The Diamond in the Quarry

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Michael Laidlaw 32˚

In my travels in Freemasonry-- my first step to now, I have met men from all walks of life. Those who came for various reasons, but we all share a common bond of humanity. We are all drawn to the work of Freemasonry for a reason. Some find out why and some know right out of the gate.

For the sake of humility for the Lodge and man, I will refrain from using names. When I was invited to this particular Lodge, I was instantly put to work. The Lodge culture was drastically different than what I was used to. Prospective members, Entered Apprentice, and Fellowcrafts are buzzing away and Master Masons were providing guidance. I had, on one occasion, asked a potential Candidate how long he had been coming to this Lodge and seeking membership. He said, "Five months now. I just earned my signatures and will be voted on next month." I was stunned for a moment.

Previously I came from a Lodge that would give them out on the first or second day. Granted, I had my affiliation application in hand with two endorsements from Brothers I had known for some time. But I knew in my heart; it would be wrong for me to hand it in right away after seeing these candidates for the degrees--working so hard to gain admission. I worked a committee for one year before I was told, "The Brothers are asking when are you going to affiliate?" It was then I knew I had "earned" my place with these craftsmen.

That year I had worked closely with a Brother who had invited me over to the Lodge to learn the roles of the committee. It would be an understatement if I said this Brother helps in the Lodge. He is a vital pulse to the Lodge. And in my opinion, "The Diamond in The Quarry." We are builders and this man builds everything, from events to the men around him. "Some flex and some lift." This Brother is a powerlifter. No matter how far-fetched my idea or the ideas of others are, he will encourage you to go for it. But I have learned it cannot be half-hearted. It has to be all in. If you want education, he will ask, "What have you set up? What speakers or topics do you have in place?" If you want events, he will chip away at your thoughts then give you some of his own. Helping you build on your ideas.

It's men like this that challenge you mentally, that the Craft needs. Also, these kinds of men make a Lodge successful. We all have lifters in the Lodge when you fall, they brush you off and instill a sense of pride that makes you keep going. They are the ones who will sit back and watch you succeed and ask for nothing in return. Believe me when I say I've seen this first-hand from this man. 

Men like this, build temples. The men around them and ultimately, humanity is made better. Is this not the work of a Craftsman? Shouldn't we strive to build all around us? In this trying time, Masonry--her teachings and the guidance of these "diamonds" are needed, now more than ever. In the words of a great man, I will close with this: "Diamonds lay dormant, they hide from the profane (undeserving), you must dig for them."


Michael Laidlaw was raised to the Sublime degree in 2011 and is a plural Member of South Pasadena 290 and Southern California Research Lodge where he is Junior Warden and Pop Culture editor for The Fraternal Review Magazine. He is also serving as Senior Steward for Arcadia 278. Michael is an active council member for Jobs Daughters Bethel 210 Arcadia (where his daughter is serving as Honored Queen) and serves on the Grand Lodge of California Youth Orders Committee. He is a 32° Scottish Rite Mason from the Valley Of Pasadena Orient of California where he has completed all three Master Craftsman Courses. Michael is also a member of San Gabriel Valley Chapter No. 100 RAM, Alhambra Council No. 25 CM, and Foothill Commandery No. 63 KT. He also holds Membership in Cinema Grotto and Order of Eastern Star.

What An Opportunity!

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

As the Coronavirus sweeps the nation and events are canceled, and many of us are working from home, we have to see this as an opportunity—especially for Masons. Sometimes we forget that being a Mason isn’t just about doing things—going to degrees, and meetings, and putting on events, and raising money for this pet project and that. There’s a personal growth aspect to the fraternity that many of us neglect. We’re so busy doing all the time, we never really get the chance to work on ourselves. We hear those words over and over again, but we never have the opportunity to actually think about them—how might I apply those concepts to my life?

So while we are at home, and the cabin fever begins to settle in (it has for me already and it’s day 3), instead of looking out the window longing to go to a meeting, take this opportunity to work on yourself. There’s a Japanese word “tsundoku” that I think has special meaning for me right now. Tsundoku is Japanese slang, and it refers to the practice of letting books pile up without reading them. It’s the combination of two Japanese characters—the one for “pile-up” and the one for “read.” I don’t know many Masons that don’t have a huge read pile they’ve been meaning to get to.

Why don’t you read them? What Masons seem focused on right now is figuring out how we can do virtual meetings. We can’t go a month without listening to our Secretary read the mail? What I did is I sat down last night and made a “Sanity List.” On that list, I wrote down a long list of books I have that I haven’t read—both on my library shelf, and books that have been sitting on my Kindle for a long, long time. I’ve started a list of article titles—I’ve been neglecting my writing for a long, long time. I put on that list household projects that I’ve ignored for a long time—Tuesday I finally took ten minutes and got the bugs out of the kitchen light. Whatever that list is for you, don’t waste the time watching Netflix or whatever. Here are a few ideas for you.

Start clearing that Tsundoku from your shelves. If you have time now and don’t read them, you never really wanted to read them to begin with. Give them to somebody that will read them.

Start a daily devotion. Whatever your beliefs, start your day over coffee and scripture. Think about those areas that you need to work on, and begin improving those areas.

Learn some ritual. Has there ever been a better time to sit down and begin learning that lecture you’ve always meant to get to, or that part you’ve always wanted to do?

Seriously look at your schedule. Over the last few days, I’ve realized there are way too many unnecessary meetings—meetings that we are quickly finding out could have been an email. Look at where you’re spending your time and your energy and ask yourself if there are things you’re expending energy on that would be better used elsewhere.

Those are just a few off the top of my head. But make use of this time—don’t squander it away. Don’t look back at this season as a missed opportunity. Make the best possible use of it. This could be a turning point in your life. This could be your reset button. This could be an unprecedented opportunity to look at yourself, look at your life, look at where you’ve been and where you want to go. An opportunity to work on yourself, learn some new skills, chip a few chunks off that rough ashlar. Many of us don’t know how long this will last—maybe a short time, or perhaps a very long time. It doesn’t really matter how much time it is before we return to normalcy—what’s important is to use it to its full advantage.


Todd E. Creason is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog.

