The Oldest Proven Masonic Lodge Still In Existence – 1599

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With its cobblestone paving and Georgian façades, tranquil Hill Street is a haven in Edinburgh’s busy New Town. Compared to the Scottish capital’s looming castle or eerie closes, it doesn’t seem like a street with a secret.

Walk slowly, though, and you might notice something odd. Written in gold gilt above a door framed by two baby-blue columns are the words, “The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) No 1”. Further up the wall, carved into the sandstone, is a six-pointed star detailed with what seem – at least to non-initiates – like strange symbols and numbers.

Located at number 19 Hill Street, Mary’s Chapel isn’t a place of worship. It’s a Masonic lodge. And, with its records dating back to 1599, it’s the oldest proven Masonic lodge still in existence anywhere in the world.

That might come as a surprise to some people. Ask most enthusiasts when modern Freemasonry began, and they’d point to a much later date: 1717, the year of the foundation of what would become known as the Grand Lodge of England. But in many ways, Freemasonry as we know it today is as Scottish as haggis or Harris tweed.

From the Middle Ages, associations of stonemasons existed in both England and Scotland. It was in Scotland, though, that the first evidence appears of associations – or lodges – being regularly used. By the late 1500s, there were at least 13 established lodges across Scotland, from Edinburgh to Perth. But it wasn’t until the turn of the 16th Century that those medieval guilds gained an institutional structure – the point which many consider to be the birth of modern Freemasonry.

Take, for example, the earliest meeting records, usually considered to be the best evidence of a lodge having any real organisation. The oldest minutes in the world, which date to January 1599, is from Lodge Aitchison’s Haven in East Lothian, Scotland, which closed in 1852. Just six months later, in July 1599, the lodge of Mary’s Chapel in Edinburgh started to keep minutes, too. As far as we can tell, there are no administrative records from England dating from this time.

“This is, really, when things begin,” said Robert Cooper, curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and author of the book Cracking the Freemason’s Code. “[Lodges] were a fixed feature of the country. And what is more, we now know it was a national network. So Edinburgh began it, if you like.”

I met Cooper in his office: a wood-panelled, book-stuffed room in the Grand Lodge of Scotland at 96 George Street, Edinburgh – just around the corner from Mary’s Chapel. Here and there were cardboard boxes, the kind you’d use for a move, each heaped full with dusty books and records. Since its founding in 1736, this lodge has received the records and minutes of every other official Scottish Masonic lodge in existence. It is also meant to have received every record of membership, possibly upwards of four million names in total.

That makes the sheer number of documents to wade through daunting. But it’s also fruitful, like when the Grand Lodge got wind of the Aitchison’s Haven minutes, which were going for auction in London in the late 1970s. Another came more recently when Cooper found the 115-year-old membership roll book of a Scottish Masonic lodge in Nagasaki, Japan.

“There’s an old saying that wherever Scots went in numbers, the first thing they did was build a kirk [church], then they would build a bank, then they would build a pub. And the fourth thing was always a lodge,” Cooper said, chuckling.

That internationalism was on full display in the Grand Lodge of Scotland’s museum, which is open to the public. It was full of flotsam and jetsam from around the world: a green pennant embroidered with the “District Grand Lodge of Scottish Freemasonry in North China”; some 30 Masonic “jewels” – or, to non-Masons, medals – from Czechoslovakia alone.

Of course, conspiracy theorists find that kind of reach foreboding. Some say Freemasonry is a cult with links to the Illuminati. Others believe it to be a global network that’s had a secret hand in everything from the design of the US dollar bill to the French Revolution. Like most other historians, Cooper shakes his head at this.

“If we’re a secret society, how do you know about us?” he asked. “This is a public building; we’ve got a website, a Facebook page, Twitter. We even advertise things in the press. But we’re still a ‘secret society’ running the world! A real secret society is the Mafia, the Chinese triads. They are real secret societies. They don’t have a public library. They don’t have a museum you can wander into.”

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Some of the mythology about Freemasonry stems from the mystery of its early origins. One fantastical theory goes back to the Knights Templar; after being crushed by King Philip of France in 1307, the story goes, some fled to Argyll in western Scotland, and remade themselves as a new organisation called the Freemasons. (Find out more in our recent story about the Knights Templar).

Others – including Freemasons themselves – trace their lineage back to none other than King Solomon, whose temple, it’s said, was built with a secret knowledge that was transferred from one generation of stonemason to the next.

A more likely story is that Freemasonry’s early origins stem from medieval associations of tradesmen, similar to guilds. “All of these organisations were based on trades,” said Cooper. “At one time, it would have been, ‘Oh, you’re a Freemason – I’m a Free Gardener, he’s a Free Carpenter, he’s a Free Potter’.”

For all of the tradesmen, having some sort of organisation was a way not only to make contacts, but also to pass on tricks of the trade – and to keep outsiders out.

But there was a significant difference between the tradesmen. Those who fished or gardened, for example, would usually stay put, working in the same community day in, day out.

Not so with stonemasons. Particularly with the rush to build more and more massive, intricate churches throughout Britain in the Middle Ages, they would be called to specific – often huge – projects, often far from home. They might labour there for months, even years. Thrown into that kind of situation, where you depended on strangers to have the same skills and to get along, how could you be sure everyone knew the trade and could be trusted? By forming an organisation. How could you prove that you were a member of that organisation when you turned up? By creating a code known by insiders only – like a handshake.

