The Working Tools
Brother Alex Carey
Right Worshipful Master
Many Freemasons go thru their Masonic life without a full grasp of the life lessons that are embedded in the teachings, policies and practices of the Craft.
It is to these Masons in particular and those of you who know, but for some reasons are not really adhering or paying the kind of attention to them that they require and deserved, that we address these brief remarks.
This piece is gleaned from the work of Brother Kent Henderson, Past Junior Grand Deacon of the Grand Lodge of Victoria, Australia and “The Freemason at Work” by Harry Carr.
There are three working tools in each of the three degrees, referring to the three phases in man’s nature. This emphasis is repeated throughout our three degrees: three degrees; three rule the lodge; three movable jewels; three ornaments; three ruffians etc. But, because there are in our assembly, some who have not yet attained the three degrees, we will stick with the Working Tools of the First and Second Degrees.
First, the Entered Apprentice, knowing little of the ultimate design, has to learn the use of the tools of preparation – twenty-four inch gauge, the gavel and the chisel, which enables him to square the stone. The Fellow of Craft, knowing what is required by the plan, has to test the work, and for this purpose, he must have a full knowledge of the tools of proof – the square, level and plumb rule.
The Entered Apprentice takes the rough stone from the quarry and on it he uses the tools of preparation to achieve the Rough Ashlar. The Fellow of Craft takes the Rough Ashlar and under his skilful hand it becomes the Perfect Ashlar and is place in the building according to the plan of the Master.
Each of us are living stones , which are to form the Temple not made by hands, and so that the Temple may be perfect, each of us has to be so, for the Temple will only be as good as the stones that form it. Masonry is more than a ritual; it is a way of living. It offers us a method and a plan by which we may build a character so strong and true that nothing, not even death, can destroy it. If we act justly, with love and mercy and walk humbly before God, then we can serenely await the solemn moments when we must quit this transitory scene with a clear conscience and a trust in the mercy of God.
The Twenty-four Inch Gauge represents the twenty four hours of the day, part to be spent in prayer to Almighty God, part in labor and refreshment and part in serving a friend or brother in time of need, without detriment to ourselves or connections. This is a reminder to the initiate that he is mortal, that he has so many years of life, with so many days to each year, and so many hours to each day. It is only the immortals who do not have to concern themselves with time, for to them it no longer exists, for us mortals each day have twenty-four hours. Later we may learn the secrets of immortality, but first we must make full use of our mortality. In other words, time and space are given to us with all their limitations to prepare ourselves for the ampler freedom of afterlife. Time is but the gateway to eternity, and by learning to use our time, we prepare ourselves for eternity.
The first lesson for the initiate is time and how to use it, and that time is divided into three parts; for God, for our neighbor and for ourselves. The first is emphasized throughout our ritual; we put our trust in God; our lodge opens and closes with prayer. Prayer is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end; but we must not stop at prayer, the definite act of homage to the Great Architect, but carry out his will through the whole day.
Conscience, live the Gavel, will knock off all superfluous knobs and excrescence(s) so that the rough stone of our character will become the Perfect Ashlar fit for the Temple.”
Harry Carr writes: “The Gavel, we are told, represents the force of conscience, which, of course is the voice of our own soul or, as our ritual puts it “the voice of nature” or the “centre from which we cannot err.” It is this inner voice that is ever ready to warn us when without it we would err. If we let our conscience guide us, and are prompted to heed it, we will find its voice becoming stronger and clearer with every day of our lives. But if we fail to heed it, failure becomes a habit and its voice will become so weak that it is barely audible, so that finally there is no warning at all and its owner becomes a really evil person.
The second is our duty to our neighbor; and that does not mean to take good care of ourselves and if we have a few crumbs left over to scatter them to the poor. It means that we give and go on giving to our neighbor, but do not make our own family suffer in consequence of that giving. In other words, remember our neighbor, but do not neglect our own family in the process. The words”without detriment to yourself or connections” have been quite s tumbling block and the cause of deprecation among superficial thinkers. It is, however, only superficial thought that is scandalized. There must be some order in the fulfillment of our obligations; and a man has no right to neglect his family in order to wear a jewel of Masonic charity. And giving does not mean just giving cash out of large purse. There is no real gift without the giver feeling it. There are so many different kinds of gifts; some have cash from their pockets, others have advice, encouragement and sympathy from the heart and others again may provide help in some sort of practical work or service.
