UPDATE Masonic Rings: Points In Or Points Out?

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Todd E. Creason, 33°
Several weeks ago, Brian Schimian and I wrote a piece together called Masonic Rings: Points In Or Points Out.  To say it was well recieved would be an understatement--I've been doing this since 2007, and I can say I've never seen anything like it before.  It was all over Facebook, and Twitter, and I couldn't even begin to guess how many emails I got from all over the USA.  Everyone had a thought about how Masonic rings should be properly worn.

Brian and I knew it was a good discussion topic, because the subject had come up more than once during group discussions on Facebook, and it always led to an entertaining exchange between the points up Masons and the points down Masons.  All it good fun, of course.  We thought it would be fun to open up a discussion, and find out what everyone thought, and hopefully learn what some more of these customs were and the logic behind them.  It worked fabulously.

As Brian Shimian and I suspected, there were a lot more customs out there than we thought.  I thought I'd post a few of those customs our readers were good enough to share.  There was a lot of variety but three main schools of thought on the topic emerged.  They are as follows:
1.)  Points in when you are a Master Mason, because that is the way the square and compass first appeared to you.  Points out when you are a Past Master, because that is the view of the square and compass when you present them.
2.)  Points in when you are in lodge.  Points out when you are outside the lodge.
3.)  Points out when you're traveling so that other Masons might recognize you as a Brother.
There was one comment in particular that I really liked.  It wasn't a lodge custom, it was the individual Master Mason's custom.  He said he didn't look at the ring when he put it on in the morning.  He said if it happened to be points in, it meant that on that day, he was going to work on becoming a better man.  If it happened to be points out, he was going to do what he could that day to make the world a better place.  I thought that was a fantastic way of looking at things.

And one Master Mason said you wear your Masonic ring with the sharp points out before coffee, to warn those that might not be aware that it was unsafe to approach.  I pretty sure he was pulling my leg. 
And while so many were willing to share their local customs on how to wear Masonic rings, nobody seemed to think it was particularly important.  One thing that was said over and over in the comments and emails was that it really doesn't matter so long as you wear the ring proudly and that you always present yourself as a good example of what a Freemason is. 

And, of course, that is correct--it really doesn't matter.  Brian and I had come to that conclusion long before we wrote the piece.  Thank you all for participating in our discussion.  It was great fun!

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL). You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org     

Budgeting the Lodge - For the Better of the Fraternity

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Aaron Gardner

We all see the saving tips and how to turn your dollar into a million plans all over the Internet. Rather they are get rich schemes or legitimate savings tips and ideas, they are all over the place. In today’s world of credit it’s easy to see why. So many individuals are actually going further in debt to pay off other debt. Which is ridiculous, however we do have a Government that shows that it is perfectly all right… No, I am not going to start giving ideas on how we can fix our Federal Government’s current financial predicament. Although, in our fraternity we do have a similar situation—on a much smaller scale that is.  

Countless times I have talked to brethren across the nation and even in different countries to find one problem that we have in our society. Our lodges are struggling to provide for the communities they serve, the buildings they use and sadly the brethren who sit inside the lodge. 

Every lodge has a minimum amount of funding they have to have in their given financial institutions. It could be a zero balance or it could be ranging anywhere from $1 to $5,000 dollars.  Regardless of what they have in the account, there is a troubling situation when our lodges are having a hard time coming on top of their overhead.  Many point the finger at the loss of memberships and lack of petitions. When the bills start piling up, are those really the problems we need to identify? 

I’d like to make a couple suggestions on where we should focus in order to be sure we have enough money in our lodge for our usual expenses, emergency expenses as well as expenses for new programs. 

First, for those lodges who have lost members, yes this is tragic, however it doesn’t mean that your lodge can’t come out on top.  We may be suffering from fewer members than in previous years; however, our fraternity has lasted through out the centuries despite the challenges set against us.  If you have a masonic body made up of fewer than 10 members who regularly show for stated meetings, perhaps its time to consider consolidating with other local lodges. 

I know, this is not in the best interest for the history of your lodge and you want to uphold that history. Yet, is it really upholding the lodge history when you may have to close the doors due to lack of membership? Remember, when we close a lodge we always ask the members if they have anything for the better of the fraternity; trying to uphold one particular lodge’s history is not for the better of our organization. Let’s consider the benefits of consolidating: 


  • Bills would be shared amongst a different lodge. 
  • We can always learn from other lodges experiences.
  • We can be a part of history and create a newer lodge in the community and create fresh ideas out of the rubble of two or more closed lodges. The phoenix of your community. 
  • A larger community to reach out to and possibly receives more petitions.
  • With a larger body, the sometimes-lacking ritual can be restored without more than one person sharing roles. 

