This Old Ring

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
Bro Aaron R. Gardner 32˚



As of December, I haven’t been wearing my ring. I have felt naked without it. Why is it that a ring can weigh so much, not only on one’s finger, but on their heart as well? Does the ring possess a certain power over who I am as a man or as a Mason? Not likely. Instead, the ring has different meanings to different individuals who choose to wear it. Some opt to not wear one, which is perfectly ok, and others choose to wear one. I am one of the latter up until recently.

As I said, I have felt naked without my ring since December. I took it off because my fiancé wanted to exchange it for a bracelet which she bought for me for Christmas. It was a great gesture and I appreciate what she did. I love the bracelet and I love how it feels on my wrist. It is one of the greatest gifts she could have gotten me. It is from Masonic Man. She understands that I am a freemason and that I love being a freemason--I love the conversation that my ring brings about freemasonry, which she was hoping would happen with the bracelet. Secretly, I was hoping it would to.

The truth is, the ring is old. It is missing diamonds, the color is fading, and the band is bent. Any logical person would surely retire such jewelry as it is not worth much of anything other than costume jewelry. The ring even turns my finger green after some time of wearing it. So why is it so hard to part with?

Katie may never truly understand, but when I asked her for it back, I tried to explain to her the significance of the ring. I failed miserably, as I am better at writing out my thoughts than I am at speaking them—especially on the fly. The ring doesn’t hold any special power, other than the power that I assign or attribute to it. It’s just an old ring that my great grandmother gave me to replace the other ring I broke.

Yes, that’s right… I broke my previous ring. I have a tendency to break rings and they don’t rest well on my fingers. I attribute that to hard work and working with my hands. Since my time as a freemason, this is my third ring that has become bent over time; the previous two rings broke clean off my hand. The first one while I was stationed in Oklahoma, and the second one while I was on deployment in the United Arab Emirates. These rings have seen their fair share of toil and work. Katie, doesn’t understand why I feel the need to wear a ring other than a wedding band once she and I get married. She feels that wearing another ring is kind of gaudy.

Since it doesn’t hold any kind of power, I should easily be able to retire the ring and be accepting of the bracelet. It is essentially the same thing, right? Wrong. Fact is, the bracelet is hardly ever seen. Is jewelry meant for me or is it meant for someone else? Well, that depends on the person and the purpose of why they are wearing it. To me, I wear the ring to show not only to myself, but to others that I am a freemason. It holds a special power that I attributed to it of being connected in a world that many have no clue about. It opens doors to talk about the things I love. With the bracelet being hidden under long sleeves or a sports jacket, it is difficult to open that conversation with a simple hand shake.

It’s the key to opening the door for a lot of people. Our fraternity is looking to find more ways to discuss freemasonry with others and to get young men interested. The ring is the key. When a young man shakes the hand of a Mason who is wearing a ring, it brings up questions of where the Mason got the ring, what Freemasonry is, and the best question that is usually asked… How can one become a freemason?

Sure, the ring is old and beaten up, but it just shows how much work has gone into being a Freemason. It is a constant reminder that I am a rough ashlar working to become perfect. If I had a ring that was untarnished and didn’t see the dirt of the world, am I really doing the Craft a favor? Am I doing myself a favor? I want it to be a constant reminder that I am always working on myself, helping others, and Freemasonry to be better for the world around us. So until the day that I am perfect, or even better the day that I can actually afford a nicer ring that shines more than the light that shines in my heart for freemasonry, I will keep my ring and wear it proudly. If the day comes that the ring shines more than the light inside, then it is time to retire the ring altogether and walk away from the fraternity that I love and hold so dear to my heart.

So, for those who are worried about if their ring isn’t as nice as some others, do not fret. The light is within… the ring is only a symbolic light that gives you the permission to shine brightly, and shine brightly you will. For a Mason who cares more about his ring, is morally  destitute and should reconsider what that ring really represents.

~ARG

Bro. Aaron Gardner - Emeritus Contributor

What Is Masonic Education? Part 1

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°


What is Masonic education? 

