From the East:
Brother Teddy Roosevelt once said, “I ask of each Mason, of each member, of each Brother, that he shall remember ever that there is upon him a peculiar obligation to show himself in every respect a good citizen; for after all, the way he can best do his duty by the ancient order to which he belongs is by reflecting credit upon that order by way in which he performs his duty as a citizen of the United States.”
In 1901, Theodore followed in the steps of his hero, Brother George Washington, by knocking on the West Gate of the Temple to become a Freemason. He was Initiated on January 2nd by Matinecock Lodge No. 806 in Oyster Bay, New York. After taking office as Vice President of the United States in March of that year, Bro. Roosevelt was Passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft. And, on March 27th, he was Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on April 24th. Just five months later, Brother Roosevelt became President of the United States at the age of 42, after the untimely death by assassination of President McKinley in September, of 1901.
A true “Renaissance Man” of countless talents and interests, Roosevelt was an environmentalist who established national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation’s natural resources. His successful diplomatic efforts ended the Russo-Japanese War and won him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. Elected in 1904 to a full term, Roosevelt continued to promote progressive policies that promoted equality and justice for the common people…Masonic Tenets all!
Brother Teddy’s extensive list of achievements almost defies belief: Harvard-educated scholar, North Dakota cowboy, War Hero, U.S. Civil Service Commission, New York City Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Governor of New York, President of the United States, as well as, famous Freemason. Moreover, Teddy was a woman’s rights advocate when it was certainly not in vogue. He was a historian and writer, gifted orator, dedicated conservationist, skilled diplomat, avid outdoorsman, hunter, and mountain climber. His words, written and spoken, reflected his Masonic Ideals; he emphasized morality, duty, service, equality, charity, self-knowledge, justice, wisdom, merit, and ability.
In an address to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Bro. Theodore explained his reasons for joining the Fraternity:
One of the things that attracted me so greatly to Masonry, that I hailed the chance of becoming a Mason, was that it really did act up to what we, as a government and as a people, are pledged to — of treating each man on his merits as a man.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Roosevelt’s belief in the principle of equality transcended gender, promoting equal rights for women in employment, opportunity, and equal pay. In his essay, “Practicability of Giving Men and Women Equal Rights,” he argued:
Viewed in the abstract, I think there can be no question that women should have equal rights with men.… I contend that, even as the world now is, it is not only feasible but advisable to make women equal to men before the law.
We could all learn from the courage, Brotherly Love, and patriotism represented in Brother Roosevelt in his daily transactions with mankind. In his travels throughout the world he especially enjoyed visiting Lodges, and insisted, when, IN the Lodge Room itself, that the Brethren NOT call him “Mr. President”, rather, just “Brother”…he said THAT was the greatest title he could receive. Even his Secret Service detail, if not Masons, were admonished to remain outside the Lodge proper.
Brother Roosevelt tells a humorous story of returning to his hometown Lodge while still President only to find his gardener had become the Master of the Lodge. Roosevelt and his gardener never discussed this matter, but Roosevelt was subservient to his gardener in all issues related to the Lodge even while president – and he believed that’s exactly how it should be.
In Section Five of Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723: “The Craftsmen are to avoid all ill Language, and to call each other by no disobliging Name, but Brother or Fellow; and to behave themselves courteously within and without the Lodge.”
I believe Brother Roosevelt foresaw the advent of social media, albeit nearly a century later, wherein, within Article IX., of the Social Media Code of Conduct for Virginia Freemasons it says, in the select Sections, we see, as all Virginia Masons must adhere:
Section 9.01 A Mason must conduct his social media activities in a way that reflects favorably upon his membership in the Craft. He must act in a way that presents a positive image of his membership in Freemasonry and realize that rash, imprudent or ill-advised postings cannot really be “taken back.” (2016)
Section 9.03 His actions, postings, videos and pictures, including those of Lodge or other Masonic events, on Social Media outlets must reflect the highest standards of morality and integrity he would practice within the Lodge. Such postings must not depict the Lodge, the Fraternity or any member thereof in an unfavorable light. (2015)
Section 9.11 The Hallmarks of Masonic Communication, oral, written or electronic are: dignity, courtesy, fraternal respect, consideration for the privacy rights of Brethren, tolerance and respect for the religious, political and other personal views of Masons. Admonishment of error, when needed is done privately. Discussion and reasoned debate between Brethren is healthy; personal attacks and incivility are not permitted and may be considered un-Masonic. Masons are expected to extend these generous principles to all. (Ref: Methodical Digest Sec. 3.06 and 4.01). (2016)
It is certainly apropos, in these challenging world times, to share a final piece of advice from Bro. Roosevelt, from 1909, wherein he said:
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
So Mote it Be!