Our duty to ourselves has two parts; Work and refreshment. Without work, the gifts that we have been given are wasted – the great gifts of talent of mind and body, which have been entrusted to our keeping. The finest steel will rust and lose its temper if it is not used, and the finest intellect will become dulled and the finest muscles waste, if neither is put to use as planned by our Maker. Excess never yet spell efficiency. So refreshment is meant to be enjoyed. Refreshment, like recreation, means nothing if not renewal. The very word “recreation” means creating again; or, in other words, a renewal of our strength and power.
The Chisel is the last of the three working tools of the First Degree, and rightly so, because the chisel should never leave our hand. Our ritual tells us: “the Chisel points out the advantages of education, by which means alone, we are rendered fit members of every civilized society, and is not the advantages of education the whole theme of the Second Degree? We are urged to extend our researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science.
Brother Henderson explains that Science, in that use is the ancient word for knowledge, and education is the acquisition of knowledge, the way to which lies up the Winding Staircase. As the workman, with the aid of a chisel gives form and regularity to the shapeless mass of stone, so education by cultivating ideas and polishing rude thoughts transforms the ignorant savage into the civilized being.
The chisel furthermore demonstrates the advantages of discipline. The mind, like the diamond in its original state is unpolished, but by grinding away the external coat we are able to discover the latent beauty of the stone. Thus, education discovers the latent beauties of the mind and draws them forth to range over the field of matter and space in order to display the summit of human knowledge, our duty to God and man.
And now, the tools of the Second Degree: The Square, Level and the Plumb Rule.
The Square, of course, is one of the most important tools in Freemasonry for, besides being the first working tool of the second degree, it is also the Second Great Light.
The true level is the surface of a fluid at rest, and we shall find the true freemason when we find a man who has passions and desires like his own, but who is master of his own soul, who can endure the worst calamity of misfortune and not become bitter, and who can meet the greatest good fortune and still keep his feet on the ground.
Men differ in nature, heredity and opportunity, but above all, in the ability to make full use of their talents, or to overcome their disabilities. We can all, however, do our best with what we have; the greater a man’s wealth, or the greater his intelligence and ability, then the greater his responsibility. We must work with the full length of our cable tow.
Masonry teaches us equality of regard. On the floor of the Lodge all men are equal and brothers – equal in our regard and brothers in the great brotherhood of men.
The Plumb Rule is the emblem of integrity, and with the man of integrity we can entertain no doubt. We know how he will act, and what he will do, because he stoops to nothing mean or petty. A debt of a few cents is just as sure to be paid as one of a thousand dollars. Where his attendance is expected, there he will be. The man of integrity is ruled by duty and loyalty, and will never take an unfair advantage.
The Plumb Rule consists of a weight hanging freely at the end of a line; the principle that activates it is the influence of gravity. No matter where it is placed, it always points to the centre of the earth. So it is in the spiritual world, but here it points to God.
The man of integrity does not envy the wealth, the power or the intelligence and good fortune of another; nor does he despise those less fortunate than himself. He harbors no avarice, injustice, malice, revenge, nor an envy and contempt of mankind, but hold the scales of justice with equal poise.
A Freemason was once asked, “Why are you a Freemason?”
He replied: “Because I am a Christian. Christ when asked what is the greatest Commandment of all; replied “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and all your soul and your neighbor as yourself”
I attend a place of worship to reinforce my love of God; I attend Lodge because it reinforces my love of my neighbor.”
Brethren, the working tools are there for your perusal; the life lessons enshrined therein are there for your acceptance and practice.
"Rendering Assistance to the Enquiring Man and New Mason"
Brother Joseph R. Curry,
DDGM/District Grand Lodge of The Bahamas, S.C.
Lodge St. Anne's No. 1751
Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
RWM, RWDGM, Distinguished Brethren, Brethren all, good evening.
I wish to thank the RWM for the opportunity to present a paper to the Lodge on this occasion. When invited to do this paper, I was given another topic but reflected on some of the thoughts of the new FCFs while on retreat in Jamaica. At that time, they made the point that there was no structure to their development and maturing as a Mason and that they needed more guidance. Hence, this paper on “Rendering Assistance to the Enquiring Man and New Mason”.
I came to the conclusion that we must get Freemasonry right from the beginning to ensure that the outcome is what we desire. Put another way, if you want to get something right, you must put the means by which the desired outcome would be realized. What do I mean? Simply put the manner in which we attract men to masonry; their impression when they join; what we do to maintain their interest; and ultimately how we help them to develop.
I want to begin with some reflection questions to illuminate my points. How were you introduced to Freemasonry? Who introduced you to Freemasonry? Do you remember the exact occasion and the circumstances? What was your reaction? Were you given anything any information to prepare you? Who mentored you after you were initiated?
