Audi, Vide, Tace

Audi, Vide, Tace 
by George H.T. French.

(Published in "The Texas Freemason" September 1973.)

The three odd looking words mean, in English, "see, hear, be
silent." They constitute a motto used by some Masonic Grand
Jurisdictions, are frequently found on Masonic medals, and
often appropriately appear in Masonic documents.


    The first two words, audi, vide, refer to the alertness con-
ducive to the acquisition of knowledge. For it is through these
two senses, hearing and seeing, that we absorb most of our in-

    Tace, or be silent, refers to the dissemination of informa-
tion, and alerts one to the desirability of thinking before
speaking, of deciding what should be kept hidden, of ever
bearing in remembrance those truly Masonic virtues, silence
and circumspection.

    Unfortunately, the word secret, harmless enough in itself,
has come to be linked up with things furtive, stealthy or
wicked. But to the clean mind it is evident that a thing may be
kept hidden and still not be corrupt or deceitfull.

    Jesus, as a teacher, propounded his doctrines in parables
both dim and cryptic, understandable only to those who had
ears to hear and eyes to see. He did not cast pearls to the

    In the case of Freemasonry, the illusion of secrecy is use-
ful because it is in the nature of man to seek what is forbidden,
to want what is just beyond his reach.


    He who knows how to measure his words carefully will
not be prone to disseminate information injudiciously. That is
the first advantage of silence. The second advantage springs
from the fact that when silent one can listen and look, thereby
opening oneself to the acquisition of further knowledge.

    Secrecy is a Masonic virtue. That is why this is one of the
first lessons taught to the Entered Apprentice, and in our
grand Jurisdiction very dramatically! Furthermore, the
Charge to the E.A. tells him to keep sacred and inviolable the
Mysteries of the Order, as these are to distinguish him from
the rest of the community, and mark his consequence among

    Secrecy is a Masonic duty, and Masons are enjoined not
to disclose those valuable secrets which they have promised to
conceal and never reveal. Should they do so they would sub-
ject themselves to the contempt and detestation of all good
Masons, besides which Masonry would have to change grad-
ually to the extent that it would become unrecognizable, or
cease to exist.


    Many of Masonry's activities are overt, not secret. Some
because they are printed, such as its purpose, its history, its
precepts, the roster of its members, the time and place of its
meetings. Others because they are performed in public, such
as masonic funerals, the laying of foundation stones, the in-
stallation of officers. And yet others because they are institu-
tions and edifices, such as masonic Homes, Masonic Librar-
ies, Masonic Temples.


    That which Masonry does keep unto itself can be consid-
ered under four headings:

   1. The Esoteric Work, with its obligations and modes of

  2. A Brother M.M.'s troubles and personal affairs.

  3. Masonic Benevolence.

  4. The Doctrines as presented in the ceremonial proce-
dures, evident to some, always hidden to others.


    By definition Esoteric Work is secret, because the word
esoteric refers to that which is designed for, and understood
by, the specially initiated alone.

    In olden days the Mason who was in possession of the
technical secrets of the Craft was given the modes of recogni-
tion. Then he could establish his identity when he traveled in
foreign countries.

    Modern Speculative Masonry inherited and kept these
signs, tokens and words. They are of value because they speak
a universal language, and serve as passports to the attention
and support of the initiated in all parts of the world.


    A Master Mason promises to keep the secrets of a Bro.
M.M. when communicated to him as such, except where a
higher duty demands exposure. If Masonry did no more than
train its members to keep faithfully the secrets of others confided
to them it would be doing a great work. That alone would justify
its existence, and entitle it to the respect of mankind.

    Unfortunately, the keeping of a secret is becoming ever
more difficult. In today's world individuality is being replaced
by collectivism, privacy is becoming scarce, and Man has de-
vised a computer whose mission is the collection and indis-
criminate dispersion of personal information.


    True it is that much of Masonry's Benevolence is in the
form of Institutions, and is therefore evident to the casual ob-

    But much is done following the precepts given by the wise
Teacher of Nazareth who said "When thou doest thine alms, do
not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the syn-
agogue and in the streets, that they may have glory of men."

    Masonic Charity is not performed to create a favorable
image, as did the hypocrites. It is not indulged in to get men
to admire the Fraternity and petition for membership. As a
matter of fact, one of our problems today is that most of our
Lodges are grossly overpopulated. Charity is not the purpose
of the Order. It is a result, a most commendable fruit.


    In olden days the Operative Master's Great Secret con-
sisted in knowing how to try the square, which is a triangle
within a circle.

    But in Modern Speculative Masonry at no place, nor at
any time, are the true secrets of a Master Mason given. The
true secrets are those which the Mason thinks out for himself.
They are his personal conceptions and his own conclusions as
developed from his dedicated study of Masonry.

    The real secrets of Masonry cannot be learned by prying
eyes or curious enquiry. Neither can a literal minded man ever
grasp them. So the reading of an exposure will not reveal Ma-
sonry's Arcana.

    The real secrets can no more be defined than it is possible
to define God. Because to define is to limit. The only limits of
the secrets are in the education and the heart of the possessor.
For only an honest mind and a pure heart can glean the real
secrets of Masonry. Others seek them in vain, and never learn
them, though they be adepts in all the signs and tokens of
every rite and rank of the Craft.

    The secrets of Masonry, as happens with music, perfume
or color, cannot be uttered. They can only be felt, experienced
and acted. Like all things most worth knowing, no one can
know them for another, and no one can know them alone.
They are known only in fellowship. For God has so made us
that we cannot find the truth alone, but only in the love and
service of our fellow men. Here is the real secret, the secret
that has the power to evoke what is most hidden and inscru-
table in the heart of man. No one can explain how it is done.
However, we do know that it requires real labor, deep study,
profound meditation, extensive research and a constant prac-
tice of those virtues which will open a true path to moral, in-
tellectual and spiritual illumination.

    Thus we are taught that Masonry's real secrets are only
grasped when study and meditation take place in an atmos-
phere of love and service to one's fellow man.

    Freemasonry's secrets are simple, not subtle. They are
profound, not obscure. And Masonry does not try to hide
them, but is always trying to give them to the world. Conse-
quently, one could say that Freemasonry's doctrine, philoso-
phy and teachings are more sacred than secret.


    There are secrets possessed by the Mason which he must
not divulge. This supposes sealed lips.

    There are secrets held by Masonry which the individual
Mason can only seize if he is willing and able to work for
them. This demands effort, toil and tenacity.

    May we be granted the grace and the steadfastness of
purpose to discharge fully both tasks.

                      So mote it be.

Desc: Audi,Vide,Tace, in English "see, hear, be silent".