by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Michael H. Shirley
My reading of various Proceedings of various Grand Communications of the Grand Lodge of Illinois is usually mundane, but never tedious. The Grand Master’s Report—if the Grand Master is given to being informative—is often full of gold in unlikely form. Such was the case in 1891, when Most Worshipful Grand Master John M. Pearson reported on the case of Mithra Lodge No. 410, of Chicago:
At the last annual communication a petition was received from one who claimed to have been elected to receive the degrees in Mithra Lodge and had already received the first and second degrees therein and for no good reason, of which he was aware, had not received the third degree, though often applying therefor. The committee on petitions called this a "very peculiar case," and after due investigation were "led to believe that the said lodge is violating the law in the manner in which said petitioner is being kept from taking the third degree." The committee recommended that all papers in the case be referred to the Grand Master with a request that he will take such steps as will ensure the due observance of the law.
Accordingly, having ascertained where the trouble seemed to lie, I instructed R. W. Bro. Jos. H. Dixon, D. D. G. M. of the third Masonic district, to visit Mithra Lodge, and, acting under my special proxy, to preside while the case was discussed and carry out the By-Laws of this Grand Lodge relative thereto. Bro. Dixon visited the lodge twice, and carefully investigated the whole case, patiently pointed out their errors to the members of the lodge, and their duty to the brother, and finally no objection being sustained, the third degree was duly conferred. Too much praise cannot be given to Bro. Dixon for his able handling of this case, that had disturbed the harmony of Mithra Lodge for fifteen years.
The most notable point about this case is the length of time that Mithra Lodge let itself fester. It’s unclear what the problem was—personality conflict, hurt feelings, ego—but fifteen years is an extraordinarily long time for it to continue. It’s not clear that the Brother waited for his Third Degree for fifteen years, and in fact it’s not likely, but some deep problem was clearly hurting the lodge. The thing that most impressed me, however—and apparently Grand Master Pearson, too—is the District Deputy’s handling of the case. It doesn’t take much perception to read between the lines reported here. Right Worshipful Brother Dixon’s patience in dealing with a difficult lodge, his concern for the feelings of all concerned, and his clear teaching of Masonic law must have been impressive for him to bring about such a good resolution to such a long-simmering problem. I’ve often said that my obligation requires me to assume my Brothers’ best intentions; just as often, I’ve said it’s hard to remember that when the Brother with whom I’m speaking is both wrong and sure of himself. RW Brother Dixon remembered his obligation, and acted accordingly, giving gentle Masonic correction to an erring lodge. I know nothing about him, other than what Grand Master Pearson included in his report, but that’s enough: he is one of my Masonic heroes.
R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M, as Leadership Development Chairman and Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master of the Eastern Area. A Certified Lodge Instructor, he is a Past Master and Life Member of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and a plural member of Island City Lodge No. 330, F & AM, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. He is Past Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix in the Valley of Danville, IL; he is also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the York Rite, Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Eastern Star, Illini High Twelve, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon.The author of several article on British and American history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org