These are just a few benefits that our local lodges would experience. There are a lot more and together we can contemplate these. I just suggest our WM’s and PM’s and officers alike consider these when sitting at the trestle board trying to save their lodge. 

For those lodges that are not lacking in membership, but are still having a hard time paying the bills, let me ask you a simple question. What is your lodge’s primary means of income? If you answer with your member’s dues, are they high enough? If they are low enough for a member to pay out of pocket change, perhaps you should increase them. I have talked to brethren across the country about their dues and they all seem to agree about a months worth of pay should be average for the year. Now, of course this all is depending on your location and the average income for a household in your community. It is up to your lodge to find a medium with your members on what their membership is worth to them.  

If your member’s are already paying a considerable amount for their dues perhaps it is time to look at your expenses. If you have a large enough body of members and they are paying a substantial amount for dues, where is your lodge’s money going? What programs is your lodge participating in that could use some readjustments? I suggest you write down all of your bills in order of precedence. First and foremost you need to pay overhead. That is the most important bill, there would be no building without it. Overhead consists of the usual, Property Tax/Rent, Electricity, Gas (If you have it) Heating and A/C. Then write down the programs your lodge is funding in order by expenses, The Most expensive first. 

Once you have all your outcome money written down in order of precedence, start looking at the programs and figuring if any of the programs can be either scrapped, consolidated or you can provide less money for any of them. If there is a program that seems to not be going anywhere, and is more costly than producing results, GET RID OF IT! These types of programs are toxic to our society and more damaging to your community. Yes, I understand your lodges “Christmas Bike Program” is a great and noble cause, it works in other lodges and your hoping it will eventually become worth the money spent and the time invested.  Well, until that time don’t fund it. It is important that your lodge stays above water or else it wouldn’t be very beneficial. 

Refocus your lodge’s money through the programs. If you are spending a substantial amount of money on one program but not another, ask why that is. It could be that one program legitimately needs that money dedicated toward it. It’s also possible that some of those funds are not functioning the way they should.  The solution to this is rather simple; pull some of those funds and divide them amongst other programs that may need more attention. If none of this helps get your lodge back above water, there are other solutions to the funding issues. 

Do you have a lack of obedience in your lodge?  Are members causing distractions during degree work? Fine them. There are plenty of lodges across this nation who are known to cite a fine toward their members if they are being less than productive during work.  It is a simple way to earn money in the lodge and it helps instill discipline.  A win-win if you ask me, although I really do not want to be the member that has to pay the fine. 

Finally, there is one more solution I have in my toolbox that we can use across all of our lodges. It will, possibly, cost some money at the beginning if your lodge is lacking in maintenance. However, turn your lodge into something that could bring money in from the community. When I was raised, I was raised in the very lodge that accepted my family and friends into their fellowship hall for my graduation/going away party when I was 18 years old and heading off for the Army.  Flushing Lodge #223 rents out their fellowship hall to members of the community for a decent price.  It is a great way to bring in some kind of external revenue to help alleviate the woes of the recession our country and world is going through.  Not to mention bring in potential petitions. Once you get your lodge up to standard and make it more of a sellable product you can become more visible in your community. I will not take any thunder away from fellow Midnight Freemason contributor W.B Greg Knott.  He is working on his series of “Increasing Your Lodge’s Visibility. It is a great series and beneficial to lodges looking for a way to breathe again in the recession. You can find his article here

With these set in place our lodges can become the shining light in our community, they once were. A community coming together for the better, our Craft of Freemasonry upstaging the conspiracies and allowing the public to see us in a different light.  Now that really is a Win-Win. 


~AG

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.

Dr. Conrad Murray: Freemason Or Not?

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason, 33°

On June 25th, 2009, the world received some shocking news--Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop" was dead at the age of fifty.  Once the shock of the news subsided, what the world wanted to know was why and how the pop star came to such an untimely end.  And all eyes began to focus on Michael Jackson's personal physician--Dr. Conrad Murray.  Without question, Michael Jackson was using some very powerful drugs, including the surgical anesthetic propofol administered by Murray.  Murray ultimately was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison--he was released after serving two.

