Contents Page 2, ‘The numbering of Scottish Lodges This cover article takes a look at why some of our Lodges have strange numbers!
Page 4, ‘The History and Meaning of the Apron’ This fascinating article traces the origin, history and meaning of our Masonic Apron.
Page 9, ‘Famous Freesmasons.’ Joseph Fort Newton, the story of this remarkable American Masonic writer.
Page 12, ‘Lodge St. John Stoneyburn.’ The History of another Scottish Lodge.
Page 16, ‘The Old Tiler Talks’, “So Many Rascals”, the seventeenth in the series from Carl Claudy’s ‘Old Tiler Talks.’
Page 18, ‘Rays of Masonry’, “A Name and what it Suggests’ a new monthly feature of writings.
Page 19, ‘The Order of the Scottish Clans.’ Another in our series of Fraternal Societies.
Page 20, ‘Brothers and Builders’. The Basis and Spirit of Freemasonry, Chapter One – The Altar.
Page 24, ‘Coming to Terms with Freemasonry’ Gloves.
In the Lectures website 1
The article for this month is ‘Catherine the Great and her relations with the Freemasons’. [link]
The Numbering of Scottish Lodges
Kilwinning (Orkney). Again there is a slight difference in the number 38, for Lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning’s number also has a 2 or ‘squared’, their number being 38².
Any Brother taking a look at the Roll of Scottish Lodges whether in the Grand Lodge of Scotland Year Book or in the many Scottish websites that list them, will immediately notice on closer examination, that some of our Scottish Lodges have been given strange numbers. For example the Lodge at the head of the list is numbered 0 (zero). The reason for this Lodge which is called Mother Kilwinning being numbered that way, is another story for another time, however there are other Lodges holding under the Grand Lodge of Scotland which also have peculiar numbers, within its Roll of Lodges
So how this peculiar number system with the Grand Lodge of Scotland lodges came about is a fascinating story, and I am so delighted to have been allowed to share it with the readers of the newsletter. This article came about from a correspondence between Bro. Calum Mackenzie and Bro. Bob Cooper the museum curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland regarding our peculiar system of numbering some Lodges, to whom credit must go for the following article, especial thanks must also go the Bro. Josh Gourlay another subscriber to the newsletter.
In the progressive list, the Lodge numbered after 0 is naturally 1 (one) (the Lodge of Edinburgh, Mary’s Chapel) then strangely, there are another two Lodges numbered 1 on the Roll immediately after that, The Lodge of Melrose and The Lodge of Aberdeen. Nevertheless, in this numbering system there is a subtle distinction between these three Lodges all with the number 1. The Lodge of Melrose is designated number 1² and The Lodge of Aberdeen is numbered 1³. Next in order there are two Lodges numbered 3, Lodge Scoon and Perth No. 3 and the Lodge of Glasgow St. John No.3² or No.3bis. Finally further down the list we come to two Lodges with the number 38, Lodge St. Michael (Crieff) and Lodge Kirkwall
Numbering Scottish Lodges In 1807, The Mother Lodge Kilwinning rejoined the Grand Lodge of Scotland. As she had been Chartering Lodges in numerous parts of the world when she rejoined some of the 'Kilwinning' Lodges also rejoined - but not all. In 1809 Grand Lodge renumbered all the Daughter Lodges was given number 44/1 In 1816 many Lodges had not been heard from since 1809 (they were supposed to be making annual returns) and all Lodges were sent letters. Those that replied were kept on the roll and all the Lodges were renumbered accordingly. Lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning did not reply in 1816 and were assumed (a great many were not and just did not bother to answer the
letter!) to be dormant and removed from the roll. Kirkwall Kilwinning was declared dormant that year. St Michael (Crieff) did answer the letter and as part of the renumbering, they were given the number 36. Kirkwall Kilwinning did not get a number at all (being dormant). Another renumbering exercise took place in 1822 and it was expected that this would be the last as most of the remaining Kilwinning Lodges had now rejoined Grand Lodge. By this time there was a lot of confusion as to what Lodges were active and those that were not so in cases where there was some doubt rather than renumber every single Lodge again only to find out that they were dormant they allocated the same number 38/1, 38/2 etc. If the Lodge was dormant then all they would need to do would be to delete the '1' or the '2' – that would avoid another complete renumbering that was the theory anyway! In 1822, St Michael was numbered 34/1 and Kirkwall Kilwinning 34/2 but...In 1826 more Lodges appeared with old records showing the they should Have a much lower number (a good example is Lodge St John Kilwinning, No.57) that discovered documents from 1600 and so should probably have been numbered 3, 4, or similar.
not sure if Lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning was still functioning or not? If it was and if Grand Lodge knew about it, it decided enough was enough and every Lodge with a number, (no matter how strange) was told that, that was their number and there would be no more changes under any circumstances. There you have it - confused? Aren't we all! Bob Cooper, Curator, GLOS. We Scottish Freemasons are very proud of our Lodge numbers, and invariably will call our Lodges by number rather than name. In the province in which I live, I will say I’m going to Lodge 111 or Lodge 424 on the evening, and all of us will recognise an awful lot of Lodges in our area just by their number of which we can become very protective about. It’s fair to say, that all the lodges in Scotland with their strange numbers would never want to change them. Brethren, I recommend for further reading to go into the websites of these particular Lodges with the peculiar numbers, and read more about some of our ancient Scottish Masonic Lodges. Mother Kilwinning No.0 The Lodge of Edinburgh No.1 The Lodge of Melrose No.1² The Lodge of Aberdeen No.1³
By this time, the staff at Grand Lodge were demented and Grand Lodge decided that in 1826, there would be one last renumbering exercise and the numbers allocated would remain that way forever. St Michael was numbered 38/1 and Kirkwall Kilwinning 38/2 indicating that Grand Lodge was still
Lodge Scoon and Perth No.3 The Lodge of Glasgow St John No.3bis Lodge St. Michael No.38 Lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning No.38²
The History and Meaning of the Apron
The old Masonic Apron The Apron is not a modern invention; in fact it is the most ancient of all garments. In the 3rd Chapter of Genesis these words are written: "and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." Aprons have been used in religious rites since time immemorial especially when delivering burnt offerings and blood sacrifices of various animals to the altars of ancient gods. On monuments and wall paintings in Ancient Egypt a garment, this can best be described as a triangular apron with the point upward, is depicted, in circumstances indicating that the wearer is taking part in some kind of ceremony of initiation. In connection with this fact, it is interesting to note that in Egypt it was customary to bestow a ‘collar of office’ on those
whom the Pharaoh wished to honour. Such collars were circular in shape and on many occasions the Pharaoh himself is depicted wearing one in addition to his crook and flail as a symbol of his high office. In China, some of the ancient figures of the gods wear semi-circular aprons, very similar to some of Scottish aprons, and some of these gods are often depicted making the sign of a well known ‘High Degree’. In Central America the ancient gods are constantly sculpted wearing aprons. Tepoxtecatl, the preserver, for example, is depicted wearing an apron with a triangular flap, and on his head he is wearing a conical cap on which can clearly be seen an embroidered skull and crossbones, finally he holds in his right hand a hammer or gavel. Examples of ancient gods wearing aprons can be found spread over the four quarters of the globe. It will be no surprise therefore that priests wore similar aprons as a sign of their allegiance to the 'gods' and as a badge of their authority. The earliest ceremonial apron known to have been used in Palestine was introduced by the Canaan Priest-King Melchizedek. Dated to around 2200 BC, the Melchizedek Priesthood began to make its ceremonial aprons out of white lambskin. White lambskin was eventually adopted by the Freemasons who have used it for their aprons ever since. Therefore when the Senior Warden exhorts the candidate that the apron that has been invested with is ‘more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle; more honourable than the Star or Garter, or any other Order in existence’ he is not simply exaggerating to make a point, he may actually be stating an actual truth.
