Vol. XXV No. 4 — April 1947

Tell Your Brother

You have just had the joy of seeing your friend made your brother. Through you he petitioned your lodge; the committee reported favorably and he was elected. You watched his progress through the degrees with pleasure that he was at last to sit with you in your Mother lodge.

Now he is raised — perhaps you had the happiness of raising him!

Too often brethren forget that what is old and familiar to them is strange and new to the newly-raised brother. Too often we leave him to learn for himself, slowly, painfully, over a long time, the simple everyday facts about Masonry and lodge life which are second nature to us who are old in the Craft.

Therefore the friendly suggestion — tell your newly-made brother something of this strange new world in which he is so suddenly born; these “foreign countries” in which he will now travel; the familiar customs and practices which are so well-known to you.

Tell him of the structure of a lodge. It is officered by a master, wardens, deacons, stewards, a tiler, a master of ceremonies or marshal, a secretary and treasurer. He does not know why a Master wears a hat, or is called “Worshipful,” or that he is given autocratic powers. Instruct your brother that the hat is a symbol of authority, Worshipful is from an old English word meaning “respected” and that except for the written law and the landmarks, the Master is responsible, not to the lodge but to the grand master and grand lodge.

Explain the system of appointment and election, the long journey through the “line,” and that it is made long that those who would lead, learn well the landmarks and the customs as well as the ritual of Masonry. Make sure your pupil comes to the first installation of officers possible for him to see, that he may learn firsthand of the solemn declarations there made, the duties then outlined, the importance of the consecration to the offices of master and wardens.

Shortly after he is raised, every brother hears of brethren being appointed on committees. As the newly-raised, too, will doubtless be chosen on one, tell him something of the two most important committees in lodge — the committee on a petitioner, the committee on a visitor. Early impressions are very strong impressions, and a word or two of explanation and admonition of the necessity of selfless, thoughtful service, and the honor attached to an appointment on either committee, will bear good fruit later on.

Your friend will ask you, sooner or later, “What are these landmarks I have been told I must carefully preserve?” And all fair fates commend you if you can give a clear-cut answer! Had anyone been able to reduce all landmarks to print and given an exclusive list, the answer would be easy. In some grand lodges just that has been done, but even where a specified list is the law, few Masonic authorities will agree that the list is exclusive. Many grand lodges do not specify the landmarks, fearing to omit something important. Explain all this, and then add, if you will, the poetic landmarks of Dr. Joseph Fort Newton: “The Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, the moral law, the Golden Rule and the hope of a life everlasting” which should at least intrigue the inquirer to further study.

There is little in the ritual about how a man becomes a Mason. Nothing, perhaps, is better known to all who are of the Craft than that solicitation is un-Masonic.

But tell your brother — see that he understands as you understand the vital importance of a man becoming a Mason “of his own free will and accord” unbiased by any solicitation, uncoerced by any friend. For unless it is a wholly voluntary act, conceived for good reasons, carried out in humility and reverence, the result has little value either to lodge or brother.

How large is this Fraternity your friend has joined? He will want to know. Tell him of forty-nine grand lodges in the United States; tell him that Nevada is the smallest Grand lodge with some thirty-two hundred Masons and New York the largest with more than two hundred and fifty thousand. He should learn that there are some two and three quarter million Masons in this country, and five million in the world. He will be amazed, probably, to learn that there are nearly sixteen thousand lodges in the United States, and therefore, that more than fourteen hundred lodges meet every night except Sunday throughout the union. Size does not necessarily mean quality, but the fact that the Ancient Craft is the largest as well as the oldest Fraternal order in the world bears its own connotations of worth.

“And can I visit other lodges?” is a natural question. Of course he can! But he cannot approach the tiled door of another lodge and expect just to walk in. Here is where you should tell him of vouching — the process by which one is able to say to a tiler “I know this man to be a Master Mason because I have sat in lodge with him.” Explain that if there is no one available to vouch for him — as for instance in a strange city — he can ask for a committee to examine him and prove that their would-be visitor is, indeed, a Mason.

Tell him of the need for a good standing card or receipt for dues — for the would-be visitor must be in good standing. Tell him, too, of the fact that there are no two rituals alike in this country. Impress upon him that the important thing is that he knows his own ritual; his examiners will soon discover whether he does or not. And be very sure to explain at some length that divergences in ritual are in the words and the non-essentials; in the vital parts Freemasonry is universal. No brother who knows his own ritual will fail to pass an examination committee because of differences of ritual; no brother who doesn’t know the fundamentals of the Craft can hope to pass any examining committee.

Tell your brother, also, that he must not visit a lodge which is holden (old Masonic word for held) under a grand lodge with which his own grand lodge is not in fraternal relations. This will not apply to any regular lodge in the United States and Canada, in which two countries all grand lodges are in fraternal relations with all others. But in Mexico, Central and South America and in Europe, care must be exercised.

Explain, too, that there are a few — very few — spurious, clandestine lodges in the United States. Tell him of the book of regular lodges so he may inform himself prior to a visit to a strange city, and thus protect him from what might be an innocent excursion into forbidden territory.

He will doubtless want to know how he can learn more ritual than was taught him in his progress through the degrees. Here a few words about the exoteric (printed) work and the esoteric (unwritten) work of Masonry may be clarifying. Almost any lodge has one or more brethren who not only know their ritual, letter perfect, but find real delight in teaching it to others. See that he meets these devoted brethren, if his desires turn to a more complete knowledge of the work.

