. If every Freemason genuinely sought to live the Masonic way of life, the world would be a happier place. While the various religious sects are divided by dogma and differ in the form of ceremony, Freemasonry lacks dogma. Its tenets are summed up in a sincere belief in ’the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the moral law, the Golden Rule and the hope of a life hereafter’”.
Brethren, I have no doubt that several of you will be questioning why I have troubled to share with you, that which you feel that you already know. Indeed, while the address is well-prepared and provides a very lucid and concise overview of the Masonic life, there really isn’t anything particularly new or startling in it. But this, Brethren, is the very reason why I have chosen to share it with you.
You see, the truth is that the principles of Freemasonry really are this simple and they don’t change as time goes by. This article was written some 15 years ago – but it could equally well have been written 150 years ago, today or in 20 years time. Joe talks of a way of life, not having secrets, not talking about politics and religion, living by the Golden Rule – just as we do today. Freemasonry is sound and consistent – and this is why it works.
But above all, Brethren, Freemasonry is a way of life that will always be valid and will always hold appeal for those desirous of self-improvement and the moral upliftment of man. It’s a way of life which requires commitment and a willingness to give of ourselves and to share our blessings with others less fortunate than ourselves. It’s a way of life which requires a willingness to set an example and to follow the path of righteousness, no matter how difficult it may be. The world may change, technology may change, communication may change, but the basic, proven tenets of Freemasonry will never change – and isn’t this just what makes it all so very worth while.
R Wor Bro Geoff Edwards
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