ISSUE 15, October 2005
Editorial
Historic: Nelson and Freemasonry
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's Speech
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Hurricane Katrina: Grand Charity Relief Chest
Royal Arch: John Knight
Masonic Embroidery: A stitch in time...
Travel: Walzing along the Danube
Specialist Lodges: Martial arts
Library & Museum: The two Freemasons' Halls
    Anniversary: Jersey's Liberation
Anniversary: Dorset's 225 years
Obituaries: Lord Swansea OSM
Pro Grand Master: Whither directing our course?
Charmian Hussey: A Mason's wife on Masonry
International: The Grand Lodge of Israel
Education: Sheffield's big plans
Education: Forthcoming events
Education: The Second Degree
Masonic Charities
Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Anglo-Saxon Masonry has strayed from its original purpose and no longer teaches its candidates the fundamental truths which underpin the Craft. That is why I support the initiative to start an Orator scheme to provide well-written papers describing this Masonic journey, for delivery in Lodges.
     Educating our members about the purpose of Masonry should be a priority regardless of whether or not they wish to deepen their understanding of it. Much continental Masonry, which continues to thrive, and Latin American Masonry, which is the fastest growing Masonry in the world, insists on the candidates becoming proficient in, and having an understanding of, any Degree they have taken, before allowing them to progress further.
     They have to write papers and answer questions on the ceremony they have experienced before they are allowed to move to the next Degree. Do we consider the questions our candidates have to answer before being passed and raised really give ‘proofs of proficiency’ in the former degree? I think not.
     However, as well as educating our members, it is important also that we educate the public at large. We need to explain ourselves and what we do to non- Masons who show a genuine interest in us. We must explain in layman’s language the lessons we are taught in our Lodges.
     I do not believe we will be betraying any trust by doing so, nor can we be exposing the mysteries to the eyes of the profane. What we will be doing is encouraging men to join us in order to experience the transformatory process for which Freemasonry was created.
     I strongly believe that the way forward for Anglo-Saxon Masonry is for its members to be encouraged positively to talk about the rituals. There are many men who would join us if they only realised what Freemasonry was really about, and it is up to us to tell them. Our teachings contain universal truths which need to be promulgated to all those who are interested. The days of reserving knowledge for the benefit of a few are over.
     I was invited two years ago to address some of the senior boys and monks at Downside, the Roman Catholic boarding school. I spoke for nearly an hour on Freemasonry, its symbols and its principles. I quoted passages from the Charge after initiation to give an idea of what a candidate is taught in the rituals. I explained the working tools and how we moralise their uses in building our temple, not made with human hands.
     I stressed that Freemasonry was just a system without dogma and doctrine which leads us through its three ceremonies on a progressive path from ignorance to enlightenment.
     I pointed out the benefits of the psychological changes that happen to a man as he passes from being an Entered Apprentice through the various offices to the Master’s chair – how he develops his intellect, leadership qualities, self-confidence, tolerance, kindness, compassion, service to others, open-heartedness, social responsibility, temperance and above all self-awareness. By the time I had finished and taken questions I left them in no doubt that Freemasonry is a force for good in the world. Even the headmaster remarked how different my version of the Craft was from what he had been led to believe it was like.
     The only way we are going to dispel ignorance is through education. If we all made the effort to explain Masonry to laymen in suitable terms we could really make a difference to the way we are perceived. Above all we must stress how enjoyable it is. The brotherhood will surely come to an end if it ceases to be fun.
     I have read many booklets which have been produced by different Provinces to explain Freemasonry to their candidates.
     So many of them, however, deal with the form and etiquette of the Craft and do not give any real explanation of its purpose and content. As a result, they convey knowledge but do not inspire the reader to want to explore further.
     As Michael Walker, Past Grand Secretary of Ireland, said in his address to our Grand Lodge last year, there is nothing wrong with the content of Freemasonry, but there is definitely something wrong with the way we package our product.
     We keep hearing that men today are searching for ‘spirituality’ in their lives free from dogma and doctrine. Freemasonry undoubtedly has an answer to that search because it is one of the reasons it was founded, but it fails to sell itself on the back of its excellent credentials.
     The truth is that the packaging of our product has become jaded. Society is very different to what it was even a generation ago, but Freemasonry has changed hardly at all. Is it any wonder that we appear irrelevant to our young candidates and so many of them subsequently leave us?
     I repeat my conviction that the time has come to talk openly and freely about our rituals with anyone who is interested, the only caveat being that we take care not to dilute the effect the ceremonies will have on future candidates.
     If as a result we inspire our members to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge and attract men to join us because of its exciting message, we will be able slowly to turn the Craft in the direction for which it was founded.
     In a speech I gave during my recent visit to the Grand Lodge of Chile in Santiago, I said: We are all brothers on this same journey, a journey leading to self-knowledge and ultimately perfection. The American poet, Emerson, described it as a journey of ‘ascending effort’.
     And as we climb higher on the path we are helped by those brethren who are ahead of us and in turn encourage those who are behind.
     Freemasonry is a system without dogma or doctrine which signposts, through the interpretation of its symbols, the journey we must all make. It is a template for the evolution of human consciousness, and as such is a progressive science of becoming – becoming something greater than we are now. It has various set stages for our development.
     A high moral code of ethical behaviour is the essential condition on which our journey is founded, and that includes the need to be in control of our emotions, our passions and desires. This is followed by the importance of education and the training of our reason and intellect as a force for good in the world.
     When these conditions are fulfilled and we are truly centred as human beings, our hearts open to the great potential which is at once the birthright and destiny of the human race. For as we climb higher we become wiser and can see further and more clearly what is the purpose of our life, and what the Great Architect has planned for us. That is the great mystery of Freemasonry which all of us are destined to rediscover.

The Cornerstone Society: www.cornerstonesociety.com

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