Saturday, September 20, 2008

Knowing A Mason

by RmOlano

"How may we know a man to be a Mason?"-- a Brother asked

How do we may know indeed! On our way to qualification to the next level of illumination within the Craft, we are taught to commit to memory certain parts of the ritual. Some jurisdiction resorted to what is termed as short form thereby, allowing candidates to miss golden opportunities to digest many lessons contained within the long form. It seems that the popular stated reason to deviate from what was used to be the normal practice is about the inconvenience to the length of time a candidate to advance to the degree of Master Mason. For some reason, this writer does not comprehend the cause and impetus the rush to make someone a Master Mason as if we are engaged in a competitive race. We had witness instances where the lecturer would breeze through his spiel leaving the candidate with glazed look like a deer-looking-to-headlight and wonder what hit him. Compound this event with at least an hour of monologue without visual references and mixed it with archaic terminologies is a recipe of a sensory and memory overload.

It is something to watch and hear the candidate response to our elderly Brothers as to the candidate thought about the recently completed ceremony. It is normal expectation that most of the time a polite response will be given to an inquiry that touched majority of human emotion. Blindfolded therefore, darkness, the feeling helplessness, one’s dependency to unfamiliar person, fear to the unknown, feeling the cold sharp instrument and its implied promise of risk are some standard concern being played within the candidate mind which is the raison d'être of the ritual. It is mighty hard to answer such a question with detailed analysis on the spot. Most of us would simply blurt out something like, impressive, never been through that before or other superlative adjective that would reward the inquirer a smile in his face. A smile that usually meant, a confirmation that the night event was not a waste of time for someone did appreciate the labor of our Brethren. That same smile for some is a confirmation that the conferring team generated enough curiosity to this fellow that someday hopefully he will be a part of the tradition of inculcating others the ritual of the Craft. It is always a hope since time immemorial that out of many, few will carry on the work of the Craft, out of many, some would remain and understand what those archaic words, figures, and symbols intended. Understanding such mysteries signifies familiarity, contemplation, and testing that hypothesis is part of a process for illumination.

How may we know a man to be a Mason? The customary answer taken from the long form proficiency requirement would be about if someone knew the word, sign, token and posses personal virtues of a decent and moral man such temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice. The first three answers are the most popular and overused gateway in determining if a man is a Mason. The dues card, handshake, password, car decal, t-shirt and others like things are one interpretation of what is Freemasonry. There is nothing wrong with this understanding; it is within the definition of the Fraternity. In order to practice Brotherhood, members have to know his Brothers! To be a part of a group of society certain things have to be demanded and expected to be returned. Being one of them requires losing a part of me.

The last part of identity requirement is the often times skipped portion. This line of thinking subscribed to Brother Albert Pike’s 1888 definition of Freemasonry --- “a system of morality, veiled in allegories and illustrated by symbols.” Notwithstanding, the physiological terms e.g. throat, arms, hands and feet, to symbolize the cardinal virtues of a Mason, what makes man a Mason is his awareness to this litmus test. It is not only Mason’s mere understanding but of his daily attempt to restrain his passion from “allurements of vice,” of a his “steady purpose of mind” in face of expediency of the moment, of his virtue to live and act “to the dictates of reasons,” and adhering to “that standard or boundary of right which enables us to render unto every man his just due, without distinction.” Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. Our appendages might convey friendly welcome but if certain sounds come from the bowels of our throat express otherwise, the embrace became a façade for the benefit of the crowd. Just as speech can be confirmed with body language, what makes real is the equilibrium of all body parts. What makes a man a Mason is finding the balance of what is expected and what can be humanly accomplished. There is no perfect Mason in this world and to those who claimed to be one --- “let him cast the first stone.” Asserting to be a Mason is not a hard endeavor, living to be one is always a challenge and knowing one is an art by itself.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for this link. I am going to share it with my Masonic brothers.