Did it have to be a Past Master? As I sat down to write this month’s Beacon, I was
tempted to simply write, “It’s hot,” and sign off sincerely and fraternally. However, on a
past Tuesday night, while visiting another Lodge I found myself taken aback by a short
essay read aloud during meeting. The essay, titled “The Old Past Master, Understanding,”
recounts a simple conversation between a young Master Mason and an old Past Master, a
conversation that I believe articulates the timelessness of human struggles and the beauty
of fraternity. The essay, drafted by P.G.M. Carl H. Claudy, seems as though it was written
yesterday, and its lessons carry the same weight as they did so many years ago.
There are a number of themes, which I would love to highlight from this essay but I am repeatedly drawn back to one section, which illustrates the following, Masons meet on the level. We live in tumultuous and divisive times, and it is easy to be caught up in the moment, but this article highlights both the timelessness of problems such as these and what separates our fraternity from others. Masons meet on the level. From the article: “What caused the Civil War? Failure of one people to understand another and an inequality of men which this country could not endure. What caused the Great War? Class hatred. What is the greatest leveler of class in the world? Masonry.” Friends and brethren, read these words carefully, “Where is the only place in which a capitalist and laborer, socialist and democrat, fundamentalist and modernist, Jew and Gentile, sophisticated and simple alike meet and forget their differences? In a Masonic Lodge, through the influence of Masonry. Masonry, which opens her portals to men because they are men, not because they are wealthy or wise or foolish or great or small but because they seek the brotherhood which only she can give.”
Brethren, our Brotherhood and our dedication to pluralism are among the many beauties, which unite us as Masons. The fact that Masons meet on the level is something I hold dear. But the wise Old Past Master, both in the essay and the one who originally drafted the words, concludes with the cement which truly unites us – humility and the desire to complete the unfinished temple. “None are more fit to wear the Square and Compasses than those who know themselves unworthy, for they are those who strive to be real Masons.”
So why start the article with “It had to be a Past Master?” After sitting in Lodge for a number of years and having recently sat in the East for the first, there is one steadfast truth….Past Master’s love to bend your ear about Masonry and all of its fine details. A Mason recently quipped that being Worshipful Master was simply training to be a Past Master. I found this humorous and actually agreed…until now. I have had the honor of a number of Past Masters who have offered advice, loving criticism, or simply good direct feedback. In almost every instance, that feedback is concluded with, “I understand, I have been there before, I made similar mistakes, and I hope this helps in some way.” There is something to wise Old Past Masters they knelt at the same altar, took the same oaths, and strive to be real Masons.
I hope to see all of you soon….it’s hot!
Sincerely and Fraternally,