Vol. XXXVIII No. 7 — July 1960

Duly and Truly Prepared

Conrad Hahn

A candidate is said to be duly and truly prepared when he is properly garbed and shod for the particular degree he is entering into. One of the minor dramatic situations of a Masonic initiation depends for its effectiveness upon the obvious pause and silent scrutiny of the candidate by the conducting officer, when the question is asked, “Is he duly and truly prepared?”

While such examination is directed to externals, which every good ritualist knows and insists upon for their symbolic value, the question always carries with it a deeper spiritual significance. Every Mason has acknowledged in one of the lectures of the Entered Apprentice Degree that he was first prepared to be made a Mason in his heart. That preparation antedated his initiation into the lodge; it antedated even his signing of a petition. Rightly understood, his preparation began long before he expressed a desire to join this great Fraternity.

The Masonic interpretation of the word “heart” makes this clear. The heart is the seat of life or strength; it is the seat of spiritual and moral life, of the benevolent emotions like love and sympathy and appreciation. When a man is first prepared in his heart, it means that he has shown growth and development in his understanding and appreciation of spiritual values, like love of God and His great process of creation. It means that he has shown vigor and strength in maintaining moral principles, like integrity, truthfulness, purity, and tolerance.

Proper preparation, therefore, is one of the tests of a candidates worthiness to be accepted as a Mason. At the same time, it becomes one of the chief responsibilities of the lodge to direct the candidate’s earlier preparation to particular and specific Masonic objectives. This may be done indirectly, through good works and good public relations; it may be done more directly through pre-initiation instruction for groups or individuals. It is a continuing purpose in all the instruction given to candidates before and after the several degrees.

A worthy candidate for Freemasonry, therefore, is a man who has been preparing himself for the mysteries of initiation without actually knowing it. He has demonstrated his ability to accept responsibilities maturely: the responsibilities of a job, of his family, of his community. He has shown evidence of a sincerely religious attitude toward life. He has been alive to the needs and wants of others. He has taken a man’s part in the exercise of his duties and opportunities as a citizen. He enjoys a good reputation for morality and virtue. He is a man among men.

This is the kind of preparation for Masonic Light that a candidate for Freemasonry should have demonstrated before an investigating committee permits his petition to be presented in the lodge. Freemasonry doesn’t try to “sell” itself by advertising gimmicks. Freemasonry refuses to solicit men for membership. While her contacts with the world are numerous and extensive, Freemasonry works quietly and modestly to promote her great ideals of brotherly love, relief, and truth. A candidate must have demonstrated the willingness to pursue such ideals before he is ready for admission into the fellowship of Masonry. He must be duly and truly prepared.

American Freemasonry’s present concern with poor attendance and declining membership deserves some serious study. It is not enough to analyze statistics and to draw conclusions of an economic nature from them. It is not enough to extract sociological interpretations from the changing conditions of modern life, which are troubling social and fraternal organizations of every kind. It is positively not enough to consider the possibility that Ancient Landmarks need revision, especially the Masonic landmark that a man seeks Light in Masonry of his own free will and accord.

Freemasonry, when it is true to its Ancient Charges and Constitutions, is morality in action. An examination of weaknesses in carrying out that mission may be the most salutary inspection that our great Fraternity needs today. A study of the reasons for a growing number of brothers who take dimits and of an increasing number of suspensions for nonpayment of dues might yield a significant answer to the question: “Were they duly and truly prepared?”

The strength of Freemasonry, especially in those periods when it enjoys the greatest respect and influence, lies not in numerical power, but in the extent to which its tenets are put into practice. There is grave danger in the mere counting of heads. If Freemasonry really aims to make all men brothers, to harmonize discordant elements in the nation and in the world at large; if Freemasonry is to help, aid, and assist the needy and troubled; if it hopes to liberate men from the tyranny of ignorance, by means of the light of freedom and the sacredness of the individual, then the brotherhood might well refrain from pridefully asking, “How many Masons do we have?” and instead, concern itself with a more important question, “Are they duly and truly prepared?” Is Freemasonry seeking quantity or quality?

For this reason, investigating committees are crucial to the future welfare and usefulness of the Fraternity. No Masonic office, no Masonic service, no Masonic duty needs better informed and more trustworthy Master Masons than the group of men who first meet a candidate and evaluate his qualifications. Although the questions on the usual petition are few and relatively simple, the members of an investigating committee must interpret all the candidates answers, statements, and inquiries about Freemasonry, as if they were asking the decisive question, “Is he duly and truly prepared?” It takes Masonic knowledge, Masonic insight, and Masonic wisdom to discern a candidates preparation in his heart.