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Even if lodges existed earlier, though, the effort to organise the Freemason movement dates back to the late 1500s. A man named William Schaw was the Master of Works for King James VI of Scotland (later also James I of England), which meant he oversaw the construction and maintenance of the monarch’s castles, palaces and other properties. In other words, he oversaw Britain’s stonemasons. And, while they already had traditions, Schaw decided that they needed a more formalised structure – one with by-laws covering everything from how apprenticeships worked to the promise that they would “live charitably together as becomes sworn brethren”.

In 1598, he sent these statutes out to every Scottish lodge in existence. One of his rules? A notary be hired as each lodge’s clerk. Shortly after, lodges began to keep their first minutes.

“It’s because of William Schaw’s influence that things start to spread across the whole country. We can see connections between lodges in different parts of Scotland – talking to each other, communicating in different ways, travelling from one place to another,” Cooper said.

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Scotland’s influence was soon overshadowed. With the founding of England’s Grand Lodge, the English edged out in front of the movement’s development. And in the centuries since, Freemasonry’s Scottish origins have been largely forgotten.

“The fact that England can claim the first move towards national organisation through grand lodges, and that this was copied subsequently by Ireland (c 1725) and Scotland (1736), has led to many English Masonic historians simply taking it for granted that Freemasonry originated in England, which it then gave to the rest of the world,” writes David Stevenson in his book The Origins of Freemasonry.

Cooper agrees. “It is in some ways a bit bizarre when you think of the fact that we have written records, and therefore membership details, and all the plethora of stuff that goes with that, for almost 420 years of Scottish history,” he said. “For that to remain untouched as a source – a primary source – of history is really rather odd.”

One way in which most people associate Freemasonry and Scotland, meanwhile, is Rosslyn Chapel, the medieval church resplendent with carvings and sculptures that, in the wake of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, many guides have explained as Masonic. But the building’s links to Masonry are tenuous.Even a chapel handbook published in 1774 makes no mention of any Masonic connections.

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Scotland’s true Masonic history, it turns out, is more hidden than the church that Dan Brown made famous. It’s just hidden in plain sight: in the Grand Lodge and museum that opens its doors to visitors; in the archivist eager for more people to look at the organisation’s historical records; and in the lodges themselves, tucked into corners and alleyways throughout Edinburgh and Scotland’s other cities.

Their doors may often be closed to non-members, but their addresses, and existence, are anything but secret.

This story is a part of BBC Britain – a series focused on exploring this extraordinary island, one story at a time. Readers outside of the UK can see every BBC Britain story by heading to the Britain homepage; you also can see our latest stories by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called “If You Only Read 6 Things This Week”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Earth, Culture, Capital, Travel and Autos, delivered to your inbox every Frida

 

By Amanda Ruggeri – BBC Travel

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20161209-secret-history-of-the-freemasons-in-scotland

 

Those that do it get it. Those that get it do it.

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“Visiting” is undoubtedly a central pillar of Freemasonry. At the simplest level, it is the opportunity to share comradeship, to enjoy each other’s company, and as we move from “Business to Refreshment” to enjoy the society of the Festive Board. But of course, visiting another Lodge offers much more than this, it provides opportunities to exchange ideas, to achieve a better understanding of Masonry, and to make a fuller, more complete sense of the work.

Visiting reinforces those shared experiences that transcend the individual and his Lodge. Visiting helps serve as a guide, in our search for meaning and understanding within our Masonic journey. We are often led by a sense of aesthetics, to explore the linguistic and visual beauty of the work, as we seek out a different perspective to our own Lodge practices.

This is perhaps the reason why we seek further understanding, in another Brother’s Lodge? To see different interpretations; and to help develop those fundamental ideas, which underpin freemasonry and unite our life. Those essential Masonic principles, which link morality, ethics and religion.

Through our attendance in another Brother’s Lodge we are often able to reinterpret our understanding of Freemasonry, but more than that, visiting helps us see that the most elegant and simple social and physical structures, are probably the ones, which hold the greatest truth.

“When we learned Pythagoras’s theorem, we learned something about every right-angled triangle in the world, for all time. If we understand Newton’s laws, we have grasped something about every particle that has ever existed”, (“Time”, S. Baxter 1999). In Freemasonry, if we understand the allegorical lessons of moral truth, we have grasped insights into every moral issue that ever existed and have become fuller, more complete citizens of the world. “Visiting” is therefore, a sense of expanding horizons and consciousness, of fellowship, of enjoyment and advancement.

It is where the prosaic meets the profound. It is about making better sense of a peculiar system of morallty, lifting the veil of allegory and reflecting on the symbolism which permeates our ceremonies in all its forms. “Visiting” therefore can make a significant contribution in promoting the link between Masonic principles and universal world truths.

by Bro. J.J.P. Goody
Godolphin Lodge No. 7790, Province of Cornwall, UGLE, England

Life changing visit to the Shriners Hospital for Children

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On Sunday, November 20, 2016, I went to visit the Canadian Unit of Shriners Hospital for Children, which is located in Montreal, QC.  It wasn’t my first time going to that hospital.  In fact, I’ve been there twice before.  The first time was 2 years ago during the cornerstone laying ceremony, when its construction was completed.  The second time was last year during the ribbon cutting ceremony, when they finally opened it to the public.  This time around, the purpose of my visit was to see how the hospital was operating.

The Shriners Hospitals is a network of non-profit medical facilities across North America.  The hospitals, known as “The World’s Greatest Philanthropy,” are owned and operated by Shriners International, a fraternity whose members are known as Shriners, and an organization of which I am a member.

