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For the good of the craft...
BENEVOLENCE DISTRICT 12 Master Masons Workshop
1. WHAT IS BENEVOLENCE?
(a) A disposition to do good.
(b) An act of kindness.
(c) A generous gift.
Before any Master Mason can understand the true meaning of benevolence there is one great and primary lesson we must all
learn. It is set out quite clearly by William Shakespeare in the
play "Hamlet", where in Scene 3 of Act 1 he has Polonius, the Lord
Chamberlain to the King of Denmark, give some fatherly advice to
his son Laertes on the eve of his departure for France. He gives
him his blessing plus a few precepts for him to remember - to be of
good character not to carry on loose or idle conversation not to
act in haste to be pleasant but not too forward to cherish his
old friends and not be in a hurry to make new ones not to quarrel
but when it is unavoidable to give a good account of himself to
listen to everyone but to make up his own mind not to judge people
hastily and finally above all others "to thine own self be true,
and it follows as the night the day, thou cans't not be false to
Yes if there is going to be benevolence it must come from each of
us personally - We must be true to ourselves. The Ritual tells us
that "the most important of all human studies is the Knowledge of
ourselves". Once we learn to believe in ourselves we will then
believe in what Masonry teaches us. In my quick review of the
Ritual I find at least 32 instances referring to our
responsibilities as to Charity to our fellow creatures. In the
majority of these the universality of our charitable obligations is
st ressed - to the whole of mankind.
The term Benevolence and Charity must be broad in it's
interpretation, and I think the interpretation of love taught by
the Anglican Church has great meaning to us as Masons Let us review
for a few moments some of the Charges imposed on us by the Ritual.
1. If a man comes under the tongue of good report, he must be a man
who has the disposition to do good.
2. The third question asked of every candidate before Initiation -
"Do you believe the Supreme Being has revealed his will to man?"
3. The presentation of the Apron "To work together with that Love
and Harmony which should at all times characterize Freemasons". Is
it possible to love one's neighbour and at the same time be
indifferent to his needs?
4. The North East Angle
"I shall immediately put your principles in some measure to the
test, by calling upon you to exercise that virtue which may justly
be denominated the distinguishing characteristic of a Freemason's
heart - I mean Charity.
It has the approbation of Heaven and of earth, and like it's sister
Mercy, blesses him who gives, as well as him who receives."
Stress is placed on those who are daily sinking into the sere and
yellow leaf of old age, and those who perhaps who are suffering
through unforseen circumstances of misfortune and calamity.
IT IS OUR USUAL CUSTOM to awaken the feelings of every newly
initiated Brother, by making such a claim upon his charity as his
circumstances as his circumstances in life may fairly warrant.
NO MATIER HOW SMALL THE AMOUNT, IT WILL BE THANKFULLY RECEIVED AND
THESE ARE NOT IDLE WORDS BRETHREN, TO BE LISTENED TO AND FORGOTTEN
AFTER THE CEREMONY - THEY ARE A VITAL PART OF THE CREED BY WHICH WE
LIVE AS MASONS.
5. Let us further reinforce our dedication to this, the greatest of
all Masonic attributes by referring to the words of the Canadian
Rite lecture in the Entered Apprentice Degree.
"We hope to arrive at the summit by the assistance of a Ladder - in
scripture called Jacob's Ladder - the three principal rounds -
FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY. Faith in the Great Architect of the
Universe, Hope in Salvation, AND CHARITY TOWARDS ALL MEN. but the
Third and last comprehends the whole, and the Mason who is in
possession of this Virtue in it's most ample sense, may justly be
deemed to have arrived at the Summit of Freemasonry"
This lecture also refers to the Mosaic pavement and calls on us to
"act as the dictates of right reason prompts us, to cultivate
harmony, PRACTISE CHARITY, and live at Peace with all men.
It concludes with the words that "the tenets and fundamental
principles of Ancient Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, RELIEF, and
No one knows the true meaning of Brotherly Love until he has been
involved in his brother's tribulations and distress, and likewise,
no brother feels or understands until he has so contracted it.