During the trial, the above photo was released by Murray's attorney, and the press went wild with the news that Murray was a Freemason.  According to the information provided, Murray is the Grand Medical Director of the United Most Worshipful Scottish Rite Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F.&A.M. 

Michael Jackson
1958 - 2009
This evidence satisfied the press of his Masonic credentials, and the story was repeated over and over again that Murray is a Freemason.  But most Masons will see the problem almost immediately with both his title and the Masonic organization he belongs to. There is simply no such title as "Grand Medical Director."

But that's not all . . . The United Most Worshipful Scottish Rite Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M. is bogus, too--it is not recognized by any official Masonic body and isn't associated with any Grand Lodge of Freemasons.  It is certainly not affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Texas.  It is not affiliated with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas.  And it is unknown to the Scottish Rite of Texas.

The United Most Worshipful Scottish Rite Grand Lodge of Texas is one of many phony Masonic organizations that are out there today (or what Masons would call clandestine organizations).
 
So back to the original question.  Is Dr. Conrad Murray a Freemason?
 
No, he is not.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL). You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Working with Others in the Community: The Third in a Series

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

In the first installment of this series, I reviewed setting goals to improve your lodge, the second installment focused on lodge visibility regarding the physical presence of your lodge in the community.  For the third installment I want to discuss relationships with others in the community as a means of raising visibility and growing your membership.

Perhaps we should look at the definition of community.  According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary community is “a group of people who live in the same areas (such as a city, town, or neighborhood), a group of people with the same interests, etc.” 

How a lodge defines their community will differ from lodge to lodge.   If you are in a rural town it could be the village where the lodge is located, surrounding rural areas and perhaps other nearby small towns.  If you live in a more urban environment your community may be defined by neighborhoods, groups of people with similar interests etc.

I am a member of three different lodges in my area.  They are very close to one another only about 5 miles apart.   This harkens back to a day when agriculture had a major influence on the developments of villages and communities.

One of these lodges St. Joseph No. 970 is the focus of this series.  One of our goals was to increase our membership, after all we were about to turn the lights out forever.   The lodge is located in St. Joseph, Illinois which is a small but growing community located about 10 miles from the University of Illinois.  Over the last twenty years, the town has experienced a lot of growth, meaning many new families have moved to town.

St. Joseph Lodge hadn’t been able to capture the benefit of this growth, primarily because the lodge had lost its identity and place within the community.  People simply didn’t know we were around, despite that fact that our lodge hall was one of the largest buildings downtown.

So we began to work on the membership growth from a number of angles.  First we put ourselves in a situation to be seen in the community.  The lodge conducted an I-Chip program with the local pre-school, the son of one member decided to petition, and soon a local school superintendent did as well.   For the first time in several years we began having degree work on a regular basis.

I was serving as Cub Master for the local Cub Scout Pack and this seemed like a natural group to work with as well.  In planning the annual lodge pancake breakfast, we decided to team up with the Pack and do it together.  The Pack has a built in audience with parents and Cub Scouts eager to help.  This opportunity also soon introduced the parents to the lodge and what we were about.

Community 9-11 Memorial Service
The relationship with the Cub Scout and Boy Scouts grew and we have jointly sponsored the annual Community Memorial Day observance.  In 2011 we worked together to sponsor a 10th anniversary of September 11 and had over 400 members of the community present.  Since then we have also began working with the Girl Scouts as well.

 Our lodge is now the chartered organization for a new Venturing Crew, which is a co-ed group for youth ages 14-21 as part of the Scouting movement.

We have worked with the local American Legion to help with their fish fry again helping our visibility and also helping the Legion keep their long standing fish fry continue in the community.  The Legion has allowed the lodge to use the Legion Hall when we have held dinners.

Community Builder Award
In 2010 we began the St. Joseph Lodge Community Builders Award and we have honored several members of the local community for their efforts in making St. Joseph a stronger place to live.  The lodge also established an award “Stand By Your Mason - SBYM” given to the significant other of a lodge member for their support of our Lodge activities.

 We are the sponsors of our local high school Scholastic Bowl team and have a pizza party for them each year to celebrate their accomplishments.   Our lodge has sponsored a breakfast for the teams that participate in the regional tournament when it is held at our school.   Additionally we sponsor a scholarship each year for a graduating senior.

These are just some of the activities that we have participated in that have put the lodge back on the community radar.  The community knows we are here again and the growth in our membership has shown very positive results.  From the scouting connections alone we now have ten new members who have a Scouting affiliation.

