Grand Master’s Message – December 2023

     We are now in my favorite season in the Masonic calendar. Installation time. By our code it is the sixty days either side of the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist celebrated on December 27. It is during the holiday season which alone adds a festive feel but it is more than that.

     Watching a man who has spent years going through the chairs becoming Master of his lodge. The nervousness and anticipation barely concealed. The inevitable smile when he is handed the gavel and told to seat the lodge. These alone would make for an enjoyable evening.

     The new guy being installed in his first chair as one of the Stewards or maybe Junior Deacon. The excitement and pride as he begins a journey he had never thought he would take. The nervous man who barely got out a “Thank-you” when asked to say a few words the night he was raised is now taking his spot as an officer of the lodge. His mind racing with thoughts of the future. Or watching a father or grandfather watching his son/grandson being installed in the East as he was so many years before. Prouder of the young man’s accomplishments than of their own.

     The older Brother who is “filling a hole” in the line or is now enjoying sitting on the sidelines remembering his installation and those who were installed with him. Reminiscing about other installations and Brothers no longer with us.

     It is one of the nights that we often have the ladies with us. The look of pride in a wife’s eyes as her husband is installed. She knows he is a good man but to have him honored as such brings a soft light to her eyes. Her laughter at being told the penalty for her husband forgetting to introduce her adds to the mood.

     The look of relief on the face of the most recent Past Master. Knowing that he did not break the lodge and that he had given it his best. Knowing that he is passing it off to good hands. He probably is not headed for the sidelines but one of the other offices; Trustee, Chaplain, or that life long commitment as Secretary.

     I urge each lodge to celebrate each installation. Our lodges, and therefore, our lodge officers are busier than ever before. Councilors have sat quietly for years but are now busy with new men needing posting. Even our Tilers are finding more work as the entertain one of our new candidates as he awaits his degree or checks out visiting brethren as more and more Brothers are beginning to once again travel. Celebrate last year’s successes and victories. Celebrate the excitement and hope that the new officers bring. Celebrate your lodge’s vision of its future. Celebrate your Brother’s accomplishments.

     The celebration need not be elaborate. Coffee and dessert might be enough. I would urge a meal though, a time for the Brothers to gather and talk and laugh. Chili and oyster stew, prime rib, or tacos would all work but there is something special about breaking bread with Brothers and their families. It is the season of so many celebrations but this one is Masonic. It is an important night in the life of your lodge. It is an important night in the life of your Brothers. Celebrate.

     To all the officers being installed, thank-you, for the work and dedication you are putting into our gentle craft. To the craft as a whole, thank-you, for setting aside egos and working to make this craft and your lodge stronger by supporting these officers. Whether this is the first time you have been installed or if you have held an office for decades, thank-you. Wisconsin Freemasonry is growing in new ways. Your leadership will make all the difference. Your new ideas will go hand in hand with tradition as your lodge grows and adds activities. Again, congratulations to the incoming officer lines. We have work to do. On Wisconsin Freemasonry!