Taken from a talk presented by R.W. Bro. Don Wakelyn, St Andrews Lodge # 49, Victoria BC. to the Victoria Lodge of Education & Research on February 15th, 1980. & amended for “The Educator” by V.W. Bro. Norman McEvoy.
Brethren, during the past few weeks I have attended several Lodges on the occasion of the Annual Official visits.
In most cases the Lodge officers involved have presented the First or Entered Apprentice Degree as the work of the evening and, I might add, in a very excellent manner. There is a portion in the ritual of the First Degree just after the obligation where the candidate is asked: “What, in your present situation, is the predominant wish of your heart?” Of course the answer is “Light”.
Really Brethren, this “Light in Masonry” must be considered the purpose of our Freemasonry, that is the search for Masonic Light as it affects each of us as individuals.
Masonry becomes a stereotyped repetition of ritualistic work, without meaning, if we do not continue our search for light or, in other words, the continuing search for knowledge of ourselves, our family, our community and our Craft.
This lack of desire to continue this search really, I believe, is the major reason why many brethren do not attend their Lodges. They have not found a challenge, or a will to continue their search for knowledge.
I am sure that I can speak for most brethren present at this Education Meeting this evening by saying that you achieve great satisfaction on each visit to a Lodge, be it your own or some other, to learn something new about the craft. It may only be the satisfaction of establishing in your mind, the significance of a single word or phrase in the ritual as it applies to your life. It may show as well that you have and are continuing your search for light and that you are not satisfied to lie dormant at the present level of your particular knowledge of its teachings.
This desire or will to continuously search for light can only be maintained, however, if there continues to be good instruction within the Lodge itself:-
Here the Worshipful Master and his officers must accept some responsibility to duly instruct the candidate, and, through this , continue to educate the Lodge members generally.
The degree of sincerity and understanding put into their ritualistic work by each officer will set the tone of this learning process for the brethren assembled:-
It is imperative that we maintain a high level of work to achieve this goal.
This responsibility to provide an atmosphere conducive to the search for knowledge does not solely rest with the officers. It is the duty of each Mason to assist in the instruction of his fellow masons particularly those in the early degrees or, for that matter, to those who possess less knowledge of the Craft but who desire further information.
In the Entered Apprentice Degree, the first object to be observed by the Candidate after he receives light for the first time in his Masonic career, is the Volume of the Sacred Law, and, I would quote to you from the 1975 Yearbook of the Grand Lodge or Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland so kindly provided to me by Brother Tom Hammond, who, I believe you all know, hails from that Grand Land, and I quote:
“Masonic ritual represents, among other things, a pilgrimage begun in gloom and ended in glory. Man from infancy turns from darkness to seek the light, to seek more light, to seek further light. Light is a fundamental requirement for the health of his body, the well-being of his mind, the welfare of his soul. This inborn craving for light is a simple fact of human experience. Freemasonry has made of it a keystone for that vast arch of Allegory, symbol and rite which supports the Fraternity’s whole superstructure. The Volume of the Sacred Law has come to be the chief symbol of that light; there are others, but this is the most important of all.” Unquote.
Now, Brethren, we all realize that much is to be learned from the rituals of the three Degrees and from the Volume of the Sacred Law. What we learn from these sources can be reinforced by regular attendance at lodge communications.
There are many, within our ranks, who have discontinued their search for light from these sources and have contented themselves to continue their search outside the doors of our Lodge rooms. We can all hope that they are continuing their search for knowledge of themselves in their daily lives, and that their searching is based on the teachings they once observed in the Lodge room as well as from the contents of the Volume of the Sacred Law.
Your contribution to their education lies in your ability to encourage their return to periodic visits to the lodge for reinforcement of our basic precepts.
There are, however, in our Lodge rooms many apparent discrepancies in our methods of instructing our candidates and instilling new or renewing old desires for knowledge within the Brethren who regularly attend lodge activities.
There is an apparent lack of knowledge about those factors contributing to the modern day operation of each lodge and of Grand Lodge in particular. To emphasize this statement, I would ask–few simple questions and would hope that each individual would assess their own understanding of the answer
:- each brother must, of course, provide his own answer based on his own experience and the degree to which he is in search of light.
Have the officers of the Lodge provided information to the Brethren re the services provided within our Jurisdiction?
For example: What is the Grand Lodge Benevolent Fund? How do you apply for assistance? Who is eligible to receive assistance? Of even greater interest to many Brethren with young families would be a summary of the activities of the Grand Lodge Bursary Fund and how it operates as well as who is eligible to receive such funds. A short talk from material contained in Grand Lodge Reviews would bring us up-to-date with Freemasonry universally.
These reviews are available from the Grand Secretary and can be obtained upon request.
There are many ways that we can, and should, develop our programs to provide regular instruction to the Brethren in our Lodges:-
There are also excellent opportunities for each and every Mason to use the services available to increase their personal knowledge of Craft masonry:- Here I refer to the Masonic Library in which is contained untold volumes of masonic teachings and philosophies.
So you can see, my Brethren, that our continuous search for light, while certainly obstructed to some degree by the lack of instruction within our Lodge Rooms, is still really a matter for each mason to assess and apply each in his own way. He must apply the teachings available in the ritualistic work to his own use and should request instruction in other aspects of the Craft not readily available through the degrees.
Every Mason is expected to be a man of sound judgment and, as such, he should have opinions on every matter of importance which may arise in his Lodge. Furthermore he should have the courage, when the opportunity presents itself, to express that opinion frankly and without rancor or bitterness.
When we receive our Entered Apprentice Degree we may be considered to be a Kindergarten Mason:- If we do not continually search for Light, we merely remain a Master Mason in name only and really never pass from the kindergarten stage.
Are you a kindergarten Freemason?? Thank you, Brethren.
To the Brethren reading this paper may I explain that my purpose in sharing it with you is to, (in my opinion), attempt to compare Masonic Education of over 40 years ago, with what and how we are sharing today.
Are we, at the Lodge level, making a strong enough effort to assist our brethren, new and old, to a better understanding of the messages provided in our Rituals??? OR are we leaving them to fend for themselves??? I am in no position to personally attempt to answer that question.
To sum up, with The Educator, I feel blessed in that
“I love what I do & Do what I Love”
Have a wonderful Day & God Bless