Sunday, September 6, 2009

"To set the craft to work . . . and give them good and wholesome instruction for their labors."

I recently did a Google search on the phrase “Masonic Education” and received 1,910,000 hits or references to web pages that discuss this topic. Some of the sites listed were commercial sites which offered Masonic training for a fee; other sites consisted of articles providing the author’s opinion on what Masonic education consists of or should consists of and how it should be presented, and yet other sites provided tools to assist lodges in presenting their own Masonic education programs. When I saw there were nearly two million hits on this subject, I realized there were many others who share my belief that Masonic education is an extremely important aspect of the work of the Lodge.

Each candidate for our degrees and mysteries is promised that he will be given a Masonic education, and that that education will define how Masonry applies to his life overall, will improve his character, and make him a better man. Masons today expect more, they expect an in depth education beyond the catechisms. They also expect that established Masons will guide and mentor them along a path to further enlightenment.

As I have been traveling around our lodges this year, I have suggested that the time spent in the stated meeting should be divided into thirds; one third of the time devoted to business, one third to fellowship, and one third to the presentation of a program of Masonic Education. I have also suggested that the goal of such an education program should be to translate the lessons and experiences that one gains from Masonry into one’s daily actions.

Through the degrees of Masonry the candidate learns the signs, grips, and words that grant access to the Lodge, where he can begin to discover that there are many aspects to the society of Freemasonry, aspects which lead to the moral and character development of which he is in search. These aspects can be divided into three main categories—philosophical, historical, and organizational.

• The philosophical aspect of Freemasonry introduces the student to the profound subjects of initiation, symbolism and tradition, and their potential to impact his life for the better.
• The historical aspect teaches the student how the traditions and teachings that make up Masonry came to be, their central role in the spiritual search of mankind and the way Masonry has affected the world since its emergence.
• The organizational aspect helps the student understand how the organization is governed and perpetuated, and provides many opportunities for the development of leadership skills and personal responsibility.

By learning the signs, grips, and words, the door to the world of Freemasonry is opened to the student. In addition to participating in a program of Masonic instruction within the lodge, each student has an opportunity to begin a process of self development that now lies before him.

Freemasonry, if approached with humility, an open heart and an open mind will make one a gentleman, a better family man, and a better citizen. I therefore urge each lodge to expand and improve on their program of Masonic education, and I urge each mason to become a true student of our mysteries and continue your personal pursuit of Masonic enlightenment.

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