A New Regular Contributor - Spencer A. Hamann

A New Regular Midnight Freemason Contributor

I was a District Deputy Grand Master when I first noticed RW Brother Spencer Hamann. It was his lodge's annual Official Visit. I noticed his keen eye for the precision of the work, his exceptional delivery of ritual, and yet there was something else. Is there a word for it when you think to yourself, "I need to be friends with that guy."?

Fast forward several years, and now we are great friends, Brothers and he's even the Sr. Warden of my lodge, Spes Novum. Spencer has written a couple of times for us here at the Midnight Freemasons and each time, his posts are shared, well-received, and our readers tend to really enjoy what he has to say.

I reached out to Brother Hamann to see if he would take me up on the offer to become a regular contributor--he said yes! It is my absolute pleasure to announce that RWB Hamann will be writing for us on a somewhat regular basis. I hope you enjoy what he adds to this blog and that you all find it edifying.

Here are some of his works that we've published in the past.

Missing the Point on Masonic Closures

Fair and Fowl Correspondences

RWB Spencer Hamann is a luthier and musicologist working in northern Illinois. He is an avid woodworker and artificer, and enjoys antique restorations and custom commissions. Curatorship and adding value are core to his personal philosophies. Spencer was Raised in 2013, and served Libertyville Lodge No. 492 as Worshipful Master from 2017-2018. He is the Senior Warden of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183, and serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois as their Grand Representative to Wisconsin, District Education officer for the 1st NE District, and is a Certified Lodge Instructor (CLI). He can be contacted at

Out of Darkness, Comes Life

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert E. Jackson, PM

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to have lunch with my Nephew, who is attending University in Providence. I knew the route well, peppered with businesses, confusing roadways, and several old buildings. Some of the architecture I find beautiful, others not so much, but nothing was different, until the chimney. Atop an older house, or perhaps an industrial building that once employed the citizens of Providence years ago, a dilapidated chimney stood out. Not that it was particularly beautiful or unique architecture, but this particular chimney had a plant growing out of it!

It was such an amazing sight. Somehow, sometime, a seed must have fallen to the chimney. Perhaps it was dropped from a bird, one way or another. I suppose it's possible that a strong wind, deposited a seed that has been traveling for miles. Regardless of how the seed arrived at this dark and abandoned location, it took root, sprouted, and grew.

Although it wasn't a particularly cold winter in New England, it was still cold. The stone that wrapped the chimney and protected it for years have lost any bit of heat that once rose through the darkness to the sky above. The darkness, the blackness of the creosote after years of carbon buildup, blocking any attempts for the light to permeate. The remains of the fuel that once protected the residents from the blizzards and nor'easters of the past. How is it possible that the beauty of nature can not only survive but thrive in this environment?

At a high level, the plant only needs a few things to live: certainly water, air, and nutrients. But the quality and amount of these nutrients can be critical. The air might not be as critical, so long as the temperature is within a sufficient range. This might be more challenging at the heights of Everest, but not so much in Providence, Rhode Island. The water can't be too much, so as to drown the seed or wash it away. Too little water and the seed will never germinate, or the plant will wither and die. Of course, there is a third component; the nutrients that feed the plant and enables it to reach towards the sky. As I write this, it doesn't seem that difficult to achieve these three goals. However, several plants of my past would vehemently disagree (if they were still around).

It must be so difficult for life to take hold in such a depressing situation. For something of beauty, that can create more beauty and life, to grow in such a bleak environment. As Master Masons, we can relate to such an analogy. In the darkness of our world, we still can plant our own seeds, and introduce some beauty into this world, of course, we must heed caution, and the four cardinal virtues can help guide us. If we focus, our own plants (our thoughts) can emerge from the darkest environments, but too much focus can cause drown them out, and prevent them from rooting.

As I continued to drive, my mind started to wander, as it tends to do, about the transformation of that seed into a plant. A plant large enough to be seen from the road. I can imagine that perhaps for a year, thousands of cars passed that plant. I was driving through the middle of Providence on Rt. 95 at approximately 55 miles per hour. I wonder how many fly right by, without looking up and contemplating this magical event. I don't fault them, as many of us progress through every day without noticing the sadness of a friend…we are all just too busy.

Obviously, this seemingly simple event made an impact on me. We all plant seeds each and every day, both in our minds and in the minds of others. The world appears so dark to me these days. The hoarding rooted in selfishness and the political cow patties over-fertilizing. What seeds will you plant?


Robert Edward Jackson is a Past Master and Secretary of Montgomery Lodge located in Milford, MA. His Masonic lineage includes his Father (Robert Maitland), Grandfather (Maitland Garrecht), and Great Grandfather (Edward Henry Jackson), a founding member of Scarsdale Lodge #1094 in Scarsdale, NY. When not studying ritual, he's busy being a father to his three kids, a husband, Boy Scout Leader, and a network engineer to pay for it all. He can be reached at

Occult Profiles: A. E. Waite

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

"For myself, it was a curious experience in more ways than one, and perhaps especially because it was so patent throughout that I could have told the Worshipful Master all that he was communicating to me. My Initiation was nothing therefore but a means to an end: I awaited the Grades beyond" So said Arthur Edward Waite after being made a Freemason on September 19th, 1901 in St. Mary Lebone Lodge No.1305. 

Waite, as I will refer to him in this paper, was a prolific collector of degrees, a soul looking for a way back to the source through the Mystic Quest--and also, a buffoon. Before the reader begins to degrade me for those words, I ask for the common courtesy of reading the entire article, you may yet agree with me.

Waite was born in October of 1857 to unwed parents in Brooklyn, New York. Shortly after he was born, he gained a sister as well. His father was a merchant shipper who died at an early age, condemning Waite, his sister, and mother to a life of squaller. Waite's mother was from a wealthy family, but because she had children out of wedlock, her family was not keen on supporting her. Somehow, he still had a decent enough education, having attended a private school in the North of London and later at thirteen years of age, he attended St. Charles College. While that sounds impressive, it shouldn't be thought that he was some kind of genius. This was simply the way of things in those times. 

When Waite reached the age of 17, he lost his sister, Frederika, which threw open the gates of the esoteric. His faith up to this point had been in Roman-Catholocism, but no longer. At this time, Waite was, as many men of his day and social stature were--a clerk. It's an often-used title, and it is indeed vague. When amassing records from the British Library, we find that Waite was active in research there quite often beginning in his 21st year of life. And just 3 years later, Waite makes an astonishing discovery, the writings of Eliphas Levi, a prominent French occultist and 'ceremonial magician.' 

