The Ritual is not the Main Thing
By Rabbi E. Geffen, 32d, F.P.S. Masonic Light – 1949
There are many Masons who know nothing about the morality of Masonry, or what their duties are, for the reason that they are only interested in the ritual.
The ritual is only a small part of Masonry; and steps should be taken to call the attention of the Craftsman to the morality of the Craft, and to what their duties as good and true Masons are, and the nature and extent of their obligations.
The ritual is undoubtedly not to be neglected, in as much as it is the medium through which we acquire our lessons of symbolism, by translating the mystical in the real conduct of life.
The ritual is also important, because by its means we separate ourselves from the rest of the world, and obtain the means of mutual recognition. But it is, after all, the weakest part of Masonry.
The ritual alone will no more make a true Mason than manual exercise will make a true soldier.
The moral and intellectual teachings of the Order – its intention as a great religious institution, occupied in the search after Divine Truth, should always engage the attention of the Masonic student, and form a prominent part of his studies
We unfortunately, know too many Masons who are completely ignorant of the history, the nature, the design and the true symbolism of the Order, as if they had never entered within its portals, regardless that they are familiar with the exact phraseology of the ritual. Masonry has its science and its literature, and to these the attention of the Masonic student should be directed. The ritual is its alphabet.
A knowledge of it is, therefore, it is true, necessary to a full comprehension of its language; but he who has gone no further than the alphabet, however competent he may be to instruct others in the same rudiments, can hardly discharge the duty of a teacher of the science. Such ritualists, who do not know the history and morality of our Order, are like some ignorant servitor in a public library, who can readily point out the shelf or spot occupied by every book, and even give from memory a correct rendition of its title-page, and yet who knows no more concerning the intellectual treasures contained within its locked leaves than the binder who put them together.
It is time that Masons should come to the conclusion and realize that something more than a mere knowledge of the words of a ritual are necessary to make a “bright” Mason or a competent teacher in Masonry.
This paper speaks eloquently in support of the concept in place on my Letterhead.
“If you know the WHY you can always find the HOW”
How many times have we observed an officer of the Lodge attempting to communicate a piece of Ritual of which. for whatever reason, he has little or no knowledge or talent in delivery.
It is indeed an unfortunate scene in that it inevitably proves to be an embarrassment to the Officer and a source of confusion to the Candidate.
Why do Lodges do these things??? Surely compromises are possible to allow the officer to concentrate on his strengths with the support of the Lodge and all involved benefit from the outcome.
Have a wonderful day & God Bless Norm