From the East: October 2013

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Oct 082013
 

OBLIGATIONS

When we receive our degrees, we incur obligations.  These obligations are to ourselves, our families, Masonry and the societies we live in.  How we accept and fulfill these obligations reflect on us as individuals and as Masons.  Some of them are easier to follow than others, but all are equally important.

Our obligations to society are the most visible and usually the most visible and easiest to follow.  We are enjoined to be good citizens and work within the rules of our societies.  We may not agree with the rules, but must accept them are work to revise them within acceptable methods of change.

Our obligations to ourselves are usually not as visible as the others, but can have more impact upon ourselves and those around us.  These are also the easiest to avoid and least likely to be noticed, especially those to ourselves.  Of the two, the familial obligations should have priority.

The Masonic obligations are voluntary, but nevertheless important.  How we approach them, will reflect upon ourselves and the Fraternity.  One of our most important responsibilities is the approach we take to potential new Masons.  Remember that when they visit us or our Lodge their impression of us is vital to their decision whether to continue seeking admittance.  We should answer their questions as openly and honestly as we can.  If we can’t answer a particular question, let them know, respectfully, why we can’t answer their question at that time.  Initiate a conversation with them when they visit; introduce yourself and introduce them to the other Brethren.  Speaking for myself, it is hard for someone coming to a Masonic Lodge the first time to know what to expect unless they have an acquaintance or relative involved in Masonry.  Consider that they may be nervous and uncertain and welcome them.

Another area that tends to be neglected, are the youth organizations associated with Masonry: Rainbow Girls and DeMolay.  I know they are always looking for Masons to participate in their activities and would be more than happy to accept any participation from us.  So, if your time and schedule permits, please consider helping them in any way you can.

– Bill Goodell, Worshipful Master

From the East: September 2013

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Sep 152013
 

Brethren,

I’ve had several discussions recently with Brethren about mentorship.  We don’t talk about it much formally, but it is one of the more important facets of our lives as men and Masons.  As men, we should lead by example in our daily lives among non-Masons.  The virtues and actions that we practice as Masons are equally applicable to interactions with non-Masons.  Among Masons, we should remember that potential Brethren are visiting or talking with us and generally have little experience or knowledge of Masons or Masonic practices.  When we have visitors to the Lodge, please take a moment to make them feel welcome and answer any of their questions, remembering that this may be their first impression of Masons.  Once a Brother has been initiated, he selects an instructor to learn the work as we all have done.  The relationship between the new Brother and his instructor will be one of the longest and strongest Masonic bonds a Brother will ever have.  Those of us who instruct candidates should remember that it is usually a stressful experience, especially for new candidates, and they may be hesitant to ask questions.  Although it doesn’t pertain to the work specifically, we should make the new candidates aware of other Masonic activities they can participate in during their study periods.  When they are participating in other activities or observing degrees, let’s make an effort to sit close to them or meet with them afterwards while the activity is still fresh in their minds and we can answer any questions they may have.

Remember, we should be as willing to give as they are to receive.

– Bill Goodell, Worshipful Master

From the East: August 2013

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Aug 242013
 

Brethren,

The August stated meeting was our official visit from Right Worshipful Jeff Forrester, District Deputy Grand Master for our district.  I would like to thank Brother Forrester and Brother Keith Stephens, our District Instructor, for their attendance.  As always, it was a pleasure and informative for me to visit with them.

I would like to talk a little bit about one of the initiatives that I propose for the upcoming Masonic Year.  We have talked a great deal about getting new brothers into the Fraternity, but not so much about how to keep them.  What I’m proposing is that we begin a mentorship program for newly initiated Brothers.  Going forward, I will expect the top-line signer(s) of a petition to take the lead in coordinating the activities of the new Brother.  He should assist the Brother in finding an instructor if he is unable to teach the Brother himself and monitor his progress in learning the work.  If the Brother hasn’t been attending Lodge, check on him and see if there is any assistance required from the Officers of the Lodge, or anyone else.  Encourage him to attend Lodge functions that are permitted to him and assist him in attending functions and activities that may be occurring outside our Lodge.  If he would like to participate in Lodge activities, such as degree work and education sessions help him with that also.

