The Altar

V.W.Bro. Harold W. Hughes Grant


In the center of the lodge stands the Altar. On the East, South and West, should be placed one of the represent- atives of the Three Lesser Lights, but never on the North, for that is the place of darkness.

On its top, in due arrangement, should lie the Three Great Lights. Thus arranged, it may well be considered "the most important article of furniture in the lodge."

Too universal in its use, both through space and time to admit our tracing its history here, we must content ourselves with some reference to the ideas embodied in it.

To this end let us remember here and everywhere, that the Masonic life is not that which occurs in the lodge room alone, for that is but its allegorical picture, its tracing board. But it is that which a mason should do and be in all circumstances, under the inspiration of the Fraternity and its teachings. Thus understood, the Altar stands symbolically for something that must operate at the center of Masonic life.

Often serving as a table whereon the worshipper may lay his gifts to God, the Altar may remind us of the necessity of that human gratitude which lead us to return to Him the gifts He has showered upon us.

This is that teaching of stewardship found in all religions to remind us that our very lives are not our own, having been bought with a price, and that our talents are held in trusteeship to be rendered again to Him to whom they belong.

Thus stated, I know the matter may sound unappealing but once we encounter a man who lives his life as a stewardship held in the frail tenure of the flesh, we see to what high issues the character of man may ascend.

In its proper sense also, the Altar serves as a sanctuary, a place of refuge, and this too has much to tell us.

In the earlier centuries of our era, before the complete development of the common law, the hunted criminal, fleeing from his pursuers, would escape to a church and lay hold of the Altar; in that he found safety and a chance to prove his innocence, if innocent he was.

Out of this rose the beautiful custom of Sanctuary, the chivalrous unselfish harboring of the weak, the sorrowful and the afflicted.

A man is no true Mason in whose nature there is not at least one inner chamber in which the weary may find rest and the weak may have protection.