What is further light in Masonry?
What is further light in Masonry?

What is further light in Masonry?

By Paul R. Swanson, 32°, KCCH    April 16, 2024

For the last few years, I have been posting or reposting Masonic education, memes, and podcasts that are meant to show further Masonic light to those who gather it in and digest it. Unfortunately, it takes more than short reading, it takes work in the digestion of data, evidence, and esoteric material that our ritual provides for us. Just memorizing a catechism or even entire lectures seems unable to provide us with the mastery that many come to Masonry seeking.

But what does “mastery” mean in terms of what most of us deal with daily? After all, we are all Master Masons, right? That’s all there is to it many believe, just prove up on a catechism and move on?

Certainly, no one is forcing any member to learn more or engage their minds in the study of philosophy and theology, which is best done after the EA and FC work is completed. However, as Scottish Rite Masons, we are held to a higher standard of expectations outlined in the degrees we have passed through and hopefully contemplated and digested.

What each of us as Master Masons has been through is a life-changing transformative process in three stages which is an allegory of youth, adulthood, and maturity.

The features in the meme above illustrate the intent of the three degrees. As master masons, we are all called on to advance our learning, be ready and willing to teach the material in the degrees, and travel in foreign lands using our acquired wisdom from the EA and FC degrees to prepare us for the study of philosophy and theology.

Sounds simple, right? Hardly, if it was anyone could do it. But it falls to us to do so and do it Masterfully.

In practical matters, Masonry is a path for self-improvement when seen as such and acted upon. Many of the topics in the lectures are a wealth of knowledge that can lead to wisdom on many fronts if you are willing to apply the lessons with the allegories and symbols.

The survey results from Florida Masonic Districts 6 and 7 members so far reveal a desire by nearly all the members for further light and self-improvement opportunities, leading up to and including mastery.

From Coach Nagy, we learn that the word Mastery has the same roots as the word mystery! They both meant at one time “handicraft, trade, art” which came from another Medieval Latin root that meant “service, occupation, office, ministry”.

It was common for a man who was asked what his mystery was to reply with his occupation! To follow that, another quote from Coach Nagy. “Mastery begins when you know that the answers, you’re Told are not Truly the Answers you Seek”.

For the brothers who are satisfied with proficiencies, ritual memorization, and performances in the form of degrees, and paying the bills by vote, this may sound like too much work for no reward.

However, our rituals call us to do the work! Mastery is not achieved by minor achievements and participation trophies or titles, is it?

It is achieved by grabbing further light to enlighten and engulf our mind, body, and soul as we prepare our spiritual temple for that house not made with hands.

Mastery means that the member has achieved such proficiency in material that he is ready to teach, among other things. If you have never had to teach things, know that it takes much more effort and inner composure

to effectively transfer knowledge to others rather than just repeating something over and over like the multiplication tables. Symbols and analogies are not so easily understood or digested to the point where most members can teach them effectively for daily use and self-improvement. If you can, great. Many are called and few respond.

The sayings, that Masonry makes good men better or claims that Masonry is a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, illustrated by symbols ring a welcoming siren call to the petitioners looking for further light in their life, but our current administration of the members seems to fall short of making masters along these lines.

If we travel in foreign lands and see the differences in how an EA and an FC are developed, with months between degrees and a structured training program in the Grand Lodge of England to name but one example, we start to understand why our great fraternity is having issues. Only those who do the work can successfully teach and train their following brothers in the necessary lessons.

That which works in the Grand Lodge of England isn’t likely a model for the United States. The lodges are usually populated by 40 members or less, the officers often repeat their offices in cycles and the members do not usually proclaim their membership openly to the public. Also, the dress is formal, and the meals include alcohol.

Where do we go to place the foundation of our fraternity back on firm ground?

What do young men want today? What does our membership want?

Currently, I am assisting the DDGM’s of Masonic Districts 6 and 7 with a survey of our membership. District 6 has opted to survey the members who often attend the lodge without any attempts to solicit the opinions of those who usually stay home and just pay dues.

Several lodges in Masonic District 7 are attempting to penetrate the veil of no-shows to their lodge by sending a SASE to each with a survey to be returned to me for compilation of the questions and reporting the results. Why brothers pay dues but don’t participate is a mystery we need to address if we are to return to a thriving fraternity.

Several surveys of Masons in the United States have shown that over the last 10 years or so the members feel they are not getting what they feel was promised, that is further light. Business meetings and pasta dinners just don’t meet that threshold when young men want to improve themselves and seek those opportunities within our ranks.

Providing what young men need and want is the solution to our long-term membership woes. But will we do the work to be worthy of their investment of time and energy? It took the WWII generation’s lack of providing further light for mastery over many years to bring us to this point. It will not be a short recovery effort either. It will require work as well on the part of those who see Masonry as worth promoting.

Please, if you are able, embrace the challenge of lifting yourself and willing members around you into spreading the cement of brotherly love as well as providing further light in Masonry.