WHAT IS FREEMASONRY

By Wor.Bro. Clive Herron

Tonight we are going to examine the question of WHAT IS FREEMASONRY for unless we can answer this question the chances of attracting new members is very slim.

What is Freemasonry....

Ask any Freemason this question, and you’ll probably get different answers!

Ask the same question of a member of a rotary club, or a football club or an amateur dramatic society and they can give you a clear answer

Why is it not so with freemasonry ?

Freemasonry means different things to each member.

Some would say it’s a personal development program which promotes family and community values.

Others would describe Freemasonry as a chance for both social interaction and "philosophical brainstorming".

But there is no simple answer

SO LET US BEGIN BY EXAMINING WHAT FREEMASONRY IS NOT

Masonry is not a Religion

Though it contains marked religious elements and religious references. Some Brethren may legitimately say, if they wish, that “Masonry is my religion”, but he is not justified in holding that view out to others. References in the Constitution of Irish Freemasonry make this point quite clear that the system is meant to exist outside and independently of religion. However The Order does requires of its members a belief in a Deity and conformity to Moral Law. Every brother being free to choose whatever mode or form of religion he pleases.

Masonry is not a Philosophy

There are many philosophical matters in the background of Freemasonry some of which do not appear in the Ritual, it is left up to each and every mason discover and research. The Fellowcraft degree calls on us to study the liberal arts and sciences. There is so much to masonry when we start to delve.

Masonry is not a Service Club

Although it does provide an opportunity for public service, and hands-on involvement in charitable or community issues

Masonry is not an excuse for a boys night out

In order to get a better understanding of freemasonry we need to ask ourselves – WHAT IS A MASON? – For without masons there can be no Freemasonry, likewise without freemasonry there can no Masons. You have an egg or chicken situation that illustrates how intertwined we become on joining Masonry

SO WHAT IS  A FREEMASON?

A Mason subscribes to a “system of morality”.

But this is not a quality exclusive to Masons. Does a Man need to join Masons to learn morals and study ethics.” The answer is NO. If it were so we would not have any members, Remember as a pre-requisite to joining the proposed candidate should be “of good repute amongst his friends and neighbours”. So therefore he was already of high moral standards before becoming a Freeemason.

Then surely there must be a quality we attain after becoming a Mason that binds us together to become the oldest fraternity in the world with over 5 million members. For indeed we are bound together

Witness the comfort and ease you feel when visiting another lodge. It is something more than the claps given in the lodge room or the nice words said about visitors over the festive board. You are accepted as a brother no matter which lodge you are visiting.

I can assure you that this is not a feeling you will experience in any service club.

 Is it the fact that like the ancient Masons whose camaraderie was developed in their mutual labours building the tremple of Solomon. We bind ourselves together through that” ….. spiritual building, that house not made with hand, eternal”. The bricks of this building are our “minds” and “thoughts” Character is built by thoughts. Your character is the aggregate of your thoughts. We are given a hint that the production of Good thoughts is not the easiest of things to do and takes concerted effort. This is demonstrated in one of the tools we are given to deal with it, the common gavel. We are told of a violent process we must undertake on ourselves, that breaking away the  parts of the stones (our bricks or thoughts) .The meaning of “superfluous” is “UNNECESSARY”, “OBSOLETE”, “WASTEFUL”. “Rough” is defined as crude, harsh, and violent

We as masons have THIS PECULIAR MORALITY that illustrated by hand tools AND teaches us

1.     To spend time wisely – part in our usual vocation, part in rest and recreation and part in the service of our creator

2.     To divest our minds and consciences of all vices and impurities

3.     To use the square as an emblem of proven morality

4.     That all men in the sight of God are equal, subject to the same infirmities, hastening to the same goals and preparing to be judged by the same laws.

5.     That we cannot sustain ourselves unless we live our lives in an upright manner

6.     That all our words and actions are recorded and observed by the Almighty and that we will eventually be called upon to give account.

