It is with deep regret that I must inform you that the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire, originally to be held on May 16, 2020, is hereby postponed.
This is the first time in the recorded history of our Grand Jurisdiction that such an action is taken. However, it is taken in response to the continuing circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 crisis and out of an abundance of caution and concern for the health and safety of our Masonic family.
Details of our rescheduled Annual Communication will be communicated in due time.
Be safe, my Brethren. Freemasonry, notwithstanding, still survives.
The notice of the Grand Master’s order is available here.
Kenneth A. Clay, Jr.
Originally written and presented by Right Worshipful Brother Christopher J. Busby in 2017.
Brethren, I am here to speak with you on the only aspect of Freemasonry I genuinely know anything about: my personal experience with and feelings about our noble Craft. My goal is to provide you with a unique perspective. My hope is that you hear something tonight that resonates with you. My dream is that you are driven to improve your personal Masonic experience and that of the Brethren of your Lodge.
Like most men who join our Craft, I knew relatively little about Freemasonry beyond her outer nature. My stated reasons for joining may sound familiar to some of you: I wished to affiliate myself with an organization of immense history; one deeply tied to an ancient philosophical ancestry; one whose membership has included some of the world’s greatest men. I wished to become a part of something truly greater than myself.
There are deeper and more personal motivations that compelled me to pursue this journey.
I came to Freemasonry as a lost soul. I never belonged to any organization of substance either as a child or as an adult. I never felt like I fit in… anywhere… ever. After 33 years of life, I had lived in 6 states. I met my Floridian wife in Texas and together had our children in Massachusetts and California. My roots had withered. I had lost connection to my family, and I did not know who I was. I was searching for answers; searching for a home.
The whole thing could be viewed as a cosmic fluke, but which I have since come to regard as no accident. One to which this Lodge is inexorably linked. In the late 90s, as a lover of history and due to that search for self, I embarked upon research into my genealogy. I found that my 3rd-Great-Grandfather, James Busby, was a Freemason and a member of Union Lodge No. 10.
In my research, I later found that my Great-Great Grandfather, James Holburn, a tailor, was also a member of Union and his Grandson, my first cousin twice removed, Dr. Hugh S. Holburn, a dentist in Pawtucket for decades, was Past Master of Barney Merry Lodge No. 29 and Past Potentate of Rhode Island Shrine.
What did a tradesman, a mill worker, and a dentist find in common through Freemasonry? What does their membership communicate about their characters? I was compelled to find out.
When I started, I began literally blind to what Freemasonry really was; and it took me a decade to act on. I did so when I needed to; when I thought I was ready. Freemasonry called to me – or rather (and I do believe this) my ancestors called to me using the Craft as a vehicle. I had begun establishing connections that time and even death could not destroy.
Finally, from December 2008 to May 2009, I was Entered, Passed and Raised. And then, only 4 months later, I found myself wholly questioning Freemasonry and seriously considering leaving.
The Fraternity that I hoped would be vibrant, deeply meaningful, and warm, was dreary, indifferent, and boring. Meetings generally consisted of nearly all business and were nearly devoid of substance. The men that were there may have been Brothers in Masonry, but they weren’t each other’s friends. I don’t in any way mean this to insult the Masons of my Lodge. This was simply the unfortunate turn that our Lodge had taken after many lean and challenging years.
Personally and Fraternally, I did not feel mentored or cared for, nor did I know what to do next. Frustrated, during one meeting, I arose and asked a question that had been nagging at my mind: “What are we doing here?”. I simply could not reconcile the historic, deeply meaningful ancient Fraternity that I had heard about in our ritual with the one that I now entered.
That question ended up being rhetorical. I don’t recall receiving a substantive answer. Frankly, the few Brothers in attendance that evening simply stared at me, taken completely off-guard. However, the sheer act of speaking my thoughts aloud activated me. And by speaking this question aloud, I felt oddly obligated to continue.
I sought advice. The advice I most received turned out to be the most impactful things I could do as a young Mason: I began traveling and I began reading. I engaged in many surprisingly long, late-night parking lot conversations. This led me to start investigating further and during several “Eureka” moments, I realized that I was not alone.