In any case, there is a legend describing why Freemasons use lambskin aprons and not that of any other animal and this legend can be traced back to the building of King Solomonâ€™s temple: "When the construction of King Solomon's Temple was commenced, workmen were selected to carry out the different trades. Hiram, the widow's son, proclaimed that before entering upon the undertaking the aid of God should first be invoked, and as the Temple was to be God's Holy House and erected to Him, each workman having a part in its construction should offer a sacrifice to God on the Altar of Burnt Offering. The Lamb had in all ages been deemed an Emblem of Innocence and was offered as a sacrifice. With the exception of the skin, the whole of the lamb was consumed. The skins were properly prepared and Hiram caused aprons to be made of them. One apron from the skin of each lamb sacrificed, one apron for each mason under him." Finally the Templar Rule forbade any personal decoration except sheepskin, and further required that the Templar wear a sheepskin girdle about his waist at all times as a reminder of his vow of chastity, a context within which purity and innocence are vital. The old Masonic Apron As we have seen aprons have throughout the ages possessed a religious and symbolic meaning, a fact that is well applied to our own present apron as I will shortly demonstrate. However, there is little doubt that the Masonic apron evolved from those worn by operative masons to protect their clothes from becoming soiled. In
medieval times all masons, whether Freemasons or Guild Masons, used aprons when at work, and the former also wore white leather gloves to protect their hands from the lime. This type of apron used by the speculatives had changed very little in the middle of the 18th century from those used by the operative counterparts. These aprons were long, coming down to below the knees, with a flap or bib to protect the chest. It was the speculative masons who at some point in the 1750â€™s began to decorate their aprons with designs, usually painted by the ownerâ€™s own hand. A number of these examples can still be seen in the Museum and Library of Grand Lodge, but we must remember that at this time no definite scheme existed and each brother was free to adorn his own apron as he saw fit, usually including all the symbols of all the various degrees he had attained. Therefore, many of these designs included symbolism of such degrees such as the Mark, Chapter and Ark Mariner in addition to those of the Craft. In due course however, certain designs became more popular and more standardised. The two pillars with the letters that represented them, and often the names were even given in full became an accepted model for most aprons. To this central motif were added various other emblems such as squares, ladders and so forth which can be found in the 1st degree Tracing Board and Masonic Certificates issued to all Master Masons advanced to the 3rd degree. The Modern Masonic Apron The Union of the Grand Lodge of England between the Ancient and
Modern branches of English Freemasonry in 1813 brought into many effect many changes in dress and ritual which still prevail to this day. The deviation from certain aspects of the ritual is in my opinion regrettable but outside the boundary of this lecture. However, in respect to the Masonic apron it was felt necessary to have these standardised and the resulting effort are the aprons we have in use today. Nevertheless, even though we may assume that today’s aprons are but a shadow in respect to the decorative beauty of 18th century aprons they still contain much Masonic symbolism and inner meaning which I will now proceed to explain. However, before I do so, I must point out that the Masonic apron I am going to refer to is strictly that as worn by Masons of the English Constitution and not to those of the other constitutions. For example the Dutch wear an apron bordered with black and with a skull and crossbones on the flap. Scottish lodges each have their individual right to choose the design, colour and shape of their aprons; some employ a tartan, while many others have a circular rather than a triangular flap. This is the reason why all four Scottish lodges dress in different regalia whilst all English lodges have adopted the same model. Irish aprons appear to be a bizarre attempt at standardization with tinges of individualisation in the apron borders and embroidery. To the eye Irish aprons may well appear the same, but I have yet to see two which are exactly the same. Returning to the English apron, many Brethren still believe that the present apron was the result of an accident and that no deliberate attempt at symbolism was envisaged. However,
by the end of this explanation of the hidden meanings and symbolism of our present apron you too will I am sure come to the conclusion that those who designed it had a much deeper knowledge of symbolism than the apparently ‘simple’ Master Mason apron leads us to believe. Firstly, let us consider the colour of the Master Mason’s apron, which is that of Cambridge University, and likewise that used by Parliament when fighting King Charles, has a much deeper significance than is generally known. It is closely related to the colour of the Virgin Mary, which in itself has been brought forward from Isis, Astarte and other Mother Goddesses of the ancient world, whose symbol was always the moon and seven stars. You may have noticed that many statues of the Virgin Mary show her wearing a diadem or crown of seven stars on her head and her cloak is light blue, the colour of our Masonic apron. In contrast, the aprons of District and Grand Lodge Officers have Garter Blue, often connected with certain Orders of Knighthood, but also this blue is the colour of Oxford University, and the colour associated with the Royalist cause during the Civil War. Thus the two aprons in use amongst Brethren of the English craft employ the colours of the two great Universities of England. The dark blue colour therefore can be said to represent the rulers in the Craft, and represent the masculine element. Light blue, on the other hand, represents the feminine or passive aspect, and is most appropriate for the ordinary Master Mason, whose duty it is to obey and not to command. The other significant emblems representative of the female aspect are the three rosettes, symbol of the rose itself, itself a well known