My advice is to get out into the community and see where the lodge can help make a difference.  Exposure to what our great fraternity is about can only be done when others learn about who we are.  St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 is now preparing to celebrate our 100th anniversary.  This celebration is not just for the lodge, but the entire community of whom the lodge is an integral part again.

The next installment of this series will focus on publicity and ways for getting the word out about the lodge in the media and beyond.

~GJK


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), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters.




The Palladian Rite

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro James E. Frey 32°



The Palladian Rite, according to conspiracy theorists it is the very top of the Illuminati pyramid. Conspiracy theorists point to the Palladian Rite as being the secret overlord of all Masonic Rites uniting all masonry together in a dark agenda to propitiate three world wars to bring about the New World Order Government led by shape shifting reptiles from outer space. Oh if only it were all that interesting. No my Brethren, this article will not focus on ufos, aliens, or government plots for world domination. This article will focus on the mysterious and perhaps real Palladian rite that has caused such a stir in the Masonic soup to make it the famed “Top of the Satanic Pyramid”.

I have heard various times on a variety of websites how the Palladian Rite is the secret Satanic cult that rules the whole of masonry from the shadows with an iron fist. But to understand the myth of a
Palladian Rite we must understand the connection of Masonry and Satanism. Rumors of Secret Satanic Rites within the Masonic fraternity can be traced to Leo Taxil’s nefarious work “The Devil in the Nineteenth Century”. As we know the “Taxil Hoax” attempted to connect the degrees of Masonry to animal sacrifice, homosexual rites, giant goat statues and all kinds of weird and groovy things. Sadly the population of France at the time did not know how to tell factious reporting from journalism with integrity, so this mythos began to evolve itself into the general consciousness, which is why the book is still often quoted today in anti-masonic resources. 

From this environment the notorious Palladian Rite began to gain its own mythos and develop into the puppet master archetype it is known as today. Taxil was a major influence on Paul Rosen who wrote “The Brethren of the Three Points” in 1885, which was another expose revealing the “dark” nature of Freemasonry. This book focused on Albert Pike as the leader of all American masonry and his establishment of the Palladian Rite with his connection in the Italian underworld to unify masonry with the steams of fascism which would come to power over the next 60 years. The term “satanic” is not used but replaced with “Luciferian”. There is a huge difference between Satanic and Luciferian. Satanic being the adoration of Satan and the acceptance of the left hand path, Luciferianism widely can be generalized as seeing the Old Testament Yahweh as a tyrant God who attempts to keep man ignorant of the knowledge of Good and Evil, so Lucifer, the light bearer, betrays Yahweh bringing the light of Wisdom to man through the eating of the forbidden fruit liberating man from servitude to Yahweh’s ego. This is a reinterpretation of the Greek myth concerning Prometheus who steals the fire of the Gods and delivers it to mortal man. Like Prometheus, Lucifer is cast to the underworld where he is to be punished for all eternity. Whether Taxil or Rosen knew the different between these two philosophical perceptions is limited, but it can be safe to estimate that they were ignorant of the differences labeling them both as “Devil Worship”.

In 1890 eminent Masonic scholar, Arthur Edward Waite attempted a academic approach to the material and rumors of Satanic cults in his work “Devil Worship in France” where he addresses the understanding of the Luciferian Palladian Rite as being a worked up version of a real secret society that once did exist. The Palladian Rite, was a fabricated version of the Reformed Palladium Rite which existed in France for a short increment of time. According to Kenneth Mackenzie in his “Royal Masonic Cyclopedia” the Order of Palladium first appeared in Paris in 1737 being derived from Douai with rituals being written about 1637. This group contained heavily Greek oriented degrees, two for men under the titles of “Adelph” and “Companion of Ulysses” while female members were admitted to the degree of “Sister of Penelope”. With a Greek influence on symbolism we can see the Lucifer aspect as being similar to Albert Pike’s misinterpretation in “Morals and Dogma”, for the Planet Venus. Lucifer is Latin for the Light bearer and is representative for Venus because Venus is the planet that continuously rises each morning just before the break of dawn, so Venus brings the light to the world which is why so many myths of solar deities have mothers who are representative of Venus.

