From the East – December

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Dec 012008


December marks the close of 2008 and WHAT a year it has been.  Like every year, it has had its triumphs and tragedies, its good times, and its hard times.  December is a time to reflect upon the past year and begin looking forward to the next.  It is also a time to reflect upon all God has given us.  It is very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, pursuing the “next” thing, or working frantically to get everything “checked off” our lists.  We are frequently too hurried, too tired, or too stressed to really enjoy those everyday blessings we have been given.  Each time you see your family and friends this month, take the time to think about what a special gift that person has been to your life, how they have made your life better, and how much that means to you.  These are the real gifts in life.

I want to wish everyone a safe and very Merry Christmas! (I hope everyone who practices another faith will reciprocate with a well wish for their spiritual holiday.)


JJ Miller
WM, Plano Masonic Lodge

From the East – November

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Nov 012008

What does Masonry teaches us about death?  During October, November, and December the days grow shorter than the nights and the leaves and summer vegetation all wither and die back.  Many ancient religions believed the these months symbolized the death of the Sun with the longer and longer nights, until it seemed darkness would overcome the Sun completely.

Death is the great leveler.  No wealth, rank, or distinction of honor can prevent its coming.  Its approach is uncertain.  It frequently comes without warning and when we least expect it.  Death reaps its harvest with the scythe of destruction.  No one can calculate when they may fall victim to its power.  The ninth or last class of emblems on the Master’s carpet teach us to reflect and think upon our life’s events and how they will be received before the tribunal of eternal Justice.

The memory of the good and virtuous Mason will always be cherished, and their ashes will be safely deposited in the urn of mortality.  So live your life conscious of the balance between how your choices and actions will reflect upon you once you have passed.  Your family will always remember you longer than anyone else, so give them your first consideration.  It will be your family and friends who, after years have gone by, will reflect upon how you touched their lives and what you meant to them.  And finally, remember that whatever faults and frailties an erring brother may have had, the broad mantle of his charity should cover them.

Live your life accordingly.

Near the light,
JJ Miller

Building Your Masonic Façade

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Aug 012008

Why did you join the Lodge?  Has your reason for staying in Lodge changed?  As an Apprentice, you were placed in the Northeast corner and given instructions upon which to build a moral and Masonic edifice, a floorplan for living a good life.  The questions and answers provided you with the cornerstone, but how much of your façade have you completed since laying that first stone?

Have you actively practiced charity, compassion, brotherhood, temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice?  And what kinds of materials are you using to build your personal façade?  Are you deliberately taking the extra time to use stone and mortar or are you cutting corners and using wood or straw?  Are you breaking off the rough and unusable parts of the stones so they fit tightly?

Every one of us must strengthen and fortify our character to successfully weather life’s turbulent, rough, and tumble storms.  We must be actively reflecting upon what the esoteric work is trying to teach us about how to craft and place the many stones that compose our whole life.  Do not get in a hurry to complete your great work because you are building a Temple, not a shed.

Every day, take time to work on your Masonic edifice.  Deliberately strive to improve yourself and carefully measure, cut, and place each personal and spiritual stone.  By reflecting upon the lessons of the esoteric work and how you can apply them to the challenges you face each day, you will construct a Temple that magnificently reflects who you are.

Near the light,
JJ Miller

Why We Teach the Work

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Jul 012008

Why do we require candidates to learn the esoteric work? Is it to haze our new Masons or to yoke our members with an additional Masonic burden? Sometimes it may feel this way, but in truth, it has a higher purpose. Teaching the work is what distinguishes Masonry from all other civic groups. It is the starting point used to forge the strong bonds of Masonic friendship, and it is the common bond that unites all Masons. Cutting corners while teaching the work only weakens Masonry in the long-term because it weakens the foundation of our friendships.

Teaching the work is no easy task. It requires 35-60 hours of studying to complete all three degrees. However, during that time you really get to know the candidate and he really gets a chance to know you. By the time you complete the Master’s work, you will very likely have a very good friend due to this shared experience. Being an instructor is your chance to communicate what Masonry means to you, to reflect upon what the lessons of the esoteric work are trying to teach, and then determine how to communicate that to our new brother.

Commit to taking the time to learn the questions and answers and promise yourself to teach a new Mason. For your efforts, you will be richly rewarded with a new friend and you will also be contributing to the long-term success of our beloved fraternity by building a stronger foundation for our brotherhood.


JJ Miller
WM, Plano Masonic Lodge