The Master's Book 1
Carl H. Claudy
PREPARING TO BE MASTER
The greatest honor comes to any brother with his elevation to the Oriental Chair of a Masonic Lodge. Few Wardens but look forward with mingled pleasure and anxiety to that day when in their hands will be placed the gavel of authority. He who early prepares to be a Master in more than name only arrives in the seat of authority with some confidence.
The wise Warden does not wait until elected Master to become familiar with the official books of his Jurisdiction; the Proceedings of his Grand Lodge; the book of Masonic law — it has many names, such as Code, Methodical Digest, Ahiman Rezon, Constitution and By-laws, etc.; the Manual in which is printed all that may lawfully be put in type of the ritual and ceremonies of the degrees, and most especially the by-laws of Its own Lodge.
A Master is not only leader of his Lodge, but a member of Grand Lodge, in which august body he represents his Lodge. Familiarity with the Grand Lodge procedure, questions pending, legislation enacted, etc., gives him a perspective and enables him to act with intelligence and understanding. In the Proceedings of most (not all) Grand Lodges is the report of the Committee on Foreign Correspondence, under which apparently misleading title an official reviewer summarizes the activities of other Grand Lodges. The Master who realizes that he is not only an important cog in his own Masonic machine, but an integral part of a world-wide Freemasonry, early grasps the real importance and responsibilities of his position. Study of the Proceedings gives a perspective on the activities of Grand Lodge, with special reference to its charity, whether exercised in Masonic Home, Orphanage, Hospital, Foundation, outside relief or other form.
BOOK OF MASONIC LAW
To be Master of a Lodge is quite different from being president of a club or society. The Master is called upon to decide questions. of law and practice which he cannot leave to in which his brethren; the honor of leadership carries also the responsibility. That his decisions be wise and just, and of such a character as will draw commendation, not condemnation, from Grand Master or District Deputy, he must know the laws of his Jurisdiction, his own powers and limitations. He can obtain this knowledge only from a faithful study of the book of Masonic law.
In some Jurisdictions only the Master may confer the Master Mason's Degree; in many he may empower either his officers, a Past Master, or a well qualified brother to fill the East during the ceremonies of the three degrees. Never will the Master get the best cooperation in putting on a degree if he himself cannot "do the work." The Master who knows his ritual can lead — he who will not or cannot — "learn the work" is in a poor position to criticize faulty performances by others. Hence, an early study is important. The degrees of Freemasonry are among the beautiful ceremonies of the world. They should be inspiring, uplifting, heartening, lovely to hear. If they fall short of perfection the Master is responsible-aye, even if he have only inefficient helpers, his is the responsibility.
Both Lodge and Master owe service to those elected to receive the degrees. The elected candidate has signed his petition, answered the questions, paid his fees, stood his investigation, come when called, submitted to proper preparation. Now his brethren-to-be are so to induct him into the mysteries that he may desire with all his heart to become "a good and faithful brother among us." He is entitled to a degree which will impress him; he has a right to hear the grand old words so spoken that they will make a deep and lasting impression on his mind. What he sees and hears should convince him of the age, the dignity, the importance, the solemnity of the Ancient Craft.
All this is a Master's work. The wise Warden lets no time go by before preparing himself for those busy days ahead, and regards dignified degrees, well put on, as important both to Lodge and candidates.
Few assets are more valuable to a Master than friends. In Freemasonry, as in the profane world, the art of making friends is encompassed in one phrase: "to have friends we must be friendly." Millions of men are so at heart; cold of exterior from no better cause than shyness. Many a man wants to extend his hand, wishes to say a cheery word of greeting, desires with all his heart to be one of the fellows" and does not know how,
Yet it is so simple! For the root of personal shyness is fear of laughter-and laughter, like thunder, has yet to hurt anything living! The shy brother need only assure himself: "I will not be afraid of something which cannot hurt me — I will not think my brethren are more critical of me than I am of them — I will not waste time and strength wanting and not doing, when to say a cheery word and put out my hand needs but a muscular effort!"
Friendliness begets friendliness. The brother who is cordial will find hands springing out to meet his; will see smiles begetting smiles; will learn that genuine interest in a brother produces real interest in him. The Warden who leaves the West for the East interested enough to know all regular attendants by name will enter his year of responsibility with an asset than which there is no greater for the leader of a Lodge.