The first hospital was constructed on June 1922 in Shreveport, Louisiana.  The first patient to be admitted was a little girl with a clubfoot, who had learned to walk on the top of her foot rather than the sole.  Through the remarkable foresight, commitment and fundraising skills of the Shriners, its medical facilities have grown to a network of 22 hospitals across the United States, in Mexico and Canada, and nearly one million children have been treated.

Shriners Hospitals strives to transform children’s lives by providing exceptional health care through high-quality, innovative research in a patient and family-centered environment.  The hospitals focus in burns, spinal cord injuries, cleft lip and palate, and orthopaedic conditions.  Patients are not required to have any familial affiliation with the Shriners.  All care and services are provided to children up to age 18 regardless of their families’ ability to pay.

Now back to my story, as I made my way through each floor – walking along the hallways and visiting each rooms – I noticed that the facility was relatively empty.  It was explained by a fellow Shriner guiding the tour that the Canadian hospital specializes in orthopaedic care and rehabilitation.  On a typical weekday, 175 patients on average go through the doors.  Only children with more serious conditions are kept overnight; the rest are allowed to go back home.

I then realized that an empty hospital is a good sign.  It means that the children are healthy.  Those that required treatment have received it and are back in the loving arms of their families.  Bringing a whole new meaning to our slogan: “Love to the Rescue.”

By Noble Abe. G

We speak of Fellowship but what’s in it for us? The answer is astonishing.

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In order to understand the importance of Masonic fellowship, we must first understand what Masonic fellowship is. The Greek words translated “fellowship” to be essentially a partnership to the mutual benefit of those involved.

So, the fellowship which we address in the Masonic community can be the “gift” of attendance, interaction, listening without passing judgment, protecting and honoring the other person’s dignity, support, advice, an idea, a compliment, a joke, a sincere question – or even a tangible present. Or, perhaps, ‘all-of-the-above.’ Fellowship is that close-in charity, which we give to each other.

Over the years, something has changed in Masonry. Strangely, “fellowship” is now treated as a phenomenon – among Masons. While it is not really certain what happened, it is worth questioning whether or not the North American culture, in particular, is experiencing a negative dividend from a “…what’s in it for me…” attitude, which is so common in our societies. Think about it, for a moment. How many times have we encountered an attitude, whether spoken or implied through actions, which goes to the question, “Why should I? Or; “What do I owe him/them?” Have those attitudes permeated the Masonic Craft, as well? It’s possible.

The issue goes to the emotional needs of men, in particular. Not just a man’s experiences, thoughts or beliefs – the thrill and passion of being a Mason. The function of motivation says that the conviction had to precede the event. That emotional gratification speaks to a range of rewards from personal satisfaction to public acknowledgment, applause and even honors. The emotional payoff is the key. So is it among Masons, even today?

Fellowship is an action item; not just an option. “So,” you ask, “what can I do?” Following is a short ‘list:’

A. Be aware of what is going on – the immediate event is destined to be the primary source of conversation and interaction. If boredom should somehow prevail, you may be able to stimulate conversation, entertainment or information.

B. Make it a point to interact; to get to know others – and allow them to get to know you. Share information with others; name, family, job, travels, interests, hobbies – even problems (and solutions.)

C. Be alert and considerate as to the needs and wants of others. Your input may be required. The infamous wall-flower may need to be drawn out. Possibly, he/she may need to be left alone.

D. Acknowledge, recognize, applaud, congratulate, reward and facilitate others.

E. Find, share or create humor – and fun!

The importance of true Masonic fellowship is that it reinforces these things in our mind and helps us to focus on brotherly love, truth and relief. As iron sharpens iron, in true Masonic fellowship Masons sharpen one another’s morality and stir one another to exercise them in love and good works, all to God’s glory.

By Brother Sam S.

A Brotherhood with a conspiracy to make good men better.

Brotherhood has been the definition of what a fraternity is. It’s so simple.

Togetherness = Brotherhood = Fraternity

Let me paraphrase a simple equation by an esteemed Writer.

“The right thoughts + the right people + the right environment at the right time for the right reason = the right results” – John C. Maxwell

Many philosophers tell us that brotherhood is the foundation of any fraternity and everything else arises from it. A fraternity without togetherness/brotherhood is hardly a fraternity. Having a good bond, a brotherhood (or togetherness) is something that makes Freemasonry above all the greatest fraternity in the World. The same philosophy goes for any successful organization/company/team out there.

Togetherness

800px-Washington_Masonic_printCan you imagine going into a fraternity that has no common fellowship, no care for one another? – Believe it or not they do exist; does anyone ever hear about these lost chapters or acknowledge they exist? Of course not, usually they cease to exist in a very short order. Freemasonry has proven time and again that its beautiful morality and the common goal of good men to become better in their personal life has an enormous impact on the longevity of its Fraternity. Hence it earned the title as the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world.

It is the sincere hope of all Masons that people in all societies eventually will have a firm grasp of what the masonic brotherhood is doing for the betterment of men.  So often, our goals and morals – what we were founded on – get twisted by conspiracy theorists. This is because, it is always simpler to assume the worst, than it is to assume the best. I guess its human nature, a form of defense mechanism.

Some may say; “But I can be good without Freemasonry”.  That’s very true and we hope that men in general can be good in their personal and professional life. Our philosophy is to take already “GOOD” men and make them better and not the other way around i.e. take troubled men and make them good. Freemasonry aims to promote togetherness, friendship, morality, integrity, charity, truth and above all Brotherly Love among its members.  A good arsenal to have. Wouldn’t you say?!