6. The working tools of the 2 degree.
The Square - Our conduct must be acceptable to the Divine Being -
the true symbol of all goodness.
The Level - We are all Brothers with all the implications that this
The Plumb - We must give up every selfish propensity which may tend
to injure others.
7. The Third Degree.
The Five points of Fellowship.
To stand beside a Brother - a column of mutual defence and support.
To be reminded of a Brother's wants to soothe his afflictions and
relieve his necessities.
To uphold his honour.
We are also taught in the third degree to Teach by our actions.
- the lesson of natural equality and mutual dependence.
- to seek the solace of our own distress by extending relief and
consolation to our fellow creatures in their afflictions.
- We are created in the image of God to show forth his glory and
contribute to the happiness of mankind.
- to teach sincere affection, lawful support, relief, fidelity and
9. The Charges.
First Degree. Be especially careful to maintain in their fullest
splendour those truly Masonic ornaments of BENEVOLENCE and CHARITY.
Second Degree. You are to encourage industry and reward merit,
supply the wants, and relieve the necessities of your Brethren and
fellows to the utmost of your power and ability, but to apprize
them of approaching danger and to view their interests as
inseparable from their own.
Third Degree. You are to inculcate universal benevolence and by
the regularity of your own behaviour afford the best example for
the conduct of others.
Also the Volume of the Sacred Law is the means by which the
Almighty reveals more of his Divine will than by any other means.
It is the Great Light of Masonry and should be the source of study
of all Masons to expand their understanding and knowledge of
Benevolence. We are all created in the image of the Divine Being
and we must live by His teachings. It is therefore essential that
every Mason should stop and meditate on these teachings until he
fully understands them and they become a vital part of his being.
JnI. 19 to 21. If a man say, I love God and hateth his brother, he
is a liar for he that loveth not his brother who he hath seen, how
can he love God who he hath not seen? And this Commandment have we
from Him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also.
Lev. 19 - 18. Thou shall not avenge, or bear any grudge against the
children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as
John 13 - 35. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples
if ye have love one to another.
Isaiah 16 - 17. Learn to do well, seek judgement, relieve the
oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Psalms 82. 3 - 4. Defend the poor and the fatherless, do Justice to
the afflicted and the needy.
John 15 - 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay
down his life for his friends.
Romans 12. 18. He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity, he
that ruleth, let him do it with diligence, he that showeth mercy,
let him do it with cheerfulness.
Cor.I. 19 - 7. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so
let him give not grudgingly, or of necessity. For God loveth a
Cor.II. 8-12. For if there be first a willing mind, his gift shall
be accepted according to that which a man hath and not according to
what he hath not.
Matt. 6. - 1. Take heed that ye give not your alms before men in
order to be seen by them, otherwise ye shall receive no reward from
your Father which is in Heaven. Cor.I. 13 - 3. Although I bestow
all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be
burned, and have not charity it profiteth me nothing.
Cor.I. 16 - 14. Let all your things be done with charity.
Coll.3. 14. And above all things put on charity which is the bond
Tim.I. 4 - 17. Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in
conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith and in purity.
Peter II. 5-7. In all things be diligent - add to your faith -
virtue, to your virtue - knowledge, and to your knowledge -
temperance, to your temperance - patience and to your patience -
godliness, and to your godliness - brotherly kindness and charity.
For if these things be in you and abound ye shall be neither barren
for unfruitful in the knowledge of your Lord. He that lacketh in
these things is blind and cannot see afar off.
Now we understand the term of benevolence, and our responsibilities
as Masons, what programmes and activities should be evident in our
What form and activities should these philosophies of Benevolence
lead us as Masons, and our Lodges into?
Let us first of all look at those benevolent activities which we
can all, and should all be involved in on a daily basis.
Our benevolence or charity, if you will can be divided into two
separate parts. One - A financial commitment.
Two - A practical or non financial commitment.
We will deal with the financial or monetary commitment in a few
moments. Let us now look at the areas of charity or benevolence
which are available to every Mason, whether he is a man of
affluence or not.
Let us now look at Charity in it's most ample sense.