It's a good question, and I can tell you exactly what it is.  It's the answer to almost every problem Lodges are having today.  Masonic education is why most of our new members joined in the first place, and one of the last things they'll find in a many of our Lodges today. 

Men petition our Lodges because they are seeking something.  They want to belong to an organization that shares their values.  They want to be more active in their community.  They want to learn to be a better man by improving their character.  They want to take part in the time honored traditions and ancient teachings of the Freemasons.  They want to live their life to a higher and more noble standard.  And the expectation when they join is that they are going to receive instruction on these things from the Freemasons.

That's certainly why I joined.  I even went through the traditional way, and spent months memorizing the catechisms and the obligations--I don't learn quickly, and it was a huge challenge.  I saw beautiful degree work, heard wonderful lectures, and when I was finally raised a Master Mason I considered it one of the most important accomplishments in my life--right up there with baptism, marrying my wife, and the birth of my children.  And then I attended my first regularly stated meeting.  There were no deep discussions of Masonic principles at that meeting.  Nor at the second, or third, or fourth meeting.  I finally asked, and I was told there were meetings I could attend if I wanted to learn more about Masonry.  I did, so I found out where and when those meetings took place, and I went. 

I learned how to carry a rod, and how to turn a corner, and what hand I should use when I open a door during a degree.  I learned the proper way to open the Bible.  I even learned in what order to turn on the lights beside the altar.  It wasn't Masonic education, it was ritual instruction.  Other than what was contained within the lectures of those three Masonic degrees, there was no additional Masonic education offered in my part of the world when I became a Mason 11 years ago.  And that's exactly the way it is in many places.  And that's why I've worked so hard to bring that education component back into the Lodges. 

I said earlier that providing Masonic education was the answer to almost every problem Lodges are having.  I can tell you without hesitation that's true.  We need membership.  The fact of the matter is there is no better recruiting tool than members who are enjoying themselves and learning new things.  They talk about it.  They get their friends to join.  I've seen it over and over again. 

Case in point is a brand new Chapter of the Royal Arch in Illinois I'm a member of--Admiration Chapter.  This is a chapter that focuses on Masonic education.  Every meeting we have a very short business meeting, and then an education component--a speaker, a discussion on a topic of interest that is announced in advance, a table lodge, a presentation, etc.  You know what Admiration Chapter doesn't have problems with?  Attendance and membership.  We have great turnouts, and we continue to add members--and we're not recruiting new members.  We don't need to recruit, because they are coming to us.  That's pretty impressive considering Admiration Chapter hasn't even received a charter yet--we're still operating "under dispensation" of the Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Illinois.  We've completed the necessary requirements at this point, and we'll get that charter in the next few months.

Do you want to talk about member retention?  Members just stop showing up, right?  Or you get a new Master Mason in your Lodge, and he comes for awhile, and you don't see him again.  Just drops out of sight, and your members wonder why.  Sound familiar?  I can tell you the most common reason why.  Your meetings are boring.  It's not what the new Mason thought it was going to be, probably because he thought he'd continue to be learning things instead of talking about how the Eastern Star ladies are using our coffee and not replacing it, and if we're going to resurface the parking lot or just fill in the potholes.  That's not why those men became Masons, is it?

Money is an issue, too.  There's two reasons for that--most Lodges dues are too cheap.  That's a separate, but related issue--before you can jack up your dues you're going to have to offer more than getting to sit in a room once or twice a month and listen to somebody read the mail.  But if we could fix some of these obvious problems and we filled our buildings with Masons, we'd have more money, wouldn't we?  And the more members we have in our Blue Lodges, the more Scottish Rite Masons we have, and the more York Rite Masons we have, and the more Shriners, etc! 

I've been beating this drum for a long time.  New members want education.  The success of the Midnight Freemasons in itself is evidence of that.  The success of Lodges and bodies that are beginning to focus on education again is evidence of that.  If we continue to do the same things, we can continue to expect the same results.

