April 2022 Trestleboard


My Brethren: Why should our Masonic Symbols be as IMPORTANT today as they’ve EVER BEEN?
Freemasonry permits each individual Craftsman to interpret and apply the lessons of the Craft as HE sees best, within the constraints and challenges of his own life—that he may build a better world—to continue the “Ashlar-Polishing” we all began as Entered Apprentices. It is this unique spirit of tolerance and freedom that frequently confuses opponents of our Fraternity. One Mason places his interpretation upon a certain symbol or attribute of Freemasonry; another takes an entirely different view, and will cite evidence with which a third may be at entire variance; yet these three men can gather about our Altars and in our Lodges together in perfect amity…this is precisely what makes Freemasonry so darned beautiful; it “unites men of every country, sect, and opinion, and conciliates TRUE FRIENDSHIP among those who might otherwise remain at a perpetual distance”…..we learn in the Entered Apprentice’s Degree.
We Masons have a “SOMETHING” beyond; call it a soul or heart or spirit or imagination; It matters not what you call it, but it is absolutely REAL—and POWERFULLY-MOVING!… Masonic Symbolism is the tool of abstract thought, which develops the soul or imagination just as food develops our bodies.
Thus, in using Symbols, Freemasonry becomes the greatest system of morality, while often veiled in allegory, with which the individual Mason is encouraged to understand and interpret the true meaning and purpose of life.
The symbols are elastic, vehicles of revelation, given during inspiration and used to interpret the experience. Think about ‘just’ the Entered Apprentice’s symbolism…a ‘partial’ elaboration, herein, brethren: They are first given to us at our Initiation…a 24-inch gauge, along with a common gavel, we hopefully understand the “life-divisions” of the inherent 24 hours each of us possesses (and how to best work and best agree within them)…as well as that important ‘shaping instrument’ by which we break off the corners of the ‘speculative’ stones …later, we learn about the form of a Lodge, it being an “oblong square”, and its amazing infinite dimensions, How it is supported,…the ‘Pillars’ and what they signify, as well as the constant “Leadership” of the Lodge, located East, West, and South… its covering, involving Faith, Hope, and Charity, Charity being paramount!… Lodge furniture,…represented by our Great Lights, and deservedly so… Lodge Ornaments, representing a ‘checkerboard mosaic pavement, alluding to both good and evil, much of which we see today….Lodge lights distributed around the Cardinal points of the compasses, save the North…, The Jewels, both those that never move due to their importance to the Lodge itself,… Ahhh, but those “Movable Jewels”….It has been said the purpose of Freemasonry is to take good men and make them better. Perhaps it is more fitting to say that the purpose of Freemasonry is to take already-good men who have the potential to be better and help them cultivate that moral and spiritual portion of themselves so they become better members of society. As an Entered Apprentice, he is just beginning his Masonic journey. As such, he represents that rough stone taken from the quarry….. a person who desires to improve himself morally and intellectually. While rough in his rudimentary form, he possesses moral and personal qualities that recommend him to the Fraternity and he has expressed the desire to pursue personal growth through education and enlightenment….also, in our Entered Apprentice Lodge, we understand how all Lodges are always Situated and why?…, of course, to whom Lodges are dedicated…our ‘own’ King Solomon, as well as the Patron Saints of Masonry….we learn also of those profound Masonic heritages of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth…Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice…Ashlars are introduced as guideposts for the rest of our lives as we transact mankind….Freemasonry, without its symbols, would be a mere “husk” of its previous life…the “kernel” long gone. Freemasonry without its symbols would NOT be Freemasonry AT ALL; it would be nothing more than a dogmatic association that would certainly not have even remotely been able to withstand the test of time.  It behooves us all, my Brethren, to live, learn, and feel Freemasonry. Our symbols absolutely necessitate and require interpretation….contemplation and study must pervade our lives. As a Mason involved in Labor you are encouraged not only to competently recite the Workings of our magnificent Ritual, but, more-importantly, reflect and apply its significance and meaning. No man is perfect; our symbols help us on the path to perfection. But these alone are not sufficient. Initiation alone never did, nor ever can, make a man a true Mason. These ceremonies only lay the foundations, and without exploring the true meaning of the symbols and using these as a blueprint for our lives, can the superstructure be erected!!!.
Brethren, please look deeply into to our symbols – herein I only touched briefly on ‘some’ of those found in our Entered Apprentice’s Degree—let them be for you a constant source of Light…NOT darkness. How you interpret and apply these beautiful symbols is completely up to you and you alone—they reside in your heart…where we were all “Prepared to Be Made Masons!”… We all create our own reality, our own Trestleboard. What we expect from life is what we will certainly receive. The Volume of Sacred Law tells us “as you sow so shall you reap”… If we go about our lives seeking trouble, forgetting our Obligations and Charges, and not acting ‘agreeably’ to the world in general, and our Brethren in particular—we are nothing more than “Parrot Masons”; indeed, Parrot Masons know ALL THE words, oftentimes perfectly. Nearly five decades ago, a dear friend and Brother of mine in Springfield Lodge No. 217, RW John Philip McIntyre(“Google” his amazing Masonic Education Programs—I’m happy to share many with you!), in one of our countless deep-Masonic discussions, gently admonished me early-on as I was working diligently as a young Master Mason, “Don’t be a Parrot Mason, Barry!’ I ignored my images of Jimmy Buffett and Blackbeard, and thought about it… (This is actually one of Brother John’s Programs). I took that to heart, and always have, and encourage you, my Brethren, to do the same. It’s how we should carry ourselves as Masons, both IN, and, more-importantly, OUTSIDE the Lodge! It was mirrored by none other than Albert Mackey, who said: “One who commits to memory the questions and answers of the catechetical lectures, and the formulas of the ritual, but pays no attention to the history and philosophy of the Institution, is commonly called a Parrot Mason, because he is supposed to repeat what he has learned without any conception of its true meaning. In former times, such superficial Freemasons were held by many in high repute, because of the facility with which they passed through the ceremonies of a reception, and they were generally designated as Bright Masons. But the progress of Freemasonry as a science now requires something more than a mere knowledge of the lectures to constitute a Masonic scholar.”
I, myself, truly understand and appreciate that Life does not always go as planned…the world’s most-powerful understatement! We mustn’t take it for granted …and so if we do not seek to really understand her, and put into practice what is taught by our own Masonic Symbols, then we cannot truly expect our path as Freemasons, as the “Caretakers of this Gentle Craft”, to reach the fruition we all so cherish and hope to achieve!!!. Each one of us has been given the tools – it is our response to these tools that will truly define us…and can truly help ameliorate the world’s difficulties, albeit “one Rough Stone at a time”…
So Mote it Be, Barry

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