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Freemasonry in Troubled Times- C. Michael Watson

Is Your Personal Ledger In Balance?

The Grand Lodge Charitable Foundation, an IRS-approved 501(c)3 charity, was founded in 1994 by then Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Thomas D. Zahler. Since then, the Grand Lodge has been able to assist over 600 Masons, widows or nonmembers with over $875,000.00. I have read some very heart breaking pleas for assistance, wishing we could do more for the requester. Our ability to help is limited by the fund’s balance.

The Grand Lodge Officers will attest that I tend to whine a lot about pittance received from all the lodges as donations into the charity foundation. Thank goodness for a good investment over the years so the fund could grow. But, I recently received a letter from a member which made my day.

A new Brother Mason sent a personal donation for the Grand Lodge Charitable Foundation. Attached, was a note. He stated that he received his Master Mason Degree only a few months ago, and how proud he was to be a Mason. Our lessons and ethical teachings had made a lasting impact on him and his life. He said in these uncertain difficult times he knew that he would remain working and have an income. But, he was certain that others, particularly Brother Masons, would lose their jobs and find themselves in financial straits. So, please accept the donation and he would continue to help as much as he could. The amount of his contribution is irrelevant. It was his attitude. I showed his note to everyone in the office and to the Grand Lodge Officers. He made my day and for a short time, I stopped whining.

But, his action gave me pause to reflect. “Is my personal lodger in balance”? Over my years as being a Mason I have received so much in terms of “income” from the fraternity. Income not in terms of money, but in terms of values, ethics, morality, fellowship, and opportunity. These are all assets in my personal ledger. What have I done on the “expense” side of my ledger?

Hmmm, have acts of generosity and compassion been offset by episodes of greed or intolerance? To strike a balance, have we asked for forgiveness? Do we turn toward, and not away from, those in need? Is the weight of our acts of virtue heavier than the burdens and heartaches possibly imposed on others?

What have I done with that which has been given me? Now, in this time of uncertainty is a good time to reflect on that question.

May our personal ledgers be in balance when that “final audit” is performed.

Until we meet again, God Bless.
C. Michael Watson, PGM
Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge of Ohio

Freemasonry in Troubled Times – the 14th Degree Ring

These truly are unprecedented times. I know that we have lost Brothers in the past few months and many of them did not receive a Scottish Rite ring service. These are our Brothers and they deserve to be honored. The Lodge of Perfection would like to offer the ring service to any family of a Brother who has passed during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Hopefully you recall your 14th degree where you received your Scottish Rite ring from the Valley of Dayton. During that ceremony you were instructed as to your rite to receive a ring service upon your demise.

The Lodge of Perfection would like to remind you to share this information with your family or another Brother. Make sure they know where to locate your white apron and 14th degree ring. Upon a Brother’s death, an informed funeral director, family member or Brother should contact the Scottish Rite office as soon as possible. They will need to provide as much information as possible, at least the funeral home and a phone number for someone with arrangements.

A brief explanation for those that are not familiar with our service; typically the Brother’s Blue Lodge will perform a service, usually at the end of the visitation. The Scottish Rite ring service immediately follows the Blue Lodge service and lasts just a few minutes. At the end of the service the Brother’s Scottish Rite ring is presented to a family member, with a brief lesson on how it is to be kept. We can perform the Scottish Rite ring service without the Blue Lodge service. The ring service can be performed at the funeral home or at a graveside service. We are flexible and will make every accommodation we can to honor our Brother.

Many times these services are the only exposure to Freemasonry that a man may experience. Often our Blue Lodges receive requests for petitions as a result of this experience. For this reason alone, we need to take our funeral and ring services seriously. My first exposure to Masonry was my grandfather’s funeral service. I was 10 years old and decided then that I wanted to be a part of this fraternity. Please take part in your lodge’s services, whether you know the man or not. Our services truly provide comfort to the family and you will be known for your affiliation to our craft. Remember that society only knows Masons by the actions of the individuals. Stand up for our brethren.

If you know of a Brother who did not receive his ring service, and the family would like for us to perform it at their Celebration of Life or Memorial service, please contact the office with the information.

E. Duane Wooton

Thrice Potent Master

Gabriel Lodge of Perfection

Freemasonry in Troubled Times – Alfred C. Butler (2)

Each week at work, one of my senior managers shares a Sunday night email with other managers  – typically it’s a newsy email with interesting articles from business journals that may guide people on leadership or something that may be relevant to the current climate at work. Right after the quarantine began, he shared a Harvard Business Review article titled “The Restorative Power of Ritual.”

The article uses the word ritual as in a routine. It’s human nature to create certain routines and rituals for ourselves to deal with stress, grief and other emotions or to add order and stability to our lives. It helps us find deeper meaning and purpose – even those simple rituals as the order we brush our teeth or get dressed in the morning. When something like death or a global pandemic happens, we turn to rituals – either existing or new ones – to help guide, support and thrive through these uncertain times.

As soon as I read the article though, I thought of our Masonic rituals. Not just the words of the ritual, but of the customs and of the behavior of Masons. I was reminded of our core values to take care of each other, be respectful and serve with integrity as we live our virtues and to support our brethren. And the truly restorative power of those rituals to give comfort in this uncertain time or any time. Having these to rely on may help add stability and provide understanding when we’re feeling anxious and stressed.

And the beauty of rituals is that you can always create new ones that provide more personal meaning as well. Take this time during quarantine to rediscover the old ones that we favor and have deep historical ties, but ensure that you establish new ones meaningful for you if they give you solace and comfort – maybe  join a virtual lodge meeting even if your home lodge isn’t having them, form a ritual of having dinner together or if you’re like me, establishing a virtual game night with friends several times a month. Make a ritual of going on family walks together.