The ritual is an important part of who we are as Freemasons--it's one of the things that make us unique.  Learning ritual is not Masonic education any more than learning to drive a stick shift qualifies you as an auto mechanic.  We talk a lot in Admiration Chapter about enhancing the member experience.  What we mean by that is offering our members what they wanted to begin with--a place where we could learn from each other, talk about values, learn more about what Freemasonry has to teach us about how to become better men, better husbands, better fathers, better citizens.

So if you're where I was eleven years ago, seeking further light where none exists, what do you do?

Well, that's what we're going to talk about in this series.


~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754.  He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Masonic Wisdom: Mathematics of Love

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB Luciano M. Azevedo

The most beautiful mathematics is that of love. Love does not weigh and the more we have the lighter we get. Love when donated is renewed in the people and when it's divided, multiplies throughout the world! Love thy neighbor; love your brother. Forgive, try to find how to best agree. Don't hurry to disagree and focus on how you can see and comprehend your brother's perspective. Remember that changing your mind or being open to listen are not signs of weakness, rather, signs of strength and maturity.

~LMA

WB Luciano M. Azevedo holds an MBA and Bachelor in Business Administration. He has published several scientific and philosophical essays and articles in the secular world. As a sommelier he wrote his own column for a major wine magazine for many years. In Freemasonry Brother “Lou” has contributed with many articles from a philosophical basic approach to an ethical decision-making in regards to masonic conduct. He is the current Worshipful Master of Zurich Lodge 1089 of A.F&A.M of the State of Illinois. W. Bro Luciano is also a member or the Grand Lodge Leadership Committee of the State of Illinois, a 32 Degree active member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago and a Shrine Noble of the Medinah Shriners.

I Have Met the Enemy and It’s Me

by Midnight Freemason contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


In 1971 cartoonist Walt Kelley used the quote, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” in his daily comic strip “Pogo”. According to the website Humor in America, “ We have met the enemy and he is us” derives from Braggadocio during the War of 1812 in which commodore Oliver Hazard Perry reported, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

Through most of my Masonic life I have thought of myself as a progressive Freemason. I was above the “We never did it that way before.” mentality. I have championed such radical ideas as opening meetings on the first degree, table lodges, ending the prohibition of alcohol within a Masonic temple, higher Dues…etc Anything that might make an old Past Masters teeth itch and blood pressure rise, I tried it.

Sunday morning I woke up to several text messages from an unknown number on my cell phone. As I read the texts I discovered the sender was the Chaplain from my lodge in Texas. He was asking me in my position as the chairman of the lodge technology committee, if I allow other administrator rights to our lodges smartphone app. In my morning grumpiness I replied “When directed by the Master” and started my day thinking my reply would finish the conversation.

Last night I received more texts from the same Brother. This time he wanted me to allow him to have administrative rights to the app because “He thought the lodge wasn't utilizing the app to “its fullest potential.” And proceeded to tell me what, I perceived, I was doing wrong. The ideas the Brother had for the smartphone app were all great ideas and very innovative but as a Masonic webmaster of nearly two decades I knew these changes wouldn’t be utilized by the membership because I've tried doing them before in the past and no one had even tried them. 

Needless to say I got angry and threatened to resign my position on the committee. “If this kid thinks he can do this job better he should have the job!” I told the Secretary and the Master. Both men tried to smooth my ego telling me what a valuable asset I was to the lodge and he could never replace me. After a few minutes of praise my ego was adequately stroked and my temper was soothed and I begrudgingly gave the Brother the access he requested. In my mind I thought “I'll have to fix it all later after he screws it up.”
This morning as I rose, my mind wandered to my actions last night and I will admit I am a little ashamed of myself. I have become what I made fun of my whole Masonic life: A grumpy Past Master with a massive ego.

Instead of embracing innovation I slipped into “we have done it that way before and it didn’t work” mentality. I allowed my ego to hoodwink me instead of following the old emulation, “He who can best work or best agree.” I have met the enemy and he is me.

