The origins of modern freemasonry have been traced by means of documents and other historical records to guilds of builders in the Middle Ages. Some historians fastened their attention on the collegia of Ancient Rome as a possible ancestry for the guilds from which Freemasonry sprang. Links to Freemasonry in the distant past are often tenuous and sometimes fanciful, nevertheless, despite doubts and uncertainty, the collegia will continue to be of importance to us today because it is one of the best examples of how and why Freemasonry grows up out of human nature.
A lodge is a means where men cease to be individuals and join their lives to others, regardless of differences in race, colour, or religion, bound by a belief in the Supreme Being, God. This new lodge to be consecrated today, with its diverse membership, is an excellent demonstration of those attributes. It is to be consecrated in the name and to the glory of the Great Overseer of the Universe, the One whom we acknowledge to be the foundation on which our whole movement is based. In our lodges we find friendship, brotherly love, relief, mutual tolerance, and kindliness. What the collegium was to the men of Ancient Rome, the masonic lodge is to men today.
In our freemasonry, we are called upon to exercise moral and social virtues. Morality must stem from within; it cannot in any meaningful way be enforced from without. To exercise those moral and social virtues which we are called upon to exercise, requires courage, integrity and understanding. This can make what sometimes seem to be impossible demands which no individual can hope to make without the support of like-minded men aiming at the same goals. The greatest goal which should be the aim of all our endeavours, and which should be our constant inspiration is God himself.
Th work of the Mark Benevolent Fund and the contribution made by individuals during the current pandemic has highlighted the fact that masonry has demonstrated that it can work in and with society, and not be divorced from it. Adapting to an ever- changing society and showing ourselves to be a force for good is essential. It is the paramount duty of every one of us to ensure that we give the fullest possible expression to our individual gifts for the welfare of the whole and the furtherance of our great institution. If the institution is true to its calling, this means that the dedicated freemason is the dedicated servant of God himself. This lies right at the heart of any consecration.
During the ceremony you are about to witness, you will be introduced to the following elements: corn, to symbolise abundance and plenty; wine to symbolise joy and gladness; oil to symbolise peace and harmony; and salt as the emblem of fidelity, hospitality, and everlasting friendship. Salt will be sprinkled on the shoulders of representatives of the founders, thus reminding us that the members are the lodge, regardless of where it meets. It is not difficult to imagine that those virtues were embraced and adopted by the founders of our Order many years ago as we do so today. To draw other men to enquire, explore and then to join us, is to present freemasonry as being attractive and worthwhile. That is how I became a mason, and that is how I suspect that many of you did so. We should also have enjoyment in our masonry. At installations we listen to the words, “Let us unite in the grand design of being happy and communicating happiness,” and then look at the senior brethren’s faces! Our Mark Degree is known as ‘the friendly degree.’ Does our freemasonry promise a distinctive happiness? It should do and will ensure that we will become living examples of true and faithful brothers.
The real tragedy of human life is not that it is short but that is incomplete. We seldom, if ever, really finish the tasks we set ourselves; but brethren, we believe that is with the approbation of God that we aim high; we are confident that he knows and commends those dreams which inspire us in our best moments of effort and dedication to his will.
The late Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the architect of Portmeirion, the Italianate village on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, said this about architecture, “We must cherish the past, adorn the present and construct for the future.”
With the aid of the Great Overseer of the Universe we shall continue to build our brotherhood, cherishing the past, adorning the present and constructing for the future.
RW Bro Rev Bruce D Harry PGJW – Grand Chaplain.
30th October 2021.