Sunday, September 23, 2007

Degree Works-A Favor

a Paper for Sequoia Council No. 228 (AMD)by Rudy Olano

I am always amazed to watch any Brethren who can deliver any Masonic lectures from memory, period. Memorization is skill that you either have it or not. Ok, let me take that back. The ability to memorize materials which will require at least an hour of delivery with relative ease is a skill not everyone posses. I have meet number of brethren who can remember anything with one reading and be able to repeat it by memory. And I said this before and will say it again, I am awed. For others like me, memorization of anything is not an easy task. I will not use the excuse ---I am at the stage where my memories were not as good because even during high school days I know I am terrible in memorization department. I struggled through all three long form proficiency examinations. It took me a year to be brave enough to tell the Worshipful Master that yes, I could do my job as Senior Deacon to give the Fellow Craft Lecture. The first job was not pretty, I can tell you that.

Having a number of email exchanges with a very respected Brother on memorization issue, I was lamenting for not making long form examinations as mandatory and as optional. My view is that memorization makes people like me be "forced" to study the materials to know what a certain lines or paragraph means in order to aid me understand what I am talking about. Knowing the subject matter is for me a key element in retaining that information in my memory. The positive side of trying to understand the materials are the time to sit down and digest or in a plain word-- to literally study the Lessons of Freemasonry. An Illustrious Brother/Companion who holds Doctorate in Education degree, does not endorsed the memorization by rote since; according to him that method is not as effective. It makes us to memorize/concentrate on the words itself and tend not to understand what the material is all about. He did not say it and the following line is mine--- imagine a parrot who can "talk" with a perfect accent without knowing the beautiful melody its vocal cords played.

In this illustration, one don’t have to have a degree in education to grasp what the example means. However, my counter-argument was that I believe the majority (including myself) are not equipped with such talent and therefore, would compensate it with perseverance to commit to memory what is/are required. A brother who has the dedication will set aside time to do what needs to be done. We all can remember reading the little book everywhere, in the car, garage, break time, during watch, in the comfort room, you name it, mumbling something which drew stares from people nearby. Some of us even went beyond what we promise not to do-- recording, cheat sheet and slapping ourselves for missing or replacing words. I could imagine some of the Brethren, are smiling because they can relate to what has been described.

Let me conclude that those brilliant performances which we all can be proud of are the result of hard work. Our Brethren took their time to prepare for their part and this is very important lesson that our newly initiated Brothers MUST understand---each degree work is a gift. Each Brother in that lodge room, sideliners included, took their time from their immediate families and responsibilities, and exchanges it so that a degree can be bestowed to whom we thought to be worthy enough. Each degree work should be considered as a favor to be given and not as a requirement to fulfill. We should and must hands out favors sparingly, to give it to those we hope that will return the same favor to somebody else when we old-timers were gone and soon to be forgotten. To give away favors only to those who will take their time to study an ideal we know as Freemasonry and in doing so, hopefully comprehend that there is a reward for turning a good men to a better man.

What pains me is the fact that after all those preparations and works to confer degrees, even after magnificent efforts by those involved, the recipient does not even "return" the favor by showing to us his proficiency and often times disappear after 3rd Degree. We as Brethren of the Craft must be selective and demanding when dispensing favors not only to the good of the Order but also for honoring the countless hours expended by our talented and brilliant Brethren for the benefit of those who want to be among us---to be recognized and accepted as a Freemason.


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