Brethren, this is more of a confession than it is a story. I have no high moral or knowledge in which to impart with this piece. Thanks to this Brother I realized I have a hidden imperfection on my rough ashlar in which I need to work on.

I'm sure each of you reading these words, whether you realize it or not, have an imperfection hidden deep within your ashlar. I truly believe it behooves each of us to look inward for imperfection before we continue our journey to that undiscovered country.

~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.

Masonic Wisdom: Winning

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB Luciano M. Azevedo


For a moment, clear your mind and think. Think that in order for a winner to exist there is an intrinsic need of one or many losers to exist. The old expression "win win situation" is naïve or pure rhetoric.

One of the “greatest” "human sins" is envy. Is the need we all have for comparison. In order for us to feel good or special we need someone to be in a lower position or be "defeated". The comparison is so necessary that when our neighbor has some good that we do not have or that is bigger, better, or more desired, our tendency is to envy him. We hurry to run to overcome the other, to have what the other doesn't.

When we tirelessly feed this pernicious logic we become more and more self-centered, selfish, and dehumanized. The Masonic paradox of subduing our instincts comes precisely from another logic: "to become more humane we need to love more and envy less".

Competing is not bad, it's actually very good when we do it with a collective perspective of advancing together, towards prosperity and a better world.

Let Masonic logic be more and more present in our souls.

~LMA

WB Luciano M. Azevedo holds an MBA and Bachelor in Business Administration. He has published several scientific and philosophical essays and articles in the secular world. As a sommelier he wrote his own column for a major wine magazine for many years. In Freemasonry Brother “Lou” has contributed with many articles from a philosophical basic approach to an ethical decision-making in regards to masonic conduct. He is the current Worshipful Master of Zurich Lodge 1089 of A.F&A.M of the State of Illinois. W. Bro Luciano is also a member or the Grand Lodge Leadership Committee of the State of Illinois, a 32 Degree active member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago and a Shrine Noble of the Medinah Shriners.

What Freemasonry Teaches Us About Priorities

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Soon to be "Secretary Emeritus" of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL)
I made a very difficult decision recently--I decided that after seven years serving as Secretary of my Lodge, it was time to step down and let somebody else take over.  So in June, I'll become "Secretary Emeritus".   By the way, Secretary Emeritus is not a real title, but rest assured I'm going to use it anyway.

I've enjoyed the job, and that's why the decision was so tough.  I think I was good at the job, but like anything else, I'm sure I could have done a better job at a few things.  But overall, I did a good job.  I'd even been awarded Illinois Secretary of the Year a few years ago!  I've written a few pieces on the Midnight Freemasons over the years about how to be a good Secretary, like Advice For New Secretaries and Lodge Secretary (For Life): A Thankless Job.  But I'd known for some time that I needed to take a step back from a few of the roles I have in the Fraternity--Secretary was one of those. 

I've gotten to the place I'm too involved in too many things.  Secretary at one Lodge, and Master at another.  I just finished a term as Sovereign Master of my Allied Masonic Degrees Council.  I'm involved in the Scottish Rite.  We've started a new Royal Arch Chapter, and I'm up next as High Priest of the new chapter.  Then there's the blog writing, the articles, the books, the education pieces, and the speaking engagements.  It's gotten to be too much.  And we all know what happens when we get too much on our plate--we wind up with mediocrity instead of our best.  That's certainly what's been plaguing me.  I seldom feel as prepared as I should be, because I'm stretched far too thin.

So it was time for me to pull back before I burned out.  Focus on doing a few things really, really well instead of a dozen things rather poorly.  The Secretary job was the first thing I needed to let go, but there are a few other things I'm going to have to let go of--get back to being a member of a few bodies instead of a driver. 

What we often forget as Freemasons is the lesson of the 24-inch gauge--one of the first and most basic concepts we're taught.  Life is about maintaining a proper balance.  It's about properly dividing our time.  I know very few active Masons that pay any heed to that lesson at all, but we do so at our own risk.  I could name several Masons that I no longer see in Lodge anymore that I used to see at every single event I went to no matter where it was.  I know one or two were given notice by their spouses that they were spending too much time away from home, and as much as they love the Fraternity, it wasn't worth half their stuff to find out if she was serious or not.  A few others simply burned out because they were far too involved in too many things.