Please give my suggestion some thought and provide me any comments that you think advisable.

– Bill Goodell, Worshipful Master

From the East: July 2013

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Jul 092013
 

Brethren,

As we begin a new Masonic year, I want to thank everyone for their support.  I’m looking forward to continuing the work started by our immediate Past Masters and building upon their foundation.  As many of you know, I am very interested in Masonic education and research.  It is my intent that the Lodge stay busy during the year; if we aren’t conferring a degree, we will be presenting an educational program related to Masonic history, symbolism or research.  I also think that it is important that we provide a good experience for our candidates when conferring degrees.  I strongly encourage everyone interested in working in the degrees to participate in our practice sessions.  If you are interested in taking a part, please see me or Brother Marshall.  I will be coordinating forthcoming activities with the Lodge Officers and will have a detailed presentation for the next Trestleboard.  If anyone has any concerns or request, please see me or either one of the Wardens.

 

Fraternally,

Bill Goodell

From the East – October 2012

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Oct 132012
 

Freemasons often refer to the experience of receiving the degree of Entered Apprentice as being “initiated” with perhaps little care or thought for what that word implies. In exploring human history, we find that “initiation” often signifies a specific moment in which someone becomes a recognized part of a group. This commonly requires a ceremony or ritual that may or may not be held privately or secretly, and may be accompanied by one or more tests or trials. In extreme examples, these trials can even involve life-threatening, and occasionally fatal, situations. Once accepted and passed, the shared experience of these trails permanently cements the bond between the group and the new initiate.

Additionally, we find that “initiation” can designate an event which marks a significant change or transformation of the candidate. As an example, in many cultural or spiritual traditions, older boys might be initiated into manhood. This can involve secret ceremonies in which the initiate is provided some of the traditions or stories illustrating the ideals and archetypes of manhood within the tradition.  In other cases, as with the Bar Mitzvah practiced within Judaism, it might be a public recognition by the community that a boy has earned the privileges and responsibilities that come with his transition into manhood. In any case, the ceremony of initiation leaves the candidate forever changed. There is no stepping back into the place from which he came.

Finally, we can consider the word itself, “to initiate”, as a reference to something that is newly started or undertaken. In this context, initiation marks the beginning of something which transcends one particular moment or event. It leads the initiate into a journey, which he must begin to follow for himself. The candidate is literally set upon a path, the way is shown, and any ensuing challenges or difficulties willing  accepted. This is the moment that Frodo accepts the “one ring” from his uncle Bilbo and leaves the Shire with his friends, or when Luke Skywalker accepts his father’s light saber from Obi-wan Kenobi and seeks to learn the ways of the Jedi. Of course, as the stories of great heroes often teach us, the initiate seldom knows where the path will lead him and how it will change him in the process.

It is easy to see that initiation into Freemasonry utilizes all of these important facets when we confer an Entered Apprentice degree. The candidate is united to his new Brethren by his share in that experience, and we formally recognize him in his new status as a Freemason. We share our legends and stories with him so as to impress upon his mind the ideals and lessons of the Fraternity. And finally, if we have done our job well, the candidate is forever changed. If he is open to this process, the new Apprentice is set upon a journey toward self-knowledge, new challenges and discoveries, and the substantial labor of self-improvement. Amid all of the joyful wages Masons earn and  experience in practicing the tenets of our Order, let us never forget that it is a most solemn duty to take men who already know within their hearts that they are part of our Fraternity, to initiate them into our peculiar Mysteries, and, through that process, to show them the Light they already have within themselves.

Fraternally,
Kevin Main

From the East – August 2012

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Aug 062012
 

At the end of July, the members of Plano Lodge traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to confer a Master’s degree. During that event, I was earnestly reminded of the profound connection that each of us shares with our brothers, no matter what part of the world in which we might find ourselves. There is something magical about the instant connection of friendship and brotherhood one feels in meeting another Mason for the first time. That feeling of connectedness utterly transcends the barriers that often separate humanity without the door of the Lodge, the very same distinctions of culture, religion, and social status that Freemasonry seeks to overcome in uniting men through the promotion of equality and toleration.

