Virtuous Resolutions

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Jason Richards

Photo by Bro. Jon Ruark, PM

Late December is, for many people, a time of introspection and self-reflection. For me, Christmas Eve is particularly sacred in that regard. As long as I can remember, I stayed up extra late on Christmas Eve--not to wait for Santa or in anticipation of opening gifts the following morning--but to allow myself time to reflect on how my life has changed since the previous year's Christmas Eve and muse as to how my life might change before the next one rolls around. As I reflect, I always attempt to thank God for the blessings, lessons, and difficulties of the past year and also for the hope that comes with the next.

This past year, Masonically, has been a whirlwind adventure for which I am very thankful. I've been blessed with many new friendships with brethren across the world through The Masonic Roundtable, Midnight Freemasons, and Masonic Radio Theatre. I've also been granted increasing responsibility in my mother lodge, and look forward to my time in the East in the coming years. 

But Christmas Eve isn't just a time for self-reflection and poor attempts at forecasting the future; for me, it's always been the time to set my resolutions on how to live and act the next year. Resolutions, while often carrying negative connotations for being broken soon after they're made, can be a useful tool for sanctification whereby we chip at our own rough edges in hopes of one day becoming that that elusive, idealistic "perfect ashlar." As I was pondering my 2015 resolutions, the four cardinal virtues of Masonry about which we learn in the Entered Apprentice degree (temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice) stood out in my mind. As they necessarily touch all parts of our lives as men and Masons, these virtues formed the perfect framework for what I resolve to accomplish this next year:

1. Temperance: Spend more time with family.

Masonry is a vast, complex machine with many moving parts; however, it has relatively few workers to keep those parts moving and may have fewer in the future if current Masonic membership trends persist. As a result, Masonry has no shortage of work for those men who choose to be active--even to the point where family life suffers as a result. This year, I resolve to give my family the quality time they need.

2. Fortitude: Put all I can into my lodge.

Spending more quality time with my family doesn't mean that I slack off on my Masonic duties. Masonry should be about quality, not quantity. As such, I resolve to give my Masonic endeavors my all (within the length of my cable tow) this year, recognizing that I cannot (and should not) do everything; but what I do do, I should do exceptionally well.

3. Prudence: Exercise more patience.

We all know brethren who drive us nuts for whatever reason (if you're on reddit or facebook, you probably know several). While our obligations may keep us from completely writing them off or telling them where to shove it (or may not, depending on how you frame them), disharmony in the Craft can still abound in cases where brethren rub each other the wrong way. This year, I resolve to exercise more patience with brethren I find difficult to befriend and relieve.   

4. Justice: Be as good of a man as I can be. All the time.

We've heard it time and time again. Masonry makes good men better. Why else would we join? You can read the rituals online. A non-mason can buy a Masonic bumper sticker to put on his car or lapel pin for his jacket if he wants to do so. We're here to build each other into men of high values and character; as a Mason, it is my duty to be as good of a man as I can be, as I resolve to do the same to the best of my ability throughout the next year.

As we move forward into 2015, I wish all brethren wheresoever dispersed a joyous new year filled with temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice--four virtues upon which our craft was built, all of which are essential tools to master as we go forth and attempt to carry out our end goal as Masons: to make good men better.


Bro. Jason Richards is the Senior Deacon of Acacia Lodge No. 16 in Clifton, Virginia, and a member of both The Patriot Lodge No. 1957 and Fauquier Royal Arch Chapter No. 25 in Fairfax, Virginia. He is the sole author of the Masonic weblog The 2-Foot Ruler: Masonry in Plain Language, and is a co-host on the weekly YouTube show and podcast The Masonic Roundtable. He lives in Virginia with his wife, cats, and ever-expanding collection of bow ties.

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