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.