“Happenings in JAL No. 350”
Last month we were honored to hear a Lecture by WB Bennett Hart on the Masonic Connections during the American Civil War. The information presented by WB Bennett represented years of research and was exemplified in a way that made it relevant today! Many times we heard, during the address, “and who were these soldiers?…they were Masons!”….The meeting was ‘open to the public’ and, as this outstanding new Program through the Grand Lodge, “Be a Freemason”, is proving its zeal, as two of our Visitors left with signed Petitions, not to mention an Affiliation. We’re on the right track Brethren!
At the upcoming March Stated Communication, we’ll receive our District Deputy Grand Master, RW Romulo “Romi” Magnaye Capuno, as well as have several pieces of Masonic Education, including a Masonic Moment and a reading from the Constitutions of Masonry. Lest we forget to mention, Mission Barbecue is on the menu! Our business that evening will include a “Voice Vote” By-Law change on the starting time of our Stated Communications from 7:30pm, to 7:00pm (*see proposed change below). Looking ‘downstream’ to April, we’ll host our own Grand Master of Masons in Virginia, MW James Winfield Golladay, Jr. We encourage all sojourning Masons from not only District 1B, but from throughout the Commonwealth to sojourn to Quantico and join in the celebration of welcoming Virginia’s “top-Mason!” We’ll also present the criteria for our two Scholarships, to be presented in the name of our namesake, Lt. General John A. Lejeune, given to two worthy students from Quantico High School. Look for a “Family, Friends, and Fellowship Night” early this Spring with an upcoming “Sky Porch” game at the new Fredericksburg Nationals Stadium, all-inclusive, coming soon!
Special Congratulations to the Newly-Installed Leadership of our own Calvin A. Lloyd Chapter #81, Order of the Eastern Star, especially the Worthy Matron, Laurianne Murphy, and the Worthy Patron, Charles “Chuck” Dirienzo. We had an outstanding turnout of Line Officers from JAL present as well! Also in attendance was a terrific representation from our Masonic Youth, particularly, the Quantico-Freedom Assembly-International Order of Rainbow for Girls, Assembly No. 6, led by “Mom Ange”.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the remarkable, transformational work our Recently-Installed” Treasurer, Colonel and Brother William “Bill” Smith. Brother Bill has modernized our Financial ‘condition’ beyond anything I’ve seen in my 43 years as a Mason, in ANY Lodge with which I have traveled. His expertise, zeal, and attention-to-details has made THIS Worshipful Master’s job exponentially easier, and the 21st century advances in technology on not only the financial front, but elsewhere in-and-about JAL, is nothing short of remarkable. As a ‘retired biology teacher and coach’ of nearly 35 years, and not having the greatest of business minds, Brother Bill’s almost daily conversations with me have enlightened and educated me beyond words. I, therefore, must say to you, Brother Bill, THANK YOU for all you do. YOU, coupled also with the fortitude and energy of our newly-installed(Junior Past Master), WB Randall Arnold, are truly remarkable additions to the Leadership of this Lodge—and you’re having a profound positive effect on it daily, whether you realize it or not!
So I’ll say, from me and your grateful Brethren, Brothers Bill and Randall:
“Toda Raba”, Thank You Very Much
From the West:
As speculative Masons, we are encouraged by the potential to demonstrate the moral application of our many working tools.
Let us all take a moment to be, quite literally, encouraged – that is, ‘inspired with courage’, to take proper stock of our personal transactions with mankind, and check our work for square.
The Square speaks to our actions, and reminds us to align them with virtue. By this, we are encouraged to exemplify actions that are, indeed, virtuous – defined by Webster as “Conformity to a standard of right.” and “A particular moral excellence.”
In the same way that the absence of virtue does not necessarily equal the presence of vice, the absence of vice does not necessarily equal the presence of virtue. Moral excellence requires a great measure of effort.
When we take stock of our comportment, we must take care to limit our criticisms of others, at least until we have set our own work in perfect harmony with the fourth part of a circle. This is not to suggest that we should forgo the act of whispering good councel, but more so to exercise prudence in the delivery of the same.
We must strive to be quiet professionals, judiciously working toward that moral excellence, and set the example for others to emulate.
The best of leaders speak the loudest when they’re silent. What they do will always inspire others to act in kind. This is one of the best ways to exact laudable change where needed. Be the difference for others to see. When Cicero spoke, the people marveled. But when Caesar crossed the Rubicon… the people marched!
