Grand Master’s Message – May 2024

     It is not easy being a Mason. It is more often hard work and stepping out of your comfort zone than many men expect. “Fill out a form, pay the fee, receive your card and pin and you are in”, is what people expect. It is how so many different organizations operate. In Masonry even getting your foot in the door is a fairly complicated process. You must get to know someone in the fraternity well enough they feel comfortable in giving you a petition. Getting two men to vouch for you. Meet with a three-man interview committee. Have the lodge read your petition not once but twice and then vote on it knowing what a single black cube would mean. The night of your initiation we begin to prepare you before you ever enter the lodge room. After the door is opened you have three degrees, studying, meeting with your poster and mentor, examinations as well as lodge activities. Probably a four-to-six month time span at minimum to “become a Mason.”

     So why is it so complicated? In Masonry the Master Mason examination is not the end but the beginning of a journey. In so many organizations you may be voted on and become a full member that evening or maybe the following month.  

     A Brother shared with me that something in his degrees woke a yearning inside of him to become that better man he knew he could be. He first took inventory of his short cummings. “I discovered just what a rough ashlar I am. So, I looked at the tools I had been given and began to chip away. After a short while I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. Taking my direction from famous sculpturers I formed a model of what I would look like as a perfect ashlar and began to remove everything that was not it.” He shared that he had to reconcile who he truly was to who he wanted to become. “I realized quickly that the ashlar that was mine to work on would never be complete, at least while I still labored on this Earth.”

     The ashlar of our life and who we are is a lifelong labor. In our heart and conscience, we begin to chip away at the vices and superfluities each and every day. In a society of instant gratification, we labor and will notice little difference in our ashlar from one day to the next. It is only in looking back over time that we see progress. No two Masons work on the same ashlar. Each man’s goals are different. Each man’s ashlar shaped by his past for better or worse. No two stones the same. No two ashlars identical.

     We do not labor in a vacuum. The world will put forth challenges and trials. Society will tempt us with easy routes and ready excuses. Often those who seek to better themselves receive ridicule from lesser men. The ashlar we strive for may seem too great a challenge to accomplish by small chips applied each day. The vices may seem too numerous. Masonry is not easy.

     Yet, for the man who has Masonry in his heart, for the true brother, it becomes a way of life. His labor is not for himself alone but that he might improve his family, neighborhood, and nation by the example he becomes. A man who using the tools of a Mason along with the tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth and strengthening himself with the Masonic Virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice makes the world a bit better place. A man who, when his summons comes, will look back on a life well spent. He will view in the distant past a shadow of the ashlar he was and come to see the ashlar now fit for that eternal house. A man who by improving himself a little everyday lived respected and died regretted.

     My brothers Masonry is not and never has been easy, but you are not just a Man you are a Mason.