How do we make good men better? Here is a simple metaphor.

“One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch”.

It is very simple to fall into this category in life. Many good men make poor decisions that completely spoil everything around them. If you had someone that is constantly picking out these bad apples/bad decisions. Life would be less regretful and therefore the apples will remain fresh. Do you understand what I mean?

The Ultimate Conspiracy

All though diverse with different set of interests and beliefs, all Masons have one thing in common. Help each other become better men and help societies through their philanthropy and charity work. The ultimate conspiracy of it all. I can clearly see what these conspiracy theorist are talking about now.

TO BE ONE. ASK ONE

  • By Brother Sam S.

Masonic Conduct For Newbies

This Short Talk Bulletin has been adapted from a paper of the same title prepared by the Committee on Masonic Research and Education of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota.

It has been said that the purpose of Freemasonry is the pursuit of excellence. All of the teachings of Masonry are directed to excellence in performing our duties to God, our country, our neighbors and ourselves. The continuing effort to improve oneself is the true mark of a Mason. This principle was stated well by many Grand Masters in all jurisdictions of the world

“We must constantly remember that in every moment of our life – in public – at work – at pleasure – with our families – even when you are alone – You are a Mason!

“The non-Masons who know us will judge each of US, and Masonry itself, by the way in which we conduct ourselves. We have in trust the reputation of Masonry. Let us not betray that trust! Masonry will flourish if we follow these precepts.

“Before we can expect to attract good men to the fraternity by our conduct and reputation in public, we must learn to conduct ourselves with propriety in the Lodge. One of our first duties shall be loyalty to the fraternity and obedience to its laws. This is a fundamental requirement.

“Propriety is not the result of law, but rather of tradition, custom and usage. Like good manners, it has behind it only the force of opinion.  While there (may be) no penalties for breaches, there are tangible rewards for observance of the rules and ceremonies of good manners!”freemasonry-principles-organization

An ancient philosopher advised “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This also applies to your actions when you are visiting another Lodge, particularly in other jurisdictions.  While the principles and ideals of Masonry are universal, social customs and Masonic traditions and laws differ from place to place. For example, all Masonic Lodges open with a prayer and it is not surprising that the words of the prayer may vary from place to place. When we go to other states in our country we find that the attitude of prayer is not the same everywhere and in other countries the name of Deity may even be different. Likewise we find that the customs concerning such things as the proper way to address a Brother or a Lodge officer, the appropriate dress for a lodge meeting, proper topics of conversation, and even the working tools and the Grand Masonic Word change as we go around the world. But wherever you may be, you can be sure that respect and honesty toward Masons and Masonry, as taught by the square and com-pass, will be the fundamental guide for your conduct.

In this paper we will discuss the principles, traditions and ideals that should guide our con-duct as Masons. This paper does not present a list of Masonic do’s and don’ts. Such an attempt would fail for at least two reasons: first, no one would read it, and second, as Masons, each of us is expected to apply the tools and principles of our Craft to our own lives.

One of the most interesting experiences in Masonry is to visit a Lodge in another Grand Jurisdiction. Whether it is in a foreign country or just in another state or province, there will be interesting and surprising differences. But, a word of caution, you must comply with the laws and customs of the Masonic Jurisdiction in which you are traveling! Therefore, before you visit, find out what to expect. The List of Lodges Masonic, found in every Lodge, give the names and locations of all the Lodges in the world that are recognized by the Grand Lodge. Since there are clandestine Lodges, it is essential that this book be consulted. Finally, if you are in a foreign country, you should consult the Grand Lodge office in that country.

In the United States and Canada, a current dues card is required as proof of membership.  However, there are countries where a dues card will not be accepted. In these cases a letter of introduction from your Grand Lodge is necessary.

Concerning appropriate dress, a dark business suit is often acceptable for a Lodge meeting. But, in some Grand Jurisdictions, for-mal dress is required even for side-liners. Outside of North America you will usually be expected to have your own apron, so carry it with you.  Regarding Masonic pins, rings, etc., these are often worn only within the Lodge. Some Grand Lodges even have rules that prohibit wearing these in public. And then there are countries which have outlawed Freemasonry. It is not prudent to even carry a pin into those countries.

Law Suits Between Masons – While this is not an area of strict Masonic regulation, it is a sub-ject addressed by ritual, traditions and Masonic law. Our ritual states that “no contention should ever exist” between Master Masons. Tradition has interpreted this to include the subject of law suits, requiring that Brothers make every at-tempt to resolve such differences without recourse to the courts.

Business Advertisements and Contacts – The general rule in these matters is that you should not seek financial benefit from your Masonic membership. To do otherwise is considered to be in poor taste at the best and unmasonic or even criminal at the worst. Lodge membership lists cannot be used for business mailings. Masonic membership cannot be used in a commercial or political advertisement or sign. The square and compasses cannot be used for any commercial purpose, as a symbol or a design. This point has been tested in the courts and Masonry has the exclusive use of this emblem.

Respect – Every person has a basic need for both self-respect and the respect of others. When our friends show, by word or deed, that they hold us in low regard, we may react as strongly as if we were threatened. On the other side, we would do almost anything for a person who holds us in high esteem. Thus, respect is both the least honor that we require and the highest honor that we can hope for in our dealings with our fellow men.