Where did you go to get answers to the many questions which you had or have they all been answered?
WHY DO MEN JOIN AND REMAIN MEMBERS
Men become Freemasons for a variety of reasons, some as the result of family traditions, others upon the introduction of a friend or out of a curiosity to know what it is all about. Why did you join? Those who become active members and who grow in Freemasonry do so principally because they enjoy it. Participation in the dramatic presentation of moral lesions and in the working of a Lodge provides a member with a unique opportunity to learn more about himself and encourages him to live in such a way that he will always be in search of becoming a better man. Not better than someone else, but better than he himself would have otherwise be and therefore an exemplary member of society. (Abraham Gyesie).
GUIDELINES TO HELP THE ENQUIRING MAN AND NEW MASON
The Grand Lodge of Scotland (GLOS) provides guidelines to assist Masters and Brethren to deal both with potential new Members and new Masons but are certainly not hard and fast “rules”. They should be used and adapted to deal effectively withthose who express interest in the possibility of joining our Craft and those who have recently joined us.
Some prospective Candidates may have an interest and an insight into the activities of “the Lodge” through family connections but others, while oblivious to who and what we are and do, might from curiosity have a real interest in the Craft. Each man who expresses interest in our Craft deserves our courtesy, sincerity, assistance – and friendship. As each Enquiring Man is a stranger to Freemasonry then,equally, Freemasonry is a stranger to him. If he pursues his interest he will join much more than just “the Lodge.” He will become a member of a wonderful and honourable fraternity with a long and proud history – an Order with a highly advanced system of morals, rules and laws, with rights as well as obligations, with many valuable privileges and corresponding duties and with long established customs, traditions and landmarks which are to be preserved by those who join our number.
Without individual encouragement and development, no man will ever be truly at home in this Society which is Freemasonry. To participate fully, happily and effectively in the life of his Lodge and the joys and benefits of membership he needs meaningful guidance. Any man who pursues his interest in Freemasonry through to membership is entitled to expect his Lodge to provide the assistance, encouragement and information which he will need as he progresses and develops as a Mason. Sadly, because some brethren who join us never receive such support they fall by the wayside – attendances fade away and then stop. Our failure to care for such brethren not only loses valuable members but seriously weakens our Lodges.
Those responsible for the leadership of the Craft are aware that shortcomings in the proper introduction and instruction of potential candidates, by the provision of information, knowledge and assistance, are a serious failure by the Craft itself to discharge fundamental responsibilities. As the years pass, and as the number of Initiates continues to fall, the whole Craft just becomes weaker. All Lodges therefore need to recognize and exercise that care and responsibility which is so obviously required for the ongoing development of our new members.
The member, who is well taught, encouraged and made to feel that he is a valuable and important member of his Lodge will undoubtedly add real strength to the Lodge. He will become a strong link and will cheerfully play his part in forging the future of the Lodge to which he is proud to belong. Every Brother should willingly grasp the opportunity to assist new members. That will go a long way to safeguard the future of the Lodge.
It is strongly recommended that, from the very outset, every opportunity is afforded to the enquiring man to learn about the Craft. If that interest develops, which would become evident when an Application Form is requested or a member is asked a lot of serious questions by an interested gentleman, the Master might well consider the appointment of “Home Visitors” to represent the Lodge so that they can begin to provide meaningful assistance. A Past Master or senior member and an active but relatively new Brother could be indentified to undertake this duty, perhaps along with the Sponsors if they are able to provide real assistance to the interested man. If possible, the young member should be about the same age as the interested man and his more senior colleague should be willing to continue as the “Mentor” if the interest leads to Initiation. The Home Visitors should meet with the man and, if appropriate, with his family and must be prepared to answer, quite openly and responsibly, questions put to them on all aspects of Freemasonry. This informal exchange of views and information will provide an ideal opportunity to establish some important preliminary points such as:-
While the interest of the enquirer may have arisen through Masons known to him, the most important first impressions he will receive of the Lodge and the Craft are likely to be gained from the approach, helpfulness and attitude of the Home Visitors and the assistance they provide.
Irrespective of whether the Lodge opts for “Home Visitors”, and without detracting in any way from the serious responsibilities of the Sponsors, the “Mentor” or “buddy” system is particularly commended. A Past Master or other experienced Brother, carefully chosen, should be well able to fulfill the role of Mentor to the considerable benefit of the potential new member and in the very best interests of the Lodge.
