by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM
When I became a Freemason a little over a decade ago the number of men knocking on the door of the temple were few. Members of the lodge would get excited when the Secretary mentioned the lodge had a petition. Brothers would scurry to find someone who could play a certain part in the degree work and everyone started boning up on ritual they hadn't studied in a long time.
Becoming an officer of the lodge during those days was usually pretty easy. If you showed up to lodge you became an officer! When I was raised I hadn't even considered becoming an lodge officer but the very first meeting I attended as a Master Mason, I sat in as Junior Steward. “Just sit in the chair and do what the Senior Steward does.” I was told. “Just stand up and pick up the rod. Don't worry, there aren't any speaking parts.” I kept showing up month after month and by default I was the Junior Steward.
As the years progressed so did my offices until that faithful day I was installed into the Oriental Chair of the Worshipful Master after little over four years as a Master Mason. When I am asked about my time as Master of my lodge I usually quote Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was once asked how he liked being president and Lincoln responded “You have heard,” said Lincoln, “about the man tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail? A man in the crowd asked him how he liked it, and his reply was, ‘If it wasn’t for the honor of the thing, I would rather walk."
It amazes me how in just a few short years of being a Freemason how much membership has swelled. When I was going through the degrees I was told by a Brother “I don't know why you are joining. Masonry is going to be dead in a few years.” and now there are lodges that have nearly constant degree work. Mostly I'd suspect this to be because of Dan Brown's books. While this has been great for the Fraternity the increase in membership has caused some issues few would have thought of just a few years ago.
Recently I had heard about a young Brother who was expecting to become a lodge officer during the next upcoming Masonic year. When the Senior Warden announced his list of appointed officers for his year, this young Brother's name wasn't on the list. After lodge was closed this Brother became very angry claiming his office was “stolen from him”. It was “His turn” and that he had been "cheated." Since then, the young Brother has not come back to the lodge.
I feel for the Brother. These days being a Masonic lodge officer in many lodges is like trying out for the football team. If you have a lodge where forty men regularly attend and there are only eleven officer positions someone's not going to make the cut. It's easy math.
I cannot look into the Brothers heart as to why he became so upset that night. It could be, he really did feel it was “his turn” and that he was missing out on some current or future Masonic honor or it could be that being an officer was the only way he knew that he could serve the Craft.
For the last few decades being an officer and getting an honorary title and a fancy apron was the way you were rewarded for years of dedicated service. It was kinda like one of those punch cards you get when you visit a restaurant and after each visit an employee punches your card and after so many visits you get free food. You went through a line in a lodge or appendant body and once you served your time as the head of that group you were given a fancy new apron and a new title which forevermore will be attached to your name in Masonic circles.
You may think it's easy for me to say these things, since I already had a “PM” behind my name and this is just a case of “He got his so he isn't worried about it anymore.” But, I can assure you this isn't the case.
This young mans response to the slight made me do some deep soul searching. We are told Freemasonry's job is to “Make good men better.” Serving as an officer of a body might be and is a great honor but it isn't going to make you a better man. All of us, regardless of our fancy titles and the color of our aprons must begin to restart the practice of working together, back in the quarries. We must remember there are other ways of serving Freemasonry.
Masonic Charity: Masonic charity is one of the purest forms of our gentle craft. Extending your hand to help up a Brother who has been knocked down by life. Making sure a Brothers widow has enough to eat or her house is warm and in good repair. The Brothers orphans had clean clothes and plenty to eat. Sadly, today many Brothers think that our charity is helping a local school or donating blood or some large charity designed to get Masonry good press in hopes that new members will come. These are all worthy charities but they are not Masonic charity.
Masonic Education: Taking the time to educate yourself might not seem like it is helping Masonry but it is. The more educated in Masonic knowledge you become, the more you can help share your light with others. As it says in the charge of an Entered Apprentice: “At your leisure hours, that you may improve in Masonic knowledge, you are to converse with well-informed brethren, who will be always as ready to give, as you will be to receive information.”
Serve a committee: Every lodge needs things done. Putting together a degree team or repainting the lodge room are just some examples of ways you can be of service. If your lodge building is in perfect condition (and for some reason I doubt that this is the case) you can serve on an investigation committee. There are countless things a man can do to serve his Brethren. In a way, it's like starting a business. Find a hole and fill it!
Appendant or concordant bodies: First of all, I am not saying neglect your home lodge by becoming active in another Masonic body. Symbolic lodge should always be your first priority but there are many Masonic bodies and most (if not all of them) are starving for membership. Working on a Scottish Rite stage crew or joining a Knights Templar drill team could be fun and you might learn some new skills. It also allows you to work with more charities, if that is your thing.
Other lodges: If you are blessed to belong to a lodge that is healthy and has a thriving membership you may consider finding a lodge that needs help and become a plural member. Maybe your attendance and involvement in the other lodge could help keep it going and maybe it will begin to thrive. I would suggest if you make this choice, check out the lodge before you join. Sometimes there is a reason a lodge is smaller and it isn't thriving. Make sure the lodge is a good fit for you.
No matter which option you choose just don't give up. If your goal is to be an officer of a Masonic lodge, one day you will get there. Remember Masonry is a lifetime commitment. Keep working in the quarries until you achieve your goal. Experience will make a better officer when you finally get there and Freemasonry will make you a better man.
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.
You made some really excellent points here, Bill. Enjoy reading this!ReplyDelete