V.W. Norman Amirault
Annapolis Royal Lodge No. 53
Masonry, in the final analysis, is a way of life, a theory of life, a philosophy of life. It manifests itself in our daily contacts with our fellow man. It is not what the tongue proclaims but what the heart contains. The true mason then is one who interprets the symbols in which Masonry is concealed through exemplification in his daily life.
There is an old tradition connected with Mount Moriah, the site of King Solomon's Temple, well deserving here. this site, says the legend, was formerly a ploughed field possessed in common by two brothers. One was married and had several children; the other was a bachelor. They lived together in perfect accord, cultivating the land they jointly inherited from their father. Harvest time arrived. The brothers gather in their sheaves, and proportioned them in two equal heaps, which they left in the field. During the night the unmarried brother said to himself, "my brother has a wife and children to support, is it then just that my portion of the harvest should equal his?" On that he arose and took down several of the sheaves, which he added to his brother's portion. This he did with as much secrecy and caution as if he had been committing a crime. The other brother awoke the same night, and said to his wife, "my brother lives alone, and without company, he has no one to assist him in his labour, or to recompense him for his fatigues, whilst God has given me a wife and children. It is not right that we should take from the field so many sheaves as he, since we have already more domestic felicity than he enjoys. Let us therefor without his knowledge add to his share a certain number of sheaves." This was done, but in the morning the two brothers were surprised to find the two heaps quite equal. In the night they each carried sheaves from the one heap to the other; but as each bore a like number of sheaves to the other's store, they still remained quite equal, and so it went on for several nights.
Astonished at this, they determined to watch and see how this miracle worked, but at last they met face to face each bearing the sheaves destined for the other, and all was clear. They threw themselves into each other's arms, both thanking God for so good a brother. Hence Mount Moriah has been consecrated to Brotherly Love and was a fitting site whereon to build a place of worship to the Lord.
This we believe is the true meaning of Masonry. In the Entered Apprentice lecture one hears the beautiful words of the lecture descriptive of the three principal rungs of Jacob's ladder: "the greatest of these being charity; for faith may be lost in sight, hope ends in fruition, but charity extends beyond the grave into the boundless realms of eternity." Putting a quarter into a beggar's hand will hardly extend beyond the grave into the boundless realms of eternity.
If the charity of Freemasonry meant only the giving of alms it would long ago have given place to a hundred institutions better able to provide relief. The charity taught in Lodge is charity of thought, charity of the self giving. The visit to the sick is true Masonic Charity. The brotherly hand laid upon a bowed shoulder in comfort and to give courage is Masonic charity. The word of council to the fatherless, the tear dropped in sympathy with the widowed, the joyous letter of congratulations to a fortunate brother, all are Masonic charity and these indeed extend beyond the grave.
Paper donated to the Board of Masonic Education, Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, February 10, 1990.