The lodge room is where one can put aside the strife of life and enter an atmosphere where all is quiet and orderly, where each officer has his prescribed duty and each brother works together with perfect ease and confidence. In the lodge our members meet and get to know one another and to share common hopes and ideals. It is this philosophy of life that Freemasonry has given me and others that has governed our attitudes and actions in life.
I was initiated into York Lodge, No. 236, and was particularly struck by the individual attention and friendship given to me on that night. That impression has never left me. The early years are perhaps the most important for this is the time when the character of a mason is formed.
My belief is that the time between progressing through the three Craft degrees is of great significance. This is when the principles and concepts of Freemasonry should be explained and developed by the candidate’s mentor. All too often candidates are rushed through the degrees by a lodge in order to fulfil the perceived need to perform ceremonies. The majority of candidates cannot totally comprehend what the ritual or the ceremony means without some general explanation – and this requires time.
We have in our province a list of orators who are charged with delivering lectures on request to our lodges, a number of interesting masonic subjects that can stimulate discussion and debate; we should be utilizing them more often.
I am sure that we have all experienced new members leaving the Craft for differing reasons; primarily, I dare say, because they were neglected in the early stages. Due to the changes that were initiated by the Past Pro Grand Master, the Marquess of Northampton, anyone now entering Freemasonry is better equipped to understand this unique organisation and to more readily accept its practices and settle into a regular attendance of his lodge than when I joined in 1980.
The principles of Freemasonry can be interpreted differently by each mason although we all have to conform to Grand Lodge but it is in the private lodge that the individual is influenced. Here we meet and embrace a common goal and find that as the years pass by we have achieved a richness and fulfilment of life.
Freemasonry shapes character. I have this unshakeable belief that Freemasonry is good for the soul; it gives to all of its members, whatever their profession or talents, something that will make their lives more interesting and successful. It operates on each of us individually but to see Brethren develop in confidence and understanding is a joy to behold.
As we progress through the ranks and eventually become a Master we are individually developing our various interests in this great institution. It must be said that not every mason will become a Master and should not be pressured into doing so, but should be respected for his decision. We all serve our lodge in differing ways, some devoting their whole masonic career to their lodge office, ritual or lectures. Others become involved in administration as Provincial or Grand Lodge officers and perhaps pursue one or more of these interests.
Those that have decided that they do not want to progress to the office of Master should not be disbarred from achieving provincial rank. Whichever career we chose to follow, we all meet as friends and work together for the advancement of our personal understanding of what it takes to be a good Freemason.
Outsiders who are not members of our order will continue to question Freemasonry. Those of us who embrace the philosophy and principles of masonry have a duty to prove to them that men can meet in friendship and unity for the good of all.
David Hughes is the Curator of the library and museum of York Lodge, No. 236.