Brace yourself for a shocking statement--Freemasonry comes last!  It comes after God.  It comes after family.  It comes after our chosen profession.  We should never put Freemasonry before God, family, or career.  I know many who have, including me from time to time.  But as important as the work we do as Freemasons is, it should not be our entire life.  What we learn in our Lodges is what is important--those basic tenets, principles and ideals.  The application of the basic principles of Freemasonry is what is important, and making sure we're teaching our new Master Masons those lessons by serving as a good example.  Those principles we learn are the part we take with us everywhere.  Those are the basic building materials necessary to improve ourselves.  That's the part of Freemasonry that makes good men better men, and that's why we're here.  Unfortunately, too often many of us get so involved in "doing" Freemasonry that we forget to "live" Freemasonry.  We focus on the tasks rather than the philosophy. 

I think it's safe to say I'll always be an active Mason.  However, going forward I'm going to be a little more selective about the jobs I take on so that I can focus more on those things in the Fraternity where I make the biggest impact.  Writing books, articles and blog pieces that hopefully make us think.  Being a good Worshipful Master in my Lodge.  Advancing Masonic Education in our Lodges everywhere.

Attending Lodge is important.  Being involved is important.  But just as we're taught early on in our ritual--we must learn to manage our time, and live a life that's in balance. 

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754.  He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Why Are You Going to the Meeting, Again?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RW Robert H. Johnson


"If you don't have to do a part in the degree, why are you going, again?"-- That's a question someone recently asked me, actually it was my wife. We were walking up the stairs as I was telling her my schedule for the week. "I have nothing on Monday or Tuesday, but Wednesday I have to do an Official visit, Thursday I have Scottish Rite rehearsal, Friday I have another Official visit to conduct and Saturday, at 8:30 in the morning I need to be at a lodge for two second degrees."

With all that going on, I can see where she was coming from. We're all so busy and it seems like at a point, if you don't *have* to be somewhere, then sit back and take a break. This is undoubtedly what she was thinking. But then she asked me that question, "If I don't have a job to do, why go?" My answer was simply, "Because these guys are friends."

My wife understood at that point. She knew that these two guys were the ones Bro. Scott and I thought "Actually get Masonry." But it got me thinking. How many brothers feel this way? How many of you all feel that if you don't have a part, you don't have to go? While I feel this is never true, I can understand the reasoning if it's a stated meeting (to a point). But for a degree, everyone has a part. Even the sideliner, which is what I was that day.

At my first degree there were 13 people present, including officers. At my second degree there were 14 and my third degree 15 people. 15 is a decent turn out these days, but for a lodge with 300 on the books, I guess it's sad.

I'm really not sure what to say at at this point, but perhaps I will just leave you with a statement and a quote.

Don't assume other people will do it or that other people will show up. Don't think you won't be missed or that it's okay to miss the meeting, it isn't, not in a time like this. Even if you don't have a job or a part, be there.

"Go to Lodge."~ Eric Diamond

~RHJ
RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He also serves as the District Deputy for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.



Masonic Wisdom: In God We Trust

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB Luciano M. Azevedo

Why Freemasons believe in God? The absence of God removes from the universe and from humanity its moral foundation. If all that exist is only "matter", (the original and permanent substance of all reality), we can live just as any other animal.

Evil voices say "Let the poor die, let's make all the populations of poor countries disappear, so we will have more water, more crude oil, more sustainability conditions for the world because we would be reducing the number of our biggest predator, namely man himself."

Only the notion of God as a moral being offers humanity the foundation of indiscriminate solidarity.

The ethical foundation of the universe and humanity rests on love, expression of the Great Architect of the Universe, The Divine Being that gives birth to everything! This necessarily implies the realization that the correlation that binds man to mankind is connected to the understanding of a higher correlation which binds man to God and God to man.

