The Cornerstone

Volume II, Issue I

January, 2001

This is the start of a new Millennium and we should take every opportunity to insure that Freemasonry is stronger at the end of this century than it is at the present time. How can we achieve this goal? Three key words: COMMUNICATE!!!! EDUCATE!!!! PROLIFERATE!!!! COMMUNICATE with everyone in your sphere of influence. This includes non-Masons and Masons, Lodge officers, Convention officers, District officers and Grand officers. Be positive!! If you have an idea, have a plan to achieve it. We are not in the business of soliciting members, but we are in the business spreading Masonic Light. Be prepared to explain Freemasonry to a non-Mason if you are asked. Don't say, "It's a secret," when it's not.

If your Lodge does not have a newsletter, start one. It does not have to be complicated or fancy. A single page sent to the members and widows will sometimes bring amazing results. A bulk mail account can result in a substantial savings in postage. There are a few rules you must follow to use a bulk mail account, such as having at least 200 pieces the same size and weight and sorting the pieces in a specific manner. If you do not have 200 pieces, consider a joint newsletter with another body that meets at your same location. Just remember that the return name and address must be the same as the account name and address. Include such items as birthdays, anniversaries and special events that are coming in your Lodge, the District or the state.

EDUCATE those who are willing to listen and learn. Freemasonry is one of the best proofs of the theorem that "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." An educational program must be entertaining and thought provoking as well as informative. A planned program of short, interesting presentations is always more productive than a long, boring one. Good, well-planned communications will inform those who want to participate.

PROLIFERATE Freemasonry. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines proliferate as 1: to grow by rapid production of new parts, cells, buds, or offspring, 2: to increase in number as if by proliferating: multiply. The first step is to activate our current members. How we do this? COMMUNICATE AND EDUCATE!! Give your members as much information as they need to answer family and friends questions. There are many publications available from Grand Lodge, the MSA and fraternal suppliers. The second step is to educate the community. Sponsor and/or participate in community events, parades and fundraisers. Promote Masonic charities and let the public know that our services are available to them. Let your Light shine!!!!

That Which was Lost

By Brother Thomas W. Olzak

Brother Johnson slowly sealed the envelope he held in his trembling fingers. He tried to keep his hands still, but the powerful emotions filling him easily overcame his futile attempt. After all, the envelope contained a letter he didn't think he would ever have to write. Seven years ago, Brother Johnson returned from a military tour in Germany. While in Germany, he was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in a "military lodge". It was a new lodge (less than 10 years old), but the Spirit of Freemasonry was very strong there. For hours, Brother Johnson sat talking with Past Masters and other interested brethren about the meaning of Freemasonry. The Spirit of Freemasonry that pervaded that small lodge quickly filled Brother Johnson. Not only did he carry a dues card, he was also a Mason in his heart.

When Brother Johnson's tour in Germany ended, he was discharged from the army. He returned to his hometown and started a new life. It wasn't long before he met a Brother who belonged to a local lodge. He invited Brother Johnson to a stated meeting that Friday night. He enthusiastically accepted.

During the next few weeks, Brother Johnson became a familiar face at the Lodge. He became active in the Fellowcraft Team, and he took part in the degree work. Attending Lodge helped fill a void in Brother Johnson's life — a void created when he left his Lodge in Germany. But, something was still missing.

It couldn't be the Temple. In Germany, his Lodge met in a small dining room in the back of a guesthouse. Each week the Brothers gathered before the meeting to unpack the Lodge furniture to set up the stations. When the Master closed, all the Lodge paraphernalia was placed back in the closet until the next meeting. This Lodge met in a beautiful old Temple.

It wasn't the size of the Lodge. The membership in the local Lodge numbered over 700. In Germany, Brother Johnson was the ninety-eighth member added to the roles. Although that which was lost eluded Brother Johnson, he decided to petition for affiliation. He was accepted by his new Masonic family. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed Junior Steward.

For almost 7 years Brother Johnson labored in the quarries of his new Lodge. As time passed, that which was lost began to show itself. He caught glimpses of it when a Past Master refused to take part in the ritual because he had "already done his part for the Lodge" — even though several walking parts remained vacant during the Master Mason Degree. He saw it again each time a Brother complained that the Lodge hadn't repaid him with office or honors for his services. They owed him. Until they made it up to him, he just wouldn't attend Lodge. Again it showed itself each time the Master Mason Degree was performed with disrespect; with levity or lack of preparation. And finally, he caught a glimpse of it each time expediency and personal ambition won out over the needs and principles of the Fraternity.

Shortly after his election to the office of Senior Warden, Brother Johnson realized what it was that the Lodge had lost. It had been hard to find because it wasn't something tangible. It wasn't big and heavy like the ashlars that sat in the front of the Lodge room. It wasn't colorful and ornate like the chapiters and globes that adorned the Fellowcraft Pillars. On the contrary, it was simple and delicate. It can be found only in the hearts of those who truly love the Craft. It was the Spirit of Freemasonry.

It is this spirit that makes a group of dedicated men a Lodge of Freemasons. You can easily tell the Lodge that has it. If you take away all the ornaments, the symbols, and all the other implements normally found in a Temple, the Lodge whose members possess the Spirit of Freemasonry remains a Lodge in the purest sense. The Lodge with the spirit is lost.