substitute for the Virgin Mary herself as the Mystic Rose. The three rosettes on a Master Masonâ€™s apron are arranged so as to form a triangle with the point upwards, interpenetrating the triangle formed by the flap on the apron, alluding to the square and compass. The two rosettes on a Fellow Crafts apron stress the dual nature of man and have a clear reference to the two Pillars. The two rosettes also point out that the Fellow Craft has not yet a complete Freemason as it requires a third rosette to form a triangle. The Fellow Craftâ€™s apron thus represents the wearerâ€™s status as being superior to an Entered Apprentice but inferior to that which in due time he will attain and which the third rosette will invariably complete in the form of the interlaced square and compass. As the Master Mason advances and becomes Master of his Lodge, the rosettes of his apron give way to three Tau or levels as they are generally called. The Tau is the symbol of the Creator and also the symbol of the Royal Arch to which all Masters had to be exalted to that supreme degree before he could accept the Chair in a Craft lodge. Another important feature of the apron was the tassels which originally represented the ends of the string used to tie the apron round the waist. It was only a matter of time before these strings were decorated with tassels and even today certain aprons, such as those worn by members of the Royal Order of Scotland use this type of string with ornamental tassels which when properly tied together at the front cause the two tassels to stick out from under the flap. Craft aprons have now replaced the string or cord with a band attached to a hook and eye and so tassels have been replaced by two strips
of ribbon on which are attached seven chains. The seven chains themselves are full of symbolic meaning and represent various Masonic allegories such as the 7 liberal Arts and Sciences; the number of Masons required to make a perfect lodge, the number of years it took king Solomon to build the temple, etc. The two ribbons and chains are also representative of the old pillars that used to adorn the apron before these were replaced with the existing form. Finally we arrive at the band with the hook and eye attachment that perhaps nobody may be aware is also full of symbolic significance. It is no accident that the snake was selected for this purpose. The snake is the traditional symbol of evil, but it is also associated with wisdom. Thus the serpent in our apron denotes that we are encircled by Holy wisdom. You will also notice that the serpent is biting its own tail, thus forming a circle which has always been regarded as the emblem of eternity, and more especially the Eternal Wisdom of God. As you can see Brethren the apron is not just a piece of regalia we wear simply to distinguish the different grades of Freemasons or even for cosmetic effect and pomp. It is a vital part of our ritual and why any Mason in a lodge who is not wearing his Masonic apron is considered quite rightly to be improperly dressed. Thus it will be seen that our apron is a very honourable garment, one that we should treasure. It is an apron made of lambskin, pure white, without fault or stain - the colour of the Soul as mortal man sees it. It is ours and it now depends upon each of us to keep it without blemish - to keep it as a mirror of our soul that we may stand
the final test when we reach into Life Eternal - which is just beyond. WBro. Keith Sheriff Appendix Belgium. - The Grand Lodge Aprons are of light blue silk, embroidered with gold fringe, without tassels. The collars are embroidered with gold with the jewels of office, and with acacia and other emblems. Egypt. - The Grand Orient uses the same clothing as the Grand Lodge of England, but the colours are thistle and sea green. The rank of wearer is denoted by the number of stars on his collar. France. - The Grand Orient has aprons very elaborately embroidered or painted and edged with crimson or blue. In the third degree, blue embroidered sashes are used lined with black. Greece. - In recent years the clothing has become exactly identical with that worn in England, although formerly silk and satin aprons painted and embroidered with crimson were worn. Germany. - Aprons varied greatly in size and shape, from square to the shape of a shield. Some bear rosettes and others the level. There is no uniformity and German Lodges had jewels apparently according to the taste of each. Holland. - Each Lodge selects its own colours for aprons and the ribbons to which the jewels are attached. Individuals may use embroidery, fringes, etc., according to their own fancy. Hungary. - The members of Grand Lodge wear collars of light blue silk with a narrow edging of red, white and green-their national colours-from which are suspended five pointed stars. The Grand Lodge Officers wear collars of orange colour edged with green and lines with white silk. They are embroidered with the acacia and the emblems of office. The aprons have a blue edging with three rosettes for a Master Mason. Italy. - The Entered Apprentice apron is plain white silk. The Fellow craft is edged and lined with a square printed in the centre.
The Master Mason wears an apron lined and edged with crimson, bearing the square and compasses. He also wears a sash of green silk, edged with red, embroidered with gold and lined with black on which are embroidered the emblems of mortality in silver. It must be remembered, however, that Freemasonry for some time past has been suppressed in Italy, the reason being that it intermeddled in national politics. Iceland. - Plain white aprons, edged with blue, bearing the number of the lodge. At the Annual Communication lambskins are worn with a narrow silver braid in the centre of the ribbon. In former days, the Worshipful Master always wore a red cloak and silk hat. Portugal. - The apron of the Grand Lodge Officers are of white satin, edged with blue and gold and with three rosettes. The collar is made of blue silk with the acacia embroidered in gold. Spain. - The apron of the Entered Apprentice is of white leather, rounded at the bottom, with a pointed flap, worn raised. The Fellow craft wears the same with the flap turned down, and the Mason (Master) wears a white satin apron with a curved flap, edged with crimson, and embroidered with a square and compass, enclosing the letter G. The letters M and B, and three stars also appear. It is lined with black silk and embroidered with the skull and crossbones and three stars. Switzerland. - The clothing is simple. The Entered Apprentice apron is white with the lower corners rounded. The Fellow craft has blue edging and strings, and the Master Mason has a wider border and three rosettes in the body of the apron, while the flap is covered with blue silk. The apron of the Grand Officers is edged with crimson, without tassels or rosettes, except in the case of the Grand Master, which has three crimson rosettes.
This article by Bro. Sheriff was used with permission from the District Grand Master Alfred Ryan of the District Grand Lodge of Gibraltar EC.