In 1887, Waite got married to Ada Lakeman, and later they have a daughter together. In Arthur's studies, he came across the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (HOGD). Befriending a homeopathic London based doctor, E.W. Berridge, he joined the Order in 1891. At this time, the two orders of the HOGD were in existence; Waite had joined the Outer Order. It appears as if he removed himself from this Order after just two years. Three years later, in 1886, he joins again. 

Three years later, in 1889, Waite joins the Second Order of the HOGD, and two years after that, he becomes a Freemason. It is interesting to note that a Masonic organization like the self-styled Rosicrucian Order [SRIA] begets the HOGD out of a need for practical occultism, which gains members who are not Freemasons and then who go on to become Freemasons. And, if you're A.E. Waite, you then join the SRIA (Societas Rosicruciana In Anglia). The Ouroboros of initiation is pretty intense. Joining the SRIA is an amusing thing for him to have done considering his own commentary on the organization. In the final chapter of a book on Rosicrucianism, he wrote the following,
"The most notable circumstance connected with this society is the complete ignorance which seems to have prevailed amongst its members generally concerning everything connected with Rosicrucianism."
Freemasonry was also not outside the bounds for an attack. He wrote the following on the gentle Craft, 
" [being] singularly devoid of prejudices and singularly unaffected by the crazes of the time It preaches a natural morality and has so little interest in mysticism that it daily misinterprets and practically despises its own mystical symbols.
It seems appropriate to say that Waite searched everywhere for an organization that would give him the confirmation bias he so needed. He collected degrees and orders faster than a Grand Lodge festival day. He even received honors of being connected with Martinism by way of the mail--He literally sent his obligation in by mail, and the return letter gave him the title he was looking for and implied permission to start a London based version of Martinism (1887). Curious, isn't it? 

Like so many occultists in his day, Waite founded his own Order in 1903. It was called the ‘Independent and Rectified Order R. R. et A. C.’ and was disbanded a little more than ten years later. The actions of Waite caused much internal strife within these organizations, HOGD, SRICA, his Rectified Order, and eventually, in 1914, he left many of them. Again, it's unclear why he did this...speculation rules the day, but most likely, it is due to his failure to be elected to the high office of Celebrant in the SRIA. But, Waite wasn't done. He then formed the ‘Fellowship of the Rosy Cross’, one more Rosicrucian type order within the London area. If we examine the various records, there are eight other 'Rosicrucian orders' at that time. The first meeting of the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross was on July 9th, 1915, at a hotel. The organization was styled similarly to the HOGD with Inner and outer Orders.

Shortly before this Rosicrucian / Golden Dawn debacle, in 1910, Waite had been installed as Master of Runneymede Lodge. A peculiar episode was a celebration he held as Master of the Lodge, where he conferred some strange rites on his brethren present --’the Great Mystery of the Vault of the Adepts-under dispensation from the Unknown Superior of the Sodality of the Shades'. Sounds legit. If you felt the earth move just now, it's because you just channeled my eye roll. 

Waite had become prolific in his writings, by 1915 having published works on alchemy, ceremonial magic, divination, general esotericism, and more. He was a regular old genius when it came to these things. In fact, even today, some of his works are still considered the gold standard. Books like Eliphas Levis's Transcendental Magic, it's Doctrine, and Ritual was not only translated to English by Waite but also edited--no small feat. This version of the text is still in print today. 

While some celebrate his writing by claiming that academics praise his works, there is really no evidence to support this. On the contrary, Waites's writings were often rude, arrogant, and written in a way that was condescending to his contemporaries. His books were full of the worst kinds of errors. No, not grammar--historical and factual errors. Grammar Police may be triggered. Sorry, guys. 

The Grand Lodge of Iowa, in 1916, contacted Waite and awarded a strange title, ’Past Senior Grand Warden’. One doesn't make much of this, although Waite certainly must have because he uses it on the first page of his book, A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry. Some years later, Ada, his wife, dies, and in 1924, he remarries. Of his new wife, Mary Broadbent Schofield, not much is written. 

Waite had been genuinely dedicated to the study of the occult. So much so that in addition to writing and publishing, he even founded a study group. The ‘Masonic Study Society’ was founded by him in 1921. Going through some research on Waite, one finds reference to a strange and out of place, yet exciting tidbit. The great and prolific writer, Reverend Joseph Fort Newton, author of the acclaimed book, The Builders, is said to have been quite fond of Waite. 

No article on Waite can be complete without mentioning his one overwhelming gift to the world, his Tarot deck. Based on the Italian Tarot deck Sola Busco (1490/91), he produced his styled deck, which was one of the first of its kind and would become one of the most recognized contemporary decks ever produced. It contained not only the Major Arcana (Trump Cards) but all of the cards, 78 in total. The artwork for them was completed by Pamela Coleman Smith and published by the Rider Publishing Company. Today, the deck is mostly referred to as the Rider-Waite deck. It is this author's opinion that this is a tragedy. The lesser-used name Smith-Waite deck is what should be used. It was Pamela's artwork that made these cards readable, accessible, and useable. To her, I think we are all indebted, just as much as to Waite.

The deck was published in 1910 by the company I mentioned earlier - the Rider Publishing Company. Today, that company is attached to none other than Penguin, which is attached to Random House. On a personal note, I picked up my first Tarot deck--a Smith-Waite deck, at a Goodwill for $7.99...a steal. Speaking of money, Waite then in 1911 produced a companion book for his Tarot deck called, a Pictorial Key to the Tarot. Again, it should be noted that the publishing of this pack, was the defining moment in the Tarot for ages to come. 

Men like Paul Foster Case (Founder of BOTA) based entire systems on the Tarot and became known far and wide as the foremost expert on it as used as a tool for psychological work, introspection, and contemplative work in general. Dr. Paul Clark, founder of Fraternity of the Hidden Light, and former member of BOTA, writes in his biography of Paul Case, the close relationship and correspondences between Waite and Case. It's fascinating reading. When Paul Case eventually publishes his own Tarot deck, it was considered to be similar to the Smith-Waite Deck, but without the 'errors' made by Waite. 

There is so much I can write about Waite--so much has been written. I do it a discredit to retell much of what has been already stated, but it's my hope that this short and fascinating look at him will prompt the reader to dive deeper. 