Venus is also the planetary embodiment of love which is representative of the motto of the order “je sais aimer” or “I know how to love”. The seal of the Order of Palladium was a heart crowned with flowers upon an altar ornamented with palm and laurel leaves. This places the Palladium Rite in a much different light dedicated to spiritual enlightenment of the sacred feminine, not Satanism as rumored by Taxil and Rosen. The Palladium Rite was dissolved by police after a short while at the order of the Catholic state at the time and vanished into obscurity until misinterpreted by anti-masons and made the exact opposite of what it represented in the greater human consciousness. Over all it is a shame that Neo-Pagan groups of that era were not allowed to practice their beliefs in peace, their only goal being to advance the spiritual and moral aspirations of their soul. Today all that is left is a dark shadow where light once was.

~JEF

James E Frey 32° classifies himself as a gentleman of the old world, which means he is known to stand in the great forests reciting poetry to fair-haired damsels while wrestling bears for sport. He is a District Education Officer for the Grand Lodge of Illinois, a Past Sovereign Prince of the of Danville AASR, member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, Royal Order of Scotland, Quram Council Allied Masonic Degrees and initiate of the Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He is also a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry for the R.E.B.I.S Research Society.

The 50 Year Member - Part Eight : Just and Upright

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Hosler, PM

“Please pass the all-purpose flour, Amy”, Dianne said, as she started to whisk the contents of her bowl.  “As soon as the flour is mixed in I'm going to add the chocolate.”  It was a cold, wintery day and the ladies of the house thought it would be the perfect day for baking. 

Martha, the wife of the 50 Year member, along with her son’s wives were all making their families favorite desserts. It was a wonderful time of sharing and getting to know each other. With each sharing their favorite recipe as well as their baking secrets and then of course gossip. There were baked goods of every kind; cakes, bread, cupcakes and other desserts for every taste and sweet tooth imaginable. It was a mountain of food, but Martha knew as soon as the kids came inside from playing in the snow it would be gone in a matter of minutes.

Out of the corner of her eye Martha noticed the girlfriend of her youngest son, Katie, sitting in the dining room alone. Martha frowned because from her vantage point it appeared that Katie was all alone and crying. Quietly Martha slipped out of the kitchen and took a seat next to Katie.

“Are you Okay, Katie?” Martha asked. Katie dabbed her eyes with a tissue and in a weak voice she said, “Not really, Rick and I had a fight on the way over here.” Martha smiled. “I understand. Every young couple argues. We did when we were young.  It’s just part of starting out in a relationship.”

“Not like this!” Katie exclaimed. “I don't know if we can stay together after this.” Martha frowned. “Goodness! What in the world would cause such a drastic change?”  The tears rolled down Katie's face as she tried to steady her voice. “Rick said he was going to become a Freemason! I told him I didn't think it was a good idea. He was adamant about it. He said it was something he had always wanted to do and nothing would stop him. He wouldn't even listen to me!”

“I don't know much about what they do, but what I have read on the internet about it they are very secretive. They do weird ceremonies and worship Satan! Some sites say they even sacrifice animals! I don't want to married to a man who belongs to a cult. It scares me to think what he would do to me. What if we were to have children? How can I think of raising kids with someone who goes off to god knows where and does weird things? I want a man who I know I can trust; a man who will be a good father and husband.” 

Martha hugged Katie and held her as she began to cry uncontrollably. “I understand Katie,” Martha said as she dried away her tears. “Many years ago when John and I were dating I was faced with the same thing.  John's Grandfather and father were both Freemasons. John told me he planned on joining too. I was scared to death! My mother was shocked how I could even consider marrying a man like that. Our pastor even told me that John was going to Hell and he would drag me there with him. But in all honesty Katie, Rick becoming a Freemason is the best thing that can happen to you and your marriage.”

Katie looked up in amazement with tears streaming down her face “How in the world can Rick becoming a Mason be a good thing for me?”  Martha smiled and took Katie’s hand. Sweetie, you love Rick for the man he is. I would like to think I had a lot to do with how he turned out. But a boy looks up to his father. It is the dad that teaches his son how to become a man. 

My John was raised with Masonic principals and he passed them down to his sons. Masons take an oath to live a certain way; to take care of each other if in distress even their families. And if, God forbid, he passes away, they are honor bound to take care of the man’s widow and orphans. I can think of many times if we had a problem we couldn't handle, John would call a member of his lodge and somehow the problem would be taken care of.

I remember once a few years ago one of the more elderly widows of the lodge had a problem.  She was housebound.  Her health was failing and her family had all passed away. She was alone in the world. She needed help with her day to day tasks; getting to the doctor, getting groceries. Those things that become more difficult as you get older. She contacted the lodge and several members visited her. When they arrived, one of the members nearly fell through her front step. The wood was rotted; as it turned out the house was in very bad repair. She explained that she didn't have a lot of money and since her husband had passed away she didn't have any way of getting the house fixed. 

