What is the great secret of Masonry?
The secret of Masonry, like the secret of life, can be known only by those who seek it, serve it, live it. It cannot be uttered; it can only be felt and acted. It is, in fact, an open secret, and each man knows it according to his quest and capacity. Like all things worth knowing, no one can know it for another and no man can know it alone.
There is so much too Freemasonry, one could spend their entire life and continuously discover its depths of wisdom, beauty and history. We have collected some of the most profound, concise, relevant and established wisdom of Our Craft in the links below, as well as a chance to meet the Brothers that are current Officers in Robinson Locke Lodge. We hope you find the content enlightening!
A Way of Life
Brotherly Love: Caring for Each Other and Our Communities
Masons regard the human species as one family, and as members of that family, we should act with respect and understanding toward others and seek to aid and support those who are in need. As Masons, we understand that everyone has their own path and their own obstacles. We aid and whisper wise counsel where we can, and we offer support and protection when necessary. In other words, Masons take responsibility for their communities and care for the people in them. Communities are not limited by geography, and a Mason is a member of many communities through his career, faith and interests.
Relief: Humbly Assist Those in Distress
As Masons, we should help others to negotiate the obstacles in their path, if not remove them altogether. Sometimes, Relief takes the form of a well-needed kindness at the right time. Most Masonic Relief is of this nature and is rarely, if ever, talked about. A mother who has to transport her child to a hospital three times a week for cancer treatments will find an envelope in her mailbox containing gas cards, a veteran finds that his meal has been paid for, or someone stops to assist a family with a flat tire on the side of the road. As Masons, we do not seek applause for our Relief work, because we believe that offering Relief is not a rare circumstance to be celebrated but the way that we are supposed to behave and conduct ourselves.
Truth: Using Knowledge and Understanding to Improve Ourselves, Our Families and Our Communities
As Masons, we recognize that knowledge gained should be knowledge shared; that investing your time, knowledge and experience through the act of mentoring and coaching is one of the better ways to live your Masonic principles.
In our modern society, it is more important than ever that Masons endeavor to seek and share these basic truths and put them into action through a life that informs, influences and inspires others.
The Spirit of Freemasonry
Outside of the home and the House of God there is nothing in this world more beautiful than the Spirit of Masonry. Gentle, gracious, and wise; its mission is to form mankind into a great redemptive brotherhood, a league of noble and free men enlisted in the radiant enterprise of working out in time the love and will of the Eternal.
[Masonry’s] profoundest appeal, more eloquent than all others, is to the deep heart of man out of which are the issues of life and destiny. When all is said, it is as a man t hinketh in his heart whether life be worth while or not.
Masonry if Friendship — friendship, first, with the great Companion, of whom our own hearts tell us, who is always nearer to us than we are to ourselves, and whose inspiration and help is the greatest fact of human experience. To be in harmony with [the great Companion’s] purposes, to be open to… suggestions, to be conscious of fellowship with [God] — this is Masonry on its God-ward side. Then, turning man-ward, friendship sums it all up. To be friends with all men, however they may differ from us in creed, color, or condition; to fill every human relation with the spirit of friendship.
[Masonry] has its roots in a profound philosophy which sees that the universe is friendly, and that men must learn to be friends if they would live as befits the world in which they live, as well as their own origin and destiny. For, since God is the life of all that was, is, and is to be; and since we are all born into the world by one high wisdom and one vast love, we are brothers to the last man of us, forever!
Thus friendship, so far from being a mush of concessions, is in fact the constructive genius of the universe. Love is ever the Builder, and those who have done most to establish the City of God on earth have been the men who loved their fellow men.
Once you let this spirit rule in the realm of trade the law of the jungle will cease, and men will strive to build a social order in which all men may have the opportunity “To Live, and to Live Well,” as Aristotle defined the purpose of society. Here is the basis of that magical stability aimed at by the earliest artists when they sought to build for eternity, by imitating on earth the House of God.
