How Does Masonry Assist Man in His Search
Bro. Arthur Price
The short prayer to which Brother Herb Laycraft alluded at the entrance of the candidate into the Lodge, invokes the aid of God "to grant that this candidate may dedicate and devote his life to the service of God as to become a true and faithful Brother among us. To be endued with Divine Wisdom, and assisted by the secrets of our Masonic Art he may be the better enabled to display the beauties of true Godliness." One of Websters' Definitions of the word "secret" is, a "mystery" or a "governing principle known only to the initiated". Therefore from this point on, as a Mason, he will be helped by the governing principles of Masonry. Above all he must be dedicated in this as he must be in any other venture. We first invoke the aid of God to assist man in his search, and attempt to augment this with the governing principles of Freemasonry.
From this beginning he is conducted physically around the Lodge to the various stations, where he is given spiritual guidance in the form of lectures in the ritual, by symbols, signs and tokens. His first physical contact after the prayer is at the altar where he takes his solemn O.B. on the V.O.S.L. this significantly enough, he will always be reminded of whenever he gives the Heling Sign of an E.A. The bible is always open at a page appropriate to the particular degree and referring in part to the actual wording and significance of the degree with the S. & C. displayed according to his advancement. These instruments are explained and later used as symbols. In the first degree he is in darkness and seeks the light of Truth, Masonry assists man in his search from the very beginning assuming his knowledge to be the bare minimum. He is informed of the three Greater and three Lesser Lights and given the signs and tokens. He is invested with an apron, the badge of innocence and the bond of friendship. A foundation is laid at the N.E. corner of the Lodge for his spiritual guidance, after which the working tools are presented, which if given in a spirit of sincerity and conviction by the person presenting the tools, is perhaps the most impressive of all the lessons, with the possible exception of the Raising Ceremony. Especially the Working Tools in the Second Degree.
The Square teaches us to regulate our lives and actions by the Masonic Rule and Line and to correct and harmonize our conduct by the principles of Morality and Virtue. This is his first lesson in Morality symbolized by the Square. To be square with each other as well as with the Almighty. This makes us acceptable in His sight. The Level demonstrates that we are all patterned after one another, that we are brothers regardless of our station in life. The common expression "to level" with each other clearly defines truth in its broadest sense, and only goodness and virtue will be our means of elevation in life hereafter. The Plumb teaches us to walk uprightly and with humility before God in the strict path of virtue. To respect our fellow man and avoid those inclinations which may tend to hurt him or cause embarrassment.
The Junior Warden's lecture reveals the ancient history of the foundation of our Order and introduces him to the symbolic ornaments of the Lodge. The three great pillars" Wisdom to conduct us, Strength to support us, and Beauty to adorn the inner man. We must make that wisdom available to the candidate. Our lectures and ritual will give him that strength if given with feeling and conviction and only then will the beauty of Freemasonry begin to adorn the inner man.
Jacob's Ladder, which forms a line of union between Heaven and Charity. The significance of Jacob's ladder on the V.O.S.L. connects the two inasmuch as the teaching of the Bible clarifies our belief in the dispensation of Divine Providence and strengthens our faith enabling us to ascend to the first round. This faith fosters the Hope of sharing some of the promises of these doctrines and enables us to ascend the second round of the Ladder. Charity the third round; "And the greatest of these is Charity". the one virtue which every Mason must possess and practice as far as may fairly be done without injury to himself or family.
The mosaic pavement of the Lodge reminding us of the uncertainty of life on earth and an exhortation to cultivate harmony among our fellow beings, to practice Charity and live in peace with all men. Constant reminding of these qualities and attributes over a long period of time will help man in his search. He is told that the Movable Jewels are to moralize on. But they are not there for his benefit alone and for the short duration of his three degrees, they are for all of us to moralize on, all the time; that is why they lay open in the Lodge. The four tassels, representing the four Cardinal Virtues: Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice are exemplified and we should contemplate these symbols. They are part of our lives if we are to live as Masons, just as are Virtue, Honour and Mercy, which were practised in an eminent degree by our ancient brethren. The Junior Warden's lecture sums up to say that the tenets of Freemasonry are: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. These are the basic principles of the Order — not mere words in a lecture of the ritual.
Man is seeking a way of life that he sees others are following because his only guide into Freemasonry is, how his friends (who are Masons) behave, and act toward each other. Perhaps the most common reason for his wishing to belong to the Order, is that he has friends who are Masons, and that they are Masons has something to do with this way of life. Here is a different approach to the goodness of life, to the rich rewards of unselfishness, the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped, and the conviction of a life hereafter.
Each time a candidate is introduced, Passed and Raised is an opportunity for us to re-examine ourselves and re-dedicate ourselves in the light of Freemasonry, to the service of God and Man. Freemasonry can and does help man in his search, but man must search his inner self. In the Reader's Digest of August 1966, a well-known psychiatrist, Dr. Smiley Blanton, M.D. wrote an article on the "Bible's Timeless and Timely Insights". He says that if he were asked to choose one Bible passage above all others, it would be this; "And ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you Free." And if I may be allowed to add to that, it would also make us accepted in every sense of the word.