After seeing all the issues the woman was going through, the Master of the lodge organized a group of members to help do some needed maintenance on the house.  They arranged transportation to get her to the store and to her doctor. The woman was extremely grateful. She came to realize she couldn't continue to live on her own any longer.  In response to this, the lodge sponsored her to live at the states Masonic retirement center. Now she was able to receive regular meals, a warm home and the medical care she desperately needed; not to mention she isn't alone anymore. She now has friends who are retired Masons or even a widow of a Mason themselves.  God knows what would have happened to her if her husband had not been a Mason!

Even though the aide is usually for the members of the lodge and their families it usually expands outside the lodge. Masons tend to be giving men. They have big hearts and hate to see anyone suffering. You will find many of them giving back to their communities. It is usually an individual contribution, but sometimes it is support from the entire Fraternity.  Masons have come together to build hospitals and even create centers for children with learning disabilities.  They have raised money to help research cures for many of the worst diseases! Just think how much worse the world would have been if these good men had not banded together!

All of these things I’ve mentioned are great things, but they are not the lodge's main objective. I have been told their main objective is to teach men to become better. I do not understand all of it, but John tells me that Masons are given tools that are used to make men think about their actions and try to rid themselves of their bad habits and actions. They strive to enable a good man to become a better husband, father, son and member of society. How can striving to become a good man be evil?

I will tell you something else that only a Mason's wife will tell you. I doubt if the men have even thought about it, but you will understand it. Your husband being a Mason will give YOU piece of mind too. Men being men are sometimes like boys. They like to have a good time, get together with their friends and have fun. 

A man who isn't a member will usually end up at a bar, or someplace worse. They might drink too much and get into a lot of trouble through the years. You may have no idea where he is or who he is with and your mind will start to wonder if he is doing something he shouldn't be doing. Things like that can cause a lot of stress to a relationship. It can cause a wedge between two people and end a relationship. But when your husband goes to lodge, you will know where he is and that whatever he is doing.  You can think of it as he is trying to help make the world a better place. He won't be out with women or drinking too much. If he does go out with his friends to have a drink, he will have Brothers around him who are great men.  They won't allow him to and drive home or be around people who will lead him down the wrong path.

Martha looked into Katie’s eyes and smiled, “I know this is a lot to take in and you may not believe me, but I can tell you I can't imagine what the last 50 years of marriage would have been like if John had not been a Mason. I just know our life has been better for it. If you don't believe me ask any one of those women in that kitchen. All of Rick's brothers have followed in their Dad and Granddad's footsteps and joined lodge. I think they will tell you the same thing as I am telling you.”

Martha continued, “Masonry isn't some cult that sacrifices babies or anything silly like that. The goal of Masonry is to take a good man and make him better along with making the world a little better place to live in.”

Katie dried her eyes and forced a smile, “I believe what you said. I have looked at Rick's dad and his brothers and I see they are good husbands and fathers and I think those traits are what made me fall love with him. If he is a good man now I know he will be even better once he joins.  Thank you, Mrs. Johnson for talking to me and helping put my mind to rest. I am going to tell Rick I stand behind his decision.”


Martha gave Katie a big hug. “It was my pleasure sweetie. I'm glad I could help put your mind at ease. Just one thing; don't call me Mrs. Johnson. Call me Mom. You already feel like a daughter to me and I am sure soon Rick will make it official. I am so glad to have you in my family.”

~BH

WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

St. Patrick's Day and Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
 Steven L. Harrison, 33°, PM, FMLR

Every school kid learns March 17 is the day we celebrate the life and deeds of  Maewyn Succat, the second Bishop of Ireland, who is better known as Ireland's Patron Saint, St. Patrick.  Those same school kids also learn Patrick's great triumph was chasing the snakes out of Ireland.  It's true, there are no snakes in Ireland; however, that's more likely because there have never been any snakes on the isolated island.   

Captured and taken into slavery as a youth, Maewyn, a.k.a. Patrick, escaped to the European mainland.  While a slave he had converted from paganism to Christianity, and once on the continent, he sought refuge at Marmoutier Abbey, a French monastery.  There, he accepted his calling, which was to convert other pagans to Christianity.  With that, he returned to Ireland and became very successful at making those conversions.  In a manner of speaking, the "serpents" he figuratively chased from Ireland were the pagan Druids, not actual reptiles.