Once Brother Johnson realized what it was that was lost, he began to see other things differently. He understood that he had been caught up in the maelstrom of Lodge politics. Like many of the other officers and Past Masters, he had begun to see his role as an officer as a personal achievement — not as service to his Lodge. Brother Johnson had begun to ignore the Spirit that keeps Masonry vibrant, dynamic, and alive. While he looked outside himself for the fundamental problems causing the decline of his Lodge, he was allowing the Masonic Spirit within himself to die.

This was a very serious revelation for Brother Johnson. After his God and his family, Freemasonry was the most important force in his life. He couldn't continue along the path he was on.

For several weeks, Brother Johnson stayed away from Lodge. During that time, he searched his soul for the way back to the Freemasonry he had found in Germany. When the answer came, he knew in his heart it was the only way.

The Lodge Secretary opened the letter from his Senior Warden. He hadn't been at lodge for awhile. "I hope I don't have problems with this one when he becomes Master," the secretary said to himself as he turned on his desk lamp. He began to read:

"Worshipful Brother Smith:

"After much deliberation, I find it necessary to resign from my office as Senior Warden.

"I do not take this action lightly. For several weeks I have struggled with an internal conflict between my desire to become Master of my Lodge and my desire to find a Lodge where the Spirit of Freemasonry is still alive. I am happy to say the latter won.

"I can no longer participate in an organization where the structure and form of the organization mean more to the collective membership than does the pursuit of personal growth. After all, isn't the journey down the path to personal growth the purpose of our ritual and of our Fraternity.

"The Lodge where I was Raised understood this. Although the Lodge was only 10 years old at the time of my Raising, the Spirit of Freemasonry was so strong it permeated every part of a small Guest house in Germany where we met. The purpose of the meetings did not center around who did this or that. Rather, it was more important to discuss the next charity function, or the welfare of those who could not be with us. Then there was the ritual.

"We didn't have fancy paraphernalia or a projector for the lecture, but what degree work we performed! Each brother knew his part word for word. As fun was an integral part of our stated meetings, so was solemnity an integral part of the degree work. It was not difficult to impress upon the minds of the Brethren taking part the importance of good ritual work. After all, they were sharing with a new Brother those truths that would allow him to join and share in the brotherhood they loved without reservation. I know that somewhere there must a Lodge where Freemasonry means more than a struggle for the existence of worn-out rules and traditions — rules and traditions that become more important than the Masonic Spirit around which they were constructed.

"I am not bitter; only sad. Sad that I was unable to share my vision of the art of creating the perfect ashlar with the members of the Lodge.

"I don't want you to there to be any misunderstanding. I am not perfect. Perfect men do not need a spiritual Freemasonry; a Masonry I will try to find again.


Thomas Johnson, Freemason"

The Lodge Secretary sat back in his chair. "Now what do we do?" he thought. "Well, we'll temporarily fill the station and finish the year. The loss of one officer won't stop us from going on as before." He tossed the letter onto his desk as stood to go to supper. He shook his head as took one last look at Brother Johnson's letter, and turned out the light.


Grand Lodge of Alberta Bulletin — December 1936

Citizenship is a sacred heritage for every man and Mason. Through it the will of the people is expressed and the responsibility of government fixed.

The actual need for sober and intelligent analysis of the troublesome problems of the day was never greater nor individual emphasis more imperative.

No man who reads and thinks can be unmindful of the spirit of intolerance that is now rampant, nor the distrust being engendered from the public forum and printed page.

Freemasons, alert and conscious of their rightful position in society and cognizant of their responsibilities will not be swept off their feet by any emotional displays for we are supposed to be men of courage who dare to do right.

The perpetuation of ideals free from entangling influences must be extended by every honest effort.

— Scottish Rite Sun

Masonic Character

The following definition of Masonic character appeared in an 1823 edition of the Farmers Almanac that was published in Andover, Massachusetts. It sums up quite well the type of character each of us should exemplify in our daily lives if we are going to live up to the honor of being a Freemason.

"The real Freemason is distinguished from the rest of mankind by the uniform unrestrained rectitude of his conduct. Other men are honest in fear of punishment that the law might inflict; they are religious in expectation of being rewarded, or in dread of the devil in the next world. A Freemason would be just if there were no laws, human of divine, except those written in the heart by the fingers of his Creator. In every climate, under every system of religion, he is the same. He kneels before the throne of God in gratitude for the blessings he has received; and in humble solicitations for his future protection. He venerates the good men of all religions; he disturbs not the religion of others. He restrains his passions because they cannot be indulged without injuring his neighbor of himself. He gives no offense because he does not choose to be offended. He is honest upon principle."

What people say behind your back is your standing in the community.

— Edgar Watson Howe

The principal office of history I take to be this: to prevent virtuous actions from being forgotten, and that evil words and deeds should fear an infamous reputation with posterity.

— Tacitus

Everyone stamps his own value on himself. The price we charge for ourselves is given us. Man is made great or little by his own will.

— Br. Johann F. von Schiller

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Charles B. Stephens
Associate State Director of Masonic Education
2678 Macland Road
Dallas, GA 30157-9303
Home (678) 363-9266
FAX (678) 363-9091