Waite had joined the Royal Arch, the Knights Templar, CBCS, he traveled all over the world to collect strange and wild degrees--one such degree, “The Grand Rite of the 47th” in Sweden. He was original in thought but rude in his critiques. If you didn't agree with him, you were an idiot. If he reviewed your work, you were an idiot. Only he knew the true doctrine of anything, and his pompous, arrogant attitude was and is contemptible. You love to hate him. 

In 1942, Waite transitioned, and his obituary was published in the Freemasons Chronicle. In three paragraphs, his works and life are laid out in a way that doesn't quite praise him but instead, simply acknowledges him. He was indeed a prolific individual but, as with everyone we've covered, had faults. 

Earlier in this short essay, I mentioned that Waite had favor with the Reverend Joseph Fort Newton. Newton wrote of Waite, 
“Brother Waite warns us against the dark alleys that lead nowhere and the false lights that lure to ruin, and he protests against those who would open the Pandora's Box of the Occult on the altar of Masonry. After a long study of occultism, magic, omens, talismans, and the like, he has come to draw a sharp line between the occult and the mystical, and therein he is wise.” 
Of course, Waite was probably okay with all that occultism and traveling down the dark long as he was your guide, and you worshipped at the altar of his own pen. 

Waite offers us some beautiful readings and perspectives and deserves our attention. If we read his works, it's important to recognize his bias toward his own thoughts. To be conscious of his superiority complex. But also to open our minds to the possibilities of his most outrageous claims no matter how mysterious.


There are other claims that Waite initially joined Runneymede Lodge No. 2430 in Wraysbury, England. This is true, to the end that the lodge which was performing the ritual was doing so as a courtesy for Runneymede Lodge. 

-Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, UGLE in Volume 99 for the year 1986. [pp. 6-20.] Minor typographical errors corrected, 2002/04/08.
-Gilbert, R. A. "The Masonic Career of A. E. Waite". Ars Quatuor Coronatorum. QCCC Correspondence Circle Limited. Archived from the original on September 5th, 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
-Waite, A. E., Shadows of Life and Thought: A Retrospective Review in the Form of Memoirs, London: Selwyn and Blount, 1938

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich 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. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

It’s Our Time to Shine

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Darin A. Lahners, PM

Brethren, as I write this, the world as we know it is falling apart. Supermarkets are stripped bare. People are panicking due to fear of the unknown. My Grand Lodge here in Illinois, along with a lot of other jurisdictions, are suspending stated meetings and other lodge events for a few weeks (possibly months).

We are witnessing history. We need to be a part of it. All of us once asked for light. It's time for our light to shine.

Our principles have helped guide our Masonic forefathers through other dark times in history. In the United States and around the globe, our fraternity has survived. Many events that threatened to snuff our light out have failed. Our tenets of Brotherly love, relief, and truth have enabled us to survive.

Now more than ever, we need to remember these 3 tenets.

Although we can't have stated meetings together, we need to remember the tenet of Brotherly Love and make sure that we are not only checking in on each other but our widows and orphans. We can still enjoy Masonic education and fellowship together via skype calls and other methods. Most importantly, we need to remember that Brotherly Love extends not only to our Brothers but to all of our fellow creatures, which brings me to my next point.

We are obligated to come to the aid and relief of not only our brothers and their families that are in need, but we also are taught that we need to act charitably to society, giving as much of ourselves as we can to better the common good. The coming days are going to challenging for all of us.

What we are witnessing is unprecedented in most of our lifetimes. Very few of us have seen something similar. It is at times like these that we need to remember our tenet of relief. Not only to ourselves but to our communities. We need to remember that of Faith, Hope, and Charity, the greatest of those is Charity.

We will need to set an example for those that need it. Whether it is by volunteering to deliver groceries for those in your community that cannot get them, giving a roll of toilet paper to a neighbor that needs it, or using our monetary resources to help those brothers and non-brothers alike in our community--we can use this crisis as an opportunity to show what our fraternity stands for. We need to lead by example. I believe that if we do this, that if we are a shining light for others in this time of darkness, that we will be living up to our tenet of relief. As we suffer for membership, we can show the men in our local community what we are all about. To paraphrase that quote from Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come."

Truth, which is represented by the divine Truth of the Great Architect of the Universe, is going to be an essential tenet to follow in the coming days. If you are ill, be truthful and stay home even if you think that this will hurt you financially. It is at this time that you will need to reach out to your Lodge and Grand Lodge for assistance. Do not hesitate to use the sign of distress we are taught. If you are not ill, be sure to remain true to yourself, family, and your dealings with others. As I stated above, be a genuine person in your transactions with your fellow creatures. You are representing the fraternity, and how you act during this crisis will be remembered. Remain truthful to our teachings, and they will help see you through this.

It's up to all of us.

Every single one of us has a role to play in this. I believe though that we are uniquely equipped as men to rise to this challenge.

There is a line in the 3rd degree that I especially love, and I try to remember when faced with a challenge.

The line is: "Well, we have truth and justice on our side, let us rush in!" Remember that we do have truth and justice on our side. I would only add, before rushing in, we remember to invoke the blessing of deity first. This is hopefully the only great undertaking that we as Freemasons will ever have to face in our lifetimes. Remember that our light is part of the light of the divine truth of the Great Architect of the Universe. Stay safe, brothers. Remember our teachings, follow them, and continue to let our light shine for all to see.


WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at

Preparedness as Masonic Duty

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders

"Brother …, are all present Freemasons? Brother ..., you will retire with … and prepare the candidate..., Before being brought to…"

Sound familiar? Review your charges and reflect upon your obligations with preparedness in mind. Every step in every degree has some form of preparation. Every lodge opens with the preparation of the physical lodge and preparation of the members before the business of the craft might commence. Freemasonry admonishes us to live upright and improve upon ourselves, and as Masons, we are reminded to read, study, and memorize ritual. If we prepare the space, if we develop the members, and if we apply that to our lives, as Masons, we have a duty to be duly and truly prepared and not just for the ceremony.

On Wednesday, March 3, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the coronavirus designated COVID-19 as a pandemic. That is, the spread of the virus breached international borders infecting humanity at a rapid rate.