Famous Freemasons Joseph Fort Newton What made Joseph Fort Newton the great Mason and greater Minister he turned out to be? If one word had to be used it would be--enthusiasm. Without question he enthusiastically loved his fellow man. His writings prove it beyond a doubt. The story of Joseph begins with his father, Lee Newton (for other than the obvious reasons). During the closing days of the American Civil War, Lee was taken prisoner and sent to a camp in Rockford, Illinois. He had earlier been made a Mason in a Confederate Military Lodge. While in the camp he became deathly ill. Somehow the commander of the camp learned Lee was a Mason, so he took him into his own home and nursed him back to health. When the war ended, the commander gave Lee money and a gun, then saw him safely on his way to Texas. It might be said that Freemasonry gave birth to Joseph, who was born on July 21, 1880. If a Brother Mason hadn't saved the life of the father there would have been no son. The young Newton learned of this kind act from his father. This impressed him so much he petitioned Freemasonry as soon as he was old enough to do so. And on May 28, 1902, Joseph became a Master Mason in Friendship Lodge No. 7, Dixon, Illinois, where he was Pastor of People's Church. Joseph was born in Decatur, Texas. He graduated from Coe College in Iowa in
1912: in 1918 he graduated from Tufts College: in 1929, from Temple University. He was an ordained Baptist Minister. He left People's Church in 1908 and became the Pastor of Loberal Christian Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There he would remain until 1916, when, with "The Great War" raging, he accepted a call to take over The City Temple in London, England. In 1919 he became the Minister of the Church of the Divine Paternity in New York City. From 1925 to 1930 he was with St. James Church in Philadelphia; in 1938 he went to St. Luke and Epiphany in Philadelphia. The world will never be better than the men who inhabit it. Everything begins with the individual. One man living a Brotherly Life is worth a thousand lectures on Brotherhood. Joseph Fort Newton in "The Men's House" In his autobiography, River of Years, he didn't hesitate, as so many great men do, to credit Freemasonry for much of his success. But his success came from his God. Those who were fortunate enough to hear him speak, slowly, quietly, could never forget him. The lessons Joseph learned from his father caused him to petition a Masonic Lodge. He said so himself by putting it this way: "The fact that such a fraternity of men could exist, mitigating the harshness of war, and remain unbroken when states and churches were torn in two, became a wonder, and it is not strange I tried for years to repay my debt to it." It was at a Masonic church service I first heard those words, (if you'll pardon a
personal note.) It was 1957 and I had been a Mason for nine years. Until then I thought Freemasonry consisted of ritual only. I was shocked, but my eyes were opened at that moment to the beauty that is Freemasonry. It caused me to start searching for other beautiful stories to come out of the nastiness of war. The result was House Undivided, the Story of Freemasonry and the Civil War, It was while Newton was in Iowa he, too, learned there was more to Masonry than the ritual. At the urging of the then Grand Master and Grand Secretary, he wrote a little book entitled The Builders. It was first published in 1914. Ten years later he wrote a "Forward M.S.A. Edition" from Church of the Divine Paternity. It had passed through forty editions by then! Without any advertising! This remarkable book would continue on the "best seller" list of Masonic books until the present day. And shortly before his death, Newton completed his final revision, and a chapter was added entitled "The Unknown Builders." This is available from only one publisher, Macoy. To the remarkable woman who has been the guiding light behind Macoy Publishing, Miss Vee Hansen, Newton willed the copyright to The Builders. Requests for other books from the poetic pen of Newton were answered. For the Masonic Service Association he wrote The Men's House, The Religion of Masonry, and Short Talks on Masonry. Eventually Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company purchased the rights to the excellent
books the MSA had printed. All of Newton's books were reprinted in special editions, fortunately for those Freemasons who enjoy reading and learning. In his capacity as Educational Director of the MSA, Newton was urged to be "more militant." He answered this: "It has always been in my heart to use Masonry as a wand of blessing and never as a weapon of battle. It is intended to make men friends, to bring men of all types of temperament, antecedents, and training together, to defend their Brotherhood and make them builders of a purer world. The temptation is very great, sometimes, by members of our Fraternity, good men and true, to use Masonry as a weapon of battle. We can never do it. I refuse to do it. It is too great. It is too beautiful. It is too holy." Beautiful phraseology! Beautiful sentiments! In this short statement he covered the deep-seated meaning of Freemasonry. Newton joined his Grand Architect on January 24, 1950. But he left a legacy that will never die. And it will never be equalled. There will be, and have been, Masons who have written more books about Freemasonry. None of these contain, or ever will, the poetic prose only Newton could write. I joined the Fraternity as soon as I was old enough to be received, in Friendship Lodge, No. 7, Dixon, Illinois. There, to my amazement, I saw men of all churches--except one, and there was no reason in Masonry why that one church should not be represented--gathered
about an open Bible. In their churches they could not agree about the teachings of the Bible; in the Lodge they could not disagree, because each one was allowed to interpret it in the way his heart loved best, and asked to allow others the same right; a secret almost too simple to be found out. --Joseph Fort Newton in "River of Years" Harry Leroy Haywood, who as a young man talked with Joseph Fort Newton on several occasions, wrote of him after his death: "He was a Texan always, down to the marrow in his bones" Whenever you see Newton going along with a strong wind behind him, and all the banners of independence fluttering over his head, it is the Texan coming out in him. "He was ordained to the ministry in that State in 1893, and his first pastorate was of a Baptist Church in Paris, Texas. Fifteen years later he told me all about those years in a conversation that lasted all one night and into mid-morning of the following day". "In those early years Newton had no difficulty about religion. He was born to be a religious man, always was, and never once did he falter for so much as a moment. Religion was not his second nature, but his first. But he had, and always had, a great deal of difficulty with theology." Haywood later added: "At that time I had not yet become a Mason, and we did not discuss the subject, but as the sequel turned out, he came up to the Lodge in Webster City to help raise me and after the ceremonies were concluded delivered his oration, "The Men's House."
I asked Miss Hansen what she remembered most about Newton. "He loved baseball!" she said. "He would sit down with me and talk for hours about baseball. And no matter what he talked about, you listened. He didn't exactly have an hypnotic voice, but he had one that made you listen. He was a remarkable man. I'm glad I knew him, and especially as a friend." Perhaps not so strangely, that's the way I feel about him through his writings. Although I wasn't privileged to have met him, I still feel as though he was my friend. Without question, he has been my inspiration in Freemasonry. This brief story of Joseph Fort Newton could go on for pages, but it must be brought to a close. Let's close it with his ending paragraph in "The Temple of Brotherhood," a chapter in his The Religion of Masonry: "In the noisy clamour of the world our wise Masonry does not strive and cry aloud, indulging in agitations and the making of programs. It works in quieter, gentler ways, teaching men the religion of the brotherly life knowing that by as much as the world fills up with men of 'the larger heart and the kindlier hand,' by so much will our dreams of a juster, gentler, happier world come true, and the final hope of the Kingdom of God on earth be fulfilled. Slowly the Temple rises, builded by the love of many hearts and the loyalty of many workers; and at last it will be completed, and dedicated." All Masons should proudly salute Joseph Fort Newton, the last of the poetic-prose writers! This Masonic Biography of Joseph Fort Newton was written by Allen E. Robert sand sourced from the Altar Light.
