Freemasonry is

The Grand Master, MW Bro Derek Robson AM has determined his theme for his term of office is three words – Integrity, Loyalty and Respect.

While words are important to characterise a person, their individual use, understanding and implementation are all that observers need to be able to live the meaning of the words. Therefore, it is very important in the jurisdiction of NSW and ACT that his theme is explained.

Integrity is a noun from the Latin word intergritas and has a meaning of steadfast adherence to a strict moral or code with a consistency of actions, values, honesty and truthfulness.

Loyalty is a noun from the old French word loial and has a meaning of the quality of faithfulness, fidelity, fealty and allegiance.

Respect is a noun and has a meaning of a state of deference, esteem and honour, a positive feeling or action shown towards someone.

Collectively the theme pillars what it means when a person takes the step to become a Freemason. The embodiment of the theme lies in the charges and obligations we take on ourselves when we enter Freemasonry – obligations which entail collective as well as per­ sonal responsibilities.

Obligations which call on us to apply the principal virtues of faith, hope and charity:

  • Faith to follow the moral dictates of our hearts and minds – ‘the sub­ stance of things hoped for; the evi­ dence of things not seen.’
  • Hope that our faith will be manifest in the things we learn, and in our turn, teach.
  • Charity – or as it is now more com­ monly understood, love – to share our lives, knowledge, understanding and means with others, especially our brethren.

Obligations which call on us to apply the cardinal virtues of prudence, tem­ perance, fortitude, and justice to:

  • be prudent in our deeds and thoughts;
  • temper our actions with wisdom;
  • accept life’s tribulations and burdens with equanimity; and above all to be just in our dealings with others, but not to be judgemental.

Obligations which ask us to practise a meaningful work ethic, to consider everybody as an equal, and to act hon­ ourably towards our fellow brethren. Obligations which require us to develop our knowledge of masonic philosophy, history and morality and above all, insist that we respect our brethren by practising the five points of fellowship.

The theme embraces the elements of masonic philosophy. The work ethic promoted in the First Degree is neces­ sary to ensure the wellbeing of individ­ ual lodges and the Craft. That labour (or effort) is required; that accuracy is not just important but is absolutely essen­ tial and that without perseverance the affairs of a lodge which is facing adver­ sity may well lose its resoluteness.

The lessons of the Second Degree must be learned and applied if the lodge and its brethren are to advance – that a lodge must preserve, almost as one of its landmarks if you like, the concepts of equality and merit. The concepts of justice and fair play – and the qualities of mercy and constructive criticism are applied fairly and equitably. Without the study and honing of the mind which is referred to in the Second Degree, the understanding, let alone the develop­ ment, of the philosophy that is held dear is impossible.

The theme demonstrates that the lesson of the First Degree is about devel­ oping a strong and meaningful work ethic; that the Second Degree is about the honing and polishing of the mind with knowledge and understanding and that the Third Degree is to teach us about the spirituality of Freemasonry and our lives.

The theme says that if we miss these elements we miss the whole point of Freemasonry.

The Grand Master’s theme makes so much reference to what should be the daily practice of masons and masonic philosophy, and Kipling’s poem, If, sum­ marises the qualities to develop the hearts and minds of every Freemason.

Article extracted from Freemason magazine, December 2018, page 6

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