I began to have a sense as to what would have improved the formative period of my Masonic journey. My experience has been limited, but here is what I’ve come to believe.
How we think and talk about the Craft
What is the one phrase that we most use when describing Masonry? “Freemasonry makes good men better”. I cringe every time I hear it. It is very well-intentioned, and I accept that in an era of shortened attention spans and lowered expectations, we need quick-hit marketing snippets. Nevertheless, I believe this statement belies a fundamental problem in not only the way we discuss the Craft to the Profane but the value that we place on our Fraternity.
The distinction is subtle but crucial. To me, the statement suggests that simply becoming a Mason will improve you – that the initiate can remain passive and somehow be transformed by the Fraternity. This passivity is often suggested in the example we set as Brothers.
I offer this as an alternative: “Through the study of her history and contemplation of her ritual and symbols, Freemasonry is a spiritual and philosophical system which, when properly applied, provides men with a framework upon which to improve themselves and their world.”
A bit more complex, but gives the listener a little more to chew on, doesn’t it?
Brethren, the answers we give the profane do not have to be simple and mundane. Look deeply within yourself to find what Freemasonry truly means to you. How we portray ourselves has a direct correlation on the types of men we attract, and therefore to the continued perpetuation of our Lodges.
What makes a good candidate?
When I am asked what qualities a man should possess in order to be a good Mason, I simply reply that he must be a “seeker”. The specific thing that he seeks is unimportant. Good candidates have the desire to discover answers to very profound and personal questions. In fact, the petitioner may have absolutely no clue what he’s looking for. It is through the Masonic journey that some questions are answered, but many, many others are illuminated. What is initially sought may be completely transformed 1, 5, 10 years along the path. I suggest that good candidates; indeed, good Masons accept that their knowledge is limited by their experiences; and continually maintain a child-like openness to new ideas.
That said, I believe that we must admit that Freemasonry is not, and should never be, for all men. Masonry is not a path for the lazy or those that wish to remain comfortable in their well-established beliefs, and it is not for the short-sighted, the vein, or the shallow.
That said, how many of you have signed the petition of a man that you’ve just met that night? I’ve done it, and when I did, I failed both the man and the Lodge.
These petitioners are obliged to earn your trust and you are equally obliged to know them. Put the correct value on your recommendation, your Lodge, and the Craft. If you sign a man’s petition, you must be willing to be his constant companion and guide throughout this Masonic Journey.
When it comes to men that wish to join us: question their motivations, challenge their expectations, and be honest in telling them that the path isn’t easy.
I’ve heard it said that modern men (which I take to mean those of my generation and younger) simply don’t have the time to make the effort to memorize lessons, learn ritual, or event to regularly attend meetings. This, my friends, is an excuse and a lowering of our standards.
Freemasonry isn’t “just one night a month”; it is a lifelong commitment. Men are expected to be engaged, not only in the communications of their Lodge but to be active in their very personal pursuit of Light and by supporting other Masons in their journeys.
The Role of Ritual
Once we have the right type of man and we have set the right expectations, when do we leave the most lasting impression on him?
I have heard Brethren say that Masonry is and is not the ritual.
I believe they’re both correct.
Masonry is our ritual because that is where the beauty and soul of the Fraternity resides. All of our tenets, philosophies, and wonderful mysteries reside there. Without it, we would simply be another social or charitable club. Ritual makes us unlike any other group of men on Earth.
Our ritual binds us with each other and with every Mason that has lived or will ever live. When I took my obligation, I was spiritually connected to my Great-Great-Great Grandfather; a man who died 111 years before I was born! What else contains this type of power?
And it is also not our ritual, because without the right men; without the right experience, the words are just words. Words that can be read on the internet by anyone, man or woman, 24 hours a day.
Think of our ritual as a meditation. When we walk into the Temple we are leaving the average world behind and entering a completely different realm of being: from the material to the spiritual. It serves to gather us around a guiding set of principles. It is a way for us to individually and collectively channel communication to the Divine. We must treat it that way.
