30,000 Words?!?!

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Robert Walk Jr. 

The night that I was initiated was the beginning of something Great. Not the beginning of something easy, nor the beginning of something to be pushed to the side afterward. And so with the beginning of something Great, Great work -- hard work -- must be done to accomplish Great goals. I stayed after the initiation and had a short pep talk from the Brother Instructors that would be guiding us through the catechisms throughout the next two degrees of Masonry. "Well, we should probably start right away," exclaimed Brother Nito. What did he mean by 'right away?' 

"Meet me here tomorrow evening, and we'll begin memorizing the catechism." Brother Stuart has always been a busy man and Mason. For his part it took a lot of time for him to travel from Northern Maryland all the way into Baltimore County to teach us young Entered Apprentices. But he sure did it, out of the deepest brotherly love, to attend to our most immediate need as new Masons.

 "After tomorrow night, we'll try to meet three or four times a week, depending on who's available. We'll email you on Sunday evening to let you know about the week's schedule," mentioned Brother Wendell. Wendell is the head of the instructors. More often than not it's him who meets us at lodge to teach us so thoroughly. And he's tough. Not one word can be wrong with him. And even more -- no joking around! Keep on moving, get it right, and we can move on with the work! "Go home, and put your new aprons in a safe place. You'll need them when you are Raised in the third degree. Alright Gentlemen, have a good evening and be careful on the drive home."

Wait a minute. Did Wendell just say three or four times a week? I surely didn't know about this. Amanda had no clue either, that's for sure. Had she known that during the investigative process, she would have told me I couldn't petition. There would be no way! And yet, here we were. Time to deliver some interesting news to my wonderful wife, hoping that some sort of forgiveness would happen over time. 

 So, I left Jephthah Lodge that evening full of hope and some serious, serious excitement. Did I look different, walk different, breathe different in any sort of way? Honestly, I can say that my demeanor was sure different, and the process of Masonic self-introspection and self-improvement had begun. I became infinitely more aware of my person than I had previously been. The next day at work -- a short five hours after I had arrived home from lodge for the night -- I was extremely tired. But the excitement of having become a part of Masonry kept me moving for the day. It is oftentimes difficult to leave work in time to get to catechism class for instruction, but by the grace of God Himself I made it to class that evening after heavy deliberations at work with the other technicians. 

Mind you, if you leave after the second shift of patients you are leaving the clinic at 2:30 in the afternoon. Class wasn't until 6:00 pm. So, I drove down to the Dunkin Donuts and tried to remember what happened the night prior. Did they say this or that? Where did I then go? I couldn't remember any darn bit of the lectures given to us! And the Brethren SURE told me to keep my ears open that night. I had no clue what was happening before me and to me. I sat with my iced coffee and computer at the donut shop speaking to Bro. Bill Hosler and Bro. Robert Johnson until I was "blue" in the face. Those poor men finally had to excuse themselves. I had so many questions left unanswered. So much of a thirst for knowledge that I could hardly contain myself! I swore that I would be of such benefit to the Brothers that would be initiated after me. Generosity comes in many, many forms. 

That evening as the other new Entered Apprentice and I arrived at class, Stuart came prepared…with absolutely nothing. Where were the books? I heard talk of the catechism being available in a book form somehow. Tonight was different as well in that we came in casual clothing. This seems like a small bit of it, but it was quite a huge point to myself. The dressing up was and still is a great part of it for me. There is a lot of dignity in the way we hold ourselves, and present ourselves to the public. To come to lodge in shorts and T-shirt felt…different. We shook hands, walked upstairs to the beautiful lodge room, and took a seat in the West. He asked the first question. All he got from us were blank stares. Bro. Stuart replied with the proper response, and we repeated it three times until we knew it. 

We did this with the first five questions, and had to call it a night after an hour of work. Yes, that's right. Five questions and one hour of work. I really began to question how long it was going to take, and whether I would be able to memorize it or not. After all, I had trouble remembering the first paragraph of the US Constitution when it was taught to me by my 7th grade history teacher. "It'll get easier, Brothers, don't worry. Tonight is no indication of how you will do with the rest. This is the way it used to be done all of the time. There was no book, there was no abbreviated catechism. Only mouth to ear. Have a great evening, and we'll see you guys next week." 