Masonry, the oldest and most widely spread order, toils in behalf of friendship; uniting men upon the only basis upon which they can ever meet with dignity. Each lodge is an oasis of equality and goodwill in a desert of strife, working to weld mankind into a great league of sympathy and service, which, by the terms of our definition seeks to exhibit even now on a small scale. At its Altar men meet as man to man, without vanity and without pretense, without fear and without reproach.
The Spirit of Masonry… toils to make man better, to refine his thought and purify his sympathy, to broaden his outlook, to lift his altitude, to establish in amplitude and resoluteness his life in all its relations.
The Spirit of Masonry! Aye, when that spirit has its way upon earth, as at last it surely will, society will be a vast communion of kindness and justice, business a system of human service, law a rule of beneficence; home will be more holy, the laughter of childhood more joyous, and the temple of prayer mortised and tendoned in a simple faith. Evil, injustice, bigotry, greed, and every vile and slimy thing that defiles and defames humanity will skulk into the dark, unable to bear the light of a juste, wiser, more merciful order. Industry will be upright, education prophetic, and religion not a shadow, but a real Presence, when man has become acquainted with man and has learned to worship God by serving his fellows. When Masonry is victorious every tyranny will fall, every bastille crumble, and man will be not only unfettered in mind and hand, but free of heart to walk erect in the light and liberty of the truth.
[The Spirit of Masonry shall not be content] until all the threads of human fellowship are woven into one mystic cord of friendship, encircling the earth and holding the race in unity of spirit and the bonds of peace; as in the will of God it is one in the origin and end. Having outlived empires and philosophies, having seen generations appear and vanish, it will yet live to see the travail of its soul, and be satisfied — When the War Drum throbs no longer, And the Battle Flags are furled; In the Parliament of man, The Federation of the World.
Since love is the law of life, if men are to be won from hate to love, if those who doubt and deny are to be wooed to faith, if the [humanity] is ever to be led and lifted into a life of service, it must be by the fine art of Friendship. Inasmuch as this is the purpose of Masonry.
The great secret of Masonry — that it makes a man aware of that divinity within him, wherefrom his whole life takes its beauty and meaning, and inspires him to follow and obey it.
By such teaching, men become wise, learning how to be both brave and gentle, faithful, and free; how to renounce superstition and retain faith; how to keep a fine poise of reason between falsehood of extremes; how to accept the joys of life with glee, and endure its ills with patient valor; how to look upon the folly of man and not forget his nobility — in short, how to live cleanly, kindly, open-eyed and unafraid in a sane world, sweet of heart and full of hope.
When is a man a Mason? When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope, and courage — which is the root of every virtue. When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic, and as lonely as himself; and seeks to know, to forgive and to love his fellow man. When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins — knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds. When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself. When he loves flowers, can hunt the birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child. When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life. When star-crowned trees, and the glint of sunlight on the flowing waters, subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead. When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hands seeks his aid without response. When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be. When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn fellow mortal and see something beyond sin. When he knows how to pray, how to love, and how to hope. When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellow man, with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song — glad to live, but not afraid to die! Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world.
Letter from the Grand Master of Ohio
Greetings Brethren and friends all,
“This is a Great Day for Freemasonry in Ohio” has been my signature opening for many years and it still holds true today. It reminds me to be thankful for the friendships made and lessons learned from this fraternity and to live each day practicing the tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth in everything I do.
Thank you Brethren, thank you for electing me to serve as your Grand Master of this Grand Lodge of Ohio for 2020. I am honored to assume the office and promise to uphold the values we hold sacred while adapting them for the world and the time in which we live. Grand Lodge 2019 was full of memories and merriment for all. The historic significance of Marietta was captured and celebrated at this Annual Communication. Many thanks to MWB Jess N. Raines, Lady Kelly, and their 2019 Grand Lodge Committee.
Autumn is my favorite season. It’s a time to give thanks for our bounty and celebrate our blessings. The cool days are perfect for football, campfires, festivals and fellowship in our lodges. It marks a new beginning each year for our lodge leadership. Lodges are back to work. Officers are preparing to take their new stations, Masters are planning for installations, awards nights, and preparing for the travels of the upcoming Inspection season.
