Well, the Holiday Season is upon us with all of its joy and excitement. The children are of course anticipating the traditional gifts and festivities of the season and the break from school, and this is how it should be as joys and innocence of childhood last for such a brief time. Their excitement is truly infectious. For families, the holiday time is often a time of reunion and happiness; it is a time of corresponding and the renewal of old friendships. It is a time of great food and refreshments that, unfortunately, only seem to come out at this time of year, which is perhaps best for our waistlines. The holidays, while they are a time of celebration and joy, should also be a time of deep inner reflection and contemplation. We must remember that the word “holiday” itself is a derivation of the phrase “holy day”. As we all know so well, Freemasonry is not and has never claimed to be a religion, but because of its very nature Freemasonry holds strongly to the universal religious concepts of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. It is these values that allow us to enjoy and reflect on the spiritual values of all the Faiths that are so intimately connected with our Craft. Using the Masonic values of tolerance and acceptance, we should learn, explore, discuss. To learn from all should be one of the preeminent goals of all Freemasons. In so doing, we come away stronger, more complete, better men.
Our Fraternity is so blessed and fortunate to have Brothers from so many Faiths as members. I firmly believe our religious diversity is one of our greatest strengths. To be able to discuss with Brothers of different Faiths their theological and philosophical values in a never-ending quest for deeper understanding and knowledge and come away feeling more enlightened is an opportunity far too seldom experienced in the world and far too precious to let pass. To the Brothers who have taught me, I have learned so much from you and for this teaching and enlightenment, I most gratefully and humbly thank you. You have made me a better Freemason and a better man.
My Brothers, our openness and tolerance is one of those core values that give our gentle Craft a genuine uniqueness in this world. This we see as a great strength simply because it is. We not only accept – we actively embrace and encourage our religious diversity because each brings a unique spiritual understanding and knowledge that can only enhance our Fraternity. Our theologies may vary and we may worship in different ways; but regardless of our differences, the teachings of our Faiths, along with the teachings of our Fraternity combine to bring harmony, strength and unity to both Freemasonry and Society. “Harmony being the strength…” is far more than just a beautiful piece of prose. It is a concept that the world would do well to learn. When one considers just how diverse we truly are and how we do strive to work in harmony for the good of our Fraternity, and consequently in a larger sphere, the good of the world, those simple words carry a far stronger significance. In our own uniquely Masonic way, we truly are a cross section of the world, another concept that our Founders of our Craft intended.
At this time of year, when we celebrate one of the most sacred holidays in Christianity, we should take a moment and reflect on what this means to all – Christian and non-Christian alike. Our holy days are not only a time of celebration and reflection, it can and should be a time to teach and enlighten. These holy days are an opportunity for all of us to experience the sacredness and the traditions of all of our Brothers. For all, it is a chance to experience and to further our understanding, and indeed, to learn from the beliefs of others.
To be able to share in celebrations with Brothers of all Faiths expresses in the strongest way one of the greatest freedoms our country has and that the world has ever seen. Brothers, consider how really unique it is to be able to live and celebrate all of the “holy days” of all of our Faiths in a country that encourages, protects and indeed cherishes them, for there have been few times in human history where such a precious freedom has existed. So to each of my Brothers – I thank you for the specialness that you bring to our gentle Craft.
My Brothers, at this joyous time of the year, may your Faith bring you closer to Deity, your Families, your Communities and to your Masonic Brotherhood.
As we continue our Masonic Journey, let us continue to
William Beetcher, Grand Master