7.     That we should live according to the VSL

8.     That true happiness can only be achieved through the living of a virtuous life.

And this is the crux of Freemasonry ALL Masons must accept and have a clear understanding

·         A Freemason strives to be moral and ethical.

·         He strives to show justice, act honourably, and be loyal.

·         A Freemason teaches and practices concern for people.

·         He cares for the less fortunate, and helps those in need.

·         And all this is done irrespective of cultural or ethnic background.

·         Irrespective of religious beliefs.

·         And irrespective of any differences in social standing or education

The question now begs to be answered

ü     Am I living up to those ideals

ü       Is my lodge serving its purpose

Because if we - fail we fail ourselves, our brothers and  freemasonry

 

There are some of course who say I belong to a lodge but I don’t seem to get much out of it. That brother could find the answer to his problem by self examination. He is the one who “belongs” but makes no effort to integrate  himself with masonry, or really become a part of his lodge.

 

Now then if it is Masons who make up Freemasonry then the qualities I have outlined answer part of the question WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?

 

SO TO SUMMARISE – WHAT IS FREEMASONRY

There is no short description for Freemasonry we are a complex body of men bound together as a brotherhood, meeting as equals, involved in labour, linked together spiritually and enjoying the fellowship of each other’s company. All this we do in the firm belief that through masonry we can promote PEACE, LOVE and HARMONY an ideal to which all good men aspire.

We are NOT a fraternity, that attracts with words BUT rather by DEEDS. If you are living the life of a true mason your actions will NOT go unnoticed. There will be qualities that set you above the rest. People will respect you. It is up to each one of us to examine our own conscience.

Upon reflection I realize the brilliance of our forebears in selecting the Building of Solomon's Temple as our central theme. Everything in nature and in the works of man is produced by building. Nature builds atom by atom, cell by cell. Man builds by one brick, board or beam at a time. This in effect reduces the ultimate work of Freemasonry to be the work of the individual Mason.

Everything we see, including, including ourselves, started small, simple and singular, to be built into a complex unity towards a particular end or purpose.

As Masons we are constructing that “……spiritual house (ourselves) not made with hands…”. That is the answer to what is Freemasonry?

Remember Masonry attracts fellow men by the example we as masons set rather than the manner by which we are described.

The Real Freemasonry


Many a man has asked the question
What is Freemasonry?
Is it a club or some devilish cult,
Full of conspiracies?
Some would have many to believe,
From lack of facts or deceit,
Freemasonry is filled with corruption
Standing at Satan’s feet;

That we band together in our buildings
To perform unholy rites
With sacrifices of goodness knows what
To satisfy Satan’s delights;
And we ride the goat and fund the terrorists
And we’re into major crime,
Brain washing the world to join our sect
Whether old or in their prime.

One must ponder these synthetic slurs
To the origin of their source:
Perhaps it is fear of the unknown
Or a vindictive course;
Maybe it‘s a generational thing,
Could be a religious view-
Whatever the case, it is totally unfounded,
Flawed and viciously untrue.

If only they knew of what is inside
Also of what is taught,
Then they would see the truth of it all
And of the man that is wrought.
Taking a good man and making him better
Is the motto of Freemasonry,
To serve his God with humbleness
And fellow man in charity.

A belief in one God, is absolute!
From this we will not sway
'Tis the first step to our brotherhood
For those that seek the way
We accept all men - from all nations
Colour, disability and creed-
Honest, just and upright men
Are proper masons indeed.

Furthermore the emphasis
Is on priorities-
Family first, then comes work,
Finally Freemasonry.
Numerous lessons can be discovered
In charting the route of life:
If followed - stands a man in good stead
After his mortal life.

With principles so pure and so worthy,
May the slanderer’s hand be thwarted!
Let truth prevail above all else-
Freemasonry, be ever supported!


By Bro Geoff Fox  (April 2004)
Leven Lodge #30 Ulverstone, Tasmania
Lodge Scotch College #80 Launceston