New Master Masons

Text of an address given by R.W.Bro. George Power
 to
New Master Masons within the Province of Antrim

Brethren, First let me congratulate you on your good fortune in becoming a Master Mason. You have entered an Order which can provide you with a much fuller life, an opportunity to make more special friends. I dread to imagine how narrow and less interesting my life would have been without Freemasonry. I hope that you will find the same pleasure and satisfaction. 

However, you must make the effort. The benefits will not come to you.

When you were presented for your Degree you were described as having a 'desire for knowledge'. Your Degrees were merely the entrance to Freemasonry. Now you have to make the effort to gain that knowledge.

Just like a person must apply for entry to University. They do the Matriculation exam; and it is only when admitted to the University that the real work and study begins. You can imagine that if someone entered University, but never read a book or attended a lecture there would be no chance of gaining the University Degree. One might be inclined to ask, "Why did they join in the first place?"

I can hear someone say. "Yes, I'm a member of a lodge, but I don't seem to get much out of it. I go, of course, but I take no part in it. A lot of brethren seem to get much more out of it than I do. I wonder why."

That brother could find the answer to his question by looking in a mirror. He is the one who 'belongs' but makes no effort either to integrate himself with masonry, or to become really a part of his Lodge.

In giving the three Degrees, the lodge has done all it can by giving proper instruction in the ritual, and how to visit other lodges. During the progress of the Degrees you were the focus of attention, you were material being formed, you were a rough ashlar being made perfect. Once raised, and belonging to the lodge, it is up to you to make the lodge belong to you. But you cannot be a good lodge member until you are a good mason; the first part of your difficulty is to find the way to a knowledge of what Masonry really is.

It is many things to many men. To some it is but a pleasant gathering of good friends; to others it is a way of life. To some it is philosophy. To many it is an opportunity for service. But to all it is a brotherhood, and it is obvious that no one can expect others to be brethren to him who cannot or will not be a brother to them. Brotherhood is not one-sided, half hearted, a one-way street.

As I have already indicated today there are many ways of increasing your knowledge of Freemasonry - reading, internet, etc. - and by learning the symbolism and applying it to your lives you will feel and be better men. Indeed you have probably heard it said that Freemasonry's purpose is to 'make good men better'.

I suggest that you pay attention to all that goes on in the ritual of the Lodge, because it is all symbolic. Find out the lesson, the symbolism. Just like the parable of the sower. The story was told, but the meaning had to be explained later.

Each of you will no doubt have a different interest in the Order. Some may find its long history attractive - the oldest fraternal universal organisation in the world. Others may be impressed by the various Temples throughout the world. They are most impressive, especially if you visit them, but now of course you can read of them and see details on the Internet. When visiting such Temples as New York, San Francisco, Pennsylvania, you will be really impressed, and also proud to belong to such an organisation.

Freemasonry is a story of Life. Its teaching represents the complete life of man.

The First Degree symbolises Birth. The candidate is ignorant, helpless. He is assisted by others more experienced. He sees the Light. Light and labour are our heritage.

The Second Degree symbolises Life. We seek after knowledge, we ask questions How? What? Who? Where? When? Why? The candidate is encouraged to grow, to find, to learn, to labour, to assist others, to support the Charities. He is full of energy, hopes, and ambitions. But he must make the effort.

The Third Degree symbolises Death. The final problem of the human soul is a dissolution of the hopes, assurances, ambitions of life. The greatest gift Freemasonry can give is the confidence to face Death (as Hiram Abiff did) to assure its members that the Volume of the Sacred Law contains the Will of God. Man must die to reach Immortality.

Freemasonry helps man to master the art of living together, whereby men of many races, many faiths, can dwell in mutual respect and goodwill. This was obvious in India where Kipling was a Lodge Secretary. In that Lodge there were several religions, and several volumes of their Sacred Law lay on the Altar. When Kipling joined the Lodge he was entered by a Hindu, passed by a Mohammedan, and raised by an Englishman. The Tyler was an Indian Jew. All laboured together in perfect harmony.

