First, congratulations to all of our new Masters, Wardens and Lodge officers. What a great time of the year – new officers, new ideas and plans, new opportunities, excitement! Brothers, I wish all of you the greatest success for the coming year and if there is anything your Grand Lodge Team can do to assist, please do not hesitate to call. A bit of advice – enjoy your year; it will race past far quicker than you realize. One day you will wake up and it will be November and elections.
I have had the honor to serve as Master several times over the years and for me the most enjoyable and rewarding times are when I was conferring the Degrees. Those were also the nights when I felt my greatest responsibility to the Lodge and to my Brothers. To bring a new Brother to Light should never be taken lightly or done without considerable preparation ahead of time. I have always been amazed by every aspect of our Degrees – from the first simple act of a candidate asking to join our Craft to the deeply symbolic and complex Master Mason Degree. The symbolism and teachings, and the way in which they provide a complete moral and ethical compass for every Freemason from every walk of life can and should be a lifetime study. Together, the sum of our degrees form an almost perfect completeness. The Conferral guides, the Lectures instruct, the Obligations bind; and the three, bound together, grow and develop the Mason. To this day, it is hard to comprehend how such a system of moral and ethical instruction could have evolved.
I believe it is fair to say that the most solemn part of the Conferral must be the Obligation. Over the years, I have heard several of our Brothers refer to the Obligations as our “Code of Conduct”, which I have always felt to be one of the best explanations for what they are. Through our Obligations and the manner in which we take them, a Brother makes those solemn promises so well known to all of us, and by doing so, binds himself to the values and traditions that form the soul of our Fraternity. Many times during Degree Conferrals I have observed, as I am sure we all have, Brothers quietly repeating the obligation with Brother at the altar – in essence, re-obligating themselves and through their quiet participation, again expressing the personal importance and significance of the Obligation. It truly is a time for reflection, contemplation and renewal. Their impact and importance cannot be overstated. Our Obligations not only teach, they bind us to our Lodges and Brothers and most importantly, to the higher Masonic moral code intended to govern our conduct both within the Lodge and in the larger world.
Several years ago, one of our Grand Masters called for a Lodge Re-obligation Night. His intent was to renew those mystic ties to our Fraternity and to remind us of our obligations to our Lodges and to each other. From time to time, we should take a moment, re-obligate and reflect on those principles that our Obligations represent. Now, at the beginning of a new Masonic year, I again ask all of our Lodges to once again schedule a Re-obligation Night. At this time of Re-Obligation, let us pause and consider what it means to be a Mason. Let us resolve this year to incorporate into our lives not only our “Code of Conduct, but all the lessons and teachings of our gentle Craft and begin this new year with a renewed sense of Masonic obligation and energy, both to Ourselves, our Brothers and our Communities.
As we continue our Masonic Journey, let us continue to
William Beetcher, Grand Master