Assuming that the enquiry leads to the submission of an Application for Initiation,prior to the Enquiry Committee meeting the Mentor should meet with the applicant to ensure he is comfortable with the procedure to be followed. The Mentor will reassure the applicant so that he will be at ease during the meeting. The Committee should also ensure that the meeting, while formal, remains friendly and offers a two-way exchange of information.
The Mentor should keep in contact with his candidate and advise him how the ballot will operate. He could informally advise his candidate of the outcome of the ballot, while the Secretary will convey the formal intimation. Assuming a favourable ballot, the Mentor might give an indication of the timetable for the Degrees and should begin to take steps to ensure the candidate is not unreasonably apprehensive about his forthcoming Degrees. Many candidates will have heard the usual “stories” and it is very important for the Mentor to allay unfounded fears, to emphasize that the Degrees are the means of instruction formally adopted by the Craft and that the members of “his” Lodge are privileged to have the opportunity to instruct the candidate in his Degrees. A relaxed, well-prepared candidate will learn infinitely more from his Degrees than an apprehensive candidate whose head has been filled with tall tales, nonsense and misleading information!
Lodge social functions can be very useful to introduce the prospective candidate, and his spouse, to the social activities of the Lodge. The importance and enjoyment of such social activities should be highlighted –but must never be represented as the major focus of the life or functions of the Lodge!
The Mentor should enquire from his candidate if he has any Masonic friends, or relatives who might wish to attend his Initiation, or any of his other Degrees. If so, the Mentor should contact the relevant brethren to extend a warm invitation to visit the Lodge on these very special occasions for the Candidate.
After each Degree, the Mentor should spend time with the new Brother, go over the Degree which he has taken, explain anything which is not clear or may have been misunderstood, and generally gently prepare him for the next Degree. The Mentor should do everything possible to take the Brother to visit other Lodges between and after Degrees and, if the Mentor is unable so to do, he should certainly arrange for other brethren to accompany the new Brother on such visits.
After the Master Mason Degree the new Brother is a “full” member of his Lodge. He needs to know and understand his duties as a Master Mason and the traditional rights, customs and responsibilities which now devolve upon him as a member of the Lodge and the wider Craft. It is vital, after the Third Degree, that the instruction and encouragement of the new Brother should continue, so that he continues to feel he is important to his Lodge, that he is a welcome member and that the Lodge appreciates his support as a full, active Brother. In turn he will be better prepared to help other interested men and new members. The Lodge, perhaps in conjunction with neighbouring Lodges, or perhaps even the Provincial or District Grand Lodge, might usefully sponsor a semi-formal meeting for recently admitted members to share experiences, exchange views and effectively look to the future.
It is particularly important that his Lodge continues to support the new Mason so that he maintains and develops his interest during this most critical period of his Masonic career. With proper guidance and encouragement, he should develop into an active Mason. The importance of an effective, continuing Introduction to the Craft cannot be over emphasized.
THE MENTORING PROGRAMME
The Craft has a responsibility to provide new members with opportunities to meet and interact with others, to help them to do their share, and to provide knowledge about the Fraternity. This requires a mentoring programme and must be a team effort aimed at developing each Brother to his fullest potential. The mentoring programme consists of assigning each Candidate an experienced Brother to act as his Mentor, Educator and Companion, who will be with him throughout the Craft Degrees. He will also be provided with appropriate literature to explain each of the Three Degrees. Many new members do not stay active in the Lodge after the Third Degree because they are not stimulated enough to keep them interested. Usually, it is because many of them do not understand the Fraternity they have just joined. (Abraham Gyesie).
I wish to conclude as I began, with a few reflection questions:
1. Should we be soliciting members? Should they be seeking and coming of their own free will and accord? If so, what is the approach?
2. What is the best method of introducing men to Freemasonry?
3. What is the difference between an Applicant and a Candidate?
4. Who is responsible for the new member?
5. What is the role of Sponsors and when does it begin and end?
6. Who can be a Mentor and should there be Mentors other than Sponsors for the Candidates during his Masonic career?
7. Are Home Visits encouraged for potential candidates or is it too personal in our culture?
8. Is visitation encouraged as a new member?
9. What is the feeling on the District holding sessions on half yearly basis for all EAFs as proposed by the GLOS?
10. Do we do enough to put the Candidate at ease, to prepare him and to ensure that he understands the Degree and its significance?
Thanks to you, once again RWM for this invitation to present this paper. In closing, we must all be open to becoming "MENTORS to the Enquiring Man and the New Mason" to ensure that they enjoy Freemasonry to its fullest.