The term “respect” includes courtesy, tolerance, kindness, sympathy, prudence, temperance, and a host of other concepts that refer to our relationships with people. It encompasses our words, our actions, our appearance and even our thoughts. Inside the Lodge and outside of it, we should strive to demonstrate in every way our respect for a Brother’s honor, feelings, efforts, hopes and any other part of his life that we may contact.

While conduct within the Lodge is the concern of all Masons, it is especially important for the officers of the Lodge. Once again we quote from Brother Flood’s comments:

“We can’t expect our Brothers to know these principles if we don’t teach them and practice them. This is Masonic education in its finest sense.

“It is not from the lack of desire to learn that the Craft suffers, but rather from the lack of instruction.

“Masonry does not exist for the mechanics of ritual alone. Just as important is the learning, interpretation and exemplification of that ritual and of the basic principles of our Order. Equally important, too, for the candidate and for every member is the need to fully understand these principles, as well as our responsibilities as Masons.

“What is required of every single one of us is the dedicated and devoted application of the high moral principles of Masonry. By these simple methods, we develop the character that guarantees our own self-improvement and discharges the duties of God, our country, our neighbors and ourselves.”

Since officers set the example for the whole Craft, before seeking or accepting a line position a man should be certain that he is willing to demonstrate the highest standards.

306234_10150573543867325_514067324_7784170_1621720610_n-e1335501954179Dress – In many Jurisdictions there is no mandatory dress code, but this does not mean that we should disregard our appearance. Al-though as Masons “We regard no man for his worldly wealth . . . . “, human society everywhere considers a man’s outward appearance to reflect his inner self and attitudes.  Your manner of dress reflects the respect that you have for the dignity of Masonry, its work, its goals, and its members. At all times your apparel should be appropriate for the occasion and those attending, remembering that the altar of Masonry is the altar of God. Thus the clothes you would wear for a golf tournament or a degree in an underground mine may not be appropriate for work done in the Lodge quarters.

At Tyled Meetings – At the sound of the gavel in the East, the officers and brethren take their places and the Lodge comes to order. This means that everyone is seated unless called up by the Worshipful Master or unless rising to ad-dress the Worshipful Master. In most introduc-tions all speaking is directed to the East.  Therefore it is improper for two Brothers to speak to each other during an open discussion, unless directed by the Worshipful Master, and it is never proper for two Brothers to hold a private conversation (whispered or otherwise) in a Lodge at labor.

Each candidate at each degree is instructed in the proper way to salute. He is also told that he should salute when rising to address the Worshipful Master and when entering or retiring from a Lodge while it is at labor. These instructions remain in effect even after we have completed our degrees. Always rise when speaking, even if you are only giving a second to a motion.  Give salutes that are accurate and precise. A sloppy salute is actually a sign of disrespect!  Finally, when referring to a Brother or when ad-dressing him, courtesy requires that we use the term “Brother” followed by his last name. Of course, “Worshipful Brother Jones,” “Right Worshipful Brother Smith,” or “Most Worshipful Brother Flood” are also proper forms.

The proper way to enter or retire from a Lodge is not always clear to new Masons. When entering or leaving a Lodge at labor, the proper place to stand, while giving the salute, is at the west of the altar. Not at at the door or at your seat. The salute is normally given to the East, but the Worshipful Master may direct these salutes to be given to the Senior Warden. Of course, everyone should enter through the Tyler’s door. The preparation room door is for candidates only. Every member guards that door, and the ballot is the key that locks or unlocks it.

There are probably no other topics of discussion that have caused as much ill will, alienation and contention as have politics and religion. In the interest of harmony among Brothers, it is considered un-Masonic to introduce any religious, political, or other divisive topic into a Masonic discussion.

A final word for the officers of the lodge.  The flag of our country and the Great Light of Masonry merit our utmost respect, both in their care and their handling. The Bible should be handled with reverence and care, the flag should be treated with honor and should fly freely when being carried. The other jewels, furniture, and regalia should be cared for and kept in good repair to demonstrate the high regard we hold for our Craft and its work.

During Degrees – One of the most solemn and meaningful events in a Mason’s life is the time of his raising. Yet we often see this degree marred by laughter and inappropriate comments. The Grand Lodge of Arizona requires the following to be read at the beginning of the second section of the Master Mason degree:

“My Brethren:

“A candidate is about to be raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. The Lodge room will be used as a stage to enact a drama which, symbolically unfolds the great lesson of the immortality of the soul.

“To properly impress the candidate with the seriousness of this ceremony, there must be no talking, whispering, laughing or other commotion during the conferring of the degree. Bear in mind the fact the Temple, for this portion of the degree, is supposed to be silent and unoccupied.

“Only the participants in the drama are to speak, and they are instructed to make no facial expressions, gestures or other unusual deliveries which might induce levity. The cooperation of each one here present is EXPECTED.

“An adherence to these instructions will help serve as an impressive climax to the candidate’s progress in Freemasonry and this section of the degrees could well be one of the richest experiences of his life.”

The principles contained in this statement are equally appropriate for all degree work, lectures, preparations and gatherings connected with the degrees. Nowhere does Masonry give any man license to take liberties with another. Comments that are intended to arouse a candidate’s concern for his personal dignity or safety are among the most discourteous acts that can be inflicted upon a candidate. Such actions are a gross misrepresentation of the Craft and are disrespectful to all of its members.