After a successful ministry, Patrick retired to County Down, where he died on  March 17, 461 A.D.  Although never officially canonized by the Catholic Church he is, in fact, recognized as a saint; and today we celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick, or St. Patrick's Day, on the anniversary of his death.

However, even in Ireland prior to the late 18th century, St. Patrick's Day was not that big of a deal.  The same was true in North America, where the churches in Boston, with its large Irish population, didn't recognize the day until 1737.

"So, what," you may ask, "does this have to do with the Freemasons?" 

About twenty years later, during the French-Indian War, a young Masonic Colonel recognized the morale among his troops was low and decided they needed what today we would call some "down time."  It was March, at the end of a long, brutal winter and many of the troops were Irish.  It didn't take the Colonel long to figure out the best day to declare a general holiday would be St. Patrick's day.

Several years later, that same Freemason, now a general in the American Revolution, faced a very similar problem.  Billeted at Morristown, New Jersey, his troops were discouraged after a long winter of devastating fighting and losses.  On top of that, the preceding winter of 1779-80 was brutally cold.  That General, George Washington, again had many Irish troops under his command and once again he saw the opportunity of celebrating St. Patrick's Day to boost morale.  With that, Washington issued the order giving his troops their first day off in over two years, “The General directs that all fatigue and working parties cease for to-morrow the SEVENTEENTH instant, a day held in particular regard by the people of [Ireland].”


The respite from the ravages of war and winter went over well with the troops, some of whom were said to celebrate with a "hogshead of rum."  Washington is credited with establishing the first instances of a secular celebration of St. Patrick's day, a tradition which caught on and has grown to become a major event today, with the hogshead of rum long replaced by freely flowing green beer.

~SLH


Steve Harrison, 33° KCCH
, is a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Senior Warden. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and is a member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor.

Wear Your Masonry Out Loud

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley

My wife and I don’t get date nights as often as we’d like, and they tend not to be much more than dinner, coffee, and bookstore browsing, but sometimes we’re able to plan enough in advance to do something special. So when I found out a few months ago that Ladysmith Black Mambazo was going to have a concert at the Doudna Fine Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University, where I work, I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale. We’ve loved their music since Paul Simon’s album Graceland, and this was too good an opportunity to pass up.  So after a nice dinner without the kids in tow, we headed to the theater, greeted old friends, and stood in line. I was looking around, and noticed a guy wearing a ball cap with the square and compasses. I didn’t know him, which was odd, since I know most of the Masons around here at least by sight. As it turned out, his seats were right behind ours, and we had a chance to talk. He and his son had just moved to central Illinois from Oklahoma, where he’d been an active Mason, and he felt a bit lost. I was able to give him contact information for his District Deputy Grand Master, tell him a bit about local lodges and Masonic events, and generally extend greetings to a Brother who missed his normal Masonic fellowship.

None of that would have happened if he hadn’t been wearing a hat with the Square and Compasses on it. He also had a couple of Past Master’s jewels around his neck, several rings, and a Masonic t-shirt, and he asked me why no one in Illinois wore Masonry that way. Everyone back home did, he said. I told him that we tended to stick with rings and the occasional polo shirt, although if he came to a degree, he’d likely see some Brothers with pins enough to act as a bulletproof vest. We parted ways after the concert, musically sated and Masonically refreshed. But he got me thinking. Why don’t more of us wear our Masonry out loud?

My fellow Midnight Freemasons, Todd Creason and Brian Schimian recently had a conversation about whether a Masonic ring should be worn points in or points out. As both of them would freely admit, this is an “angels dancing on the head of a pin” question, where the answer doesn’t matter as much as the discussion, and it appears that a good time was had by all who read it and commented. What does matter, though, is that we do wear the Square and Compasses so that people can see them. As Todd put it in an article we wrote a few years ago, “Traditionally, Freemasonry’s only form of advertising is Freemasons.” Our character is certainly our first and most important form of declaring to the world that we are of the Craft, but part of our responsibility to the Fraternity is letting potential Masons know that our character and the Craft are intertwined, and that it’s there for them too. Freemasonry is becoming better known than it was a few years ago, but Freemasons aren’t unless they wear their Masonry in tangible form. I would never have talked with my Brother from Oklahoma if he hadn’t been advertising his Masonry so visibly, and 2B1ASK1 doesn’t work if no one knows who to ask. If more Brothers wore their symbols with as much visibility and pride as did my Oklahoma Brother, more men would know who to ask about the Craft. 


