It is my privilege to bring you the warm fraternal greetings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New Hampshire. What a great honor the Masons of New Hampshire have bestowed upon me by allowing me to represent them. When thinking back of the great men and Masons who have served in this position through the ages, one cannot help but be humbled by picking up this storied mantle.
My Brethren and friends, it has been said for a number of years now, by Masons everywhere, that our Fraternity is experiencing a renaissance, and that we, as the current holders of the long Masonic legacy, have been handed a great opportunity. We stand here today, in 2013, with the world open to us, and the ability to steer Freemasonry for generations to come. How to start?….The question we all ask, to so many responses.
Certainly, we must ask ourselves how Freemasonry has not only existed, but succeeded for so long, when so many other worthy organizations have been left in the mists of history. How has the world perceived us, as we have traversed the changes in society through these ages? And how can we have an impact on that perception now and for those who will follow in our footsteps?
Much has been written by men and Masons, far more studied and erudite than I, concerning the impact of our Fraternity on the world around us. But I know this….I know that the night I was made a Master Mason, the hands that reached out to take mine were filled with the voices of centuries of Masonic Principles and beliefs. Not secrets – not mysteries. Those hands reached out to me because I was Mason, and for no other reason. They were the hands of many Brethren I had never met, and who knew me only from my traveling through my Degrees. And the voices that I heard as each hand grasped mine were resounding and have reverberated inside me every day since. In time, I learned more about what those voices were saying, and today, they are words I repeat often, to whomever will allow me the time. I believe in my heart they are truly the keys to what the world believes to be our secrets and mysteries.
Friendship, Morality, Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth and Charity. In that instance, when my hand was grasped by that of one Brother after another, those words were communicated to me as surely as if they had been shouted from a rooftop or etched in stone. Can these words define Masonry? Can they define Masonic pride? Yes, my Brethren, they absolutely can!
If we lock ourselves in rooms and debate for hours on what we can do to be sure that Freemasonry remains relevant, we can emerge with no better plan or answer than is contained in these words. Friendship, Morality, Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth and Charity. They were relevant from the beginning of time. They were relevant at the building of King Solomon’s Temple, They were relevant at the construction of the great cathedrals. They were relevant in a tavern in 1717. They were relevant through wars and peace. They are relevant now, and they will be relevant as long as mankind exists. Our job is made easy when we understand that.
The challenge then becomes to be sure our hands reach out to others – that they hear in our grasps that same refrain. Reach out to your loved ones, your Brethren, your friends, your neighbors. Never assume they don’t need you. All of us have fallen in our lives, and have needed that hand to get back up. Offer that hand without condition. Offer it to the Brother who has been sitting next to you in Lodge for 25 years. Offer it to the Brother you have never met and is retired 2500 miles away. Offer it to the candidate who is slowly having the light of Masonry revealed to him.
Offer it to our Masonic military veterans who have sacrificed for us without a second thought. Offer it to the widows of Masons. Reach out your hand Brethren. In doing so, you are defining relevance and defining Freemasonry. We can study our histories, and discuss the interpretation of our Rituals. But the reason we have come so far, and are still the greatest Fraternity in the history of mankind, lies within these words and actions. Reach out and let everyone feel those truly Masonic virtues of Friendship, Morality, Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth and Charity.
I cannot describe the anticipation with which I look forward to working with each of you in the coming term. I will answer as many invitations as I possibly can. You have been my friends and Brothers for so long, and the prospect of serving you in our Grand Lodge is as spiritually uplifting as anything I can imagine. We, all of us together, gave ourselves this tremendous gift of Freemasonry. Now it is up to us to perform the greatest act of unselfishness we can with that gift. Share it. Share it and it will come back to you in multitudes.
I ask you to join with me, My Brethren….reach out and share the gift.
In Brotherly Love and Friendship,
Stewart L. Aronson