 After a month and a half of rote memorization, of sitting in my car on breaks and talking to myself, of saying lines of catechism in my sleep, saying them in my dreams, it was time to stand proficiency in the First Degree. Lodge opened in the Third Degree, and we chatted with the Tyler for a few minutes. When they finally came down into the First Degree we came in and had a seat with the Brethren. I was not frightened in the least. I knew the work -- every line, word, punctuation. After a few long weeks it was an absolute cinch. The Worshipful Master indicated that it was time for the other Entered Apprentice and I to stand proficiency and my heart pounded. I literally thought that it would jump out of my chest. Dear Lord, what if they would have to use the new defibrillator they just acquired at lodge on me? 

The first question was asked to myself. I responded and waited for my turn again. Brent was asked a question, responded and Nito turned his gaze back on me. After a very, very long fifteen minutes we were done. The vote was taken. We were to be Passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft. Time to ride that goat again…


Bro. Robert Walk is the creator and sole writer for On Freemasonry and Humble Pie: a Wordpress blog dedicated to his experiences and journey from being a petitioner, to Initiation, Passing, and to being Raised. A dialysis technician being his main work, he enjoys writing, rock climbing, drumming and craft beer in his free time. He is a Fellowcraft at Jephthah Lodge No. 222, A.F.&A.M. in Essex, MD, and is, at present, working on proficiency in the Second Degree. Bro. Walk is due to be Raised on the evening of February 18th, 2014.

Masters Wages

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Aaron Gardner

There are a few benefits of being a United States Soldier that we seldom forget to  mention. We get to travel the world, visit countries that you may not even know exist, learn different tactics with different weapons and most of all, when we come home we get to see the faces of people that are truly grateful for our sacrifices. There is nothing more beneficial then seeing children want to be like you and older generations thankful for their freedoms.

Benefits aside, we do have a lot of hassles and troublesome times that we go through. It can be extremely rough on a solider to be away from his family for nine months to a year, sometimes even a year and half. This last deployment, I had those issues. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to receive the benefits and wages of a Master Mason. Please understand, I am talking of how a brother takes his cable tow and extends it beyond his reach in order to take care of another.

 Earlier this week I was traveling from one of those nations some people may never have heard of, The United Arab Emirates. While I was traveling the woman of my dreams was also preparing to travel herself, half way across the nation in order to meet me at my final destination in Lawton, Oklahoma. She had her flight booked, a rental car ready in Oklahoma and a hotel ready to go-- Well, not quite. Her hotel called her prior to her departure to let her know that her room could not be booked because her card was declined. She looked into the situation to find out that her identity had been stolen and she was broke. Her plane ticket didn't get booked because of the same situation and everything was beginning to fall apart.

 Knowing Emily would still try to find a way to get to Oklahoma, I devised a plan for her to use a copy of my debit card that she had possession of. I was thinking she would be able to use the card to purchase a rental car and pay for gas and food along the long road between West Virginia and Oklahoma. I called my bank and made sure they were tracking and even put a note on my account to ensure she had access to my bank account. Even with all the preliminary steps that I took for her to use my card, I was wrong. The rental car company rejected her, she needed to prove that she was the card holder on the account. Yet again, the amazing Emily is still bound and determined to travel half way across the nation to be with me as I get off the plane. She contacted a friend of hers and he helped her, knowing how badly she wanted to be in Oklahoma. Though he is not a Master Mason, Jason has shown me that he is righteous, honorable and willing to go the distance for a friend; traits of a true Master Mason of the Craft. At the news of her still traveling I contacted multiple Freemasons who may have been in the area she was going to be traveling through. There was one brother who stood out amongst them all, he took a burden that he did not have to take at all. Thankfully he didn't actually have to bear the burden, Emily arrived in Oklahoma safe and sound.

However, the burden Bro. Brian Schimian was to take, was to take care of anything in case of an emergency and Emily needed refuge. All I asked was that no matter where he was if he would please just call a brother in the area of Emily’s location to ensure her safety. He agreed but also pushed forward with his own idea of extending his cable tow. Bro. Schimian offered to travel to her even though she would not be any where near his location. I insisted that this was far beyond his obligation that it would be more than enough to just call a brother he may know closer to her location. Because of his dedication, I just want to publicly thank Bro. Brian Schimian for his dedication, effort and friendship. If I could authorize any sort of commendation award to him I would. To quote one of your latest articles on Midnight Freemasons, you truly show where the ‘tie binds’.

