What Does Modern Freemasonry Teach?


WHAT DOES MODERN FREEMASONRY TEACH?

by R.W.Bro.C.G.McMynn

Freemasonry seeks to meet the needs of the people living today
and our modern time.  To enlarge the sphere of social happiness,
and its grand object to promote the happiness of the human race.

The universal appeal of Masonry attracts men of all races,
religions and colours - men who live in different lands and under
different types of governments.  Masonry has existed for
generations and has served those different generations according
to their needs and standards.  Thus we see that Masonry is in
itself a living, growing thing, capable of adapting itself to
changing conditions.  It recalls to our mind Goethe's wise
observation that "men change, but man remains the same."

In the same way Masons change and new men take the places of
those who pass beyond and bring with them new ideas of life and
manner of living, but Masonry remains the same.  Because Masonry
has this ability to change and adapt itself to conditions under
which its members live we can picture this organization going on
endlessly, serving at all times the needs of humanity.

However, we should not look upon Masonry merely as following in
the wake of progress and adjusting itself to new conditions as
they arise.  Quite the opposite! I believe that Masonry serves as
a guiding light which leads the way to better conditions under
which its members live and instead of following the times it is
actually in the foreground, providing inspiration and leadership
for an era of human understanding.  For this reason it appears
Masonry has much to contribute to our own age and its guidance is
particularly valuable in an age of unrest and unsettled
conditions.

In the old days Masonry was concerned chiefly with the trade or
craft which provided employment for the member.  These were the
days of operative Masonry.  It was in the year 1717 that
speculative Masonry was introduced.  This refers to building a
life along moral, intellectual and spiritual lines.

These are the things which concern us today.  If there has been
any really outstanding and remarkable change in our viewpoint
toward Masonry during the past generation, I think it has come
about in the recognition of the individual's obligations and
responsibilities to his fellow men and society.  The old idea of
speculative Masonry was for a member to be good.  The new idea,
according to modern teachings, is for a member to be good and
also to be good for something.  It is no longer enough merely to
be good because goodness in itself is rather a dull and inanimate
sort of accomplishment.

One of the best examples of this modern intention to do good is
the charitable program of our Order, which through Grand Lodge
Benevolent Funds and other Funds, takes into account a large
number of social and philanthropic enterprises.  Along this line,
I would mention such things as a home for the aged, bursaries and
scholarships to further the education of youth, flood and
disaster relief, and assistance to distressed brethren, their
dependents, widows and orphans.  These and other worthy causes
are representative of Masonic charity.

Masonic charity is different from the ordinary meaning of the
word charity.  The ordinary meaning of the word charity is the
hand-out of a few cents, or a few dollars either from the
kindness of the heart, or due to outside pressure, which is the
same thing as having someone's hand reach into your pocketbook
and take out some money against your will.  Masonic charity is
nothing like this.

Charity, according to the teachings of modern Freemasonry,
demonstrates itself in some financial form when money or other
practical help is provided a needy friend or a worthy cause.  Yet
this is only one phase of Masonic charity.  There are other
phases, such as friendship, brotherly love, kindness and
fraternity.

In Masonry we learn the meaning of brotherly love and devotion to
our fellowmen.  We learn the meaning of the secrets of the Bible
which pointed out the responsibility of the individual to those
about him and particularly to those with whom he is banded
together in a common trust and common interest.  In Masonry we
find inspiration for the better things of life, and in the modern
teaching of Masonic charity we have revealed to us the ways and
means and opportunity to turn such inspiration into a practical
nature and supply the money needed to carry on the good work to
which our Order is dedicated.

During the many years that Masonry has existed, we have seen many
changes come about in our civilization.  Progress has been made. 
Along some lines the kind of progress which we have made may be
described as making bigger and bigger circles to run around in.
Certainly the human race has been running around in awfully big
circles lately.

The teachings of Masonry are to help us escape from these vicious
circles.  In Masonry there is a spirit of hope, sympathy and
comradeship.  Masonry helps to dig down into the spiritual life
of the individual and bring forth the rare treasures and hidden
gems of character.  Masonry makes man better, easier to live
with, and the kind of person anyone would be proud and happy to
call brother.

Perhaps more so today than at any time in history has man faced
the prospect of isolation in spite of the rapid growth of cities,
and development of science.  Radio and television have served to
keep man in his home instead of visiting neighbours.  The auto,
which has proven a blessing in many ways, has at the same time
served to isolate man further in his own family group.  The large
cities filled with people are also filled with prejudice
suspicion and distrust.  Frequently one is more isolated in the
very centre of a metropolis than on a good sized farm.

Modern Masonry meets the modern conditions and modern needs.  It
endeavours to bring people together and to  break down the
barriers of isolation. which keep them apart.  Modern Freemasonry
teaches us to be a friend, and to recognize the obligations of
brotherhood in our Order.

Friendship is promoted by working with others and being of
service.  It is not necessary that a person neglect his own work
and deny himself or his family his association and material
possessions in order to find happiness through his work and
relationship with other people.  Modern Freemasonry teaches us
that these things go together.

In teaching us to be of service to others and to be a brother in
the highest meaning of the term brotherhood, it is not the aim,
or purpose of Masonry to deny that self-preservation is the first
rule of man.  It is the purpose to point out that
self-preservation may be accomplished through cooperation, fair
play honesty and service to fellowmen.  The idea that service
means self-sacrifice is not true.  You do not have to sacrifice
yourself to serve someone else.  Service is not charity.  Service
without profit means bankruptcy and bankruptcy means the end of
further opportunity to serve.  Our Masonic ideals do not advocate
that we serve other according to our capacity to do so, and be a
friend to others in every way that is convenient and in keeping
with our time and means.

Modern Freemasonry teaches us to revive the interest of our
members in the problems of youth.  We must remember that the
early history of our organization emphasises the fact that the
Order of Masonry was primarily interested in teaching and
training youth.  The relationship between the Master Mason and
the Apprentice was a close tie extending over a long period of
years.  Master Masons sought to teach and train young men in a
trade, and in the proper ways of life.

We are being instructed now not to lose sight of our obligations
to youth in our modern application of Masonic principles.  We do
not generally undertake this activity directly through the
Masonic Order.  Rather the Order urges Masons to serve youth in
many ways open to them through community action, through the
schools, the church and the home.

Ever since the time of recorded history we find that the older
generation has always bemoaned the changes which take place among
the younger generation, and have condemned the youngsters.  Our
generation is a little bit different.  We recognize the fact that
perhaps it is us and not our children who should be criticized. 
We recognize that they possess a better education, a wider
knowledge and perhaps greater powers of reasoning than we have. 
We know that they need help and guidance through out interest in
their activities and in the many things we can do to be of
benefit and assistance to them.

Modern Freemasonry teaches us to build a better life for
ourselves as an individual and better for our family and society.
There is a direct relationship between religion and Masonry.  It
is the relationship of working together to gain a better
understanding, of God and an interpretation of His word.  Masonry
seeks to give practical application to the teachings of religion. 
There may be some who say that religion is theory - teaching and
guidance, while Masonry is practical action or religion that is
lived in one's dally life.  Three things which Masonry seeks to
teach us are morality, intelligence and sense of life
everlasting.

Modern Freemasonry gives emphasis to those things and teaches us
to make a better life for ourselves and everyone around us.

It is because of the fact that Freemasonry adapts itself to the
needs of each generation and changes without itself being changed
that it makes possible its continued existence, and its continual
progress.  That is why Masonry will endure as long as our present
civilization continues.