It will be well to devote a few words to the rights and the duties of a Master Mason. Every Mason has the right of being a member of his lodge, of voting therein, of holding office. He has the right to a demit if he wishes to leave one lodge to join another; within the framework of the right of a lodge to choose its own members, he has the right of affiliation with another lodge.

There is a right of visitation, subject always to the pleasure of the brethren and the Master of the lodge visited; a right to a Masonic trial if accused of a Masonic offense; a right to ask for a Masonic funeral. Every member of a lodge has a right to speak at least once on any question, which cannot be abridged by the Master, unless for good and sufficient reasons, such as the peace and harmony of the lodge. The Master is answerable to the grand lodge and grand master — a brother aggrieved has a right of appeal.

No right is without its duty. That the Mason has rights connotes that he has duties; obedience to the gavel, to the laws, resolutions and edicts of grand lodge, the by-laws of his lodge (unless these contravene some older and greater rights, as has more than once happened!); the duty so to act in the secular world that the fair name and fame of the Fraternity is upheld and extended. Every duty of citizenship is enhanced and made greater by his being a Master Mason; every moral and social law to which he subscribes should be the more meticulously observed by the Master Mason, because he has been better taught than his fellows.

The Master Mason also has a duty to his lodge; to serve cheerfully on committees, to attend funerals and cornerstone layings, to cooperate and help in its laudable purposes, to be a part of lodge life, not a mere payer of dues and sitter upon the sidelines.

You will tell your brother of grand lodge, that august body which governs the whole Craft in your state. If your grand lodge has the district deputy system, in which many brethren have charge, each of a few lodges, because all are too many for one grand master, you will instruct him of it, and of importance of the district deputies’ official visits. He should know whether his grand lodge meets always in one city or is a “traveling” grand lodge, meeting now here, now there, as invitations are extended and the pleasure of the brethren decide. Tell him, too, of those features of grand lodge which are not found in the lodge; of the Masonic home, or charity foundation; the hospital, orphanage, sanitarium or other organized charity fostered and conducted by grand lodge. See that he knows that a part of his dues to lodge support grand lodge, which in turn, devotes part of its income to relief and succor for the old, the ill, the helpless and the children.

Tell him, too, of your grand lodge temple, if it has one, its library and museum, if it supports them and urge him to see for himself at the first opportunity. Especially urge him to visit the Masonic home or school that he, too, may partake of the pride and joy all Masons have in their most beautiful expression of the principle tenets of the order.

Show him and call his attention to the report of the Foreign Correspondent (if your grand lodge uses the services of such an officer), and show him and urge him to read through a copy of the Proceedings of grand lodge — he will gain a new insight into what grand lodge is and does. See, also, that he has a copy of the Code, or Book of the Law, that he may understand that the jurisprudence of the Fraternity is an important matter. He should know, also, that the Ancient Craft is well-governed, not only because it has a constitution, by-laws, a large body of laws which have grown up through the years by legislation and by grand masters’ decisions, approved by grand lodge, but because there is so much of “thou shalt” and so little of “thou shalt not” in Masonic law.

Your brother should learn that different peoples, climates, environs, history and ideas cause grand lodge laws to differ, one from the other. What is legal in one grand lodge is not necessarily so in another, and vice versa. One grand lodge demands that each candidate be balloted upon separately; another permits a collective ballot on several candidates, of course with the proviso that a black ball then requires a single ballot immediately on all names. One grand lodge permits several candidates to receive a degree at once (except for one section) another grand lodge wants a complete degree conferred on each candidate alone, and so on. Such differences can only be disclosed by reading many Codes; what should be emphasized to the newly made brother is that his law is not necessarily the same as the law in another grand lodge, and that neither law is the better or the worse for being different.

If your lodge has a written history, by all means put a copy in your brother’s hands; he should know of its formation, its early struggles, the good men and true it has given to the world, its successes and its triumphs. There is a written history of every grand lodge; the newly made brother should read for himself how his grand lodge came to be and what it has done down the years.

Finally, suggest to the new brother the value and interest of reading of the Fraternity. Tell him that there are five main classifications of Masonic lore; history of the Fraternity as a whole, as well as in this country, and of grand lodge and lodge; ritual and symbolism; jurisprudence, philosophy, taking up landmarks, teachings, ideals; and the general reference works, dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Your grand lodge library will be glad to suggest titles if you have them not at your tongue’s end; so will this Short Talk Bulletin. But get your brother to read; the reading Mason is the interested Mason; the interested Mason is the backbone of the Craft of today and the hope of the Craft of tomorrow.

Does all this seem a task? Think back, then, to the day you were raised and what it would have meant to you, if some devoted friend had thus introduced you to the “foreign countries” within the land of Freemasonry and how much more quickly you could have been assimilated, how much better time you might have had, how much easier lodge life would have been, had you started well prepared.

For you, even as your brother, were taught that dependence, each upon the other, is one of the strongest bonds of society; that you, even as he, were formed for social and active life; that the duties of love and friendship are reciprocal.

Give to your brother the knowledge which will become his heritage, and be sure, somewhere, sometime, in payment therefore, will come to you the wages of a Master!

The Masonic Service Association of North America