Give me the pass of a Master Mason!!!
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners
I was able to check off a few items from my masonic bucket list this past weekend. The first item was checked off when I, at the invitation of my good friend and brother, Dustin Farris, attended a Third Degree at John C. Ellis Lodge #17 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois in Decatur, Illinois. I was pleased to meet many new brothers, including Most Worshipful Brother Clarence W. Trotter, who was Grand Master of the MWPHGLIL from 1995 - 1997. I was also able to meet a brother I had met virtually during the pandemic, Ryan Flanigan, and one of his brothers, Adam Friend, both of whom drove from Springfield to Decatur to witness the degree.
They had a total of six fellowcraft in waiting to get raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason that day. I will say that what I witnessed was I thought as unlikely as the Warfaring Man telling the three fellowcraft that he didn't see the ruffians attempt to book a passage into Ethiopia and that they did not turn back into the country. In doing so, this would have then resulted in the twelve fellowcraft being judged guilty of the murder of our Grandmaster H.A. and being executed instead of the guilty party of three.
I have often wondered what the "confusion" mentioned in our ritual would actually look like. The line has fascinated me since I saw it as a reply to the Worshipful Master for someone who is not vouched for as being a brother giving a bad pass in our ritual. Other than a dramatized version of it in the second section of the Third Degree, when there are no designs on the trestle board, I had never seen a real-world example until this degree. It was always a masonic bucket list item that I never thought I would get checked off. Maybe I'm one of those men that Alfred, as played by Sir Michael Caine (and as some Masonic sites have him listed Brother Michael Caine), states in The Dark Knight likes to "Watch the world burn".
The Senior Deacon brought one of the hoodwinked Fellowcraft into the lodge. The Senior Deacon is explaining the scene walking the poor, blind brother towards the First Tyrian, Jubela. Jubela launches into his ritual, where he exclaims his delight at finding Grandmaster H.A. alone, tells H.A. since the Temple is near completion, he wishes H.A. to fulfill his promise to give him the pass of a Master Mason... thus ending the first part of his ritual by demanding: "Give me the pass of a Master Mason!!!". The brother, having just been given the pass of a Master Mason in the first section, gave it to Jubela before the Senior Deacon could even speak his reply.
And then it happened... Confusion.....
Confusion is a misnomer. It was complete chaos. I believe that no one else in the room had ever witnessed such an occurrence either. The brother who was acting as the First Tyrian could not believe it. He had to walk away, being completely flustered. The Past Masters grumbled in a low breath. The lodge was filled with astonishment and brethren wanting to know which lodge this particular fellowcraft was from. No one knew what to do. I was half expecting a reenactment of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Ark is opened and faces began to melt. The other half of me expected to see one of the Past Masters do something akin to Ricky Bobby stripping down to his underwear and racing helmet, running around the lodge yelling he was on fire. Luckily, the Senior Deacon took control of the situation and brought the fellowcraft onto meet the second Tyrian, making sure that he knew only to repeat the words that the Senior Deacon uttered in reply. He then was brought before the last Tyrian, and you know the rest of the story from here.
To be fair, I felt bad for the poor brother who had done this. It's obvious that he didn't understand what was happening fully, and that the Senior Deacon would be replying for him (and he would need to repeat what the Senior Deacon said to the First Tyrian). For the record, this is different than what happens in the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. ritual, as the Senior Deacon does all of the replying for brother at this point to the Tyrians. I could empathize with the potential embarrassment he felt as well because I also had an embarrassing moment during the second section of the Third Degree.
I was serving as the intender for one of my brethren that came into the lodge after me at St. Joseph #970, Bro. Brian Clark. It was Brian's third degree so this must have taken place in 2012, and I was one of the twelve fellowcraft who went down on one knee while clad in white gloves and a white apron to plead with King Solomon and beg forgiveness after recanting in the horrid plot to extort the secrets of a Master Mason from our Grandmaster H. A. However when I went down to one knee, I heard (along with everyone else in the lodge room, even poor Hiram in his grave at that point) a loud ripping sound as my pants blew apart in the crotch area to the rear. My face immediately turned beet red. I immediately fled the lodge room as quickly as I could. I drove home, an apron covering my exposed underwear, changed and returned to be able to greet Brian at the end of his degree. Needless to say, Brian and I shared and continue to share a good chuckle over what happened. I can only hope that this brother can see the humor in what occurred to him.
While I realize that the third degree is a solemn and serious affair, and needs to be treated as such, life often brings unexpected levity to us. We can either let the absurdity of life frustrate us, or we can roll with the proverbial punches. However, we have brothers that are there to help us off the mat if we get knocked down and can't get back up. We see this literally occur during the second section of the Third Degree. While not the ultimate lesson of the Third Degree, I do believe it is a pretty powerful one. Now if I can see the ruffians escape unharmed just once during a Third Degree, my Third Degree Masonic bucket list will be complete. After this past weekend, my hope is renewed.
WB Darin A. Lahners is our co-managing Editor. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of 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). You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.