Preparation being a duty of Freemasons, we see from ritual the lessons of diligent preparation as GMHA worked on his trestle board daily and with devotion to Deity. Let us apply that physically to ourselves, our family, our work, and our community. How do we take care of ourselves, family, work, and community during a time of continuous angst and stress? Again, we return to our Masonic lessons of waiting for a time of patience, of reflecting upon our situation and being prepared for what unknowns lie ahead.

Place the oxygen mask on yourself first, then assist the others around you. An honest assessment of your own personal well being begins this exercise, and I like to use backpacking as my personal go-to for this type of assessment. Am I prepared and in condition to take care of myself? How do I get to that condition? How can I work with others to get to that condition if not completely self-sufficient? In this circumstance, what does self-sufficient entail? If I am honest in this personal assessment, I reinforce my capacity to help my family and others.

A hiker understands the minimum requirements for self-sufficiency, such as food, water, shelter, and medicine. In my backpack, I prepare with a variety of individual first aid options along with signaling ability should I find myself in trouble. For our family, we take that to the next level expanding this to a few lists of items used weekly and monthly. For most, a quick inventory of our medicine cabinet becomes the first step in sufficiently noting needed purchases. I prefer to look at four weeks; most disaster preparedness guides go with two weeks.

After our personal and family's medical needs are assessed and covered, let us shift focus on food, water, and shelter. My southern upbringing included always having a stocked pantry from which to pull ingredients and cook. For this pandemic, I added extra of the same. Panic purchases in the stores make this sometimes entertaining, sometimes dangerous, and I recommend taking a deep breath before we enter the mass wave of humanity fighting over canned sardines that nobody will eat. In other words, avoid every temptation to fill the cart with anything other than what you usually eat or your family enjoys.

Shelter in this particular crisis is much lower on the list as basic services remain intact.

While the American Red Cross website and many others update a pretty good essential list of what to stock for disaster preparedness, I recommend www dot ready dot gov/kit and the overall website as a starting point. The best advice I ever received was to prepare. Prepare a plan, prepare my family by working through the plan, and prepare with practicing the plan.

Randy recommends this website from the US Government for prep kits. 


Bro. Randy Sanders lives near St. Louis and is active in Missouri and Oklahoma Freemasonry. He is Co-Librarian of the Valley of St. Louis, MO., Clerk of the Academy of Reflection based out of the Valley of Guthrie, OK., Lodge Education Officer of 2 Blue Lodges, and develops and delivers Masonic education across the region in blue lodges, AASR SMJ, and York Rite AMD. Randy works in IT/Telecom, mentors IT and business professionals, and also teaches Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and is an NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer. Randy and his wife raise Great Pyrenees dogs, enjoy gourmet cooking classes, and travel internationally. He has been involved in search and rescue, community response, and disaster mitigation for over three decades. He served as Logistics Section Chief on a federal disaster team and deployed to the Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing and St. Thomas, USVI, for Hurricane Marilyn, among many others.

Weekend Special - Missing the Point on Masonic Closures

"Unbelievable. Freemasonry Has Been Shut Down."

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
RWB Spencer A. Hamann

These are the words that greeted me upon a quick check of my social media account. After a week that has felt like a year has passed since Monday, full of emotion and media whiplash as our nation slams nose to nose with a public health pandemic, the likes of we hubristically assumed "won't happen here," anxiety and fear were palpable. No matter who you were, your age, your job, your financial situation, COVID-19 has unavoidably pinged on your radar this week. As governments, municipalities, medical caregivers, restaurants, grocery stores, and centuries-old institutions have all been brought to heel attempting to interpret the tea leaves of this new threat, Freemasonry could hardly have been expected to ignore it. With a nationwide membership base composed majoritively of men considered by the WHO and CDC as "at elevated risk" for contracting the virus, preventative and emergency measures were inevitable. Only this morning my Grand Lodge, The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois, put out an order from the Most Worshipful Grand Master that all Grand Lodge and Craft Lodge programs and meetings were hereby suspended until at least May 1st, 2020, over a month away. They were hardly the first Grand Lodge to issue such an order, and I am sure more will follow suit.

While the Brother who Facebook posted the opening quote in response to this order was, I am sure, intending it sardonically, I couldn't help imagine that there are many Brothers who likely share the same sentiment but from a place of real anger and confusion. "Masonry canceled? But how will I fellowship with my Brothers? What about our lodge fundraiser? What about the Degree we had scheduled for next week? What about our business meetings? What do I do for a month?" These are all valid concerns, and ones which we will surely see manifest in the coming weeks and possibly months as the Craft collectively holds its breath and waits to see what happens next.

However genuine these concerns might be, to take this tack is to miss the meaning of Freemasonry entirely. Freemasonry is more than trappings and aprons and showing up to hear minutes read. The lessons of our Craft manifest in our own earnest and selfless desires to be charitable, not in the organized opportunity itself. Our ceremonies and symbols are based on immortal and unimpeachable concepts, and ideas that a man truly on the path to illumination through our mysteries will understand are worth waiting for, and should not be rushed. In short, the physical plane is but one aspect of our Masonic philosophy, and we now have a more focused opportunity than we ever have in living memory to change our perceptions and open ourselves to the real work of the Craft.

We read and hear about the interior work of Freemasonry regularly throughout our ceremonies and lectures, although many Brothers compartmentalize these as little more than fairy tales or historical accounts. Our houses not made with hands, our edifices constructed without the din of iron tools, the numberless worlds around us, all allude to the building and attempted perfection of our own hearts, minds, and souls. I say "attempted" not to highlight our shortcomings, but because the act of performing this work and the process itself is just as important as the results we want to achieve, and upon reflection, we find that process and product are really one and the same. In striving to master ourselves on all planes, we live the real philosophies of our Craft.

Just like an organism adapting and strengthening itself against changes in its environment and situation, as Freemasons, we have been given just such a stimuli. Our focuses now necessarily shift inward as we limit our direct contact with others. Why not spend the time you might typically spend at lodge reviewing your ritual work with a critical eye for context? Perhaps consider exploring any one of many excellent, fun, and enlightening Masonic podcasts, YouTube channels, or websites? Pick out a new book to read (although many public libraries have shut down for the immediate future, there are scores of texts available as pdfs, e-books, and audiobooks online for little or no cost). Engage with your family. Meditate. Pray. Recharge. Forget why you were angry. Write a paper. Draw a picture. Channel your creative energies into something you love. In short, perform the interior work.