There is one form of disruption of degree work which comes from the best of intentions – side-line prompting. How often have we seen a forgotten word, or even a dramatic pause, produce an uproar as a number of concerned Brothers attempt to help the speaker. Prompting should be done only by the Worshipful Master or the one designated by him. The Masonic virtues of silence and circumspection are nowhere more appropriate than in this situation.

The perfect points of our entrance, as reflected in the four cardinal virtues of temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice, provide us with a complete guide for truly Masonic action. It behooves each of us to periodically evaluate ourselves against these four standards, to see where we have those rough corners to which the common gavel can profitably be applied.

Am I temperate in my relations with others, or have I been excessive in my actions toward someone? Have I displayed fortitude in pursuing the excellence I can achieve, or have I chosen to do as everyone else does? Do I direct myself wisely and prudently, or do I sometimes go beyond the bounds of courtesy and good taste?  Have I given to each Brother, candidate, friend, and associate the consideration, help, and respect which they justly deserve, or have I let my own pride, comfort, and desires blind me to their needs?

These are the standards of Masonry. It is not easy to apply them to ourselves. But then, being a master of any craft is never easy, and being the Master of oneself is perhaps the most difficult of all.

 

  • By The Masonicworld.com

Why I Became a Shriner in the First Place

International Shriners Day, Ottawa, Ontario – City Hall 2015.

Before I begin, I would like to express how deeply humbled I am to be here today, and at the same time how proud this moment makes me feel. I am humbled because I am in the presence of dignitaries and our local heroes:  the medical staff, administrators and volunteers of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Shriners Hospital for Children.  At the same time I am proud to be representing this group of fine gentlemen dedicated to the greatest philanthropy in the world.  They are my brothers – the Shrinesmart201555

About a couple of months ago, I was asked by one of the organizers of today’s events, Illus. Sir Peter Rippstein, to make a speech about why I decided to become a Shriner and what have I done to date. As a new member, I thought this is going to be a great opportunity to tell my side  of the story.  But as the days passed and the date got closer to today, I started to get the jitters. I started to think how much of a daunting task this was for a new Shriner especially when I’ll be speaking just after Councillor Hobbs and Deputy Mayor Desroches. I was very certain they were going to be a hard act to follow.

So before I tell you why I decided to be a Shriner, let me tell you a brief story of who the Shriners are.

The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine also known as the Shriners was established in 1870 as an appendant body to Freemasonry.i It was started by two prominent masons: Dr. Walter M. Fleming, who was a physician and William Florence, an actor.

“Dr. Fleming was completing his higher degree work in Masonry at the time, and in his quest for complete relaxation, he had an urge to establish a playground for Masons.  He discussed the idea with Florence, hoping to obtain from that master showman some tips relative to a name and possibly a ceremony. The talks with Florence came on the eve of his departure with his wife for their tour of Europe.  A few months later in Marseilles, Florence was invited by a banker to attend a party given by an Arabian diplomat.

The entertainment apparently was something in the nature of an elaborately staged musical comedy.  Florence took copious notes and drawings at his initial viewing and on two other occasions. When he returned to New York in 1870, he showed his material to Fleming.”

And the rest is history.

Shriners are a brotherhood of men committed to family, engaged in ongoing personal growth, and dedicated to providing care for children and families in need. Our backgrounds and interests are diverse, but we are bound together by our   shared values and a desire to have fun, do good and build relationships that can last a lifetime.

Shriners are Freemasons. And in order to be a Shriner, a man must first be a Master Mason. So, it was on that fateful evening of March 12, 2013 when a number of noble Shriners took part in the ceremony of my third degree that I decided to return their favour by joining their ranks.

Although Shriners International is a brotherhood, it is also an organization focused on bringing families together. Many of our fraternity’s activities are designed to involve family members, promote our shared values and help develop the next generation of community and business leaders.iv

Since becoming a member, I have joined a unit within Tunis Shriners called the Moonlitter Hillbillies.  Growing up in the urban jungle of Toronto, never did I think I’d be a hillbilly in Ottawa.  But here I am today.

The unit has participated in a number of parades, conducted an annual BBQ and supported charity events organized to raise funds for the Shriners Hospital for Children. Shriners describes itself as a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth.  And I wanted to belong to a group of men who are looking to help change the world for the better.

In summing up my speech, one could say that the main reason why I joined the Shriners is for a very selfish one.  It is because I want to be a part of a group of gentlemen dedicated to having fun while giving back to the community by helping those who needs our help the most:  they are our future – the children.  It is what we Shriners call: “Fun with Purpose”.

  • By Brother Abe Garcia

Why The Northeast Shrine Association Event Will Change Your Life. Its Ottawa’s Turn in 2017.

My very first Northeast Shrine Association Event. 

With the dew still glistening on the morning of Thursday, August the 21st, we find ourselves gathering in a large picturesque driveway, on the river. The work of the morning, to secure our big boy toys in, for all intents and purposes, a race car trailer; and for Brother Vigeant to give us each our endowment of Cash Calendars – my first.

Thanks to the continued support of a benevolent21997714-5d88-47a6-94b4-4a7cd8d9cf85 fellow, we hitched our wagon to a borrowed Ford pickup, and once again, “Constant Reader”, we set out from Ottawa to attend a function somewhere points beyond.  We made it past the border, with little ado, thanks to a few experienced Shrine travelers, and some fore planning for the mini-bikes. We slowed only enough to breeze through the Duty Free.

