Are you a
"I have been a Mason for a year
now," remarked the
Young Brother to the Old Past Master. "While I find
a great deal in Masonry to enjoy and like the
fellows and all that, I am more or less in the dark
as to what good Masonry really is in the world. I
don't mean I can't appreciate its charity or its
fellowship, but it seems to me that I don't get
much out of it. I can't really see why it has any
function outside of the relationship we enjoy in
the Lodge and the charitable acts we do."
"I think I could win an argument about you," smiled
the Past Master.
"An argument about me?"
"Yes. You say you have been a Master Mason for a
year. I think I could prove to the satisfaction of
a jury of your peers, who would not need to be
Master Masons, that while you are a Lodge member in
good standing, you are not a Master Mason."
"I don't think I quite understand," puzzled the
Young Mason. "I was quite surely initiated, passed,
and raised. I have my certificate and my good
standing card. I attend Lodge regularly. I do what
work I am assigned. If that isn't being a Master
Mason, what is?"
"You have the body but not the spirit," retorted
the Old Past Master. "You eat the husks and
disregard the kernel. You know the ritual and fail
to understand its meaning. You carry the documents,
but for you they attest but an empty form. You do
not understand the first underlying principle,
which makes Masonry the great force she is. And
yet, in spite of it, you enjoy her blessings, which
is one of her miracles. A man may love and profit
by what he does not comprehend."
"I just don't understand you at all. I am sure I am
a good Mason."
"No man is a good Mason who thinks the Fraternity
has no function beyond pleasant association in the
Lodge and charity. There are thousands of Masons
who seldom see the inside of a Lodge and,
therefore, miss the fellowship. There are thousands
who never need or support her charity and so never
come in contact with one of its many features. Yet
these may take freely and largely from the treasure
house which is Masonry.
"Masonry, my young friend, is an opportunity. It
gives a man a chance to do and to be, among the
world of men, something he otherwise could not
attain. No man kneels at the altar of Masonry and
rises again the same man. At the altar something is
taken from him never to returned, his feelings of
living for himself alone. Be he ever so selfish,
ever so self-centered, ever so much an
individualist, at the altar he leaves behind him
some of the dross of his purely profane make-up.
"No man kneels at the altar of Masonry and rises
the same man because, in the place where the dross
and selfish were, is put a little of the most
Divine spark which men may see. Where was the self-
interest is put an interest in others. Where was
the egotism is put love for one's fellow man. You
say that the 'Fraternity has no function.' Man, the
Fraternity performs the greatest function of any
institution at work among men in that it provides a
common meeting ground where all of us be our
creed, our social position, our wealth, our ideas,
our station in life what they may, may meet and
understand one another.
"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. 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.
"Masonry has no function? Why, son, the function of
charity, great as it is, is the least of the things
Masonry does. The fellowship in the Lodge,
beautiful as it is, is at best not much more than
one can get in any good club, association, or
organization. These are the beauties of Masonry,
but they are also beauties of other organizations.
The great fundamental beauty of Masonry is all her
own. She, and only she, stretches a kindly and
loving hand around the world, uniting millions in a
bond too strong for breaking. Time has demonstrated
that Masonry is too strong for war, too strong for
hate, too strong for jealousy and fear. The worst
of men have used the strongest of means and have
but pushed Masonry to one side for the moment; not
all their efforts have broken her, or ever will!
"Masonry gives us all a chance to do and to be; to
do a little, however humble the part, in making the
world better; to be a little larger, a little
fuller in our lives, a little nearer to the
G.A.O.T.U. And unless a man understands this,
believes it, takes it to his heart, and lives it in
his daily life, and strives to show it forth to
others in his every act unless he live and love
and labor in his Masonry. I say he is no Master
Mason; aye, though he belong to all Rites and carry
all cards, though he be hung as a Christmas tree
with jewels and pins, though he be an officer in
all Bodies. But the man who has it in his heart and
sees in Masonry the chance to be in reality what he
has sworn he would be, a brother to his fellow
Masons, is a Master Mason though he be raised but
tonight, belongs to no body but his Blue Lodge, and
be too poor to buy and wear a single pin."
The Young Brother, looking down, unfastened the
emblem from his coat lapel and handed it to the Old
Past Master. "Of course, you are right," he said,
lowly. "Here is my pin. Don't give it back to me
until you think I am worthy to wear it."
The Old Past Master smiled. "I think you would
better put it back now," he answered gently. "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.