The idea that funerals are for the living and not for the recently departed is not one invented by me. The deceased have gone on to their just rewards and need not the physical manifestations of a funeral. For the loved ones that are left behind, however, the funeral provides a vehicle on the path of closure and is an important part of the grieving process. In many ways and despite the sad nature of what necessitated them, funerals can sometimes serve as an inspiration to the living.
Most people are no stranger to the religious inspiration that often results from attending a funeral. For Masons, however, there is another, additional type of inspiration that can come from a funeral and is certainly evident when a Mason dies and is buried with Masonic Rites – something I recently witnessed again.
The second line signer of my petition for the Degrees passed away this past Monday and was buried with military honors and Masonic Rites on this past Thursday. I initially dreaded attending the funeral for – I imagine – the same reason many people dread funerals. We do not like to face death and funerals force us to face that thing which will come for all of us one day.
In my recently departed Brother’s case, he led a long and full life and – when death came for him – he went to the afterlife quickly and without suffering. My Brother had many lofty titles associated with Freemasonry and the associated bodies of the Order, but what happened immediately after his passing and at his funeral tells more about him and his Fraternity than can a list of those titles.
Within an hour of my Brother’s death, the network that connects Masons over great distances was alive with the sad news. Knowing his love for the institution, some of the very first people contacted by his widow were members of the Fraternity.
The number of properly clothed Masons in attendance at the funeral were too numerous to count and they included our Grand Lodge’s sitting Grand Master, our sitting Senior Grand Warden, three Past Grand Masters, numerous current and past District Deputy Grand Masters, sitting and Past Masters, and many other Masons. Many of these men travelled many hours to attend the service, which was held in a very rural corner of our State.
The atmosphere of fraternity was so thick that you could almost reach out and touch it. The pastor that conducted the service was also a member of the Craft and had actually been attracted to Freemasonry in large part due to the influence and example of the man that he now preached over. The Masonic Rites were delivered in a very solemn and dignified manner by one of the best ritualists in the Grand Jurisdiction.
When it was all over, I left the grave side with inspiration – not dread. In addition to the inspiration gained from reviewing my deceased Brother’s trials, tribulations, and achievements in life; I was inspired in a fraternal way. I was reinvigorated about Freemasonry and my appreciation of the meaning of Brotherly Love was reaffirmed and bolstered.
Thank you – my Brother – for letting me be at your funeral. Even in death, you continue to serve the Fraternity.