Masonic culture is the advancement of high moral and intellectual forces in an environment of harmonious social interaction. The expression “knowledge is power” was well-known even to ancient civilizations, and the development of mind, so-called “enlightenment,” was a paramount ambition among them. Symbols of moral power were clothed in “mysteries” in order to indelibly impress their lessons upon initiates to the philosophical orders. For similar purposes, Freemasonry’s ritual has preserved the essence of these elegant traditions. Beyond the candidate level, however, it becomes a brother’s duty to continually study and reflect and teach not only Masonic history and philosophy, but also the liberal arts and sciences.
The brethren should proudly discourse on Freemasonry’s mission as an instrument of friendship, benevolence and compassion toward others; as a model for man’s plans, purposes, hopes and striving to be better; and as a platform to strengthen and express a belief and devotion to God. Such are the tenets of brotherly love, relief and truth! The true purpose, therefore, of education is to cherish and unfold the seed of immortality already sown within us; to develop to their fullest extent the capacities of every kind with which the God who made us has endowed us.
WHAT CAME YOU HERE TO DO? To learn, to subdue our passions, and to improve ourselves in Masonry.
TO LEARN - Do you read Masonic periodicals and books? What have you taught your brethren and candidates?
TO SUBDUE OUR PASSIONS - Has your understanding and appreciation of our beautiful ritual enabled you to apply its lessons in your daily life at work, at home, and at leisure? Do you exemplify the four cardinal virtues of temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice, so that others notice behavioral changes in you?
TO IMPROVE OUR SELVES IN MASONRY - How else have you made yourselves better men? In an expression of brotherly love or caring, how many ill brethren have you visited? Have you personally transported a non-driving or inactive brother to Lodge? Have you contributed to Masonic and community charities? How have you demonstrated that you are a good neighbor and a good citizen? How have you shown reverence for God? Does spirituality enter your every-day life?
WHAT SHALL WE DO? This exclamation by the triad of Fellow Crafts exemplifies the importance of fraternal caring and concern, and it promotes dependence upon one another in collective effort. But, as conversation proceeds, they remind us that ultimately we are accountable for our actions and must report to a higher authority. “Agreed!” The degree then teaches us the importance of independent thought and action. “Hold! Before we return and report, let us separate,” ostensibly for individual experiences. But “let us keep within hailing distance.” That is, within the same context, so we may once again “meet and consult should any important discovery be made.”
Compiled by Jack R. Levitt
Past Grand Master of California