Virtuous Resolutions Part II
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Jason Richards
Last year, I focused heavily on actively bettering myself through giving time, service, and energy to others. While I plan to keep my 2015 resolutions, I’m turning my focus inward for 2016. As Masons, we lead busy lives with obligations that take many different shapes and forms. In an effort to fulfill those obligations, I have found that, at times, our own spiritual health can suffer as a result. Being a Mason means taking care of one’s own spiritual needs just as much as caring for the needs of others. For this reason, I resolve to focus on Masonry’s three theological virtues: Faith, hope, and charity in an effort to better myself spiritually.
Faith: Devote dedicated time to the improvement of spiritual health
Faith, as Mackey explains in his encyclopedia, is meant to be synonymous with trust. As such, he alludes to a candidate’s trust in God being emblematical of a well-founded faith. As Masons, our respective faiths are left up to our discretion; but the tie that ultimately binds men together in Freemasonry is a shared trust in the Creator of all things. As previously mentioned, it is the duty of every Mason to nurture his own spiritual health. This year, I resolve to take the time to do so for myself by setting dedicated time aside each week for meditation and spiritual/religious introspection.
Hope: Translate desires for the future state of the fraternity into a plan as Master of the lodge
Hope is often conceptualized as the second rung of the ladder of theological virtues. A.E. Waite conceptualizes hope both as the foundation of faith (for example, one trusts in God because one hopes in immortality) and a catalyst for action. Essentially, hope—termed as “aspirations of the heart and mind” by Waite—is the force that compels one to act, trust, and love. Each Mason sees the fraternity in a different light just as each member has his own respective hopes and aspirations for the future of the organization, both at the macro and micro level. This year, I resolve to channel my aspirations for the fraternity in general and my lodge in particular into the planning of my year as Master, which will—God and lodge brethren willing—begin in December of this year.
Charity: Endeavor to do good unto all and love everyone as best as possible
Charity is a concept often misused and misunderstood in our fraternity. While many assume charity to mean the act of giving to those less fortunate, Mackey argues that, going back to I Corinthians 13, the original use of the word came from the Greek word agape, meaning love and signifying a “kindly state of mind which renders a person full of good will and affectionate regard toward others. Colloquially, agape love today is referred to as “unconditional love” as often used to denote the love between Creator and creation. With this context in mind, I resolve to endeavor to harbor good will toward all and love everyone—more especially the household of the faithful—as best as possible.
As we look forward to AL 6016, I wish you all a wonderful year filled with trust, hope, and love. Take the time this year to trust in your God, your brethren, and your Masonic leaders. Allow your hope for the future of Masonry to drive you to implement initiatives and changes in your lodges and Grand Lodges. But above all, love your brethren as best you can. If we all strive toward these ends, then we can all look forward to a great year!
Bro. Jason Richards is the Senior Warden 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 also Chaplain of Perfect Ashlar Council No. 349, Allied Masonic Degrees. 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.