Every time we participate in a degree, we are opening ourselves to new ideas by contemplating ancient ones. The sources of these ideas are incredibly varied, but intricately connected – Christianity, Neo-Platonism, Kabbalah, Alchemy, the ancient Mystery Schools… from more cultures and philosophies than I am capable of naming.
We are not only connecting ourselves to this immense body of knowledge; we are forming a profound and lasting bond with our new Brother, renewing it with each other, and proclaiming it to God.
It is no less important that we perform the ritual with emphasis, emotion, and understanding. If we deliver it as flat and ordinary, that will be the impression it leaves. When you hear a Brother describe the emotion that is elicited from the Work, you know you have done well by him.
We also have a responsibility to give our new Brethren the instruction that they require beyond the ritual. Handing a Brother a fully written out ritual lesson, instructing him to learn it and return when he’s ready to regurgitate it is not a Mentor Program.
Memorizing the ritual is only an aspect of the process of going through to the degrees, but we don’t do it simply for its own sake. Rather, it is a method by which we prove a Brother’s commitment to advancing in Freemasonry, but more importantly, it provides an opportunity to form a bond with that Brother by exploring the meaning of the ritual together.
We must focus on the internal and not the external..
I speak about what we look for in our candidates and the ritual, we can’t forget the element that truly makes a Lodge: her Brethren. We must never forget the duties that we owe to each other.
Now, I have witnessed more acts of human kindness, love, charity, and selflessness in the time that I’ve been a Mason than any other period in my life. But I have also seen incredibly back-biting, political wrangling, and egoism. I am ashamed to say that I have, at times, succumbed to much of the same.
Jewels, titles and fancy aprons make us feel important, and they do serve a purpose in the Craft, but we must not lose focus by allowing these honors to distract us.
Not only this, but we are often disconnected from each other’s lives and fail to confide in each other, sharing our pain as well as our joy. When we don’t truly know each other outside of the confines of Lodge, it hinders us within.
So, we have attracted the right men, stewarded our candidates through the degrees, we are mentoring them … how do we keep all Brothers coming back?
We must provide opportunities for Light outside of Ritual by making Masonic meetings more, well… Masonic. Opportunities must exist to discuss our tenets, our symbolism, our history, and our experiences. Masonry does not start and end with the Degrees. It must be perpetuated in all that we do when we meet. Every Brother must be engaged in our Labors. Every Brother has something of value to contribute. If you don’t think you do, you’re sorely mistaken!
Every Lodge has administrative responsibilities that must be addressed, but far too often we allow them to completely overtake us. It doesn’t take much to start a Masonic discussion, nor does it require you to be a Masonic scholar.
Create the opportunity by setting aside the time, asking a question, and then listening. The Brethren and the Lodge will be greatly rewarded.
Through our ritual and Masonic education, we move toward the goal of further light in Masonry. But true Light is not revealed by the Master simply saying “Let There Be Light”. It is revealed in the contemplation of the ritual, a study of her tenets, and continued Masonic education.
In New Hampshire, the beginning of the Master Mason’s Charge in our ritual is spoken as follows: “You have now received all the instruction that pertains to our noble craft, and have advanced by regular gradations to the summit of Ancient Craft Masonry”. That is technically correct; there is no more ritual, but it doesn’t leave the right impression.
I feel perhaps this better encapsulates what we intend to convey: “You have received the tools to build the foundation of your ‘Spiritual Temple’, and now your labors must commence. This is the end of the beginning; the true Masonic journey lies ahead.”
So, what is Freemasonry? I will start by telling you what it isn’t.
Freemasonry is not magic.
From the moment the Master takes your hand to Raise you, you are only symbolically translated to a sublime plane of being and thinking; but this is where it begins. You have the opportunity for a magnificent rebirth of spirit. It can be magical, but only if you engage in the Labor of the Craft.
Freemasonry has two very distinct paths that we walk simultaneously; Our journey in an individual journey as well as a collective one. It is about radiating light and absorbing it. It is all too easy to forget our teachings and let our day-to-day lives cast a shadow that consumes what we’ve learned. We may allow ourselves to become spiritually or physically passive, or even completely dormant. So we come to Lodge to be reminded of our teachings and to learn.