If we do this, if we spend time introspectively working on ourselves contemplatively and in silence, can you even imagine what will happen when thousands of Masons who have spent a month earnestly doing the same and building their own temples within now converge together back into our hallowed halls? The levels of renewed energy, drive, perspective, and clarity gained from our individual efforts would be truly, awesome. The effect of thousands of refreshed and engaged hearts, minds, and souls meeting with common goals is an unbelievable potential force for good, an organic refocusing of our efforts, and a chance to take our Craft collectively in a stronger, healthier and more unified direction.

In taking care of ourselves, we are better enabled to take care of others. I don't mean just in a physical sense but in an emotional and psychologically supportive way as well. When we can master our own emotions, reactions, and understandings, we are better equipped to empathetically and practically assist those who are still struggling. The old story comes to mind of a man who fell into a hole too deep to climb out of. A doctor passing by heard his cries for help and threw a signed prescription down to the man. A passing banker, also hearing the man implore his aid, threw a handful of money to the man. A reverend, hearing the trapped man's admonitions, tossed down a Bible. But finally, another man heard the cries for help, and without hesitation, jumped down into the hole. "What did you do that for?" bawled the trapped man, "now we are both stuck down here!" "Despair not," said his new companion, "I have been here before myself, and I know the way out."

However, we choose to react to the threats and changes that inevitably challenge our daily lives is entirely up to us. This isn't very easy to come to terms with. While we may not have chosen to be sick, or confused, or hurting, we can choose to not be governed by fear. Darkness may be unknown and foreign, but it is also unlimited potential. I hope that in these trying times, and in times of prosperity as well, we will always seek illumination and with our working tools in hand, build ever onward.


RW Brother Spencer has a vast and varied set of skills and interests and boundless curiosity. Drawing
inspiration from his love of music and engineering at an early age, Spencer began apprenticing to learn the luthier’s art as a high school freshman in 2003. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Musicology, focused on Organology. He now works professionally as a luthier, managing workshops in Illinois and Wisconsin, completing repairs and restorations of fine string instruments, and providing education on instrument history and maintenance. Spencer also enjoys performing music on a variety of instruments, is an avid collector of fine tools, frequently takes commissions for custom work within woodworking and restores typewriters and bicycles among other antiques. Curatorship and adding value are core to his personal philosophies. Spencer was Raised in 2013, served Libertyville Lodge No. 492 as Worshipful Master from 2017-2018, and currently serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois as their Grand Representative to Wisconsin, District Education officer for the 1st NE District, and is a Certified Lodge Instructor (CLI).

Masons Descend on Florida

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

On March 7th, 2020 a lodge in Florida opened its doors to Freemasons from around the world. Brothers from Arizona, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, and even Germany were present--not to mention a multitude from the Tampa area and around Florida. As Masonic Conventions pop up all over the country, it's only natural that Brothers ask themselves, "Why can't we do this?" And that's just what Worshipful Billy D. Schmidt did.

Billy wasn't even the Master of his lodge when he started to think about putting on the Southeastern Masonic Education Symposium. He had his plans, and as fate would have it, the backing of his Secretary, Tom and the Brothers of Hillsborough Masonic Lodge No. 25.

Hillsborough Lodge lies right smack in downtown Tampa, Florida. The hustle and bustle of many big cities are not evident here. It's not overly dense in population. It's clean. And that local business flair is evident—small shops boutiques and restaurants lining the streets. The only downside? Some places are only open Monday through Friday when the corporate folks are in town. That seems to be the same way in most big cities though.

Nestled in a row of connected building space that seems to be an entire city block, is the lodge. Beyond the brass doors lay a foyer that would fit my home lodge inside of it. As you walk inside, Past Masters stare at you from the walls. Then you make your way through two brazen pillars, then up the staircase which leads to a massive common area complete with a pool table, several areas for lounging, offices with glass panes and expertly painted letters, "Worshipful Master". There's also a secretary's office and many other rooms and vaults. It's amazing.

Of course, this doesn't do it justice. The lodge room is as impressive as you can imagine. Ceilings that remind me of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. A lodge room, with the gallery, that seats over 400 people. Blue carpet, modern lighting and all the traditional elements that make you fall in love with the architecture and history of the Craft.

I flew in on Friday evening and met Jon Ruark at our hotel. We dropped our things off and walked three blocks to the lodge on a cool evening. Floridians were cold. Jon and I being from Illinois and Virginia were... comfortable. After arriving and shaking the hands of a few local Brothers, we assisted in setting up some things and met our friend and Brother Juan Sepulveda of The Winding Stairs and Gentleman's Brotherhood. He was busy setting up his art.

After some great conversation and fellowship, we all went back to the hotel to get rested up for the day ahead of us—The Symposium. Of course, I watched some Rick and Morty and read a little before falling asleep.

My phone rang at 8:05 A.M. "Good Morning, sunshine." It was Jon. I was 5 minutes past our designated meeting time to walk to the lodge. I got ready in nearly record time. And walked to the lobby...15 minutes. Not too bad.

Jon was the first to present that morning and he did a wonderful job. His presentation was on the Circumpunct and it's esoteric origins and symbology. He unveiled some amazing concepts which truly had brothers asking questions. Next up was me. I did my presentation on esoteric origins and different wisdom schools with an emphasis on Freemasonry. After this was Brother Nick Harvey. Nick in a very charismatic way, spoke about a Mason's legacy— He asked us repeatedly, "Who is performing Your Masonic Funeral?" It made us think about our relationships with Brothers and reflect on the impression we might be leaving behind for them to remember. He also was witty as heck, with a few jokes that left us in stitches. Nick was great.

We all adjourned for lunch. Jon and I "escaped" for a quick lunch at a bistro located in the old Federal Court building. The words, "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" prominently etched into the front of the massive stone facade.

After lunch, Jason Richards who was unable to be present physically, presented via the web. His
presentation on the multiple flood mythologies in the world and their relation to Masonic degrees was as amazing as always. I've seen it three times now and each time, he adds to it, making me more interested each time. Simply fascinating. I wonder when History Channel will call up Jason Richards to be on an episode of some show—or better yet give him his own.