Lodge St.John Stoneyburn No.1186 On the 28th September 1918, a meeting was held in the village school to discuss the possibility of forming a lodge. The meeting was chaired by Bro. John Barr who was later to become a stalwart of the lodge, and was attended by 28 interested masons, representing lodges numbering 270, 374, 781, 827, 877,927 and 1096. At a further meeting on the 13th of October, Bro. John Miller, a Past Master of St John Crofthead, Fauldhouse No 374, was elected to be the first master of the new lodge, with Bro. Robert Gilfillan to be his Senior Warden and Bro. John Barr to be his Junior Warden. Tragically Bro. Gilfillan died before the installation and Bro. Barr became Senior Warden with Bro. John Robertson moving up to Junior Warden. All the office bearers stepped up a post and Bro. Henry Burnett was appointed Tyler. The sponsor lodges of 374 and 927 Polkemmet, Whitburn; instituted the proceedings from then on and applied to Grand Lodge for a Charter. The Charter was granted on the 1st May, 1919 and the Ceremony of Consecration was performed on the 7th June by the R.W Provincial Grand Master Bro. Robert Kirk and his office bearers in the school hall and the Technical room, which was to become the Lodge meeting place for the next four years. It did not take long until local interest in masonry brought applications from no fewer than ten within one week after the lodge being formed. This interest was sustained throughout the summer and
into the late autumn, requiring a number of special meetings, by calling on the services of the local lodges on many occasions, to confer the third degree. Amongst the foremost of these being Crofthead St John, Hopebridge Castle and Murdostoun Castle. In November, 1920, Bro. John Barr was elected R.W.M and to those who knew this brother, it was evident that his forceful personality was to have a great influence on the future of the lodge. Despite the large attendance, the collection for the evening was 17s 4d. Bro Barr was installed by Bro. John Gould, a Past Master of 374 who had conducted the previous installation and was to be the Installing Master for the next nine years. In early 1923, the lodge moved its meetings to a hall above the local hostelry, Ewings Hall, and the Consecration Ceremony was conducted by the R.W.P.G.M Bro. Henry Robinson. Between 1924 and 1927, the fortunes of the lodge took a twist for the worst, due to the onset of a depression caused by a cessation in the coal mining industry, and the general unrest in the country due to strikes and the giant wave of unemployment. Attendances dropped to such an alarming extent that it was going to be difficult for the lodge to continue to function at all and steadily degenerated until 1933. There must be few masonic lodges in Scotland who can quote a situation where they failed to initiate a candidate for a period of seven years, from 1927 to 1933. Such was the state of the lodge that during these years, the office bearers opened and closed the lodge without having the opportunity to carry out their prime
function as office bearers. The provincial grand master of that day, Bro.Robert Brown, during his visitations, commented on the plight of the lodge and induced the master and office bearers to consider closing the lodge for a period of two years, and to give careful consderation to any reopening. The office bearers and brethren of the lodge turned down the suggestion and pledged their continuance of their function to see if the their fortunes might change. This decision proved to be right, as the present day members now appreciate. The sponsor lodges rallied to our aid , little did the lodge know that in 1933 that the turning point was near by. A simple and unheralded application from Bro.Alex Boyd of Hopebridge Castle to become affiliated and in the same year Bro. Alex Boyd was elected to become master for the next four years. Through his determination and drive, the lodge slowly got back on its feet. The war years however again brought sadness and problems for the lodge but two of the masters, Bro. William Abbott and Bro. John Lambie steered it through these trying times. They held many special meetings to accommodate servicemen who were home on leave and in the four years of their being in the chair, they admitted 132 Brethren. Through his zeal, Bro John Lambie became a member of Provincial Grand Lodge and finally reached the high rank of Provincial Grand Senior Warden. During this period a deep friendship was formed with Lodge Solomon No.1209 and two of their masters, Bro. Abie Rabstaff and Bro. Erin Deane, offered financial assistance to 1186 which was
gratefully accepted and immediately put to good use. After the war, the Ewing's hall could no longer accommodate the lodge and negotiations were set up with the county council who then gave their permission for the lodge to meet in the, then, redundant A.R.P Hall. Within a year the lodge had accumulated enough money to purchase this hall and an added bonus was the gift from the local Laird, Dr. A. Clark, of the land, 1/3 of an acre on which the hall stood. The lodge finances had been boosted by the active years to such an extent that the building fund had accumulated a figure of ÂŁ2,000 towards the building of a new temple. 1944 revived new interest, this being the silver jubilee year for the lodge. The celebration ball attracted some 200 members and wives, and despite rationing, the ladies managed to provide an excellent purvey by saving from their already meagre rations. The lodge received many visitations from large parties of sister lodges within the mid-forties. Fine lodges such as Lodge Solomon and Lodge St Patrick often brought gifts of teak furniture, and mallets were greatfully received from lodge Old Kilpatrick, probably made by some of their members during their spare time whilst working in the Clydeside shipyards. The ARP hall, although not adequate by any modern standards was the home of the lodge until 1953. By 1953, the lodge was prosperous enough to start work on the building of a new temple on this site at a cost of ÂŁ3,500. . The lodge furniture was unceremoniously conveyed in a wheelbarrow through the streets of the
village to the new premises "like a moonlight flitting". Work commenced on the building of the new temple, where it stands today, on the 2nd April 1953. During the construction of this building the lodge continued holding its meetings in temporary huts on the site. The lodge was completed (from an occupational point of view) and Consecrated on the 28th November 1953 by the R.W.P.G.M Bro. James Williamson. Work was still required to paint and furnish the lodge. Credit must go to Bro George Albiston (WJW at the time) who worked untiringly for weeks to bring the standard of decoration to a reasonable state. For a short period of time after the new premises were opened, interest was fairly lively and many special meetings were held to overcome the backlog of candidates still to receive their third degree. Past Master Robert Gibson could boast of having been initiated into freemasonry in a wooden hut used by the builders and the lodge during the building of the new temple. Bro Gibson purchased this hut and used it as a garage so you could say he was initiated into freemasonry in his Garage!! In 1955 the lodge was again beset by many problems, with mounting debts, poor attendances and an apparent loss of heart by the members. The R.W.P.G.M. called a special meeting to hear the views of the members and for the second time in the lodges history stated that if positive answers to the problems were not forthcoming, the Charter would be withdrawn. Bro Robert Gibson was installed as R.W.M and for the next year worked tirelessly to raise
finance through sales of work, social evenings etc and finally cleared the debts within a two year period, thus allowing the lodge to operate in a proper manner. Neighbouring lodges, led by Lodge Torphichen Kilwinning No 13, also contributed large sums of money for our use. Gestures such as these have been greatly appreciated by all the brethren of 1186 and display in a practical way the Masonic dependance we feel towards each other. The early sixties saw the lodge prospering as new industries came into the area, none more so than British Leyland (BMC), bringing employment and with it, more available money. In 1975, the lodge sold part of its land to the district council which proved doubly beneficial. Apart from the financial gain, it also benefited from the unlimited use of the car park, created to serve the new community centre built on the ground. Since then the lodge has been renovated, redecorated, refurbished and extended in many ways and now has a successful Social Club. The membership of the lodge is steadily growing and the freemasons who can proudly call Lodge St John Stoneburn 1186 their mother lodge are now accepting the responsibility like they have never done before. Among the present office bearers are many past masters who are aware of the debt they owe to the men responsible for founding the lodge. The lodge has been fortunate to have had a constant supply of willing and able brethren (including the past masters) to carry on the traditions of the
lodge and have kept the ritual to a very high standard. Sadly at this time it is difficult to find candidates of the right calibre in large numbers, but even so it would appear that Lodge St John 1186 has a great future and will continue to go from strength to strength heading towards its Centenary. From its foundings , over 90 years ago, 67 masters have now occupied the Masters Chair and 12 brethren have been appointed Provincial Grand Rank. Past Masters Bro. Thomas White and Bro. Bobby Gibson (both sadly passed to the Grand lodge above) have been honoured to be Substitute Provincial Grand Masters. Bro Bobby Gibson and Bro. John Lambie have brought double honours to the lodge by attaining Grand Rank. In it comparatively short history, the lodge has initiated over 740 brethren and has affiliated 12 others. It has appx 30 Brethren in good standing (at the time of publishing) and has 17 honorary members. Long may the Lodge survive with Faith and Hope for the future and Keep Brotherly Love alive through the Charity of its actions.