Freemasonry is a vehicle for Light, but a vehicle without fuel serves no purpose. In order for us to truly perpetuate the principles of our order, we must be active together both inside and outside of the Temple, and never stall the building of our “spiritual temple”.
In conclusion, I feel compelled to say that I have absolutely no right to tell you how to be a Mason or how to be a Lodge. This is a journey, and as such, it is personal; colored by your own interpretations, experience, and interests. There is no “right” way and any Brother that says that he alone has the answer is wrong.
I was Master of my Lodge, and during those two years did I apply all of my experiences and listen to all of my own sage advice? No. And it’s because I’m still learning. All I can reasonably hope for is that I honored Masonry, our Lodge, our Brethren, and my Masonic ancestors in what I’ve done and whom I’ve become.
Finally, I can say with absolute certainty that your Candidates, your Brothers, your Lodge depend upon you. All of you. Please act on your responsibility as the most important member of your Lodge. An active Brother Mason and a “seeker”.
I will close with a bit of a meditation that I composed while writing this, and it is as follows:
I have been a Master Mason for 8 years, but my journey has just begun. I will always be an Entered Apprentice; my ashlar is rough. I have learned, yet I know nothing. Yet, my labors are underway and they will not cease until the Great Architect of the Universe commands me to lay down my Working Tools. I will endeavor to act in this world with dignity, humility, and honesty. And along the way, I will make many mistakes. So while I am here, I will continue working that ashlar. I know that in this world it will never be perfect, but I will carry with me the satisfaction and certainty of knowing that I have not labored in vain.
Chris is currently District Deputy Grand Master of the 2nd Masonic District, Secretary and Past Master of Ancient York Lodge No. 89 in Nashua, Senior Deacon of Phoenix Lodge No. 105 in Tilton, and most importantly, a Brother Mason.
From the New Hampshire Masonic Bulletin, Volume 5, Number 7, July 15, 1925
Not many months ago the Bulletin called attention to an extensive building program that was being carried out by the fraternity in several localities throughout the state.
At the there were under consideration new buildings at Manchester, Keene, Derry, and Concord, the need for which had long been emphasized not only though these columns but in each section where the projects were mentioned.
Since these several buildings were first conceived, two of theme have been erected and are now being occupied by the fraternity and concordant orders, viz., at Keene and Derry, and the cornerstone of the new Temple at Concord was laid Saturday, May 9.
But it is of the cornerstone exercises, incident to the building of the new Masonic Temple at Manchester that this article is applicable, – a ceremony which means much to the fraternity of the Queen City, but more generally to the members of the Craft throughout the state.
There has been for many years a thought expressed by those high in Masonic councils that with each semi-annual communication at Manchester more representatives might be accommodated at this meeting, which is virtually a Lodge of Instruction, if a suitable place were available. With over a hundred Lodges sending delegates, and others entitled to sit in the proceedings, together with an audience of many more interested Masons, it is not difficult to understand why there should be a lack of room or seating space in an enclosure designed for far less than actually gather.
There have been occasions when it has been necessary to meet in one of the theaters to accommodate those who wished to listen to the inspiring words of some distinguished speaker; there is always the necessity of providing for an overflow hall when the hour arrived for the banquet.
These are things that were in mind when the Manchester fraternity decided that it were time to provide quarters ample to give that hospitality such as Masonry extends to its own kind.
The ceremony, then, of the laying of the cornerstone of the new Temple, was the preliminary to what may be expected when the edifice is ready for occupancy, the expectation being that the semi-annual communication at Manchester next December will find everything in readiness for a royal welcome to the members of the Craft in this jurisdiction.
Perhaps the best account of the cornerstone may be found in the words of a Lafayette Lodge member, written for the occasion:
“In the presence of the officers of the Grand Lodge, members of the different local Masonic fraternities and several hundred friends, the cornerstone of the pretentious Masonic Temple on North Elm Street was laid Wednesday afternoon, June 24, with the same impressive ceremony and procedure as marked similar events by the Ancient Craft.