There is something utterly indescribable that connects every Mason through our shared experiences in both becoming a Mason and practicing the teachings of the Order. We are bound to the Fraternity by a strong tie that goes much deeper than the promises we have made to each other. Our own lecture describes this “indissoluble chain of sincere affection”, which for centuries, our brethren in Europe have called the “mystic tie”.

The question that comes to my mind is this. If this bond is so strong that it inspires an instant rapport between two strangers in every other regard, how much greater must its influence be felt between men of the same Lodge, who have known each other for many years? In particular, Freemasonry has a lot to teach us about sincerity, integrity, patience, fidelity, mercy, and justice. Masonry proposes an abiding optimism about human nature, especially where the expectations and judgment of our brothers are concerned.

In an age in which we find ourselves so continuously connected with our fellow humans, constantly communicating through electronic means in both the most meaningful and trivial ways, we are simultaneously losing our ability to discern the intentions and sincerity of those we interact with. It is commonplace now to find that some comment, E-mail, post, or tweet is interpreted in some way that was not intended, and friendships are damaged in the misunderstanding. The increase in the quantity of our communication has placed quality at risk. In this regard, Masonry teaches us to assume that our brothers are acting with sincerity and integrity. In interpreting their words and actions, we must strive to presume that they are acting with the best intentions, and only when we find them truly in error, does one of our ancient changes instruct us to “judge with candor, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with justice”.

This is much easier said than done, my brothers, and that is why Masonry is a progressive science. We must never cease working upon ourselves. As Mahatma Gandhi is well known to have said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Fraternally,
Kevin Main

From the East – July

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Jul 102012
 

As early as 1724, there existed written evidence that Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth were collectively identified as principles of particular importance to Freemasonry. The modern Masonic Monitor for the Grand Lodge of Texas agrees that “the principal tenets of our profession are three: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth”.

Brotherly love is expressed by the good-natured and disinterested fellowship that Masons enjoy within the Fraternity. It is also demonstrated in Freemasonry’s acceptance of men of all faiths or creeds who can express a belief in a power greater than themselves. Relief is exemplified in our support of each other in times of sickness and distress, and also, most certainly, in the very public and very visible forms of Masonic charity.

For the better part of a century, Freemasonry has been widely recognized for its devotion to those in need, particularly children, and especially those children who desperately require medical care, treatment, or therapy. Further, by acknowledging that there is philosophical and spiritual Truth to be found among the diverse paths of religious tradition, sincere Masons demonstrate a sincere understanding of “the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God”.

With respect to work upon ourselves, brotherly love teaches us to have compassion and respect for our fellow man. Relief teaches us humility and self-sacrifice. The contemplation of Truth provides a path for self-understanding and self-improvement. Every man comes to Freemasonry seeking something, and often he seeks many things that are difficult for him to express. Those who seek fraternity and fellowship will find it in the practice of brotherly love. Those who seek to serve their fellow man will find it in the practice of relief or charity. Those who seek to understand and improve themselves will fulfill this need in the pursuit of Truth. However, Masonry is a “progressive science” that requires each of us to utilize its lessons if we are to discover its secrets, and those who endeavor to apply the working tools to their own rough ashlar and improve themselves in Masonry will soon discover that they must diligently practice all three of these excellent tenets.

The success of any Masonic Lodge is determined by its vitality. The Lodge thrives when it provides  an experience that inspires its members to come to Lodge and to get involved, simply because they want to share in and be a part of that experience. By balancing Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth in the activities of the Lodge, we build this unique experience upon the foundation which unites all Masons, the practice of Freemasonry in all its aspects. To this end, your officers for the upcoming  year have many great events and activities planned, and I very much look forward to seeing you all at Lodge.

May the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you.

Fraternally,

Kevin Main

From the East VOLUME 210, JULY ISSUE
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