This excellent history was sourced for the website of Lodge St. John Stoneyburn No.1186. My thanks go to Lodge No.1186 for allowing me to publish it here. Their excellent website can be visited at this link. If your Lodge would like to have its history published in the newsletter, please contact the editor.
The Past Master "Who's the stranger, Mother, dear? Look: he knows us--isnâ€™t he queer?" "Hush, my son, don't talk so wild, "He's your father, dearest child." "He's my father? It's not so, Father died six years ago." "Dad didn't die, O lover mine, He's been going through the line. But he's been Master now so he Has no place to go you see--No place left for him to roam--That is why he is coming home, Kiss him---he won't bite you child. All Past Masters are quite mild."
When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted By Rudyard Kipling
When Earth's last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried, When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died, We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it- lie down for an aeon or two, Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew. And those that were good will be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair; They shall splash at a ten league canvas with brushes of comet's hair. They shall find real saints to draw fromMagdalene, Peter and Paul; They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all! And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame; And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame, But each for the joy of the working, and each in his separate star, Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They are!
"You know what I mean!" continued the New Brother. "There are a lot of fellows in Freemasonry who have no business there. How did they get there and why don't we turn them out?" "But do we know it? I have been tiling this lodge for a great many years. I know every man in it, many of them personally. I can't call to mind a single rascal. Even when I think hard I can't remember a single Mason among them all I'd like to see put out, can you?" "I sure can! I know half a dozen I'd like to see out of this lodge!" answered the New Brother.
So Many Rascals Why are there so many rascals in the Fraternity, and why don't we turn them out?" asked the New Brother. "You remind me," answered the Old Tiler, "of the recalcitrant witness whom the prosecuting attorney could not get to answer his questions with a categorical 'yes' or 'no.' 'I can't answer them that way,' the witness protested. 'All questions can be answered that way!' stormed the prosecuting attorney. 'All right,' came back the witness, like a flash, 'you answer me this: Have you stopped beating your wife yet?' Of course the prosecuting attorney couldn't answer that 'yes' or 'no' without admitting that he did beat his wife. And I can't answer your question without admitting that there are so many rascals in the Fraternity, when I know there are not!"
"Without telling me their names, you might mention one or two and tell me what they have done to you," suggested the Old Tiler. "I didn't say they had done anything to me," answered the New Brother. "One man I have in mind has no business in this organization. He swears horribly. He is tough and uncouth. He doesn't 'belong.' I'd like to see him out." "You mean O'Rourke, the Irishman? Why, man alive, he's one of our prize exhibits! A protestant Irishman is pretty rare anyhow, and when you have a twofisted fighting variety like Paddy you certainly are off on the wrong foot. Suppose he does swear? Have you no fault which is as bad? Uncouth? What has that got to do with it? Paddy is there with brotherhood; he'll fight for or nurse you, lend to you or borrow from you, work for you or with you, just because you both speak the same language. I
can't imagine anyone wanting Paddy out of the lodge."
one man in our lodge who might be put out with benefit to the lodge!"
"I didn't know all that," the New Brother excused himself. "There is another man; maybe I can describe him so you won't know him. He is very close with his money and he doesn't want the lodge to spend money. I don't say he is crooked, although I have heard stories about his business deals which looked queer. No one ever got the best of him in a deal. Men like that ought not to be in the great fraternity we have, which is supposed to be all virtue and openhanded giving."
"I thought you said there were none!"
"You talk like a book that was scrambled when it was written," retorted the Old Tiler. "I know perfectly well the man you mean. That's Taylor. I won't defend Taylor's reputation, because it's not a nice one. Taylor's young wife died when he didn't have money enough to send her west and ever since he has worshipped money, because it could have given him the one thing he wanted. Taylor is not a rascal; he is as honest as you. But he is exceedingly shrewd and he doesn't make any deals which don't come out his way. As for his not wanting to spend lodge money, do you?" "Of course I do." "Well, there you are. He doesn't, you do. You do, he doesn't. Neither attitude is rascally; it's just difference of opinion. He thinks our money should be saved, you think it should be spent. He is a smarter man than I am, or you are. But none of those things make him a rascal. In fact, now I think of it, there is only
"I have just recalled one. He's a nice enough fellow on the surface, too. Good looking and decent appearing. But he carries a concealed weapon, which is against the law." "Why don't you prefer charges against him?'' asked the New Brother. ''It's not that kind of a weapon," smiled the Old Tiler. "It's a verbal knife with which he stabs innocent people in the back. He hasn't very much sense and so he goes off halfcocked and shoots off his face before he knows what he is talking about. He sees evil where there is an appearance of evil instead of looking below the surface. He cannot see the leaves for the trees or the waves because there is so much water. And he hasn't yet learned several Masonic lessons, such as tolerance and brotherly love, even though he has been regularly initiated, passed, and raised. He was Masonicly vaccinated, but the virus didn't take. I don't want to see the brother put out of the lodge, because there is good in him. I'd rather see him stay here and learn. But if you really feel that he ought not to be in our lodge I'll show you how to do something no man in all this lodge has ever done before." "I'm afraid I don't quite understand . . . I'm afraid I do understand . . . I'm afraid . . .â€?
"Don't be afraid, boy. That spoils it all!" cried the Old Tiler. ''If you think this brother of whom I speak ought not to be among us, prefer charges against yourself. That will make you a reputation and get rid of a narrowminded and intolerant Mason. But if you think this brother can learn, I'm willing to forget I ever heard him speak of any of his brethren as rascals and . . .” ". . . and try to remember that even a fool can be cured, if he has an Old Tiler for a doctor!" the New Brother finished the sentence for him. This is the seventeenth article in this regular feature, ‘The Old Tiler Talks,’ each month we will publish in the newsletter one of these interesting and informative pieces by Carl Claudy
Rays of Masonry “A Name and What it Suggests” We read of the death of a man, and there among the other details of his life is found the statement; "He was a Mason." When reading this detail of a man's life there comes to the Mason a feeling of understanding, a happy reflection, a knowledge that one lived who had courageously sought in life Truth and Light. That a person was a Mason does not create the thought that the departed had some special virtue that would easily admit him into Heaven, or that by some mysterious word or token he would have the power to brush aside natural and spiritual laws. An honest evaluation of Masonry by Masons is the keynote to an understanding of why the Institution has existed for centuries and
centuries, and why it always will be the Great Teacher. Masonry is devoid of fanaticism. It teaches a system of progressive improvement, being content to see man's noble effort to become a better man, while wisely declaring that perfection on earth has never yet been attained. That Masons fail at times to represent to the world the high ideals of Masonry is another key to the greatness of the Institution. There is the true test of the influence of a system of morality that when a man has lived well, and is called to his reward, there is written "He was a Mason"; and when one loves, but not so wisely or well, the world is quick to note the excellence of a system, for in condemning an individual, it pays honor to the Institution by saying; "He was a Mason." Dewey Wollstein 1953. Rays of Masonry are the musings of Dewey Wollstein, and make for very good reading, these will appear as a regular feature in the newsletter.