Manchester Masons turned out in a body to participate in a colorful program which began with a parade to the rear of the partly constructed Temple and closed with a masterful address by R W Allan M. Wilson, of this city, Grand Junior Warden of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire.
In the cavity at the northeastern corner of the structure, over which the beautifully carved cornerstone was laid, Grand Master Bela Kingman of Newmarket and his associates placed a number of important documents, including Masonic papers and publications, municipal manuals and a copy of the Manchester Union.
Hundreds saw the parade of the Masons from their Lodge rooms at the corner of Merrimack and Elm Streets to the Straw lot in the North End. Hundreds more were on hand, lining the east side of Albert Street, to await the coming of the different bodies.
Lafayette and Washington Lodges met in joint session shortly after 2 o’clock, following which the members formed on Merrimack Street, Sir Knight Don W. Blair giving the signal which started the procession northward.
He was followed by Rainey’s Cadet band and Knights Templar in full regalia. Eminent John C. Hayes led Trinity Commandery.
In the rear of the Knights came the members of Washington and Lafayette Lodges and then followed Derryfield Chapter, Order of DeMolay. Officers of the local Lodges preceded automobiles carrying the Grand Lodge officials.
An Inspiring Sight
As they swung into Albert Street from Harrison Street, the Knights Templar formed a company front facing the Temple. With swords at salute, they stood while the other members marched to positions facing the cornerstone. When the Grand Lodge officers had taken their stand, Trinity Commandery fell in behind the other fraternities.
The building itself was attractively decorated in red, white, and blue for the occasion. On the first floor, a special platform was erected for members of Ruther Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, and the officers who took an active part in the program including Mrs. Florence M. Lord, Worthy Grand Matron of the Grand Chapter, O.E.S., of New Hampshire.
Halbert N. Bond, chairman of the building committee, made the opening remarks, when he called about the Grand Master Kingman to lay the cornerstone of the new Temple.
Grand Chaplain William Porter Niles of Nashua offered prayer, following which the Orpheus Quartet sang.
Officers of the Grand Lodge then gathered about the cavity over which the cornerstone hung at the end of a long cable. At the request of the Grand Master, the Grand Recorder, Harry M. Cheney, of Concord, read from a paper a list of the articles to be placed in the copper box.
Among the important papers and plates laid in the receptacle, were the following:
Copper plates bearing names of officers of Lafayette Lodge, Washington Lodge, Mount Horeb Royal Arch Chapter, Adoniram Council, Trinity Commandery, K.T., Derryfield Chapter, Order of DeMolay, Ruth Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, Most Worshipful Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M., of New Hampshire. Building committee of the Masonic Temple.
Manual of the city government giving names of all city officers.
Roster and by-laws of all Manchester Masonic bodes.
Picture of the Masonic Home and present Masonic Hall.
Copper coin bearing the name of George F. Sargent.
One hundred and fifty one-cent coins being the first voluntary contribution toward the new Temple donated in 1920.
Copy of the Manchester Union of June 24, and of the Masonic Bulletin.
Masonic manual of New Hampshire.
Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire
Copy of the charter of Lafayette Lodge, dated June 9, 1824.
Copy of the program of the 75th and also the 100th anniversary of Lafayette Lodge.
Copy of the annual report of the Grand Lodge for 1924.
Program of the Fast Day reunion of the New Hampshire Consistory, 1924.
Copy of the Holy Bible.
A Square and Compasses.
Copper plate bearing the names of L.H. Shattuck Company and its officers.
Name of the architect, Charles R. Whitcher
Names of the Orpheus Quartet.
Names of all of the members of the local Lodges.
Names of all of the national officers.
