‘Pennsylvania Academy’s plans for October’
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Such Masons are distinguished, not by the amount of knowledge that they possess, but by the number of jewels that they wear. They will give fifty dollars for a decoration, but not fifty cents for a book.Mackey did not let up on his condemnation of this third class as he concluded his article.
These men do great injury to Masonry. They have been called its drones. But they are more than that. They are the wasps, the deadly enemy of the industrious bees. They set a bad example to the younger Masons – they discourage the growth of masonic literature – they drive the intellectual men, who would be willing to cultivate masonic science, into other fields of labor – they depress the energies of our writers – and they debase the character of Speculative Masonry as a branch of mental and moral philosophy.
The Masons who do not read will know nothing of the interior beauties of Speculative Masonry, but will be content to suppose it to be something like Odd Fellows, or the Order of the Knights of Pythias – only, perhaps, a little older. Such a Mason must be an indifferent one. He has laid no foundation for zeal.Oh, how the times never change.
If this indifference, instead of being checked, becomes more widely spread, the result is too apparent. Freemasonry must step down from the elevated position which she has been struggling, through the efforts of her scholars, to maintain, and our lodges, instead of becoming resorts for speculative and philosophical thought, will deteriorate into social clubs or mere benefit societies.
Freemasonry is a charitable, benevolent, educational and religious society. Its principles are proclaimed as widely as men will hear.The General Regulations of 1721 touched on another possible answer in Regulation I.
Through the improvement and strengthening of the character of the individual man, Freemasonry seeks to improve the community. Thus it impresses upon its members the principles of personal righteousness and personal responsibility, enlightens them as to those things which make for human welfare, and inspires them with that feeling of charity, or good will, toward all mankind which will move them to translate principle and conviction into action.
To that end, it teaches and stands for the worship of God; truth and justice; fraternity and philanthropy; and enlightenment and orderly liberty, civil, religious and intellectual. 1
…whereby Masonry becomes the center of union, and the means of conciliating true friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance. 2Another hint to a possible answer to the “purpose” question can be found in Albert G. Mackey’s Landmarks.
XXII. That all men in the sight of God are equal, and meet in the Lodge on one common level. 3These quotes touch upon the ideals of the Fraternity as are displayed to the public. But what of the esoteric purpose that so many Freemasons search for? Those purposes exist – but only in a format that requires the individual Mason to find them for himself. No article or book can explain this aspect of Freemasonry or provide the answers. Those possible esoteric answers to the “purpose” question are buried deep within the secrecy of the Fraternity and require intense self study to be discovered. Such self study ultimately leads to different conclusions or answers to the question – as has now been mentioned thrice in this article. The individual Freemason may be able to glean some insight into the esoteric purpose of the Fraternity by way of discussions with experienced and knowledgeable Brothers but – ultimately – it is up to the individual to discover these answers for himself.
Our society today is one of casual to less than casual dress and it has made its way into our Honorable Institution. So much so, our Fraternity in South Carolina has lost much of its dignity and decorum. As I visit various Masonic functions across our Grand Jurisdiction, I observe many of our Brethren wearing forms of dress, which I find not only to be inappropriate but also unacceptable such as t-shirts, tank-tops, shorts, jeans, overalls, no socks and open toed shoes. Freemasonry is not a club for “good old boys” and we should not be dressed as if it is. I firmly believe unacceptable dress will lead to unacceptable manner. It all goes hand-in-hand with each other.
Your Grand Lodge Officers are the leadership of Freemasonry in our state. I deem it our responsibility to set the standard in all aspects of the Fraternity for all other Masons. As to the standard of dress, they were informed unless they hear otherwise, they are required to be dressed in a coat and tie at any and all Masonic related functions. Blue Lodge Officers are the leadership of their Lodge members and, likewise, should be setting a higher standard for their members.
With these thoughts in mind, I encourage you while attending all Masonic related meetings such as Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shrine, Eastern Star, Amaranth, Masters’ and Wardens’ Club, Square and Compass Club, Past Masters’ Club, Rainbow, DeMolay, as well as Grand Lodge and Blue Lodge, to be appropriately dressed. Our personal appearance, attire and attitude will broadcast the message to others of our devotion, pride and respect toward the Fraternity and aid in setting the tone of our meetings. It is my belief, over time, this action will influence others to pause and reflect upon their own dress and act accordingly. If you are a Past Grand Lodge Officer, you as well should be helping to set the example. Being a Past Grand Lodge Officer does not relieve you from your responsibilities. Once you have served Grand Lodge in any capacity you always belong to the Grand Lodge Family.
One Brother has this to say concerning dress, “It is the internal and not the external qualifications of man that Masonry regards…That phrase is intended to be a leveler, to say that Freemasonry regards no man for his wealth or goods but for his internal qualities, his morality, his integrity, his sense of justice; qualities that can exist in an unemployed day laborer and the highest paid CEO in equal measure. Unfortunately, what it has become is an excuse. Apologia for slovenliness borne of the cursed notion that jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are appropriate attire for attendance at a gentleman’s organization, the odd idea that no one, not even you, should care how you look. Freemasonry is not intended to be a lowest common denominator group. It is a society of gentlemen created for our mutual encouragement and uplift, to become better.”
I ask, Brethren, that you will make a commitment to improve your personal dress so as to demonstrate to others you have a renewed pride in our Fraternity. I ask you to join me in raising the bar of our dress and appearance while attending Masonic related functions. At times it will be inconvenient. At others it will be bothersome. At still other times it will be uncomfortable. But remember, “Our Focus is on Quality.” Will you step forward? Will you join me? Will you help raise the bar? Will you help promote a higher standard? Think about it, my Brethren. Will you require of and for yourself a higher level of respect for Freemasonry?
As we leave Thanksgiving and enter into the more Sacred Season of Christmas and Hanukkah, Gail and I wish for all of you and your families, safety and security and a renewed faith in God and your fellowman.
May God continue to bless America and our great Fraternity and may the blessings of Heaven rest upon you and your families.
Barry A. Rickman