Rocky River #703, F&AM

Is Masonry for me?

It is often asked, 'What exactly do Masons do?'. A quick Google search on the word 'masonry' will return over 4 million results. There is no shortage of information on the Fraternity, some for, some against. If I were looking for information on a Ford truck, I surely wouldn't go to the General Motors website for information. I doubt you would hear much positive information that way. If you are looking for information on the Fraternity, hopefully you have found your way here.

Q:  So what do you guys do, exactly?

A:

Masons are a Fraternity of men. We get together on regular intervals, weekly usually, for our meetings. Some of these meetings are Stated Business meetings when we pay our bills, read correspondence, and talk about events and such. Some meetings are 'Special' meetings, where we may have a social event planned or a dinner. Occasionally we will have a meeting on a non-Lodge night, depending.

So what do we do at our meetings? Well, we make Masons. 

 

Q:  How do you make Masons?

A: This is a two part answer... Let me start with a comparison. Say you traveled to the Louvre in Paris, and were standing before a famous work of art, say Botticelli's Birth of Venus. What would you receive from the viewing of such a work? Some would see the nudity of Venus and be offended. Some would see Zephyr and Aura, who on the first day of Creation, elevated this shell bearing Venus' triumphant nudity from the unknown depths of the sea. Your appreciation for art and education on Botticelli would be in direct proportion to the reward you would receive from such a viewing. So first you physically traveled to Paris, then you mentally received inspiration from the viewing of the painting. Which is more important?

There is a physical means by which you become a Mason. There are 3 steps, ceremonies, we call them 'degrees' by which you will travel to become a Mason. But it is in the heart of the Brother that the true lessons of Masonry are imparted. The magnitude of acceptance of these lessons depends solely on the Brother receiving them, just as the viewing of the painting will speak differently to different people. 

There is a story about Michelangelo's David, where Michelangelo is said to downplay the accomplishment of the sculpture, saying, the sculpture was always there, he just removed the excess marble to reveal it. In the same way I think that the lessons of Masonry only help to reveal truths that are already self-evident, if you only strip away the excess marble. Do we make Masons, or are the men who come to the Fraternity just looking for directions to have their excess 'marble' removed?

 

Q:  What does Masonry teach?

A: The lessons of Masonry are many, and differ immensely from person to person. The tenants of Masonry are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. How are these tenants taught? By the use of symbols and allegory. The symbols used sometimes are the working tools that stone masons use in the construction of buildings. The plumb, square and level are real working tools to operative masons, and they are working tools for us as speculative Masons as well. 

 

Q:  What is the history of Masonry?

A: In 1717, four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England, and thus the modern Fraternity of Masonry was established. However, there are many theories about the origins of the institution that date back to the building of King Solomon's Temple, as well as to the construction of the pyramids by the ancient Egyptians. A widely accepted theory among Masonic scholars is that it arose from the stonemasons’ guilds during the Middle Ages. The language and symbols used in the fraternity’s rituals come from this era. The oldest document that makes reference to Masons is the Regius Poem, printed about 1390, which was a copy of an earlier work. 

The Fraternity had spread throughout Europe and the American Colonies by the 1750's. Freemasonry became very popular in colonial America. George Washington was a Mason, Benjamin Franklin served as the head of the fraternity in Pennsylvania, as did Paul Revere and Joseph Warren in Massachusetts. Other well-known Masons involved with the founding of America included John Hancock, John Sullivan, Lafayette, Baron Fredrick von Stuben, Nathaniel Greene, and John Paul Jones. Another Mason, Chief Justice John Marshall, shaped the Supreme Court into its present form.

During the late 1700's it was one of the organizations most responsible for spreading the ideals of the Enlightenment: the dignity of man and the liberty of the individual, the right of all persons to worship as they choose, the formation of democratic governments. Many of the principles of the Fraternity were interwoven into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Masonry was formally established in Ohio in 1808, although there were many Lodges in Ohio prior to that time. 

 

Q:  What will Masonry do for me?

A: The long and short of it is essentially this, what will Masonry do for me. This is a question that cannot be answered. As all men are different, and come to the Fraternity for different reasons, what you receive from the Fraternity will be different. My standard answer is that you will get out of the Fraternity what you put into the Fraternity. There are aspects that cater to all men, ranging from esoteric and introspective studies to just being a group of guys to head to the 703 1/2 for your choice of adult beverage.

 

Q:  So what?

A: So what... So what does all of this mean? Good question. Masonry does not claim to have cornered the market on truth. Some men find truth through their education. Some through their religion, yet others through their work or families. 

If you want to belong to an organization of Brothers and friends that have documented heritage back to the founding of our country, consider joining. If you can turn off the television one night a week and get out of the house, consider joining.

Since I've joined the Lodge, it has become a part of me. Thursday evenings may be when we get together for our meetings, but the principles of the Fraternity permeate my actions seven days a week. If you are looking for something in your life, consider joining. Perhaps we will soon come to know you as a Brother, too...
Q:  So what?

A: So what... So what does all of this mean? Good question. Masonry does not claim to have cornered the market on truth. Some men find truth through their education. Some through their religion, yet others through their work or families. 

If you want to belong to an organization of Brothers and friends that have documented heritage back to the founding of our country, consider joining. If you can turn off the television one night a week and get out of the house, consider joining.

Since I've joined the Lodge, it has become a part of me. Thursday evenings may be when we get together for our meetings, but the principles of the Fraternity permeate my actions seven days a week. If you are looking for something in your life, consider joining. Perhaps we will soon come to know you as a Brother, too...