Grand Officers Assist
With the completion of the report of the Grand Recorder, the ceremony of laying the cornerstone was begun. Assistant Grand Master Kingman in the task were the following officers:
R ∴ W ∴ J. Melvin Dresser, Berlin, Deputy Grand Master
R ∴ W ∴ George E. Danforth, Nashua, Grand Senior Warden
R ∴ W ∴ Allan M. Wilson, Manchester, Grand Junior Warden
R ∴ W ∴ Frederick J. Shepard, Derry, Grand Treasurer
R ∴ W ∴ Harry M. Cheney, Concord, Grand Recorder
R ∴ W ∴ Orville E. Cain, Keene, Grand Senior Deacon
R ∴ W ∴ Albion E. Hayes, Exeter, Grand Junior Deacon
Edward H. Fogg, Manchester, Grand Steward
Rev. William Porter Niles, Nashua, Grand Chaplain
Olin H. Chase, Concord, Grand Marshal
Martin A Hadley, Concord, Grand Tyler
During the ritual which preceded and followed the actual laying o the stone, music was furnished by the band. As the grand officers left the temporary stage the quartet sang again. Chaplain Niles offered benediction and the ceremony was over.
Chairman Halbert N. Bond then introduced the speaker of the day R W Allan W. Wilson, who spoke briefly but interestingly on Masonic traditions, the duty of the members of the fraternity and the ceremony of the Ancient Craft. It was an inspiring address, a portion of which was directed at the Masons themselves.
With the close of the exercises, the members marched to the Lodge rooms and disbanded.”
By Right Worshipful Brother Paul C. Smith
Grand Education Officer and Founding Master & Secretary, General Court Lodge No. 1784
General Court Lodge is a New Hampshire Lodge that is unique among Masonic Lodges in the United States.
First, what is the General Court? In 1784 when New Hampshire adopted its current constitution, the title of the legislative branch was styled the “General Court,” consisting of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The history of the General Court, however, goes back to the 1680s when we had a provincial legislature.
Due to the nature of our legislature, it being essentially a volunteer body, its membership has included many men of distinction over the last few hundred years. When such men are present, it is likely you will find Freemasons among their ranks. This is no less true in New Hampshire’s General Court.
In 2006, Masons who served in both the House, Senate, and the staff gathered for dinner to discuss the formation of a special (Affinity) Lodge where they could meet during the busy legislative session. The term “Affinity Lodge” is not widely used in the United States. Masons with a similar occupation have formed Affinity Lodges: i.e., a firefighter’s or policemen’s lodge. In the UK there is even a lodge for members of Parliament! So too was the impetus for the forming of General Court Lodge.
The Lodge would meet from January through June of each year (during the legislative session), be a special lodge (meaning we could not make Masons), and serve as a true lodge of fellowship for Masons who were members of the House, Senate, or staff of the General Court. We were granted an initial five-year charter at the semi-annual communication of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire in November 2006 and our officers were installed in December.
At the concluding meeting in June 2007 of the first year, we held the annual meeting in Representatives Hall in the State House: the oldest continually used legislative chamber in the United States. Most Worshipful Brother Robert Hatfield was received along with many Grand Lodge officers and visitors from as far away as Florida. There were over 80 Masons present for the event.
In 2009, General Court Lodge held a Table Lodge at the Concord Temple which attracted over 60 Masons, including members of General Court Lodge and former Congressman Charles Bass.
2011 saw our fifth year as a lodge and with it the petitioning of a permanent charter. Our June meeting saw the Lodge meeting in the State Senate chamber at the State House, with the reception of Most Worshipful Brother Paul Leary and many other visiting Brethren. In November 2011, our permanent charter was granted by vote of the Brethren assembled in Grand Lodge.
As the years have passed, some lodges around the country have met in legislative chambers, but it is still believed ours is the only one to have met in both chambers. We are still the only legislative lodge in the United States and are proud of that heritage.
By Right Worshipful Brother David Akridge
District Deputy Grand Education Officer, District 5
al·che·my – /ˈalkəmē/
The process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained. An example of using alchemy is a person who takes a pile of scrap metal and turns it into beautiful art.
Esoterica – /es-uh-ter-i-kuh/
Things understood by or meant for a select few; recondite matters or items.
