Author: Tom Davie

Spirituality

There are two Great Prohibitions in Freemasonry… Discussion of Politics or Religion in Lodge. 

Why? There is nothing that can separate us from fellowship, courtesy, kindness and brotherly love faster than these two topics. 

Feuds, Fights, and Arguments over these have destroyed good harmony among men – even men of good temperament and character – for centuries.

As a Brotherhood we are charged with and by, our obligation, to circumscribe our behaviors, and keep our passions within DUE Bounds, toward ALL mankind, Especially a Brother Mason. Everyone has their own preconceived ideas on both of these, either inherited or learned, and many are quite passionate about either – or both.

We, as Masons strive for justice, peace, harmony, kindness, charity, and amity toward each other and the world. We are guided by the tenets of our Spiritual Beliefs, in which these qualities are imbedded. 

We are required, in order to become a Mason, to profess belief in a Supreme Being – a giver of life and all good. It is that profession that binds us. Nothing Else. To that end, we invoke the blessing of Deity to guide us in all our affairs.

This is no small thing. Our prayers are an homage, a supplication, a request and a reverent acknowledgement of the power of the Great Architect of the Universe to bind and shape us into the kind of men He would have us to be. Approaching this accomplishment in our lives here, recommends us to that Spiritual Building – that house not made with hands – Eternal in the Heavens…when our work is finished here.

Tonight we start a series on Masonic Spirituality. 

We will delve into the difference between Religion and Spirituality, What the World has always thought or said that we are, Morality throughout history, What we actually Believe, and What we actually Practice.

Religion, That Formal practice of rules regulations, dogma and precepts, No matter what Faith, requires the adherent to follow strictly, just exactly what is set down – as Law – Truth –  and – Correct…meaning all other religions have either missed the point or teach the wrong message. Oh, there may be some conciliatory admission that this faith is close, or that faith is nearly the same – BUT – . However, they simply insist that the adherent believe unquestioningly, that their path is the true path.

Interestingly enough, ALL religions have the same goal: To lead one to God.

Even more interesting is that all religions had the very same beginnings of thought, spurred by early Man’s understanding – or lack thereof – the things in their lives, good and not so good that impacted their survival.

I’m going to divert… just for a moment…to say that so, as well, does Spirituality.

We all know, have read, and understand that in the beginning, mankind worshipped, fire, rain, thunder, lightning, water, animals, crops, floods, volcanoes, and winds. They attributed human aspects and traits to these things – good and bad, as part of their morality code.

The concept of singularity – one “Great Spirit” – began to form very late in mankind’s development. At some point, teachers, sages, oracles and the like, began to attribute everything to a greater good, a power greater than we, a God above all gods. Why?

The questioning of “Is this all there is?” If HE is THERE, can we not GET THERE at some point as well?

Every religion had and still has at it’s roots, a belief in the afterlife…The Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Hindus, all of them. They all built on those beliefs – Finding God, and getting to the afterlife.

Some were less than noble,  and some still are, yet most claim to be the correct path and everything else is heresy….but every one is based on that system of morality…that innate code of right and wrong, good and bad.

There were some that didn’t follow prescribed tenets. Those people believed that yes, there is a God of our own understanding, yes He is Omnipotent, the Creator of all things, and yes He is a loving God who wants only to help us find the right path. Their moral code was the same, their belief in the eternal life hereafter was the same, but their intuition and inspiration told them that God was also within, all around, and in everything.

Interesting word – Inspiration. From the Greek Inspiros…In Spirit – from it we get inspired. Some early Gnostics, pre-Christian – like the Essenes, began to believe… that one could believe…without dogma. Even Jesus, in the time he traveled in his youth, found teachings relevant to this thought in other places in the known world, and spoke of God within.

Spirituality in simple terms, is a belief – a certain knowing, if you will, that based on personal experience, there is a God, He is loving, He is in Everything, and He wants all of us to find him through our own path…A God of our own Understanding.

It isn’t that those who practice Spirituality are negative types, and dislike dogma and rules, it is an understanding that they just aren’t needed.

God isn’t a Presbyterian, a Jew, a Catholic, or a Muslim. God is!

Where do we, as Masons fit in? Actually…in both worlds. We use a Holy Book of Law as the rule and guide for our lives. The written moral code to live by. 

We may be practicing Jews, Catholics, Protestants, or Muslims as well, but we live by the great moral code in the teachings.

To Masons, Humankind, as long as there is a deep and abiding faith in God, are all worthy. 

We may practice a religion, but we practice Spirituality. We know we will achieve eternal life, because our moral compass points us always to the correct path. We as Masons, are not about exclusion or condemnation. We welcome any man who practices these good qualities, and answers to the God of his understanding.  It – and we – are totally compatible with it.

Next time we’ll look at who the World’s Religions think we are – and why.

But For Now, I…   Am “In-Spired” to end here!

Thank You Worshipful Master!

Due Bounds toward ALL Mankind…Especially a Brother Mason.

