Freemasonry, Notwithstanding, Has Still Survived!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Chris Hathaway

The lessons in our ritual are the backbone of the fraternity. I should say, applying the lessons learned in our ritual is the backbone of fraternity. True brotherhood flourishes when members internalize and follow through with the lessons and charges given to them. One of my favorite pieces of ritual comes from the Middle Chamber lecture in the 2nd Degree from the Grand Lodge of Illinois AF&AM.

It's ritual that is deeply important to me and my mission in this fraternity; ensuring its longevity so that future generations can enjoy and benefit from the wisdom of the craft. This particular piece is inspiring because it shows that no matter how tumultuous the world may seem, Freemasonry will survive. It is not about the amount of money, members, or buildings we have on our balance sheet. It is about the attentive ear, the instructive tongue, and the faithful breast. Improve those three things in the guys that are active in your lodge, and you will ensure a smooth transfer of the fraternity to the next generation.

The Middle Chamber is also deeply reflective, scientific, and holy. It teaches us to reflect on the world around us, enjoy its vastness, and be mesmerized by the unknown. It teaches us to appreciate the science of geometry and all of the allegory contained within. The ritual shows us equality by explaining that we are all governed by the same laws of nature regardless of our rank, tenure, or ability.

Freemasonry is not in decline. Timeless, ancient lessons do not go out of style. Popularity does not measure success. We all know this, but we still try to measure our own worthiness based on membership numbers. Masons throughout history have carried on the fraternity in far more desperate times.

We have carried it through civil wars, world wars, anti-masonic time periods, outright bans by governments and religions, and times with little money or people. In the Scottish Rite, NMJ, John James Joseph Gourgas, 33° kept the Rite alive single-handedly with just a vision and a copy of the ritual for many years. He knew what he had was important, and he persevered until the right group of guys were up for the challenge.

You have taken the obligation; you have been recorded in the Middle Chamber. It is your choice how you travel this life journey, but I can assure you that you and I will pass to the Grand Lodge above before Freemasonry disappears from the world.

What does the Middle Chamber mean to you?


WB Christopher J. Hathaway was raised in Catlin Masonic Lodge #285 and is a plural member of Normal Masonic Lodge #673 as well as Bloomington Lodge #43, where he is a Past Master. He belongs to the Valley of Danville, AASR, where he is the Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix and Membership Chairman. He is the Oriental Guide in the Divan for the Mohammed Shiners and the 1st Vice President of the Bloomington Shrine Club. Other appendant bodies include the Gao Grotto and the Illinois Lodge of Research. Outside of the lodge, he enjoys spending time with his wife Taylor and cheering on the Fighting Illini and Chicago Cubs.

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