Since it is only on the relationship with our neighbor that we are complete, and only God offers the foundation for the unity of humanity, every denial of love, which is equivalent to the alienation of the other, is also equivalent to the disintegration of ourselves.

~LMA

WB Luciano M. Azevedo holds an MBA and Bachelor in Business Administration. He has published several scientific and philosophical essays and articles in the secular world. As a sommelier he wrote his own column for a major wine magazine for many years. In Freemasonry Brother “Lou” has contributed with many articles from a philosophical basic approach to an ethical decision-making in regards to masonic conduct. He is the current Worshipful Master of Zurich Lodge 1089 of A.F&A.M of the State of Illinois. W. Bro Luciano is also a member or the Grand Lodge Leadership Committee of the State of Illinois, a 32 Degree active member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago and a Shrine Noble of the Medinah Shriners.

At The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason, 33°

The first time I saw the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery, I was five years old.  We were in Washington, D.C. on a family vacation.  I remember it very clearly.  That solemn ceremony left a very deep impression on me.  I've watched on television as Presidents on Memorial Day have laid the Memorial Day wreath many times, and every time, I'm struck with that same sense--a mixture of American pride, patriotism, honor, and deep respect for the sacrifices that have been made in the name of freedom. 

Two years ago, I saw the changing of the guard again--more than forty years later.  Fellow Midnight Freemason Greg Knott and I flew to Washington D.C. for a Masonic event, and less than an hour after the plane landed at Ronald Reagan International Airport, we were standing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  The Boy Scouts were there that day, and during the changing of the guard, they presented a wreath--the same exact ceremony the President takes part in on Memorial Day.  We both knew what we wanted to do on our next trip out--to place a wreath on behalf of Freemasons everywhere to honor our fallen heroes.  In February, we were able to do just that.  Greg and I on behalf of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and with the blessing of Our Grand Master of Illinois, Anthony Cracco.  We also asked the President and Past President of The Masonic Society to join us--Kenneth Davis and James Dillman were only too happy to do so.

 

The reality didn't really set in until I was standing at the top of the steps looking out over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the cemetery beyond as the Relief Commander slowly ascended the steps before us.  The wreath we provided was already in place waiting for us as we descended together in step. 

It was about thirty-five degrees with a thirty mile-per-hour wind, but the four of us barely felt the bracing cold.  We were there to represent Freemasonry, so we left our winter jackets behind in favor of our suits, jewels, aprons, and gloves.  We were about to honor our fallen veterans on behalf of Freemasons everywhere by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. 

Once the wreath was placed, a soldier played Taps.  It was an indescribably moving experience listening to Taps as I fixated on words on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD.  It was an experience I don't think any of us will ever forget.  I certainly won't. 


Left to right: Todd E. Creason, Gregory J. Knott, James Dillman, Kenneth Davis
Afterwards, we stood and watched the guard for some time.  It occurred to me that there had been a guard watching the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, uninterrupted, since I'd been there as a five year old child.  It was that important.  And the honor of being able to serve in that capacity is considered one of the highest honors in military service. 

As we left the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a funeral procession was in progress--something that happens on average twenty-four times a day at Arlington National Cemetery.  Greg Knott and I walked to a large tree in the center of one of the plots to get a better view.  As the horse drawn cassion passed with the flag draped coffin on top, and I looked out across the cemetery at the thousands and thousands of identical stones, I was struck by the high price Americans have paid for freedom.  And yet it's a price that generation after generation of Americans have continued to pay, because in the end, there is nothing more important to who we are as the American people than those freedoms provided us under the United States Constitution.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary.  He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Masonic Bling

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott


The first step in addressing a problem is to admit there is a one. OK I admit, I like to collect Masonic bling. Perhaps it’s more than just a small collection. I’ve got countless numbers of lapel pins, medals, rings, watches, watch fobs and buttons. Additionally, I’ve collected a ballot box, a complete set of working tools, officers’ jewels, aprons and even a set of Masonic pillars.