We must remember – with no small amount of zeal – the virtue in this most noble of ideas. Your Senior Warden kindly recommends that we each take a few quiet moments this month, be inspired with courage, and take honest stock of our personal transactions. Check them for square. If they are in any way oblique, we must pick up the setting maul, and adjust accordingly. For you, and everyone else, I will do the same.
From the South:
Time gives a many things: experience, understanding and hopefully maturity. Many texts allude to this (e.g. When I was a child I spoke as a child…as I matured I put childish ways behind me). When I was younger, I was in a rush to grow up and make my own decisions. The word decision comes from the Latin word de (from) and cider (to cut). A true decision is just that, cutting off the other options. When it goes badly, experience is gained. Time affords for moments for understanding. Maturity, however, comes not with time but when experience is coupled with understanding.
In Masonry, we are cautioned about Daubing With Untempered Mortar. One text mentions the effects (Ezekiel 13:10-12). In today’s terms, it is equated to putting a Band Aid on a sucking chest wound. When I was in the military, we used to say if it smells clean, it MUST be clean—WRONG! When we make the mistake of simply Daubing With Untempered Mortar we white-wash the problem instead of deciding to fix it. Sure it looks good until it rains (problems come like torrents). Small cracks appear as torrents persist and soon those shoddy repairs (Untempered Mortar)become large fissures and can turn even the sturdiest of buildings into a dilapidated structure unsafe for all who decide to walk through the West Gate.
As a Society of Friends and Brothers, we are all charged with Guarding the West Gate and also Charged with maintaining the integrity of that spiritual house. It takes time to do it the right way; experience to see WHY and understanding to recognize the difference—maturity. Many of life’s problems can be addressed by deciding to go with cheap, fast, good– pick two (i.e. If you want it cheap and fast, it won’t be good). In Masonry, the formula is similar—experience, understanding, maturity—pick two. A good way to glean these lessons is to ensure that you are in the quarry. If not, you have no business shaping the stones.
From the Treasurer:
As we start a new year, two concurrent financial challenges require our attention – modernizing our financial management business processes and begin buying down the backlog of maintenance, modernization, and repair (BMMAR) of our building. The work has begun as our financial management has now fully migrated to Quicken software which provides an integrated checking account management and budget planning capability. We have also moved to on-line banking with all recurring bills, except one, being paid via automatic direct or debit card payments saving postage and avoiding late payments while providing 24/7 on-line visibility. And we have also transitioned to on-line monitoring of our investments which gives us instant access to balances and trades. Secondly, the Trustees have recently approved a five-year financial plan using a portion of our investments to begin to make long needed facility improvements. We will of course monitor our progress and adapt as necessary. This will be a long slog and may require additional financial support. There’s much to be done – so stay tuned for upcoming Trestleboards!
From the Secretary:
Brethren, when one of us becomes a Master Mason, we are Masons for life. I have heard it said by someone much wiser than me; “not all Masons are good men, but good men are Masons.” Masonry teaches that it takes a good man and makes him a better man. I believe this to be due to our commitment to each other and to the craft itself.
Although we may not be as active in the lodge as we once were due to military duty assignments or personal issues, we should remember that the lodge still depends on us to maintain our knowledge we have attained along the way in the event we may someday be asked to take a chair in order to compose an Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft or Master Masons Lodge for the benefit of the Craft.
That being said, anyone can lose track of obligations to career and even extracurricular activities, but we as Masons must never lose track of our personal obligation to the craft and to the lodge. If we intend to maintain membership in the fraternity, we do have to keep our dues current as well.
Not a sermon, just some personal observations….
John A. Lejeune Lodge No. 350 A. F. & A. M.
The Stated Communications of this Lodge shall be held at the Masonic Temple, located at 235 Potomac Avenue, Quantico, Virginia, on the 3rd Monday of each month except on the second Monday of December of each year at 7:00 pm o’clock.
Proposal is to change the Stated Communication Starting Time from 7:30pm, to 7:00pm
Whereas the Gavel Rap has traditionally been at 7:30pm in John A. Lejeune Lodge No. 350, and
Whereas the average age of the Brethren has steadily increased over the past two decades, and
Whereas we desire to afford many of our elderly Brethren an opportunity to share in our Ritual, Fellowship, and other Masonic activities, and
Whereas many of the Brethren live significant distances from Quantico, and would benefit from an earlier closing time, and
Whereas family time would be increased by thirty (30) minutes, allowing for enriched quality time with loved ones…these recommendations are encouraged for the Good of the Craft and John A. Lejeune Lodge No. 350.
Barry A. Mensh Worshipful Master 21 February 2022