The Practical Work Of Masonry
M.W.B. Col. James Moffat, G.M.
Address given at the opening of the Masonic Temple, London, Ontario, May 7, 1882.
I have recently read an able article in a Canadian Masonic periodical, the caption of which was "What is the practical work of Masonry, and what use is it to its members?" These are very pertinent questions to ask. Many young Masons are within this lodge room and many old ones as well. Ask yourselves if it has done you good. If it has not done its duty, something must have failed — something must be wrong. If you are not the brethren as contemplated; if you are jealous of each other; if you treat brethren as if they did not belong to the Order, then something is wrong. It is not the fault of Masonry. It does not teach you not to be true to each other. It is the fault of us. No better organization exists outside of the Christian religion — so capable of benefiting men, and making them upright and honest citizens. It has done its duty for ages, and will stand the test long after we are dead and gone.
I am sorry that Masonry is not better understood in Canada. Since the organization of the Grand Lodge, some twenty-six ago, we have for the most part been occupying ourselves in learning the ritual. Very few rituals are nicer or more beautiful, but at the same time it is simply a ceremony. The trouble has been that the young Mason has been left at the close of his initiation in utter ignorance of the principles of the Order and what he ought to be as a member of this great fraternity. The result of this dereliction on the part of the Grand Lodge in the past has been a coldness and apathy over the country — no real true brotherly friendship.
Masonry of that kind is a sham. You are doing it, and the sooner you correct the system the better. Go back to the old country, which I visited last summer, and take a lesson from the brethren there. The Worshipful Masters and Past Masters who are present share in the work of all the degrees, so as to share the interest all they possibly can in the work. The result is seen in large attendance at meetings, a vigorous, healthy feeling pervading everything and an intellectual development in regard to the Order a visitor but ever dreams of. That is what is demanded here. Every brother has an influence in the extension of work in this character, and I ask you all to correct, as speedily as possible, the evils, which are known in this regard.
The fruits of the lethargy to which I refer can be seen in the statistics of last year. There were 1,255 initiations, 411 affiliations and 134 restorations - in all 1,800 added to the roll. That was a very fair show. But let us look at the other side. There were 799 resignations, 27 expulsions, and 637 brethren suspended for non-payment of dues, which left only a balance of 163 to our credit. This is not a comfortable state of things, and must be remedied. There are no reasons for the resignations. Brethren should not tire of Masonry. It is a noble Order, and they should stand by it till the last gun is fired. In regard to the suspension for non-payment of dues, I approve of the course taken by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, which allows a brother so situated to visit the lodge but prohibits him from voting. That, to my mind, is a much preferable system to the one in vogue in Canada.
In conclusion, brethren, ever keep in remembrance the three great tenets of Masonry — Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. With them as your watchwords, you will become what nature has intended you to be — model men and upright citizens, no matter what position in life that you are called to occupy.