Then there are the Shrine fezzes, Grotto fezzes and Scottish Rite caps. Not to mention the Knight Templar sword, KT Chapeau and White Shrine of Jerusalem altar apron. In my plastic boxes, I have coins, tie clips and numerous sets of cufflinks.

Why so much bling? I enjoy meeting the people that have given me the pins. Buying an old Masonic ring knowing that has worn sides because a devoted brother wore it before, gives me the perspective that our fraternity has been around for centuries. The Masonic pillars, which were in an Indiana lodge and a part of countless brothers’ degrees. The medals I have acquired after being at a Scottish Rite Reunion or participating in an AMD degree and thinking of the hard work and dedication it took to portray the degree work.

In the picture with this article is a watch given to me by fellow Midnight Freemason Todd Creason, a Midnight Freemason button that was created by Robert Johnson, a lapel pin from Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington DC that was given to me on my first visit and I later joined as a member and the 2017 Grand Masters pin from Virginia from a brother whom I met for the first time on a recent visit to Arlington National Cemetery.

The items themselves are obviously just things and most don’t have much monetary value. But what they represent is priceless. A brotherhood that has transcended hundreds of years and an on-going commitment by individual men seeking to improve themselves through Freemasonry.

~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.





First Step to Commitment and Civility - Ethics

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB Luciano M. Azevedo

Ethics is the part of philosophy that studies moral values and the ideal principles of human conduct. A set of moral principles to be observed in the exercise of a profession.

So, questions like: What is right? What is my duty? What should I do ? They belong exclusively to the causal aspect of the search for the ethical standard and must lead to the answers: If actions are good, it will certainly have good effects.

It is not easy to embark on the path of understanding human behavior, especially Freemasons, with the focus of Ethics. Before being masons, we are human beings, living in conformity to habits, customs, cultures, personal experiences, regional, temporal and, before being human beings we belong to the cosmic creation, we are part of the Great Architect's great work.

Faced with the highly contradictory questions that are present all the time to our consciences, it is questioned to what extent it is compatible to discuss ethical aspects in an essentially egocentric, materialistic, competitive and generalized society with the need for a realistic approach. There is a great risk of sterile discussions!

However Ethics should be seen as a personal, an individual factor, but we must not forget, on the other hand, that the individual is the fruit of the society in which he lives. Therefore, Ethics is the social model of individual behaviors.

The axiom "Not all that is legal is morally right" clearly demonstrates that the Law obliges the citizen to do or not to do things that can compromise him morally.

When, therefore, before any action we could mentally ask the question: “Am I morally inclined to perform this action?, and the answer is:" if this action will produce as much good as possible in the Universe ", we will have there, clearly the exposition of an ethical standard to be followed.

A Freemason, when produces an ethical action reverberates throughout Freemasonry and places yet another polished and perfect stone in the moral edifice of society. However when a Mason produces typically amoral, immoral or unethical actions, the result is worse because negative reverberation extrapolates Freemasonry, causing degeneration of both the Order and society in general.

I believe that ethical standards must be quickly reestablished among Masons so that their influence can bear fruit. We must start talking about ethics again. We must go back to studying and recovering the true meaning of things. Finally, it is necessary to divulge and encourage Ethics by all the means available, but above all, to charge our brothers in positions of power to perform an ethical conduct that becomes an example for all, profane and initiated, and always work with love and tolerance, and aiming for the good of the Fraternity and society. An ethical behavior is the first step towards commitment and civility!

~LMA

WB Luciano M. Azevedo holds an MBA and Bachelor in Business Administration. He has published several scientific and philosophical essays and articles in the secular world. As a sommelier he wrote his own column for a major wine magazine for many years. In Freemasonry Brother “Lou” has contributed with many articles from a philosophical basic approach to an ethical decision-making in regards to masonic conduct. He is the current Worshipful Master of Zurich Lodge 1089 of A.F&A.M of the State of Illinois. W. Bro Luciano is also a member or the Grand Lodge Leadership Committee of the State of Illinois, a 32 Degree active member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago and a Shrine Noble of the Medinah Shriners.