So, I’m taking a lesson from that evening. I’m going to pay more attention to being a Mason in more tangible ways. It’s certainly true that if I want my lodge to thrive, I need to be visibly a Mason in character, word, and deed. I need to encourage my Brethren to do things for the community, to exemplify the Work, to study our history, and to embrace the lessons of the Fraternity, but I need to do more than that. I need to wear my Masonry out loud. 


~MHS

R. W. B. Michael H. Shirley is Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master for the Eastern Area for the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M, as well as a Certified Lodge Instructor and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. A Past Master and Life Member of Tuscola Lodge No. 332, a plural member of Island City Lodge No. 330, F & AM, in Minocqua Wisconsin and he is also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

It's The Journey

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro Brian J. Schimian


Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

When it comes to our everyday life, we seem to become defined by where we have come from and eventually where we end up.  What we seem to neglect, day after day, is where we are now.  At the base our existence in this world, we are all born into it and we all leave it.  Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes.  But what should define us, what should motivate each and every one of us is the “Here & Now”.  Living for today.  Existing in the “right now”.  This is not meant for one to discount your past or fail to study history, but we should not dwell in the past.  This can lead to overwhelming depression and more importantly, forgetting to live for today.  By being aware of history one can appropriately prepare for or alter the future.  But we must be sure not to dwell in fear of the future as well, lest we be consumed by anxiety and miss what is happening right now.

This concept can be as simple as never moving past the guilt of a lost loved one, or feelings of, “if I just would have… maybe then this would be different.”  Or expecting an important phone call later in the day.  You waste all day waiting for that one call, losing any possible productivity.  I know what some will say, “but it is an important call and if I miss it then [this] may happen."  That is living in the future.  Preparing for something in the future is part of the Here & Now.  But sitting by the phone and wasting the day is not.  Some may be asking, “what about when the phone rings?”  Simple, answer it.  Because the phone is ringing in the Here & Now.  You don’t hold the phone to your ear all day, waiting for it to ring.

To the people that live Here & Now, time is precious.  They do not foolishly ignore their own past or fail to prepare for the future, rather they are aware and alive in the present and look forward to the future.  Living in the past or in fear of the future prohibits one form being spontaneous or making choices from the full spectrum of life.  A spontaneous person is liberated, making and accepting responsibility for personal choices.  There is no compulsion to live a predetermined lifestyle and instead faces new situations and explores new ways of thinking.  They do not have to respond in predetermined, rigid ways, but can change their plans when the situation changes.  Living in the Here & Now gives you a zest for life, allows you to enjoy your labors, play, food and other people.  If one is full of guilt or envy, they can not appreciate their own accomplishments or those of others.  Life, or your journey, can be destroyed by focusing on past memories or future expectations.  Those that reject this awareness and spontaneity also reject the responsibility for shaping their own lives.

Matthew 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Early Egyptian’s believed that a circle was the symbol of eternity.  A sign that life, happiness, and love, have no beginning and no end.  This is often depicted with the image of a snake eating its own tail.  The smallest part of the snake is the head and you can not see the end of the tail because it is in its own mouth.  The majority of the picture is the length of the body of the snake, the in-between.  The beginning and the end are relatively irrelevant.

This is as much important to the individual as it is to Freemasonry.  From the onset of one’s beginning in their pathway to enlightenment, first a candidate must fill out a petition, that is a spontaneous act.  Then in each of the three degrees, do we not circumambulate the lodge room on a journey, learning the lessons of our Craft along the way.  In terms of the time after attaining the sublime degree of Master Mason, the journey simply does not stop.  We are told to continue to investigate for ourselves the deeper meaning and the best way to properly use the tools of a Speculative Mason.  Masonry is not something we can take off with our suit coat and put upon the shelf unit the next meeting.  It becomes a part of us in our every day life.  Much like the rough ashlar, it never truly gains perfection, for if it did, you would have no need for Freemasonry, and Freemasonry would have no need for you.  Figuratively, once the stone is perfect, it leaves the Mason’s hand and is set into the wall, never to be altered again.

Remember from whence you came, strive to be better and meet your goals at the end of the day, but always remember to pay attention to your journey.  For that is where the real experience and bounty of a Master’s Wage lies.

Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
~St. Francis of Assisi~


~BJS

Bro. Brian Schimian is Life of Member A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter in 1995. Brian is a father of two children."Start Square, Finish Level"