Fraternal Societies Of the World â€˜Order of the Scottish Clansâ€™
Structurally, the order operated on three levels: local, regional, an national. Local units were known as "Subordinate Clans," and the nation: group was referred to as the "Royal Clan." The latter group met in convention every two years. Headquarters were in Boston, Massachusetts.
This society of Scotsmen and Scotswomen was organized in 1878 in St. Louis, Missouri, by James McCash and some of his Masonic friends. Its objectives were (1) to unite fellow Scotsmen who were between eighteen and fifty-five years of age; (2) to establish death benefits for the deceased member's family; (3) to relieve the financial burdens of sick members by establishing a relief fund; and (4) to strengthen Scottish bonds and cultural heritage.
The ritual of the OSC was based in part on the Danes trying to capture the Castle Slanes and their defeat. The Battle of Bannockburn also played a part in the order's ritual. The emblem of the society was the Scottish thistle with the motto: Nemo Me Impune Lacessit. In the 1920s the order experienced actuarial insolvency in the state of Missouri, where it was incorporated. In 1971 the society merged with the Independent Order of Foresters (lOF). Membership originally was open only to Scottish male descendants. During the latter years of the order's existence, Scottish females were also eligible for membership. Before the OSC merged with the IOF, it had about 16,000 members.
Brother Clansmen: I now extend to you the right hand of fellowship, and with it a hearty welcome into this great national brotherhood. May you find your membership in this organization a thing of intense usefulness, and an abounding joy all the days of your life. We look to you to always help us to make this Order a brotherhood in very reality and not one in name only. With this intent, you will try to remember that the first and constant care of a true Clansman is prompt and punctual attendance at the Clan meetings. It should be a pleasure, as well as a duty, for you to regularly attend the meetings of your Clan and do your utmost to add to its membership. You will remember also that this great brotherhood is likewise a business organization, and so it is absolutely necessary that all dues and assessments be paid promptly that the Order can carry on. You should try to cultivate the acquaintance of your brother Clansmen, at all times, and for unity is strength and sympathy of purpose is one of the strongest bonds of human affiliation. Keep, also, strongly set in your mind the thought that there is something finer in our being banded together here than the mere significance or value of a monetary consideration or investment.
We are building of ourselves a structure to perpetuate the name, fame and honour of Scotland, and each one of us consecrates himself, by his obligation, as a part of that building. We will be better citizens of this country where we now reside if we continue to practice those Scottish virtues of honesty, industry, thrift, piety and respect for law. You have just been told that the three important marks of a true Clansman are Faith, Loyalty, and Courage, and you will, no doubt, treasure them in the storehouse of your memory fox practical use. It is important, and you are strongly urged to make a careful and thorough study of the foundation and structure of this great organization as contained in its Constitution and By-Laws, copies of which have just been banded to you. Thus, "Knowledge to your eyes, her ample page Rich with the spoils of time will far unroll" and, thus, on behalf of the widow and orphan, the sick and distressed, you will make your membership in this Order a living thing, a thing of growth and progress, and an ever returning source of benefit to others and of satisfaction and consolation to yourselves.
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit.
Wha daur meddle wiâ€™me!
Brothers and Builders The Basis and Spirit of Freemasonry CHAPTER 1 - THE ALTAR.
A MASONIC LODGE is a symbol of the world as it was thought to be in the olden time. Our ancient Brethren had a profound insight when they saw that the world is a Temple, over-hung by a starry canopy by night, lighted by the journeying sun by day, wherein man goes forth to his labour on a checkerboard of lights and shadows, joys and sorrows, seeking to reproduce on earth the law and order of heaven. The visible world was but a picture or reflection of the invisible and at its centre stood the Altar of sacrifice, obligation, and adoration. While we hold a view of the world very unlike that held by our ancient Brethren - knowing it to be round, not flat and square - yet their insight is still true. The whole idea was that man, if he is to build either a House of Faith or an order of Society that is to endure, must imitate the laws and principles of the world in which he lives. That is also our dream and design; the love of it ennobles our lives; it is our labour and our worship. To fulfil it we, too need wisdom and help from above; and so at the centre of our Lodge stands the same Altar - older than all temples, as old as life itself - a focus of faith and fellowship, at once a symbol and shrine of that unseen element of thought and yearning that all
men are aware of and which no one can define.
the last ineffable homeward sigh which men call death.
Upon this earth there is nothing more impressive than the silence of a company of human beings bowed together at an altar. No thoughtful man but at some time has mused over the meaning of this great adoring habit of humanity, and the wonder of it deepens the longer he ponders it. The instinct which thus draws men together in prayer is the strange power which has drawn together the stones of great cathedrals, where the mystery of God is embodied. So far as we know, man is the only being on our planet that pauses to pray, and the wonder of his worship tells us more about him than any other fact. By some deep necessity of his nature he is a seeker after God, and in moments of sadness or longing, in hours of tragedy or terror, he lays aside his tools and looks out over the far horizon.
The earliest Altar was a rough, unhewn stone set up, like the stone which Jacob set up at Bethel when his dream of a ladder, on which angels were ascending and descending, turned his lonely bed into a house of God and a gate of heaven. Later, as faith became more refined, and the idea of sacrifice grew in meaning, the Altar was built of hewn stone - cubical in form - cut, carved, and often beautifully wrought, on which men lavished jewels and priceless gifts, deeming nothing too costly to adorn the place of prayer. Later still, when men erected a Temple dedicated and adorned as the House of God among men, there were two altars, one of sacrifice, and one of incense. The altar of sacrifice, where slain beasts were offered, stood in front of the Temple; the altar of incense, on which burned the fragrance of worship, stood within. Behind all was the far withdrawn Holy place into which only the high priest might enter.
