by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian J. Schimian
From the day I knocked at the outer door of Lakes Chapter, Order of DeMolay, seeking light in the Masonic family there has always been one reoccurring theme: Love. There are many references to our mothers throughout Masonic education, however none seem to touch on the love for our mothers the way that the DeMolay ritual and ceremonies do.
In a Lodge room setup for DeMolay, you would notice seven candles standing as sentries about the altar. In the Light Ceremony, we learn that “the first candle is representative of the love between a parent and a child, even prior to being born”. This unconditional love was called Agape. In the Nine O’clock Interpolation, it is in the first line that the Master Councilor references “mothers bending above the beds wherein lie the children they love”. During the initiation, candidates take charge of the Crown of Jewels, and learn the first jewel placed there on is the Jewel of Filial Love which is dedicated to our mother’s and the debt to them that we could never repay.
When we are initiated, passed and raised into the Light of Freemasonry, we build bonds with the Brethren around us and inevitably, their families, becoming part of the “Masonic Family”. In the obligation of a Freemason, we learn that a man's duty to his family is paramount. Given that we consider one another Brothers, so should we consider their Wives our Sisters. A Brother’s Mother is revered as much as you revere your own. Their children protected as though they were your own.
In the true Masonic Family, just as sure as night follows day, women must be considered an important and equal contributor to our Fraternity. And I don’t just mean tolerating us being away for stated meetings, practices and Grand Lodge Sessions. Without Women, there would be no Man, and thus no Masonry.
If you are ever blessed with being able to witness a DeMolay Chapter preform the Flower Ceremony, it will not soon be forgotten. There is rarely a dry eye to be found. Below is an excerpt from that ceremony.
“Dedicated to our mothers, whose love never fails. You may rise to positions of great influence in commercial, political, or professional life, but you can never reach the heights of your mother's secret hopes for you. You may sink into the lowest depths of infamy and degradation, but never below the reach of her love. The memory of it will always stir your heart. There is no man so entirely base, so completely vile, so utterly low, that he does not hold in his heart a shrine sacred and apart for the memory of his mother's love.
Were I to draw you a picture of love divine,
it would not be that of a stately Angel,
With a form that is full of grace.
But a tired and toil worn mother
With a grave and tender face.
It was your mother who loved you before you were born--who carried you for long months close to her heart and in the fullness of time took God's hand in hers and passed through the valley of shadows to give you life. It was she who cared for you during the helpless years of infancy and the scarcely less dependent years of childhood. As you have grown less dependent, she has done the countless, thoughtful, trouble-healing, helpful and encouraging things which somehow only mothers seem to know how to do. You may have accepted these attentions more or less as matters of course, and perhaps without conscious gratitude or any expression of your appreciation. You are rapidly approaching the time in life when you will be entirely independent of your mother. The ties with which dependency has bound you to her may be severed as you grow older, but the tie of mother-love can never be broken.
Thinking back upon the years of your life when you have reached the threshold of manhood, your mother might well say in the words of the poet:
"My body fed your body, son,
But birth's a swift thing
Compared to one and twenty years
Of feeding you with spirit's tears.
I could not make your mind and soul,
But my glad hands have kept you whole.
Your groping hands
Bound me to life with ruthless bands.
And all my living became a prayer,
While all my days built up a stair
For your young feet that trod behind
That you an aspiring way should find.
Think you that life can give you pain
Which does not stab in me again?
Think you that life can give you shame
Which does not make my pride go lame?
And you can do no evil thing
Which sears not me with poisoned sting.
Because of all that I have done,
Remember me in life, O son.
Keep that proud body fine and fair.
My life is monumented there.
For my life make no woman weep,
For my life hold no woman cheap.
And see you give no woman scorn
For that dark night when you were born."
The flowers which adorn the altar are symbols of that mother love. The white, the love of the mother who is gone. And the red, the mother who still lives to bless your life.
Far in the dim recesses of her heart
Where all is hushed and still,
She keeps a shrine.
'Tis here she kneels in prayer
While from above long shafts of light upon her shine.
Her heart is flower fragrant as she prays.
Aquiver like a candle flame,
Each prayer takes wing
To bless the world she works among,
To leave the radiance of the candles there.”
May we everyday, strive to make good on that debt that can never be repaid.
Happy Mother's Day.