The investigating committee has the first opportunity to speak to the candidate officially, as the appointed representatives of a lodge of Master Masons. Whatever the candidate may have learned earlier from friends he believed to be brothers, he knows that the committee members come from the lodge. He realizes that what they have to say is important to his petition. It is his first official contact with Freemasonry.

The members of the committee are helping the candidate to take his first step in Masonry. Theirs is the opportunity to give him his first authentic knowledge of the Ancient Craft. Because of the publication in April 1958, of “Masonic Sentry," a Short Talk Bulletin explaining the duties and opportunities of an investigating committee, no attempt is made here to instruct such committees in details except to emphasize their opportunity to help the candidate to become duly and truly prepared.

In his heart! Theirs is the opportunity to awaken in the candidate a desire to enjoy the experiences that may be opened to him. There is certainly nothing un-Masonic in suggesting to a prospective brother that his experiences in the lodge will be a spiritual and an intellectual adventure, that he will find a quiet haven in which men speak freely, simply, and sincerely of the great spiritual facts of fife, and that Masonic initiation is a way of emphasizing moral values and ethical principles, to help good men become better.

There is nothing un-Masonic in suggesting to a candidate that his initiatory experiences may be the beginning of a life-long association with men who are concerned with the great problems of life — of good and evil, of freedom and despotism, of the rights and responsibilities of the individual, of the mystery of death, of a man’s relationship to God and his fellowman — that to become a Mason is a serious, purposeful, and spiritually rewarding experience.

As a matter of fact, such explanations to the candidate will do much to correct his impressions, if he has been the victim of thoughtless members who have made him uneasy with talk about “a Masonic goat” or about “backing down.” Indeed, they may dissuade a gregariously happy-go-lucky individual, or cause him to think twice, if his petition has been entered only because he wants to join another fraternal order requiring Masonic membership for admission. In either case, who can deny that such applicants are being helped to be “duly and truly prepared” — in their hearts?

Of course, where candidates are given pre-initiation instruction by special committees or by the officers of the lodge, this kind of teaching concerning the serious and ennobling purposes of Masonic initiations is properly reserved to such specially trained Master Masons. But where a candidates only contact with Freemasonry, before he proceeds in darkness to the Entered Apprentice Degree, is with members of the investigating committee, they have a responsibility, as well as a golden opportunity, to see that he has been duly and truly prepared.

To those who are interested in sociological reasons for the declining number of applicants for Masonic membership, at a time when the nations population is increasing with gigantic strides, there is much food for thought in the objections of some of the young men who would make good Master Masons.

They say that they “have no desire to join an organization that spends so much time ‘horsing around’ with initiations to embarrass new members.” They have no inclination to spend an evening at the lodge “playing cards with the boys.” While such misconceptions of Masonic labors suggest that these young men are not “duly and truly prepared,” the question must also be asked, “Whose fault is it?”

Their ignorance of Masonic idealism, their misunderstanding of the purposes of Masonic ceremonies, and their lack of knowledge concerning Masonic benevolence and good works to help, aid, and assist are really an indictment of the face that Freemasonry has revealed to the world. They have judged the Fraternity by what some Masons may have told them about it. They have learned about the externals of form and of ceremony, but they have no idea of Masonic homes and hospitals, of Masonic relief to disaster-struck areas, of Masonic assistance to the crippled and the blind, of Masonic foundations to promote research into the causes and cure of some of mankind’s physical scourges, and of a united Freemasonry’s great service of love in the Veterans Administration Hospitals. They are not duly and truly prepared. But whose fault is it?

Occasionally, a young man of spirit and ability, and better informed than most, has inquired of Masonic friends about the possibility of taking part in some of the Fraternity’s charitable activities. He is quite frank about his desire to use such participation as a means for public recognition and acclaim. He wants to promote a big campaign with lots of fanfare and publicity. He cannot believe that an organization like Freemasonry prefers to work quietly, among its own. He is not duly and truly prepared. But where, one may ask, did he get the idea that Masonic leadership is exemplified by the actor, “who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more”?

It is commonplace to observe that in the strident modern world Freemasonry needs better public relations. In a society that is increasingly bewildered by large doses of facts, opinions, propaganda, and crises, the great brotherhood must make an effort to be better known and more accurately understood, if for no other reason, than that its candidates must be duly and truly prepared.