The final presenter for the day was John Nagy, some of you know him as "The Coach". John's a business and life coach in his professional career and is a wonderful presenter. His presentation had some great twists and turns but mainly focused on the contextual meanings of words in ritual. This presented problems—we're not actually doing what we're supposed to be doing because the meaning of words has changed over time. After John was done, I made my way to the common area and picked up two of his books, The Craft Unmasked and A Brother Asks Vol.1. I'm looking forward to diving in after my current books.

We closed out the day with a live taping of The Masonic Roundtable. Jon, Juan and I along with a lodge full of members hung out together to talk about Masonic Conferences. Then, we brought on the Worshipful Master, Billy Schmidt to get his thoughts. You can find that episode coming soon to the YouTube channel or via our podcast. There will be a short wait since we need to put it together.

After this we retired to dinner where conversations ensued, stories were told—and then topped, and inspiration flowed. The conversations and inspirational ideas from guys attending, were for me, the best. Hearing the impact that events like this have on local Brothers who crave a better experience solidified my inclinations- this is the future.

To the Brothers of Hillsborough No. 25 in Tampa Florida, thank you. You're making a HUGE impact on Freemasonry in Florida, but also a beacon. I think about the other places that are doing these Conventions, and I imagine them like giant Masonic "bat signals" being shown into the night. They're saying "We're here." The more conventions we have, the more that light adds to the others to illuminate the world. The verbiage from ritual paraphrased is coming to mind "...that light when added to the coming light..."

We'll see you at the next convention in Attleboro MA, Masonic Con 2020.


You can follow Hillsborough Masonic Lodge No. 25 on these social media accounts. 

Hillsborough 25's Website -


Twitter @Hillsborough25

Instagram - @hillsboroughlodge25

Contemplative Cornerstones: Brotherly Love

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Brother Erik Marks

There is always someone who gets your goat.  Not that goat.  The symbolic one.  You know, mildly to moderately pisses you off.  Ok, so maybe a lot.  Ever feel conflicted about him coming to lodge?  Wish he wouldn't?  Feel relieved when he's away?  Not uncommon despite our work to be and feel harmonious.  This feeling is part of freemasonry since it is part of what we have the good fortune of experiencing in a lodge.    Like the rest of life, the work gives us lots of opportunities to practice being loving. Even if we say nothing out loud to our annoying brother about how his behavior, our inner harmony, is disrupted by the thought of this guy.

So, the question arises: for whom is the idea of brotherly love and affection placed as the cornerstone of the 3rd degree?  Is looking like we are harmonious for everyone else's observation?  Just pretend everything is harmonious, and no one will notice what is really going on?  A grand performance to look good, nice.  Maybe, but it is not real.  If it's not in my heart, it is just for show, and I'll know it all through the ritual.  It will distract me; it will distract you.

Perhaps working towards harmony is for me, not you, not for the performance of looking harmonious.  Maybe it is a wholly selfish act.  If I can grow to love someone even if I dislike him, I can remain harmonious, at least internally.  Maybe that's as far as it goes, or needs to for all intents and purposes. But perhaps there is more to find.  The selfishness premise is too shallow to be a masonic idea. Brotherly love is to help you keep yourself emotionally regulated for your and everyone's benefit.  It's for multiple reasons, often in sequence.  First for me (you), then for him, then for them, brethren and beyond.  And that is part of the work through all three degrees:  growing in brotherly love and affection.

 This installment is about the elaboration of a masonic ideal through the application of an eastern esoteric exercise of cultivating the capacity to be and feel loving towards others.  The exercise is simultaneously, and secretly for some, a way to cultivate brotherly love for self and others.  As ancient wisdom dictates, we begin our work with one who easily brings to mind and heart the foundational feeling we want.  We start with a person toward whom feeling loving is easy and (mostly) uncomplicated.

First, take a few minutes to ground and center yourself.  Use your favorite mindfulness exercise or refer back to a past contemplative cornerstone here.  If you haven't done any kind of meditation practice in the past, I would hold off on this practice until having taken at least a month to get familiar with basic mindfulness meditation, Shamatha, Vipassana, Shunyata, or other concentration meditation practice.  Read Chuck Dunning's Contemplative Freemasonry.

There is no problem trying what is presented here without having an ongoing or previous practice. Trying this out won't hurt you or anyone else; otherwise, I wouldn't have posted it publicly.  There is just a better chance you'll have good results if you have a way of keeping good old monkey (or goat) mind subdued. In other words, staying focused on this practice will be easier if you already train your mind with a concentration practice.  The psyche has lots of self-protective functions to help keep you from getting in trouble…including feeling intense anxiety if this isn't the right practice for you; or giving you strong anxiety to tell you this is the right practice for you (please write me if you have questions about this statement).

Next, think of your favorite brother, teacher, mentor, or non-Masonic person who embodies loving-kindness or causes you to feel loving, kind, generous feelings.  Ideally, it would be a person with whom you have mostly good memories, good feelings, or a very long history and have worked through problems to a resolution so that you can feel continuously good feelings about them: just feel love for them.  If no such living or passed human exists, some people focus on an idealized being or deity.  Hold the feeling, image, idea, the concept of that person for a while.  Next, feel the sense of love towards that person.  Hold and sustain those loving feelings towards the person or deity as long as you can.  Then stop the practice for today. The next day, repeat.  Stay at this phase for at least a week.

Starting the next week, begin the practice as before.  This week, instead of holding the loving feelings for the idealized favored person the whole time, start with them and sustain the feelings for a few minutes.  Then, direct those feelings towards someone who, to you, is just slightly more challenging to feel those loving feelings towards the same level of intensity and caring.  Move back and forth between the two: when you feel it difficult to sustain the feelings for the second, move back to the first and recharge. Repeat.  Repeat days practicing with the second person until it is as easy to sustain loving feelings for the second as it was for the first.

Next!  A person who is slightly more challenging.  You're catching on.  Yes.  By succession, you are moving closer and closer to people who are very difficult to do this practice with and about.

Annoyed?  You have questions…  I'll start with what, for me, is the obvious worry here.  Does this mean that the goal is to feel loving towards that guy who you think is really problematic?  The one we called to mind at the start of this post?  Yup.  "Why Erik Why?" you ask?  This practice is not actually about or for him (at first).  Masonry and this practice are about and for you and what your mind does with ideas about others.  Michael Poll had an excellent podcast sometime in 2019, addressing the question, "Should freemasons be kind?"  The answer is, of course: Yes. But not without thought.  Being loving and kind doesn't mean we stop thinking.

