Fidelity & When is a Man a Mason?
Fidelity Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
Faithful . The quality of being faithful
Fidelity Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Albert G. Mackey (1917)
In the lecture in the first degree , it is said that “our ancient brethren worshipped deity under the name of Fides of Fidelity, which was sometimes represented by two right hands joined, and sometimes by two human figures holding each other by the right hands”
The deity here referred to was the goddess Fides, to whom Numa first erected Temples, and whose priests were covered by a white veil as a symbol of the purity which should characterize Fidelity.
No victims were slain on her altars, and no offerings were made to her except flowers, wine and incense. Her statues were represented clothed in a white mantle, with a key in her hand and a dog at her feet. The virtue of Fidelity is, however, frequently symbolized in ancient medals by a heart in an open hand, but more usually by two right hands clasped.
Horace calls her ‘incorrupta fides”( non corruptible) and makes her the sister of Justice ; while Cicero says that that which is religion towards God and piety toward our parents is Fidelity towards our fellow men
There was among the Romans another deity called Fidius, who presided over oaths and contracts, and it is said that there was an ancient marble at Rome, consecrated to the God Fidius, on which was depicted two figures clasping each other’s hands as the representatives of Honour & Truth, without which there can be no Fidelity not truth among men. Masonry, borrowing it’s ideas from the ancient poets, makes the right hand the symbol of Fidelity.
Personally I have not witnessed the Lecture in the First Degree referred to in this quote, however, that does not mean that it has not, at one time or another, been presented. I would be very interested in knowing if any reader has witnessed same and where. Regarding Mackey’s treatment of the word Fidelity, I can only comment that I can now see where some of the accepted customs we see in practice every day may have come from. The White Veil frequently worn by brides offers one such example.
When is a Man a Mason?
Taken from “The Builders” A Story and Study of Freemasonry by Joseph Fort Newton, Litt.D. (First Edition 1914) Part of page 288 and all of 289.
“When is a man a Mason”? When he can look out over the rivers, the hills and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith and courage, which is the root of every virtue.
When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic and as lonely as himself; and seeks to know, to forgive and to love his fellow man.
When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea even in their sins- knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds.
When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them and above all, how to keep friends with himself.
When he loves flowers, can hunt birds without a gun and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child.
When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life.
When star-crowned trees and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead.
When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response.
When he finds good in every faith that helps a man to lay hold of divine things and see the majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be.
When he can look into a wayside puddle and sees something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn fellow mortal and see something beyond sin.
When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope.
When he has kept faith with himself, with his God ; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song; glad to live, but not to die!!.
Such a man has found the only secret of Freemasonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the World”