Character & Making Good Men Better

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Brian L. Pettice, 33˚

At a recent meeting of Admiration Chapter RAM in Homer Illinois, Midnight Freemasons founder and EHP at Admiration, Todd Creason, led a conversation about character and character building. It was a lively discussion with many ideas exchanged. One of the ideas mentioned was the notion that Freemasonry was once largely concerned with building positive character among its members and that it should be again—that it should, “make good men better.” The question becomes, how do we do that? How do we make good men better? At the meeting, ideas like holding conversations at lodges just as we were that night; building relationships, especially mentoring relationships, among individual brethren; presenting educational activities; and striving to set a good example were some of the answers brought forth. Towards the end of the discussion, Companion Creason asked what virtues constitute good character. The companions present offered such virtues as honesty, civility, and toleration among others. As I sat there listening, I began to think of some of the virtues mentioned in some of the lectures of the blue lodge degrees. Words from the ritual like patience, perseverance, silence, and circumspection came to me. The conversation went on for a little better than an hour, but could have went on for much longer.

I have an almost hour drive home from Homer and, as often happens after meetings such as this, I thought about what was discussed during most of my drive. I thought about the words from our ritual that had entered my thoughts and again the question, how do we make good men better. I started to specifically think about the Emblems lecture of the Master Mason degree and an idea came to me. In that lecture nine classes of emblems or symbols are introduced. There are twelve emblems in total and their symbolism is rich and its interpretations limitless, but some of the words used to describe the symbols suggested a method for a Mason to begin to improve himself on a simpler basis. If a man was to ask himself questions suggested by these descriptions it would start him on the road to self-examination and knowledge which is essential if a man is going to improve his character. I am not going to go through all of the symbols here, but I will share a list of questions, a man might ask himself or his brother, suggested by this lecture.

1. What does it mean to have a pure heart and is my heart pure?

2. Does my heart glow with gratitude?

3. Am I industrious and concerned for my fellow man?

4. Am I silent and circumspect?

5. Do my hidden thoughts, words, and actions, match those that I present to the world?

6. Am I living my life as one who has hope?

7. Am I a lover of the arts and a sciences?

8. Am I using my time on earth wisely or am I squandering it?

This is not an a complete list of questions you could derive from this ritual but if a brother asks himself these questions and honestly reflects on them, he will surely find work he needs to do to begin to build better character. So, ask yourself these questions or better yet bring this up at your lodge. See if your brethren want to join you in asking themselves these questions. If you honestly reflect on them and study them, your answers will suggest what work you need to try to do. You can then begin to work to improve yourselves and your character. If you do that, Freemasonry will begin again to, “make good men better.”


Brian L. Pettice, 33° is a Past Master of Anchor Lodge No. 980 and plural member of Olive Branch Lodge No. 38 in Danville, IL and an Honorary Member of a couple of others. He is also an active member of both the York and Scottish Rites. He cherishes the Brothers that have become Friends over the years and is thankful for the opportunities Freemasonry gives and has given him to examine and improve himself, to meet people he might not otherwise have had chance to meet, and to do things he might not otherwise have had chance to do. He is employed as an electrician at the University of Illinois and lives near Alvin, IL with his wife Janet and their son Aidan. He looks forward to sharing the joy the fraternity brings him with others. His email address is

1 comment:

  1. I think I am (after some reflection, contemplation, and meditation) going to post this on my Lodge Facebook website and see if my local Brethren can help me be a better person, and on our common reflection, assist them in becoming better people themselves.

    Leon Stark
    Clearwater Lodge No. 137 F&AM
    Clearwater Florida


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