”Step into the Light” has been a personal message for several years. I look forward to telling you the story of how it came to be so important to me when we have some time together. I hope you accept this challenge to “Step into the Light” in 2020. Get off the bench, say “yes” to chairing that committee, volunteer to help with building maintenance, step out of your comfort zone – know that it’s ok to be a little uncomfortable. We learn and grow when we challenge ourselves. Make a difference in your lodge and yourself and “Step into the Light”.
Let’s stay focused on the basics in 2020 and live our Charter. “Step into the Light” for your lodge by making Masons, caring for our Brethren, widows and orphans and supporting Grand Lodge. Making Masons is our first directive from the Charter. Can we move the needle in Ohio Masonry by making Masons in 2020? Sure we can, but it’s up to you. You can hold a community event to promote Masonic awareness, or learn a new Lecture, or accept a new office. It’s up to you to be the first-line signer on a petition or make it two and receive the Replace Yourself coin. You can mentor a candidate on their Masonic journey and share your knowledge and experience with a new Mason. And we’re only beginning…
Remember to communicate, communicate, communicate. Do you know what is going on in your lodge or district? Do you know where to get the information? Some avenues for communications are lodge newsletters, Grandview Membership program, lodge web sites or social media, or phone calls always work as well. Keep yourself informed and spread the word. Let’s do what we can this year to close the gaps in our communication.
May you and your families enjoy a warm and festive Holiday season and joyous New Year. I look forward to what Freemasonry in Ohio will bring in 2020. I promise to “Step into the Light” with you in this wonderful fraternity we love.
Live simply, love generously, care deeply and speak kindly.
Keith W. Newton, Grand Master
The Badge of a Freemason
The Masonic apron is perhaps the greatest symbol of Masonic tradition and history, serving as a reminder to every Mason their commitment to uphold the values of the Craft. When the fraternity was established in the 1700s, the founders adopted the tools and traditions of stonemasons, among them the protective aprons they wore as they worked. Masonic aprons have been based on these utilitarian aprons, over time coming to symbolize a Freemason’s labor of building their lives at spiritual temples.
According to one researcher, the original aprons worn by operative masons were made of leather and large enough to cover the wearer from chest to ankles. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the modern, smaller textile aprons came into use. As Freemasonry grew, individuals began to adorn their aprons with symbols of the Craft and ornate ribbons. Over time, the apron evolved from the utilitarian garment of the stonemasons to the symbolic garment worn by Freemasons.
A new Mason receives a white apron upon joining the Lodge, which is symbolic of the purity and innocence men are expected to pursue in life as a Freemason. As the famous Masonic historian Albert Mackey wrote in the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, the apron is the first gift a Mason receives, the first symbol explained to him and the first evidence of his commitment to the Fraternity.
As he progresses through the degrees, a Mason dons different aprons containing specific symbols and colors according to rank. Throughout the world, aprons have become the distinguished badge of Freemasons. Christopher A. Harris, MPS GFCR, wrote: “when we turn to ritual…we find the Apron to be an inheritance from the past…and so it is a badge of antiquity.” Harris continues:
“Brethren, the history of your Apron is ancient and exemplary. There is no similar badge of honor and worth in any other Order or Society, no matter how exalted. It might accompany you to your grave. Be proud of it, but discreet. Do not make a show of it, particularly not to non-Masons. Simple and plain aprons tell a lot about their wearers. So do glittering and over-ornate ones. If your Apron now tells you a lot, remember that it also tells your Brethren a lot about you. Also reflect on the symbolism of the Apron. It is a lot more than just a square piece of cloth or lambskin.” (The Masonic Apron, Christopher A. Harris, MPS FGCR)
With such a prominent place in each Brother’s journey through Freemasonry, it is easy to understand why Masons cherish their aprons and the aprons passed down by their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and mentors. Indeed, many feel connected to the legacy of the previous generations when they consider these artifacts and view the apron as an emblem of their familial and fraternal bond. After all, with the centuries of history behind them, Masonic aprons carry tremendous significance within the Craft, serving as a reminder for all Brothers of the philosophical foundations and antiquities of Freemasonry.