How Does Masonry Take Good Men and Make Them Better?

M.W. Bro. Allan J. Petrisor, Grand Master (Ontario) at
Winnipeg, March 27th, 2009.

When a man joins Freemasonry, he has no concept of what is about to take place or any real idea what the organization is about.

How do men become better men? I shall try to answer that with the following random thoughts.

The obligations that are taken in the three degrees instill in us a feeling whereby one would not want to violate his oath.

Fraternizing with other like minded brethren keeps us on the straight and narrow. Attending Lodge meetings regularly, learning memory work, planning meetings, sitting on the executive, taking part in the chairs, obligates us to our responsibilities towards the craft in such a way that we have little time for idle thoughts or deeds.

The example set by the brethren that we meet and trying to live up to the expectations of these brethren behooves us to try our best. We do not want to let them down. Through repetition of the ritual and understanding of the work we, just as in reading the Holy Volume, become more aware of what it is to be a Mason and how one should act as Masons.

Our constitution gives us a pattern for living with our neighbours, our lodge members, our families, our God, and a guide to our behaviour within and without the lodge and our civic responsibilities.

We are taught to cultivate brotherly Love.
We are taught that all men are equal.
We believe in the immortality of the soul.

If one takes to heart and into practice all that one learns both in the Ritual and in the Constitution then I feel that gradually one cannot help but become a better person.

When you type in “making good men better” in the Google internet search engine, 9 out of the first 10 hits take you to either an article about Freemasonry or to a Masonic Lodge. The same holds true for the Yahoo search engine.

One of the hits is a video on YouTube. It’s a black background with a grayish-white set of a square, compass and the letter ‘G’. A Gregorian plainsong is quietly sung in the background.

One word appears on the screen then fades to present the next word and then the next, and the next ….and for the next 92 seconds, 19 words are presented. What are some of the words?

HONOUR, LOYALTY, FRIENDSHIP, RESPECT, VALUE, FRATERNITY, EXEMPLARY, ENLIGHTENMENT, TRUTH, CHARITY, FAMILY, KNOWLEDGE, TRADITION.

Brethren, these are some of the words that appear, and are connected to the term “making good men better”. The phrase “making good men better” has long been associated with our gentle craft. But what is a better man?

That, my Brethren, is what Freemasonry attempts to answer and nurture. One who merely passes through the degrees receives little, and will never be a Mason in the truest sense of the word. He must first put something of himself into it, by working at it, studying it, learning its lessons and then put them into practice in his everyday life and actions. He will then begin to receive that for which he began to search as an Entered Apprentice Mason.

By giving of himself, his time, his ability without any kind of fee or reward, a Mason gains many things whether he accepts an office or just works in the lodge.

• He learns how to speak in public,
• He learns how to conduct a meeting,
• He learns how to interact and get along with others,
• He learns reverence for the Great creator,
• He learns how to pray,
• He learns how to walk uprightly and proudly as a Mason,
• He gains a better understanding of human nature, its weaknesses and its strengths under different conditions,
• He makes life long friends,
• He shares in the happiness and sorrows of others,
• He improves his habits, and learns courtesy,
• He practices tolerance with a smile,
• He takes part in teaching others the Masonic way of life and in doing so he has learned more than those he has taught.

Hundreds of lessons have come his way and his life is made richer, better, happier and more satisfying in every way. By upholding the basic tenet of Freemasonry, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,”
he has learned that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

As you know brethren this is how “Masonry Makes a Difference” in a man’s life and how he becomes a better man and the effect shows in our homes, our lodges and in our communities.

A few weeks ago a master mason proposed the toast to the Grand Master and Grand Lodge at one of our major receptions.

He shared that he so wanted to become a Mason that he literally had to stop someone in his car who had a Masonic emblem and that then led to him becoming a Mason. On the night he received his third degree, after the ceremony, he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper with the following poem that he had scribbled on it.

Being a Mason

I approached a man one day
Whom I had never met before
To ask if I can be a Mason
From there, its opened doors

A door that’s opened many facets
That’s helped me through and through
It’s shown me how much I can be
And how much that I can do.

Being a friend, a helper,
Or even a volunteer.
The potentials here are endless
It just depends on where you steer.

If you steer towards pursuit
And involve yourself in more
There’s no telling what will lie ahead
And furthermore, what’s in store.

The pride I have inside a Lodge
Holds true when I’m outside
With the rules that govern this beautiful craft
Forever I will abide.

From Apprentice, to Fellowcraft,
To what I am today
It’s made me stronger as a man
What more, can I say

In my brief time as a Mason
I feel there are no others;
Knowing how many friends I’ve made
How many life long Brothers

Many Brethren have helped me through
There’re so many Brethren to thank
Without their guidance and support
My ship would have sank

-Nick Andras

Brethren, in conclusion, it is not the Masons who make the man better, but the man himself when following Freemasonry’s teachings.
Thank you.

Comment
To anyone who has just read this paper for a first time, may I suggest that they go back
to the very beginning and start all over again. I personally have read it many times & each time I feel even more honoured & privileged to be A Mason.

Have a Wonderful Day & God Bless
Norm