The history of the Altar in the life of man is a story more fascinating than any fiction. Whatever else man may have been - cruel, tyrannous, or vindictive the record of his long search for God is enough to prove that he is not wholly base, not altogether an animal. Rites horrible, and often bloody, may have been a part of his early ritual, but if the history of past ages had left us nothing but the memory of a race at prayer, it would have left us rich. And so, following the good custom of the men which were of old, we set up an Altar in the Lodge, lifting up hands in prayer, moved thereto by the ancient need and aspiration of our humanity. Like the men who walked in the grey years alone, our need is for the living God to hallow these our days and years, even to
As far back as we can go the Altar was the centre of human Society, and an object of peculiar sanctity by virtue of that law of association by which places and things are consecrated. It was a place of refuge for the hunted or the tormented - criminals or slaves - and to drag them away from it by violence was held to be an act of sacrilege, since they were under the protection of God. At the Altar marriage rites were solemnized, and treaties made or vows taken in its presence were more holy and binding than if made elsewhere, because there man invoked God as witness. In all the religions of antiquity, and especially among the peoples who worshipped the
Light, it was the usage of both priests and people to pass round the Altar, following the course of the sun - from the East, by way of the South, to the West - singing hymns of praise as a part of their worship. Their ritual was thus an allegorical picture of the truth which underlies all religion - that man must live on earth in harmony with the rhythm and movement of heaven. From facts and hints such as these we begin to see the meaning of the Altar in Masonry, and the reason for its position in the Lodge. In English Lodges, as in the French and Scottish Rites, it stands in front of the Master in the East. In the York Rite, so called, it is placed in the centre of the Lodge - more properly a little to the East of the centre - about which all Masonic activities revolve. It is not simply a necessary piece of furniture, a kind of table intended to support the Holy Bible, the Square and Compasses. Alike by its existence and its situation it identifies Masonry as a religious institution, and yet its uses are not exactly the same as the offices of an Altar in a cathedral or a shrine. Here is a fact often overlooked, and we ought to get it clearly in our minds. The position of the Altar in the Lodge is not accidental, but profoundly significant. For, while Masonry is not a religion, it is religious in its faith and basic principles, no less than in its spirit and purpose. And yet it is not a Church. Nor does it attempt to do what the Church is trying to do. If it were a Church its Altar would be in the East and its ritual would be altered accordingly. That is to say, Masonry is not a Religion, much less a sect, but a Worship in which all men can unite,
because it does not undertake to explain, or dogmatically to settle in detail, those issues by which men are divided. Beyond the Primary, fundamental facts of faith it does not go. With the philosophy of those facts, and the differences and disputes growing out of them, it has not to do. In short, the position of the Altar in the Lodge is a symbol of what Masonry believes the Altar should be in actual life, a centre of union and fellowship, and not a cause of division, as is now so often the case. It does not seek uniformity of opinion, but it does seek fraternity of spirit, leaving each one free to fashion his own philosophy of ultimate truth. As we may read in the Constitutions of 1723: "A Mason is obliged, by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance. " Surely those are memorable words, a Magna Charta of friendship and fraternity. Masonry goes hand in hand with religion until religion enters the field of sectarian feud, and there it
stops; because Masonry seeks to unite men, not to divide them. Here, then, is the meaning of the Masonic Altar and its position in the Lodge. It is, first of all, an Altar of Faith - - the deep, eternal faith which underlies all creeds and overarches all sects; faith in God, in the moral law, and in the life everlasting. Faith in God is the corner-stone and the key-stone of Freemasonry. It is the first truth and the last, the truth that makes all other truths true, without which life is a riddle and fraternity a futility. For, apart from God the Father, our dream of the Brotherhood of Man is as vain as all the vain things proclaimed of Solomona fiction having no basis or hope in fact. At the same time, the Altar of Masonry is an Altar of Freedom - not freedom from faith, but freedom of faith. Beyond the fact of the reality of God it does not go, allowing every man to think of God according to his experience of life and his vision of truth. It does not define God, much less dogmatically determine how and what men shall think or believe about God. There dispute and division begin. As a matter of fact, Masonry is not speculative at all, but operative, or rather co-operative. While all its teaching implies the Fatherhood of God, yet its ritual does not actually affirm that truth, still less make it a test of fellowship. Behind this silence lies a deep and wise reason. Only by the practice of Brotherhood do men realize the Divine Fatherhood, as a true-hearted poet has written "No man could tell me what my soul might be; I sought for God, and He eluded me; I sought my Brother out, and found all three."
Hear one fact more, and the meaning of the Masonic Altar will be plain. Often one enters a great Church, like Westminster Abbey, and finds it empty, or only a few people in the pews here and there, praying or in deep thought. They are sitting quietly, each without reference to others, seeking an opportunity for the soul to be alone, to communicate with mysteries greater than itself, and find healing for the bruisings of life. But no one ever goes to a Masonic Altar alone. No one bows before it at all except when the Lodge is open and in the presence of his Brethren. It is an Altar of Fellowship, as if to teach us that no man can learn the truth for another and no man can learn it alone. Masonry brings men together in mutual respect, sympathy, and goodwill, that we may learn in love the truth that is hidden by apathy and lost by hate. For the rest, let us never forget - what has been so often and so sadly forgotten - that the most sacred Altar on earth is the soul of man - your soul and mine; and that the Temple and its ritual are not ends in themselves, but beautiful means to the end that every human heart may be a sanctuary of faith, a shrine of love, an altar of purity, pity, and unconquerable hope. This is the first Chapter in the Book, Brothers and Builders by Joseph Fort Newton, the second Chapter - The Holy Bible will appear next month.
Brethren, the editor is always looking for articles, poems, stories, Lodge Histories, anything in fact that would make for interesting reading for the readers of the newsletter. Many thanks to those who have sent pieces in, I try to use them if I can. So if you have something that you think might be good in the newsletter, please get in touch. Stewart
Gloves are worn at Lodge meetings. Why and what is the origin of this custom? As with the apron this is traditionally from our roots in operative masonry where stonemasons used gloves as a mode of protection, just as they wore aprons for the same purpose. In the age when freemasonry was developing it was an era of formality in speech, dress, manners and courtly elegance. There was also as element of course behaviour, brutality and depravity. There were two influences for us to wear the gloves as part of our Masonic clothing: symbolically (as the apron) from the traditional operatives, the other as part of a formal society. White (gloves) express the idea of being clean of heart and hands. There is (or rather was) in legal circles a custom of a ‘maiden assize’ – one at which no one was being brought to trial – when the sheriff of the county court would present the assize judge with a pair of white gloves symbolising that the calendar was clear. Masonry, the candidate is told, is founded on the principles of piety and virtue, and is invested with a ‘badge of innocence’ free from all blemish. The very word Candidate in the original Latin expresses whiteness as a symbol of purity: in ancient Rome the candidate for office wore a white toga, the toga Candida. White aprons and gloves are further mentioned later in our ceremonies for the same reason. Brethren were excused wearing gloves during the Second World War when it was decided in September 1940 because of the need for ‘clothing coupons’ that gloves were not needed. This Rule was cancelled in December 1946.
Sourced from Why? ‘Coming to Terms with Freemasonry’ by Bro. John Cane PPG Supt Wks (Surrey)
Until next month, Keep the faith! The Editor.
Published on Jun 2, 2012