We don't stop being discerning and making good choices.  The argument for why every mason should practice this kind of Brotherly Love Cultivation is that when we can remain loving, we stop being reactionary. We can THINK clearly and use our tools in a conscious direction.

With ongoing practice, the next time you feel a strong reaction brewing for that challenging brother, pause. Recall the emotions generated in this practice.  Feel loving toward him (you don't have to like him one bit, just love him).  Then think about the consequences of acting out, if that helps. Ultimately, like all of masonry, the practice is about the rest of life and not about freemasonry.
[Secrets: with regular, diligent practice, you will find the person who was once your inner psychic nemesis, becomes one of your most valued guides to a better you.

[To go deeper: if you find the idea of this practice annoying, anxiety-provoking, frustrating, start with mindfulness meditation and then spend five to ten minutes merely wondering why this practice is so aversive.  [Deeper still: if you find yourself willfully resisting this practice and can't seem to shift, sit still with that question and remain open to the answer from your inner officers (Read MacNulty)].


Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email:

Masonic Duty

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Mark St. John

When I hear the word “duty,” my first thoughts are of those that serve in the military or are first responders. These men and women lay everything on the line during their duty: they experience tragedy, see awful things, and can often be put in the line of fire themselves. Their duty, however, comes to an end at some point. First responders reach the end of their shift, and they go home to their families, safe from the things which occurred during their shift. Soldiers finish up their tour of duty and, for those who do not go on to more tours, they hopefully return home. Though they are paid for their duty and can receive honors, there is something more that drives a person to put their life on the line in the performance of that duty.

In Freemasonry, we learn that the symbols and allegories taught in our Blue Lodge are to convey to us our duty. A Freemason’s duty is one that should be a duty shared by all: the duty of improving himself, his family, his neighbor, and his society so that he may be a better man, and the world may be a better place because of his contributions. To truly fulfill this duty, there must be something inside us that drives us to work on the completion of this duty, something more than recognition or reward. Unlike the previous examples, this duty is never-ending. The duty of improving one’s self, through a connection to his spiritual side and improving his relationship with God, is with us always. It is a never-ending quest of “perfection,” which may not be achieved in this lifetime.

Our first lesson on duty is that we should work without an expectation of reward. It is possible to achieve titles in Masonry, as well as earning esteem for tasks completed or knowledge obtained in ritual and education. If a man’s desire to achieve these accomplishments is merely based on the rewards he earns, the status he achieves, or the offices he is elected or appointed to, then he is laboring for the wrong reasons. We should labor because the work is good; it is a worthwhile endeavor, and we can be proud of these accomplishments. We should never do so for notoriety. Our motives must be for our own improvement and satisfaction of progress to that end, not to impress others or to improve our standing within the fraternity.

Learning from the Volume of Sacred Law, interpreting its lessons and God’s plan for us, and internalizing these lessons to form the basis of our inner conscience is an arduous task. Often times, it is much easier to do the wrong thing or take the easy road out of a situation. Doing what is right is often a much more difficult path. Only by working towards perfecting our inner selves will we be able to overcome the temptation of taking the easy way out. We must always strive for the perfections shown to us by God. It is a journey we will never achieve in this lifetime. Thus, there are no physical rewards on Earth for this labor. It is a case of being the journey, not the destination, which is important. Striving to achieve this is a worthy endeavor. Working towards perfecting the virtues both described in the Volume of Sacred Law and taught in our degrees improves our character, even if we do not quite achieve the results we are hoping for. As we improve our character, we improve those around us, who can then collectively work for the betterment of our society. We should garner satisfaction in the fact that even if we fail in our goal, we do become better in the process as do those around us.

As mentioned above, there are those in our society who perform a duty. They go to work to achieve this duty. As noble as their duty is, it does eventually end. Our Masonic duty, however, stays with us for a lifetime. We are placed here to live a virtuous life, to extend these virtues to others who may follow it, and do good works for society as a whole. Imagine the world we could live in if so many more of us followed the virtues outlined in our Craft Lodges: the four cardinal virtues of fortitude, prudence, temperance, and justice, and those 3 theological virtues which form the principal tenets of our organization: faith, hope, and charity. The duty to live by these virtues is never-ending. We are to strive to always think and act in this regard. As we work to perfect the ashlars of our character according to these virtues, we continually chip away the imperfections, making steady, constant improvements to our character. At last, in the twilight of our temporal existence, if we have performed our duty throughout, we may well finally receive our reward for that labor: the Divine Word, the Truth. Regardless of rank or honor held, we are to continually move forward in our self-improvement.

In our society, our job often defines who we are as a person. Those that do a good job are often regarded as a success, a leader in their field, a credit to their profession, etc. This labor, while necessary to support ourselves and our family, is not the ultimate labor we should strive to perfect. Our professional labor defines us for the majority of our lifetime; our Masonic Duty may very well define us for eternity. To call this “Masonic Duty” is somewhat misleading, as it is not strictly limited to Masons. This Duty is for ALL mankind. It is the improvement of our spiritual self; to know and love God, to be thankful for all that He has given us, to regret the wrongs we have done, and to strive always to lead a moral life of virtue. Imagine the people you touch if you practice this in your daily life. Your family, coworkers, friends, and community, in general, will see your example. Many will follow it. Some may well meet or exceed your example. Many of their accomplishments may not have been possible had you not set the example with your own accomplishments. The lessons taught in Blue Lodge truly have the potential to have a profound impact on ourselves and society, but only if each of us constantly ascends our own winding staircase of life. This is why our Masonic Duty is with us always-because the duty is never finished in this lifetime. 


Bro. Mark St. John was raised on April 12, 2018, in Urim Lodge #111 in Calhoun, Louisiana, and is currently serving as Senior Warden. He is also a member of Graham Surghnor Lodge #383 and serves as its Junior Deacon. He serves the Fourth District of Master Masons of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana as it’s Senior Deacon. Mark is a 32° Master of the Royal Secret of the Valley of Monroe, where he serves as the Knight Warden (Sr Warden) of the Valley’s Chapter of Knights of St. Andrew. He is also a Noble of the Barak Shrine Temple of Monroe, Louisiana.