Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Degrees in Freemasonry

by Rudy Olano
York Rite of CA

Where do we as today in the eyes of the world? Do we as a fraternity still matter in the world? How are we viewed? Are we destined to go the way of the dinosaur and become the thing of myths and legends? --- a young Brother inquiries

So many questions with infinite possible answers and possibly the real question is the relevancy of the Fraternity to the contemporary times. The recent issues as the one-day conferrals, formation of UGLA by “Young Free-Masons,” women interest to join and others are some of the modern day issues facing us today. To change or not to change. While traditionalists loathe deviations from the set practices, changes took over eventually. The Fraternity changed from being operative to speculative. Usage and meanings of the words evolved. But like symbols whose meanings and significance etched in our consciousness, the basic entity that makes what the Craft exist to this day remains the same--- flawed but still good men hoping to become a better man.

While cognizant to what the world thought about our Order is a nobler deed, as an individual acting alone is a kin to a voice in wilderness. A cog in a big scheme of things, unnoticeable and insignificant to the modern age we are living. Acting in unison, banded together as one, undistinguishable from another is utopian way of thinking. A possibility but rather unlikely. Freemasonry is composed of men although basically good men are still man saddled with usual baggage of everyday challenges. Men who tend to slide back to its original state of roughness--- an ashlar being polished to a state of neo-perfection. Men who hoped to reach the level flawlessness to enjoy the serenity of the calm harbor while standing on a solid deck of the anchored ship. Still mortals struggling to reach the next form of creation, not as an equal but to be worthy of being near to Him. A goal or could be expressed as the real substance of keeping the

Freemasonry gave us the science of charting our individual journey to our Faith. The
search for that which was lost is the allegorical pattern of that journey. The travel is not for the benefit of the world but of the traveler. A voyage with a collateral product of making everything around the path better than the explorer originally found. We did not embarked on this passage thinking of what the general public thought about the notion. Permission was not asked nor demanded, the trip is of its “…own freewill and accord…” Perception could be unnecessary baggage to be best left ashore. There are things we can influence and events that we can not control. The Fraternity can not and should not get involved with public promotional schemes in order to influence the public perception. It is a wasteful and losing preposition. Support should be given to the Brethren and their Lodges and let their actions speak for themselves and the Craft we are so proud of. Without good men seeking to be a better man, Freemasonry will be another noise in the wilderness instead of being a “silver trumpet at the early dawn and eve of day, when the sun’s first and last rays gild the mountain tops…”

In 1882 book titled, The Symbolism of Freemasonry, Bro Albert Mackey concluded that “Freemasonry, viewed no longer, as too long it has been, as a merely social institution, has now assumed its original and undoubted position as a speculative science...” The Craft is about “building a temple not made of hands but eternal in Heaven.” Contrary to somewhat popular belief, the
Fraternity is not about paid dues, community service oriented club, religious support group nor making children laugh entity, those are the by products of the students of an ancient and honorable institution which offers degrees in "system of morality veiled in allegories and illustrated in symbols." A man with a degree in Freemasonry has his diploma is deposited within the confines of his own temple. An achievement borne of his own discovery, veiled from the public but in the full view of the All-Seeing Eyes ---the object of the search of the Absolute Truth not of myths and legends. Our institution will continue to be relevant as long as good men have a heart to practice the science and art of erecting temple within him. And my Brother those are what the Degrees are all about.

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