This phrase, known the Masonic world over, now carries with it new intent, as pointed out in an article found in the latest “Indiana Freemason” , a new method. In days gone by, the notion was for a NON-Mason to go out, find a Mason, and then “Ask the Mason” how he might become a Mason as well. This scheme hearkens back to the old adage that you will get exactly what you need. Effectively, this practice entrusted that only those who were truly interested in becoming Masons would “Ask One to Be One” and petition a Lodge, eventually joining the ranks of the Freemasonic Institution.
This formula, although not a perfect one, guaranteed one thing- that a man would SEEK OUT A LODGE, and would PETITION that Lodge for his OWN Membership. In most cases, the seeker of Masonry was aware of what this membership would entail. This effectively put that Candidate in a role of longevity, seeking Light and knowledge that he would maintain throughout his Masonic career.
Now, this new and improved formula, asks current Masons (who may or may not be fit to determine Masonic fitness of Candidates) to pick out, choose, and ASK a Non-Mason (the Profane), to join our ranks. This new pathway to membership raises several troubling questions: “what kind of man are we getting? Is this a seeker of Light and knowledge? Is this one who has sought US out, and who will most likely become lifetime member? Or, is this someone… anyone… that WE have sought out, for the purely selfish motive of increasing our membership rolls, albeit and most likely in the short-term”?
The answer to the query is the latter, and will ultimately fail and become a profound disappointment. If a particular Grand Lodge has as its sole prerogative to procure and attempt to harness membership, by any means possible. The question then becomes two-fold:
- What kind of Masons will these men become?
- Will they become Masons at all?
How long will these Freemasons remain in the Fraternity? I mean, after all, they’re ONLY Freemasons. These seat warmers are not really Masons. …. I have long maintained that Men
are Masons long before they actually know it and certainly before they are voted to receive the degrees of Freemasonry. These are the men you want, and they can only be had by ALLOWING THEM to find you… It does not and cannot work the other way around.
Masons are born, they exist, within and very often without the Freemasonic Fraternal organization. Freemasonry is just that, an organization. Masonry is something else entirely, and is not something that can be cast down upon someone at the whim of a man in a top hat from the Oriental chair.
So, why all the fuss? Why do we need more Freemasons? What can we expect to gain?
I will ask the question again– what kind of Masons do WE expect to emerge from these thinly investigated and minimally educated ranks? Will they save the beloved Fraternity? More importantly, if this is what the Fraternity is to become, does it deserve to be saved at all?
We’ve all but done away with the actual Work. One Day Classes– those pathetic affairs– have made a joke out of the legend of the 3rd degree, and everything that leads up to it. Just this last month, I asked for a demit from the Scottish Rite, Valley of Indianapolis.
It is for the same reason that One-Day Classes for Craft Masonry are a joke. For those Scottish Rite Masons who actually go through the 32 degrees, those who learn them, in atmospheres of learning not prevalent on these North American shores (except in Traditional Observance Lodges), scoffed at me and others at a Stated Meeting a year or so ago as we (us Americans), proudly announced that we were 32nd degree Masons. Our foreign and better informed domestic Brethren were astonished! None of them were anywhere close to that lofty degree. Indeed, they were still wading through that considerable Work, possibly taking 1-2 years between degrees. One Brother was “only” up to the 20th degree, after having WORKED at it for over 20 years.
Quite frankly, I was and I am still, embarrassed to have called myself a 32nd degree Mason. After all, it only took me 2 evenings and a couple very nice meals in our Grand Cathedral to achieve it. Guess what, I’ve been back up there only 1-2 times, and haven’t a clue what most of those degrees mean, and how I might apply those lessons learned to my Masonic walk. It’s the same thing with One-Day Classes; whether it be for the Scottish Rite, York Rite, the Shrine… or the Blue Lodge!
This will be the type of Mason… the quality of the Member of the Craft that we may now expect to fill our ranks. The know nothings, the know it all’s– and all of them with a chest full of Medallions, “Bling”, and lapel PINS!!!
Grand Lodges may put out directives, and say that it’s “alright to do certain things- such as: ASK one of the Profane to join our Craft”, but it is up the individual Lodges to enact or waive those mandates. The individual Lodges bear the brunt of membership decline and decay.
My plea to our Worshipful Masters is simple: run your Lodge with Regularity, demand the best
from your Officers, do your good Work in and about the community at large, and you will become fishers of men, attracting those who are worthy to be made Masons, and who will act as Masons.
We have but one question, and then to accept not only the answer, but also the consequences that will follow.
What kind of Mason do you want?
The answer will either hasten the decline of the Fraternity, or it will buttress the walls of an old fortress and help in building her back to former glories.
First Published on Nov 22, 2016 @ 03:36- Revised 4/21/17 @03:52