After eating some American miles our small caravan decided to follow the lead of a veteran, and we stopped for lunch at TGI Fridays in Syracuse; it was a great choice – for the food part.  We were seated, with most of us facing the windows framing the large parking lot of the mall, that the restaurant existed in. Lunch was unfolding splendidly, and the merriment abounded. Our Director noticed a state trooper strolling from the direction of our truck and trailer, and joked that he hoped we were not getting a ticket – we were not.

Our trailer is proudly logged with Tunis Shriners, the name of our group the Silver Helmets and our mission if you will: the “Precision Motorcycle Drill Team.” It is this last designation that plays in the lunch portion of our travel.  A young lady had just purchased a brand new Harley Davidson. She had decided for some reason or another, to take delivery of her machine in the sunny parking lot of the shopping mall, on that very same day.

The girl in question now astride her metal steed, said giddy-up, and her shiny new ride rocketed into the side of our trailer, and so did she. There were a few horses hiding in that machine and she hammered our trailer hard enough to wreck the bike. The impact was precisely where the Precision Motorcycle Drill Team lettering is, on the trailer. Can we all feel the irony? Needless to say, we were way laid for some time with the gracious state troopers, and a surprisingly chipper woman. The rest of the road was uneventful, except for the beauty of the landscape.

We arrived in Springfield Massachusetts a little later than planned, and were greeted by some friendly faces, spear headed by our Assistance Director. Needing to stretch our legs, we set out to explore our surroundings. We were lucky enough to find an outdoor festival next to the hotel, with live music and food – a great welcome to the town. We stumbled across a Brother wearing a Widow’s Sons cut, and that made the gathering that much better.

Friday found us at The Big E, the fairgrounds where the first chapter of the festivities would transpire the next day. In spite of the rain, we practised our manoeuvres. When our due diligence was accomplished, we headed back to the hotel for some fellowship in the hospitality suites, and to clean up for dinner. The one in particular I had the opportunity to attend was that shared by Sphinx Shrine from Connecticut and us – it was more than accommodating.  Tunis Shriners all met up at an authentic looking German restaurant, where the atmosphere didn’t feel like it was painted on the walls, for a Temple dinner. We had a table of over fifty Nobles, and two very welcomed guests. What a fantastic turnout, and a great time!  Saturday morning we hit the fairgrounds early, and we were all business. We set about making our bikes and ourselves presentable, readying for inspection. Then it was upon us, the competition.

First we stood at attention like soldiers, in front of our aligned and shined machines. We were circled by, what can only be assumed by their manner, a couple of Marines. As I am sure was the fear in the heat, no one fell and we moved onto the next stage.  We hit the field in unison, and for about ten minutes, we turned, cornered and circled as one. Our little motorcycles creeping along at about ten kilometres per hour, all the while fighting for our balance to stay astride. Our tandem ride seemed to go well, and we moved onto the next round.

The next course was set up like two parking spots beside one another. The goal of this competition, was to enter one, leaving the other in the longest possible amount of time without putting your foot down. Most of the boys faired well, and we moved on to the last leg.  Speed was the name of this game, and everyone was ready to come off the leash. The course involved a tight slalom heading to one end, and a mostly straight dash back, stopping before the finish line. With great encouragement from our fellow Nobles, we all burned some rubber between those pylons, and came to halts with screeching tires.  We took turns cheering on our Brethren from around the United States, as they all completed the events, and we saw some impressive efforts.  Now for the stress free kind of fun, everybody loves a parade, and we Shriners are no exception! We travelled quite a distance on our eclectic vehicles, from The Big E to a school in the town of Agawam. There we staged for an impressive parade.

What differed from this parade, compared to some of the others I had the good fortune to participate in, was that this parade was all Shriners. We took up the considerable driveway to the school, the parking lot, part of the road and the field. We all miled around tinkering and introducing ourselves. We rested, laughed and got to know one another, for a couple of hours before we stepped-off. All the while the pipe bands, and others competed in the nearby school.  It was a perfect day, and five hundred and thirty-seven Nobles left that staging ground onto the parade route. Tunis Shriners number 179 were well represented by our past Potentates, The Airforce, a Hillbilly, some Ladies, The Director’s Staff and of course our fearless leader the Illustrious John Hawkins. It was a whole bunch of fun riding through Agawam, and the town showed up in force.

Folks eventually meandered back to the two hotels. We had a chance to tidy up before the next spot on the agenda was chased. Some of us had time to saunter back into that welcoming Sphinx / Tunis oasis to palaver with our fellow Nobles and Ladies. Those moments that appear as nothing on the official slate, sure seem to have a huge impact on the folks, and the memories. Everyone piled into vehicles and we were off to Six Flags for the Banquet. We arrived at a beautiful outdoor venue, and the weather could not have been better.

We gathered under what would be called a gazebo, but by naming it, it diminishes the sheer size of it. There was a small stage, and enough tables that you could not see the other side of the structure when you sat at one. The buffet spanned more tables than I can recollect, and there was just as much food.  We dined in the fresh summer air, and the meal drifted into entertainment. A comedian mounted the stage, and his act was an homage to some of the classic comedians, such as Abott and Costello. He was also a Brother.

The night closed with the awards presentation. The trophies were spread generously around all of the Temples. We here at Tunis, took home four more for the collection. Everyone parted, and we made one last pilgrimage back to our suites, to say our goodbyes.