Immediately, however, one must make a distinction between “publicity” and “public relations.” Publicity is the dissemination of facts about the activities of Masonic lodges and allied organizations. The activities of a Masonic lodge are generally not “newsworthy.” But every Masonic lodge can add to the current news of the day, by contributing “public notices” to the local press, announcements of meetings and accounts of special events or programs. Fifty-year pin presentations, dramatic performances, ladies’ nights, and anniversaries have general interest for the reading public. Such news items must be prepared and furnished to the papers by members of the lodge. It requires constant effort and repetition that are not always appreciated; but the faithful publication of such announcements and news stories helps to keep before the public the fact that Freemasons are at labor. Such a fact is important to candidates who are being duly and truly prepared.

Publicity and good public relations are not the same thing. The former is the result of publishing facts; the latter is the outcome of good relationships between people. Good public relations for Freemasonry, therefore, depend on the establishment of satisfying human relationships between men who call themselves Freemasons and people who are non-Masons. When such relationships are widely recognized and mutually enjoyed, good public relations exist. Such a condition is truly a Masonic goal, since it represents a development of harmony, understanding, and mutual respect. Candidates who have recognized and who have been warmed by contact with such relationships are undoubtedly duly and truly prepared in one of the essential qualifications for Masonic membership. They have first been prepared in their hearts.

Satisfying human relationships cannot be brought about by grand lodge edicts or decrees. They cannot be created by committees or by legislation. They depend primarily on the individual. Good public relations for Freemasonry can be achieved only by the individuals who compose the brotherhood of Masons.

Every program for establishing good public relations must therefore begin with the individual brother. Only he is capable of creating those human relationships in his community and in the brotherhood of his lodge that will duly and truly prepare the minds of friends and neighbors to respect and admire Freemasonry. Among those non-Masons may be a future brother, whose desire to seek admission will be aroused by the “good public relations” maintained by individual Masons. But, where craftsmen have created the impression that Masonic initiations are “horseplay,” that lodge meetings waste time in recreational activities that can be duplicated elsewhere, or that colorful costumes and grandiloquent titles are a meaningless pomposity, Freemasonry’s public relations are bad, not good.

But where the spirit of brotherly love and friendship and practical demonstrations of Masonic relief are exemplified in the lives of Master Masons, there it is possible for non-Masons to become duly and truly prepared candidates — in their hearts.

Such candidates for the ancient and honorable society of Freemasons will feel the impulse to join because they are attracted to men who are obviously proud to be Master Masons, men who are not ashamed in a materialistic world to speak of moral and spiritual values, and who dare to act in conformity with such ideals.

They will recognize a Master Mason as a sincerely religious man, who realizes that his profession requires a builder to labor on the symbolic temple of the Church of God that he has chosen to join. They will recognize a Master Mason as a loyal citizen of the state, who never shirks his civic duties, who is always ready to serve in councils or committees to promote the public good. They will recognize a Master Mason as a man of integrity, of democratic convictions, of unswerving loyalty to the principles for which the Republic was founded, such as personal rights, justice, freedom, and the sacredness of the individual. They will recognize a Master Mason as a conscientious workman, whether he is a manager or laborer, who gives a full measure of service to every task he has to perform, who is faithful to every trust, and dependable in every assignment. Inspired by such examples, those candidates will be duly and truly prepared — in their hearts.

They will recognize a Master Mason as an active worker in community projects for welfare and benevolence. Giving what he can of his own means and substance, he gives even more by his energy and enthusiasm to see that the community’s new hospital or youth center will become a reality. He is a zealous worker in a program for young people, like the local DeMolay chapter or Boy Scout troop. They will recognize a Master Mason as a devoted husband and conscientious father, whose children are eager and ambitious to strive for worthwhile goals. They will recognize a Master Mason as a friendly, agreeable neighbor. They will recognize a Master Mason as a man who has time to take part in lodge affairs, because there he renews his benevolent and moral insights. Encouraged by such constructive endeavors, those candidates will be duly and truly prepared — in their hearts.

They will recognize a lodge of Master Masons as a group of earnest men, seriously devoted to the idea that men can improve their relationships with each other by means of the harmonizing principle of brotherly love. They will recognize a lodge of Master Masons as a group of kindly men, who quietly and unostentatiously bring relief and assistance to a needy widow or orphan in their immediate neighborhood. They will recognize a lodge of Master Masons as a group of revitalized men, who come from their meetings with a confident hope and a happy desire for service. Fascinated by such spiritually invigorating activities, those candidates will be duly and truly prepared — in their hearts.

Such is the foundation of “good public relations.” When Master Masons convince non-Masons that friendship, morality, and brotherly love are the principal rights, lights, and benefits conferred upon them by a worshipful lodge, they will have no dearth of acceptable candidates who are duly and truly prepared.

The Masonic Service Association of North America