All of us came to Masonry to make ourselves better men with Brethren who are all seeking to do the same, by experiencing good ritual, having Masonic discussion, enjoying the fellowship of each other both in and out of the Lodge.
I doubt that anyone would disagree with me that all seek to move from that rough ashlar to that perfect ashlar that is displayed in each of our Lodges. We do so at our own speed and in our own way, using the road map or toolbox that each of us is provided in our three degrees.
We would all agree that ours is the greatest Fraternity in the world. Would it surprise you that the total number of Masons in the United States is approximately one million? While I tend not to get hung up on numbers as I firmly believe quality over quantity, I think we can all agree that this number against a population of some 300 million-plus, puts us in a very small percentage. About .3%. A select group united by a common ritual that has endured over the passage of time.
I also note that among our Craft, those who like Masonic Discussion and engage in presentation tend to use lofty words to demonstrate great knowledge. If I wanted to use a scholarly word to describe that, I could say they are “erudite Masonic speakers”, meaning “having or showing great knowledge or learning”.
You might ask yourself where this article is leading. It is quite simple. I have often observed that when we hear words like alchemy and esoteric, eyes glaze over and we tend to shut down. It is kind of like what happens when I hear a full reading of the minutes and a detailed litany of paying the bills. You get the message. As I have shared above you are one among a million that is a Freemason against the population of this country. You are here seeking Light and a life-altering improvement in who you are. One could say that you an esoteric seeking and alchemical transformation in your Masonic Journey. Or inserting the definition of these two words in the same sentence, it could be re-stated YOU have an understanding or are diligently seeking, the universal truths contained in Freemasonry and that this process takes you from being an ordinary man to an extraordinary man. I hope the next time you hear the words esoteric or alchemy, you will instead smile and reflect on this amazing journey of transformation that you are one of the select few.
Enjoy the journey!
By Worshipful Brother John Bartoszak
Master of Humane Lodge No 21, Rochester
I have learned a lot from traveling throughout the jurisdiction and beyond. I have found that there are differences between jurisdictions, districts, and even subtle differences from lodge to lodge. Those differences define who we are and should never be relegated to history. Maintain your lodge traditions, provided they do not conflict with Grand Lodge. Take as an example, in Humane Lodge 21 we not only use a Chamber of Reflection but celebrate it. An antiquated aspect of Freemasonry, Humane reinstated it, and have found it to add a new level of sublimity to the Entered Apprentice degree. It’s different, while not changing or conflicting with Degree ritual, and gives the new initiate a unique perspective when they begin their Masonic journey.
Another benefit of traveling is the feeling of belonging. No matter what lodge I travel to, I am accepted as a friend and honored guest. I can vividly remember walking into Mt. Lebanon Lodge in Laconia, unknown to anybody, and being greeted as a lifelong friend. It was like I was a member of their lodge. “Grab a plate and have a seat, Brother.” One of my homes away from home, Winnipesaukee Lodge No. 75 in Alton, is a great place to visit. They always have a program during the Stated Communication and a great meal. Federal Lodge No. 5 in Dover is another interesting place to visit. Their programs are generally more conversation than presentation. Sometimes starting as a book report and turning into a debate on the meaning of symbols in the lodge.
If you have been a Mason for 30 or 40 years you can probably open a lodge without thinking about it. You’ve seen the opening hundreds of times. As a newer Mason, if you don’t travel, you can see the opening ten times a year. You can double that if you travel once a month. Go to one lodge a week and you’ll see the opening forty or more times a year. After a few years, you won’t have to study to open a lodge, you will already know how to. Sure, you’ll probably want to study anyway, but you will have heard and seen it so many times that it will flow in your memory. You can then own the ritual, and not be robotic in the delivery. You’ll be able to make it interesting and fresh for your membership.
You never know when you will run into a Brother. I was in Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, enjoying an adult beverage when a gentleman asked me if I was a “Traveling Man”. I said, “Sure, I just drove down from NH”. He pointed at his ring and asked again “No, are you a Traveling Man?”. The light bulb lit up bright and we had an hour-long masonic conversation in Key West.
Travel; you won’t regret it.
Yes, I am a Traveling man.