How many of us in this room today have been present at a Masonic
meeting, and afterwards have heard mild criticism of one or more of
the Officers or the degree team for not having portrayed the ritual
according to the standards which your Lodge has become accustomed
to accept. Surely here is an opportunity to display this great
Masonic attribute - Charity.
To illustrate this Masonic charity, which we should all embrace, I
would like to read a small poem, extracted from an old Ritual,
which recently came to my attention:
This poem is almost 100 years old
"Though hard's our task, we fearless tread this ground. Hope
whispers us, "No work is perfect found" Has any mortal eye a
perfect work e'er seen? Look not from us, for what has never been!
How can imperfect man expect to find, That which is not within the
human mind! That being the case, our work we humbly trust T' the
Brothers candour - Masons will be just".
Now a few words regarding the benevolence which does necessitate
monetary assistance And it is essential that all Masons accept
their part in this assistance. There is also a definite order and
level of responsibility involved.
1. The individual Mason should be prepared to provide all
assistance within his means.
2. He should then bring the matter to his Lodge - should the needs
be beyond his means. The Lodge, after thorough investigation by a
very responsible Committee should be prepared to extend all
assistance within it's means - from current funds, from collection,
or by a levy against the membership.
3. The Lodge, by majority vote, may then refer the matter to the
District and to Grand Lodge for further assistance.
4. In making any representation to Grand Lodge, it is necessary for
the Lodge to complete, in detail, to the best of their ability, the
requiree forms. You cannot provide the Grand Lodge Board of
Benevolence with too much information. The report of the Lodge
Committee and all other pertinent or extenuating circumstances
which will enable the Board of Benevolence to make timely, fair,
and equitable decisions.
5. Any grants given by the Board of Benevolence, will be given to
the Lodge, and it is the responsibility of the Lodge to supervise
the grants given, and to keep Grand Lodge up to date on future
In closing this Seminar, we would like to leave you with the words
of M.W.Bro. John Melymick P.G.M. Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan and an
Honourary Grand Master of this Jurisdiction. These words are
quoted from the opening address given to the Banff Conference on
August 30, 1983.
"Masonry was designed to minister. What seems needed now is to
intensify the worth and the usefulness of this great Brotherhood,
and to deepen it's understanding of it's own system to educate
it's members in the deeper meaning and true purpose of it's rites
and it's philosophy.
The future development and the value of the Order as a moral force
in society depends therefore, upon the view it's members take of
their system. Note well, if they do not spiritualize it, they will
increasingly materialize it. If they fail to interpret it's veiled
purport, to enter into the understanding of it's underlying
philosophy, and to translate it's symbolism into what is signified
thereby, they will be mistaking shadow for substance, a husk for a
kernel, and secularizing what was designed as a mean s of spiritual
instruction and grace. We cannot emphasize too strongly that it is
from lack of instruction, rather than the desire to learn the
meaning of Masonry, that the Craft suffers today. For many members
of the Craft, to be a Mason implies merely connection with a body
which seems to be something combining the nature of a club and a
My Brethren, if we can understand, teach and practise, as Masons
and constituent Lodges, Benevolence - a disposition to do good, an
act of kindness, and a generous gift, then each and every one of us
will have truly attained the summit of FreeMasonry, and our beloved
fraternity will flourish not only in out time, but also for future
But now, why all of this in a Chaplain's Corner? Oh there is quite
a teaching here. All around us are men, women, and children who
have problems ranging all the way from a monetary disappointment to
tragedy. A lower grade in an examination, a financial problem,
devastating MD, impending surgery, the death of a mate. Any one of
these and more can be dramatically significant all the way from
worry to suicide.
But if they have you, it can make all the difference in the world.
A hand on the shoulder, a smile, a kind word, a note of
encouragement, a rose bud, a prayer - just to know you are standing
by, caring, loving, You can be mightily instrumental until the lost
has been bund and joy can replace the burden-some unhappiness.
So, just look around you - and seeing - come on - get into the act
- and cause the joy of the rediscovery of happiness. And remember
the words of our Lord - "Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of
the least of these, you have done it unto Me."
The Rev. Robert S. Nagle, Supreme Chaplain
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