As many Masons already know, rituals can truly have restorative powers.

Freemasonry in Troubled Times – Clifford P. Koss

In 2010 during my term as Grand Tyler, I had the opportunity to make a presentation at the 8th Masonic District Annual Education Day.  A portion of that presentation follows.

Every day our Fraternity Changes…  As much as we hang on, resist “innovation” and adhere to our cherished forms and traditions yet “change” happens.  The world we live in changes and thus affect us and the Craft.  The clearest example is how generational  change in society – whether we like it or not – abruptly changed  the vast pool of candidates from being largely civic-minded and fraternity-friendly (WWII and Korean generation), to being made up of men who were  more often than not individualistic non-joiners (the majority of us Baby-Boomers) and fraternity indifferent.  This has affected us for 40 years.

Try as we might to stay exactly the same, lodges still evolve in small ways, reacting, as society evolves in larger ways.  An example is the almost overnight emergence of Internet web sites for many Lodges and Grand Lodges.  Amazing!  Such a rapid evolution in an organization that has operated word of mouth for hundreds of years…

The thing about change is, we can either master it, or let it master us.  We can hide from it believing we are safe from all change in our Lodge halls, whether for good or bad, or, we can understand it, plan for it, and seek to harness its energy in ways that benefit the Fraternity.

So, remembering I had those thoughts 10 years ago at the beginning of the internet explosion.

Today in 2020, as we deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic  our Masonic Leaders in Ohio, at the Grand Lodge and Valley of Dayton, AASR  as well as our National Masonic leaders have chosen to avoid stagnation and irrelevancy, rather to understand it, plan for it, and seek to harness its energy of change in ways that benefit the Fraternity and its membership.

The fraternity has adopted the internet and associated technology  to maintain and improve the relevancy of the fraternity for our members through the secured presentation of ASSR Degrees, Lodge Virtual Stated Meetings, Constant Contact messages, and birthday greetings.

Clifford P. Koss, 33°

Freemasonry in Troubled Times – Matthew L. Brookey

“The Power of the Ring”.  This is a story of the power of the ring, which in turn, is the power of the Brotherhood. 

     How many of you wear rings?  My guess would be many do, whether it is a Master Mason ring or a Scottish Rite ring.  We all like to show our support for the fraternity.  I grew up in a large Masonic family with a Great Grandpa, Grandpa and Uncles that felt strongly about our organization.  Later in my Masonic journey I raised my father Gary, and later signed for him to join the Scottish rite, but that is a story for a different time. In curiosity, I would look at the rings they wore.  As I grew older and saw men wearing Mason rings of all kinds, I wondered what they symbolized. As many of you, I didn’t know what they symbolized until I became a member. We are always taught to trust a brother, no matter what.  We all went through the same rite and became a Mason.  This is a story about an experience I had in my working career as a Mold Designer/ Tooling Engineer.

     I was employed at an engineering firm south of Dayton and placed in charge of their medical mold design group.  Subsequently, I was in charge of other groups.  One day the owner of the company advised me that Lockheed Martin would be touring our facility.  Their purpose was to ascertain that our company could provide service and processes that would meet their expectations.  Anyone who has been through an audit with an engineering company knows it is a rigorous process and no fun for employees.  I was advised to have all processes for my department in order although they doubted the auditor would speak with me as I was in charge of the medical mold design department.  I made sure all my ducks were in a row.

I remember seeing the man arrive and thought that here was a well dressed suit wearing fellow with hair done to perfection.  I also thought he looked like a “ball buster” and hoped he would not approach me. A good hour or two passed and I thought I was safe.  To my surprise, the auditor arrived at my office and began grilling me on all processes in place. I will spare the reader the boring details.  At a specific moment, I looked at the man’s hand and at a glance, it looked like he was wearing a Past District Deputy ring.  I wondered if he had seen my ring. As hard as he was being on me, I felt it would be alright since we were brothers but only if he realized I was a brother also.  Don’t get me wrong. All my paperwork was in order and always done properly.  But that is a small solace when the moment is happening and you are the one being grilled.

So back to the moment when I saw his ring.  Evidently he did see my ring which, at that time, was a black stone Master Mason ring.  He wore a super high-end fancy ring.  He looked straight into my eyes and said, “I think we are done here, Brother.  I can see you are doing everything properly.” as he shook my hand as a Master Mason.  I thought to myself, “Thank you Lord.  This is over”, not really digesting what the man had just said. As he walked away, I noticed he had finished the audit although he had not gone to all departments. He had been told that I was in charge of the remaining departments with multiple employees in our corporate offices and other offices in Indiana, Florida, and Canada. His last comment to the owner was, “I have seen all I need to and you will receive my report soon.”

 After the auditor left, the owner came directly to me and asked, “Why did he call you Brother?”  I quickly responded that we were Brothers but not from the same mother. The owner, not being a Mason, had no idea what this was about. I told him not to worry. I reassured him that the audit was fine and that we would be approved for the new program with his company.  In the end, this was the case.

     My statement to everyone is not to lose sight of what the ring means to a Master Mason or a Scottish Rite Mason. Remember the rings, even the stickers on our cars, have power.  Remember to always act as a Master Mason while representing our craft. Masons are always watching whether you are aware or not.  

Matthew L. Brookey
Dayton Consistory, S.P.R.S.
Captain of the Guard

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