The Curiosity of Freemasonry


 By Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

This past month, the University of Illinois Library has featured a display on the 300th anniversary of the founding of the organized Freemasonry. Six cases of memorabilia, artifacts and books tell the story of the founding of the fraternity, what Freemasonry is, some of its well-known members, and information about the numerous appendant bodies.

I have the real privilege of working at the University of Illinois Library and I help put this exhibit together along with my colleague, UI faculty member Cherie’ Weible. Hundreds of people walk by these displays every day. My office isn’t far from the exhibit and I have observed first hand just how many people have stopped and looked at the items in the cases. People are genuinely curious about our fraternity.

Have you thought about working with your local library or historical society to do an exhibit on Freemasonry? All of our lodges contain a treasure trove of records and artifacts and these are an important part of the local history of a community.

These are great educational opportunities to let the public know your lodge is still there and thriving.

Need some help coming up ideas? I share these links with some great ideas on how to put an exciting exhibit together:

Creating a History Day Exhibit

10 Museum Design Tips

Museum Exhibit Design Tips







~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.

Why I Regret Joining Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Nicholas Wennerström


It’s been almost a year since I first knocked on the back door of Libertyville Lodge #492. I must say, I have regretted every minute of it.

I joined Freemasonry for the mystery and tradition. Since my time with the Blue Lodge, I have met some tremendous men. I have met funny men, wise men and brilliant men. Through the three degrees, I have watched these men come together for me and put on the most spectacular degrees with a strict and committed adherence to the rituals we hold so close. 

 My raising was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, with Brothers coming from as far as central Illinois to be in attendance for someone they hardly knew-if at all. Since becoming a Master Mason, I even took advantage of seeking further Light through the Scottish Rite, Valley of Chicago. The edifice in Bloomingdale, Illinois is a stunner and to watch men put on such grand performances, selflessly, with no expectation of gratitude, only to make each of us better, is beyond belief. For some, it's a full-time journey who realize the reward for serving a fellow Brother is simply serving a fellow Brother.

I have learned to become very fond of these men for the fellowship they have shown me. Together, we learn and grow; albeit at our own paces and on our own terms. I’m inspired by some who I see at every degree, gathering, fellowship meeting and masonic education opportunity; for nothing in return.

While we have good times, we also succumb to the fact that while we celebrate the good, we find ourselves in mourning over the loss of a Brother or a spouse. Any relationship is a leap, a hunch and Brothers know the ending statement ‘we live to die’. We will spend years together eating, practicing, learning, only to one day say our final goodbyes or be there for one another when a loved one goes home. It’s hard to imagine but it is real. 
 
Freemasonry has taught me that while the individual may pass we each live on through the Fraternity. I regret meeting these men who I call Brothers, some of whom may demit, some I won’t see often and some will pass one day. As Mason’s we embrace death, the proverbial skull and bones, not because of some nefarious reason but because we realize our time is limited and we must make the most of it. 
 
I regret the great good and selflessness they have shown me, worrying at times I can never pay them back. Perhaps it’s a debt never intended to be returned. 
 
In a time where human dignity has become scarce, I have met a group of men of every faith, ethnic and socioeconomic background offer me a hand with little knowledge of who I am. While the shared initiatic experience can bring us together, it’s the fellowship for me that keeps the cable rope in tow.
It’s easy to become jaded and cold to a world rife with insults, war and anger. Freemasonry in Illinois has shown me that there is still good in our world and through selfless acts we too can open the doors to show there is still plenty of faith to be had in humanity. 
 
Mason’s come forward and give of their own free will and accord. More often, you do it for people you don’t know. We one day must say farewell.

Brothers, I regret ever meeting any of you.


Bro. Nicholas Wennerström, 32 is a Master Mason out of the 1st NE District of Illinois and member of Libertyville lodge #492. He is also a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago. He is a father of two boys and devoted husband and currently suffers from Benjamin Buttons disease.