There were over two thousand sets of Shriner boots on the ground for this Northeast Shrine Association, in Springfield Massachusetts. Bonds were formed that you can feel will last a lifetime. I saw friends I have met in other towns neither of us were from, and we were genuinely glad and excited to see each other when we crossed paths again in this one. We will be even deeper into these summer camp like friendships when next we align. I not so humbly suggest, at least to our newer Nobles, to take the next step and get involved in our activities. I assure you that you will return to your family and friends, a happier, more fulfilled Noble of the Ancient order of the Mystic Shrine

-By Brother Michael P.

How little Sara’s life changed to the better – Shriners love to the rescue.

12360066_1720453708173933_3943294943812610710_n“We can’t put a price on what we do, so we do it for free”

Sara’s Story….

“Hi, my name is Sara. I was born with a severe bilateral cleft lip and palate. I am 13 years old and I am not like most kids– When I was told by my mommy that I have to have a surgery, my heart dropped. I don’t understand why mommy and the doctors want me to change, God made me this way. So to have someone tell me I need a surgery to fix something on me, it is heartbreaking. When I lived in Hawaii, I went to a school where I was treated horribly. I couldn’t understand why People would tease me and treat me like I was invisible and laugh when I was not looking. I had so many people say so many hurtful things to me.

For example, elephant nose, ugly, and the most popular, fat nose. I remember one night in Hawaii, I had been bullied really bad one day and I prayed to God to give me at least one friend to play with. My family decided to move to Boston for my treatment, and after my treatment on the first day of school I was shocked, everyone treated me like a normal kid. It just hit me a while back that He not only gave me one friend but a whole school…”

Sara’s Mom:

I was 34 weeks pregnant when doctors told me there was a possibility my baby would be born with both cleft lip and palate. This news came as huge shock. The condition does not run on either side of the family and my older daughter was not born with either cleft lip or palate. A few weeks later, beautiful Sara was born and the doctors’ concerns were confirmed.

Sara’s father and I found Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston through an acquaintance in our town whose children had seen Dr. Lewis. I made an appointment with Dr. Lewis and flew with my Husband and Sara for a consultation which left our first visit feeling completely comfortable placing my daughter’s care in his hands.

That was just the beginning of Sara’s journey. Since moving to Boston, we have been going to the Shriners Hospital for Children since Sara was 7 years. Today she is a happy, healthy 13-year-old. We have a great love for all the staff, all the nurses in the clinic and on the recovery floor, and Susie the medical photographer.

The nurses who have cared for Sara take care of her like she is their own daughter. As a mom, I cannot thank them enough. Sara’s journey at Shriners Hospital has also brought new friends. She became best of friends with one of her “roommates,” keeping in touch often.

“God Bless the Shriners, they changed my little girls life for the better. I cant believe there are still people like this in the world”
– Sara’s mom.

-By Brother Sam S.

Ever wondered what the heck this symbol means????

THE SCIMITAR (sword) – stands for the backbone of the fraternity, its members. Shriner’s come from all walks of life.12316394_1717212648498039_34227141585656164_n

WE ARE FREEMASONS
We are plumbers and professionals, salesmen and CEOs
We are fathers, uncles, and sons.
We are also brothers.

When you become a Shriner, you become part of a brotherhood of men committed to family, engaged in ongoing personal growth, and providing care for children and families in need. While our backgrounds and interests may be diverse, what binds us together are shared values and a desire to have fun, do good and build bonds that last a lifetime.

THE TWO CLAWS – are for the Shriners fraternity and its philanthropy.

The idea to establish hospitals for children was brought to the membership in 1919 by Freeland Kendrick (P.I.P., Lu Lu Shriners, Philadelphia) after he visited a Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Atlanta. This visit made Kendrick aware of the overwhelming need to care for children with orthopedic disorders.

During his tenure as Imperial Potentate in 1919 and 1920, Kendrick traveled more than 150,000 miles, visiting a majority of the 146 Shrine temples and campaigning for an official philanthropy to be established. The first shrine hospital was 1920 and since then the shrine changed thousands of children’s lives.

THE SPHINX – stands for the governing body of the Shriners.

The Imperial Divan is the international governing body of Shriners International. This governing body works as a corporate Board of Directors and consists of 13 officers, each of whom is elected to the lowest position on the Divan and moves up one position each year (with the exception of the Imperial Treasurer and Imperial Recorder).

THE FIVE POINTED STAR – represents the thousands of children helped by the philanthropy each year.

Hunter Woodhall, 13, was born with fibular hemimelia of the left leg. The condition is a shortening or absence of one of the two bones in the calf, which may require amputation or bone-lengthening procedures to correct. In addition, his right ankle was fused.

The Woodhalls had a difficult time finding information about Hunter’s conditions. After exploring options that offered no real hope, the Woodhalls contacted Shriners Hospitals for Children.

After consulting with a team of experts at the Tampa, Fla., facility, the Woodhalls proceeded with the amputation of Hunter’s feet. After his surgery – at just 11 months old – Hunter was soon walking and running around. He hasn’t stopped since.

The emblem also bears the phrase “ROBUR ET FUROR,” which means “STRENGTH AND FURY.”

You may be surprised to know that Shriners count among their ranks presidents, senators, local business leaders, professional golfers, country music stars, astronauts and actors. But, we think it’s just as important to be a leader in your personal life, to be a role model, to be a sounding board, and to simply be a friend.

As a Shriner, you will become part of a powerful network of mentors who can help you grow as a man, a father and a husband. You will develop relationships that benefit your business and help you reach your career goals. And you will find that you’ve become a mentor yourself, passing the lessons of leadership along to the next generation.

-By Brother Sam S.