Just what, exactly, are we charged with? Don’t argue, fuss, and fight? Don’t rob, insult, carry falsehoods, gossip, slander, tales, or criticism of one another? Allow all to have their own opinions, and respectfully agree or disagree? Park our Egos outside? Of Course. Why? Harmony is the strength of ALL Societies – especially OURS!

Where do these lofty precepts originate? Our Book of Law. God’s inestimable gift to Man, as the rule and guide in all our affairs. We are charged with these things, because our Spiritual Base demands them of us.

How is it that we forget the greatest of all Commandments often? Treat others as you would be treated, and Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

This great society of friends and brothers… co-equals in path, word, and deed, professing a deep and abiding faith in a God of our understanding, have sworn a moral oath to do such. It IS – that Strong Cord of a Moral Obligation.

We believe in, and practice Charity. It is written into our Masonic law. Is Charity only about financial alms? When we heard “You will contribute to his relief, as liberally as his necessities may require”… Is that only to help feed, clothe, or shelter him? 

What is an amenable, kind, and charitable attitude toward another, other than Charity?

Brethren, we are required, by our obligations, to circumscribe ourselves and our behaviors…not just in the Lodge – but in the world. Another passage from the Book of Law says, “We all fall short.” We must continually be on guard, and be reminded, by ourselves and each other – that we set the example in the world, as Masons. If we are to “Make Good men Better” we need to BE better. It is WE who present to the profane world a spirit of kindness, love and good order.

Masonic Etiquette – Part 9

Masonic Etiquette Concludes this evening: With ~ Rituals, Signs, Speeches.. and Visitors.

Rituals ~ The geniality and laughter we all love and share in Lodge…at our greeting time, at our dinner tables, and in our Stated Communications…

Are left behind the closed door when it comes to our rituals – especially our Degrees. According to Masonic Etiquette, Mirth has no place in Ritual work, as does applause during a ritual, for a well executed part. Applause afterward is perfectly acceptable, as it is part of paying the wages of the craft, if any be due, to acknowledge and recognize excellence or selfless service.

Why? You ask? 

Ritual is designed to be effective in the inner life of a candidate…a genuine moral and spiritual experience by which he enters a new kind of life — wherein he will stand obligated to perform duties, and make sacrifices of time and treasure; The Obligations he will take will be morally and Masonically binding upon him, and must be genuine, or he will be led into harmful hypocrisy, if ritual degenerates into play.

The Third Degree especially is of the highest possible seriousness, not a drama or a play but a genuine spiritual experience, for the moral and human lessons portrayed. Theatricality strikes a false note. Costumes must be in good taste and historically correct. There can be no discussion of this ritual in public, nor any pictures of it.

Signs ~ including the due-guard, belong to the inner essence and esoteric life of the craft. Accordingly they should always be given with careful accuracy, and with full decorum. They are honors and tokens of respect, as a salute. No brother should be seated while giving or receiving them, and each will always give them when entering or retiring from a Lodge while at Labor.

Speeches ~ An invited speaker will be accorded courtesy and hospitality as a guest of the Lodge, whether he is a Masonic Speaker or a member of the community. The Worshipful master will have sway as to the topic and length of the talk, as well as to when he will speak. All speeches of a Controversial, Political or Sectarian nature are to be prohibited, so as not to create disharmony or discord within the Brotherhood and the Lodge itself. A speaker who disregards this admonition, even after being made aware, is guilty of a serious breach of etiquette, and will be subject to severe criticism.

The propriety of mentioning to the speaker that off-color stories or verbiage is an affront to Masonic Etiquette is absolutely necessary, lest he offend the Fraternity, The Worshipful Master, the Brethren present, and Deity, who is ALWAYS an invited guest. Vulgarity is counter to Masonic Principles. He can be humorous, without being bawdy, and it will add to the enjoyment of his talk.

These apply not only in a tyled Lodge, but also on public occasions, where the Craft assemble as Masons, and especially if ladies are present.

Visitors ~ Finally tonight, we’ll discuss our visitors, as well as. when we are visitors at other lodges. A Lodge’s sense for that which is fitting – it’s – and our own instinct for hospitality and geniality toward visitors is revealed in the manner in which we receive our visitors. A Masonic visitor expects to be asked/challenged/examined, but in a kindly and considerate manner, and the one challenging need to remember that he represents and is speaking for, not only the Lodge but also the Worshipful Master. 

There is no place for trickery or to show off superior knowledge or any form of intentional humiliation. That is unkind, unMasonic in spirit…and a violation of Masonic Etiquette. The only duty one has, is to determine that the visitor is a Mason in good standing.

The Senior Deacon should be advised and informed of his presence, and then introduced if he is admitted. Delegations of Brethren visiting other Lodges is a fine custom, and encourages brotherly camaraderie between Lodges. The Worshipful Master should recognize them particularly if Worshipful Masters, Past Masters or Grand Lodge Officers are in the delegation.

Worshipful Master…This concludes Masonic Etiquette…

Thank you Worshipful Master and Brethren!

Phoenix Lodge 346

Established Under the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida

240 S Tuttle Ave, Sarasota, FL 34237

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