What Now?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Robert Walk Jr.

"Well, what now?", one of my instructors asked me.

Yeah, what now? Why don't you tell me? Brent and myself stood for our proficiency in the 3rd Degree two nights ago, and passed with flying colors. After we sat down, and were declared proficient, the presentation of the lodge budget was given. And as I sat there listening, I hoped it looked like I was listening because I sure wasn't. I wasn't really able to focus on the issue at hand, because the question was nagging -- what now? I think this question is asked far too often by newly Raised Master Masons, because the deeper meanings of the degrees are not ripe to be seen by candidates. That, however, is a subject for a different time, Brethren.

This particular topic of discussion is a difficult one to attend to at this particular time in Craft Masonry. It seems that on the sidelines sit all of the WW2 Masons that came in, because they wanted to have some sort of social connection similar to what they had in the service they retired from. There is nothing in the least wrong with this. As I've said on other occasions one of the things that struck me so viscerally was the rather deep feeling of Brotherhood I gained upon being Entered into the lodge. There is nothing like it..."this of ours." These Brothers grew up in a time where their particular religions and spirituality came first, and nothing else was to be broached on the topics that may step over that heavy rope.

At the same time, there is the question of why when Masons are Raised they never end up coming back to lodge after that momentous event. The question truly begs: why? I believe it is due to what was lost when our dear fraternity was given over to rote memory, mere socialization and charity. As far as I'm aware, prior to this influx of members there is a "brand" of Masonry that was practiced which educated, developed and helped the Mason to "become a better man." And this "brand" of Masonry included just that -- education.

This sort of education included research papers, discussion, and contemplation of the ritual, symbols and lectures given us in the Three Degrees of Masonry. These meetings were rather solemn events, with a deeply contemplative tone which has been -- please forgive me here -- lost to the blue lodge today. It is my own belief, and indeed understanding (as I practiced many of the contemplative traditions of the East) that were such an environment cultivated and practiced now, many of the Masons that didn't return after being Raised would more than gladly sit in lodge four times a month or more. Their expectations while simply a petitioner would have been satisfied, and they would have become -- given the proper conditions -- better men.

What now, indeed, Brethren? Do you have a part in bringing these rich traditions back to your local blue lodge, or will you continue to suffer the endless pancake breakfasts and stated meetings dedicated solely to paying those bills that come around every. single. month. Oh, these are surely important, please don't get me wrong. However, at a period in time where you don't see even 3% of your lodge membership show up for stated meetings, what is it we're moving toward exactly? I have asked the Worshipful Master of my own lodge to allow me to start a group for Masonic education.

As the meeting was winding down, and the Worshipful Master ready to close the lodge, my eyes were falling shut due to some fatigue and a hair's bit of boredom. I looked back at one of my instructors, and his chin was in his left hand. Looks like I'm not far from Good company. We wrapped up, went downstairs for a coffee and got in our cars to drive off. I looked back at my degrees and proficiencies, without a word to recite on the drive home.

What now?


Brother Robert Walk Jr. 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 Master Mason at Jephthah Lodge No. 222, A.F.&A.M. in Essex, MD.


  1. I believe it is a mistake to try and define why the greatest generation entered the fraternity. You are looking at them after being on the sidelines, or in a chair, for 30-50 years. They more than likely entered for the same reasons you did. There were plenty of other easier opportunities for socializing than joining Freemasonry.
    A recurring them is; why don't we do more to educate our craft? Brothers, there are three kinds of men in Freemasonry; those that make things happen, those that watch things happen and those that wonder 'what happened?'. No lodge should EVER deny a member from starting an education program. The issue is; who takes that step forward? Are we saying "I'm too busy, let's complain and let the lodge leadership fix it- that's what they were elected to do" or are we part of the solution? Our younger members are tech savvy. They can whip up a power point presentation or pull up a video that is both educational and entertaining to the craft.
    It can easily start with that new brother who wants more. In many cases, they know as much about the fraternity as the other members. They just need to take the lead to make the change.
    Now, 'Git 'er Done!'

    1. Great points, Bro. Singleton. I'm right there with you. Personally, I've submitted a proposal to the WM of my lodge requesting a Masonic Education Committee be formed, or something that would stimulate that sort of discussion.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Bro. Rob, I myself am a newly raised MM and I will return my proficiency this Monday. I did have the thought what will happen next? I was asked to stay and stand in as the JS for a 2nd degree certification and that was interesting. I offered to come back on the catechism nights to help with new canadates I'm definitely trying to avoid the well now what question. Btw a PM from your lodge was at my raising although I do not recall his name after I received my degree he was pretty awesome.

    1. Oh, I wish you could remember his name! If you do, please let me know!

  3. I went through the same feeling you did, and (mistakenly) tried to fill it with the various appendant bodies. This isn't to say that it is wrong to join them, or that it's bad, but your reasons should be better than "to fill the hole that Blue Lodge should be filling."
    In our lodge, a few of us have started an education and mentoring committee, who work with the newly raised Masons on understanding what Masonry is all about, and who present various educational pieces during the monthly meetings. I can say, for my part, that I've learned significantly more about Masonry by researching for these pieces than I had learned from the Rites.
    The wisest piece of advice I've ever received about lodge was given by a member of my investigating committee: you'll get as much out of Masonry as you are willing to put in. Some are content to enjoy the social aspect, or the charity aspect, and that isn't wrong for them. Others want to dig deeper into the historical aspects, or the symbolism, and will take a wealth of knowledge with them. If you want that, prepare to roll up your sleeves and get to work, and just know that the internal reward far exceeds the cost of the labor!
    I'm Senior Deacon in my lodge right now, and I tell every newly raised Master Mason the same thing (which, I think, will apply for you as well): Congratulations! You have worked very hard to get to this point, and we are all proud of you. You haven't reached the end of your journey though, you are just at the beginning, and where you choose to go next is up to you. You'll have brothers to help you on your path, but none of us will determine that path for you like we did during the degrees. And if you ever feel lost, just grab a nearby brother and ask for help!

  4. I myself was raised just over a year ago and currently find myself filling the "what now void" with learning the blue book front to back. I am looking for some practical ideas to institute in my own lodge. We have a "young" in age ( literally half are under 30) and "thirsty" lodge and don't want to see them lose interest. Anybody got any brainstorming ideas that we can discuss and tweak together.

    Thanks Brethern

  5. The Lodge will be what you help it become. I wouldn't over romanticize about the past. My bet is that the majority of lodges created in the last 100 years weren't bastions of great lectures and divine knowledge. I have been researching our lodge history and have gone through almost 100 years of minutes. There were very few references to Masonic lectures, etc. That's not saying there wasn't education conducted, but I suspect most of the meetings conducted in lodges far and wide, as in our lodge, over their history have been read the minutes, pay the bills and talk about who cooked the hot dogs for after the meeting. Does this mean Masonry wasn't alive and well - no.

    I do think many men who join today are looking for something beyond the simple meetings of the last few generations. That is where as a new member you have the opportunity to shape things for the future. It may have to start slow, but as you bring in new members who share similar values and goals, things will change.

    But you need to help that change blossom. Our lodge is a work in progress, but we are having fun and people are coming to meetings. I always consider how can you add value to a meeting, an event, etc. By adding value, you give a reason for members to come back. In today's world there is just too much competition for time and people will go where they feel their time is well spent.

    You will have some boring meetings, I just left one tonight, but that doesn't dampen my spirit in knowing what this great fraternity is and will yet become.

    Show up, make a difference, create a vision and your lodge will soon be as you wish it to be.

    Greg Knott - Your fellow Midnight Freemason


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