Again I have circulars of a Lodge under the Grand Lodge of Israel. The lodge is composed of Jews and Arabs, and recently the Worshipful Master was an Arab.

Sadly, such relationship does not always exist; but Masons should make greater effort to attain it.

A mason who looks more deeply into the symbolic structure of the ritual, will find that as he does so the Craft becomes richer and more relevant until, at last, it provides direction in every aspect of his life.

You are now in that stage full of life and enthusiasm, as described in the second Degree, and I would urge you to take advantage of every opportunity to be part of the life of the Order in general and your lodge in particular.

Visit other lodges. Visit sick members of your lodge, even if you do riot know them, that is brotherhood in practice. To visit a sick brother will give him great pleasure and also give you much satisfaction.

Read some Masonic books; this should not be a task, but a pleasure. Even a Masonic encyclopedia gives much knowledge and reference.

Books on such subjects as history, jurisprudence, symbolism, ritual will open a new world of interest.

The more learning you have the more you will enjoy your membership, and you will be in a better position to become a vital part of your lodge. Your lodge needs and will be glad of your help in many ways. But Masonry makes no demands; it provides opportunities, it gives you a key to a door, opens a path to your feet but you are not forced to open the door or follow the path. Freemasonry beckons; you may follow or not as you please.

I recommend that you take part in Degree work. It will give you great personal satisfaction, as well as being helpful to the lodge.

Pay attention to the ritual and working of the lodge, because you are on the way to office, and by the time you reach the Chair you should be familiar with all aspects.

Masonry is a progressive science, and you would be recommended to join a Royal Arch Chapter. For this you would first receive the Mark Degree. Again the ritual and symbolism are a continuation of the Craft working and are further inspiring.

Further than the Royal Arch Degree in Ireland there is the Council of Knight Masons - the highest of the Irish Degrees.

Members of Royal Arch may become Knights Templar and proceed to further Degrees, but these are limited in numbers, and membership is by invitation.

I hope that you Master masons will continue to be enthusiastic in Masonry, and that you will find some of its aspects of great interest.

To me when I joined over 56 years ago, my great impression was the symbolism. This was impressed on me by my instructor at the time. It intrigued me to find that with numbers in Masonry we must generally use odd numbers. The study of numbers through the ages is interesting and we find that odd numbers are used in masonry because even numbers denoted earthly or material things, while odd numbers were revered as of divine or heavenly truths - such as we have in masonry. The study of numbers through Hebrew and Greek history maintains this principle. Hence we find Roman Temples and religious buildings were always approached by an odd number of steps.

In our everyday language the influence of Masonic symbolism can be found. For example we refer to a 'square deal', 'upright character', 'on the level'. Also we talk about our chequered existence - referring to life as represented by the black and white squares on the chequer board and on the floor covering of most lodge rooms - representing the joys and sorrows, the successes and failures, the happiness and sadness of life.

Another interesting aspect of masonry is the opportunity for collecting Masonic jewels, stamps, first-day covers, and other such items.:

But whatever your interest I would appeal to every brother to become involved; Masonic activity is voluntary, but the pleasure is very rewarding.

As Master masons you remind me of a third Degree which l witnessed in Bolivia, South America some years ago. The candidate was told that he was a new link in the universal chain of masonry, and quite an impressive lecture was given on how the strength of a chain is the strength of its weakest link. To symbolise the new link the brethren made a circle in, the lodge room with linked arms, and at a certain stage the newly raised brother was brought in to be part of the circle. He was encouraged to maintain the strength of the chain.

Brethren, you are newly raised Master masons. I hope you all will have an enjoyable time in the Order, attend your lodge, take an active part, attend Provincial and Grand Lodge meetings. But as I have already said, it is your choice; you must decide for yourselves.

George Power

November 2001