Divesting Our Hearts and Minds

Freemasonry with a little Stoicism to begin this New Year

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

A few days after Christmas, I attended a Masonic funeral service. During the ceremony, the line, "His labors here below have taught him to divest his heart and conscience of the vices and superfluities of life," spoken by the Master, took me back to one of the lessons learned in our degrees. I spent the car ride home digesting that line, really focusing on its deeper meanings. How our work here on Earth teaches us to push aside the struggles and challenges of finding happiness in our everyday life.

In a way, as I attended this funeral just days before the start of 2019, I found myself at that familiar place and time of making a New Year's resolution. I have been re-reading my copy of Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" and found one of his passages to be similar to one of the lessons on The Working Tools. As Emperor of Rome, he also struggled with purging his mind and heart of the distractions or wants that create dependency.

"Is it possible that one day I shall see you, O my soul, good, simple, indivisible, stripped of every pretense, more solid than the flesh that covers you now? Will you ever know of a day of unclouded love and tenderness? Will you ever be content --- no hopes, no regrets, needing nothing, desiring nothing, animate or inanimate, not even for a moment's pleasure --- nor wanting a little more time to prolong the ecstasy, or a more pleasing room or view or climate, or more sweet accord in your relations with others? When will you be content with your present condition, happy with all you have, accepting it as a gift from the gods and acknowledging that all is well with you and that will be well? When will you understand that the gods hold dear those gifts (the good, the just, the beautiful) they intend for the preservation of a living whole --- gifts that nourish the universe by gathering and binding the primal elements dispersed by dissolution and decay and needed for new creation? Will there ever come a day, O my soul, when you can live in the company of men and gods, blameless in their eyes, without blaming that at all?"

Many centuries have passed since Aurelius' time, even more since the beginning of Freemasonry. Yet, we still find ourselves searching for the answers to ancient questions. Instead of asking how, perhaps we should be asking when? Is NOW a good time to begin divesting your heart and conscience of the vices and superfluities in YOUR life? Less than half of all New Year's resolutions are successful, but remember, an obligation is for life. I wish you all the best in making yourself better in this New Year!


Brother Michael Arce is the Junior Warden of St. George’s #6, Schenectady and a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at: michael.arce@me.com

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