This is what we are referring to, a "Master’s Wages". It is not of monetary value nor does it hold some kind of physical existence. Rev. C. H. Vail describes it perfectly in "Ancient Mysteries & Modern Masonry", "What is the reward or wages of the Speculative Mason? Not silver nor gold, but Truth." I however, would like to take it a step further and propose that a Master’s Wages are benefits we get out of helping others, working together, and benefiting from the assistance of a fellow brother taking his obligation seriously. No matter where you are from, no matter your story, we are the tie that binds-- brethren we are all headed East to collect a “Master’s Wages”.


Bro. Aaron Gardner was raised as a Master Mason in his hometown lodge of Flushing, Michigan. He has served in active duty with the United States Army for the last seven years in which he has become well traveled around the world. He is currently stationed in Lawton, Oklahoma where he is a member of Triangle Lodge #548. When Bro. Gardner is not defending the nation, he takes great pride in writing articles for his blog Celestial Brotherhood, writing his fiction novel and researching all he can involving the Craft.

Increasing Your Lodge Visibility: The Second In A Series

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
W.B. Gregory J. Knott

In the first installment of this series, I discussed the idea of setting in motion the goal for improving Now that you have decided that you want to improve and grow your lodge, how do you increase awareness to others about a group that is supposedly a secret society?  As many others have said and I came to quickly realize, we are a society with secrets, not a secret society. How do you explain this to others?  So as to not reinvent the wheel, I encourage you to read the post by R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley and Todd E. Creason 33° about creating a message about what Freemasonry is.
your lodge.

In this post I want to focus on how to make your lodge more visible and share some of the ideas that St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 .  As I learned visibility comes in a variety of ways and including physical visibility.
we have used at

Your lodge meets somewhere, and there is a very good chance that your lodge is an extremely important part of the physical community.   Perhaps you are in a downtown area or have moved the lodge to a growing part of the town on the fringe.   Either way your physical lodge may be the first contact or impression that the general public has of Freemasonry.

Many of our Masonic buildings are older, how well is yours maintained?  Does it have weeds growing around it and trash piled up?   As we know a first impression plays a vital role in what people think.  The exterior of our lodge was generally OK.  Our building is located in the heart of the old downtown business district and we have 2 commercial spaces on the ground level that are rented out and have hosted a variety of businesses over the years.

But the back of our building was a complete mess.  Weeds, garbage, broken glass, stumps, etc. all were very visible.  To make it worse we have a bank behind our building with the drive thru that goes right by us.   Each day, hundreds of persons were driving by and the mess was their impression of our lodge.

One day, we were talking and decided to start cleaning up this area.  The trash, weeds and glass were all removed.  We then decided, wouldn’t it be nice to have a patio to use.  So we had a nice cement pad poured for the patio.   A short time later we had one of the local Scouts who approached us needing a project to earn his Eagle Scout badge.

He proposed creating a covering for the new patio.  This would add some curb appeal and create some much needed shade in this open area.   The Lodge approved the project and contributed both funds and manpower to help the Scout complete his project.  One of the brothers donated some concrete planters and my wife Brooke and son Hayden did some plantings that really give the patio some color.

Hayden Knott at the St. Joseph Lodge Patio
The end result?  Each day as customers of the bank come through the drive thru, they see a very nicely built and landscaped area.   We put up a sign that clearly identifies the building as Masonic, which you cannot help but see as you come through the drive through.   

How did this help the lodge?  We received dozens of positive comments from the residents of St. Joseph who really were glad to see the area cleaned up.   The Scout, his father and brother all became members of our lodge (we will have another post about working with others in the community).  The lodge has a nice place to have cookouts and gather.

So that first impression that others have of your building and lodge may be helped with some good old fashioned cleaning and little bit of elbow grease.

Our next installment will be focused on working with others in the community and how this can impact membership.


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He's a member of both the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club in Champaign-Urbana. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He holds membership also in The Masonic Society, The Scottish Rite Research Society and the Philalethes Society. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.