Concept of Masonic Renewal What does it mean to you now and in the future?

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1 Concept of Masonic Renewal What does it mean to you now and in the future? Bro. Michael Doucette Cedar Lodge #270 GRC Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario Masonic renewal can mean a lot of things to different brothers. Equally, how to accomplish a renewal of our wonderful fraternity is a large subject made up of the various opinions of the brethren. The path to Masonic renewal today is by promoting all the aspects of

2 our organization to the public by talking about the many aspects of the Fraternity with friends, family and members of the public, keeping in mind obligations and landmarks of the Craft. In my opinion the aspects of the fraternity are fellowship, charity, celebration of diversity, long varied histories, moral lessons, spiritual lessons, the initiatory experience and making good men better. Fellowship is the most prominent, in my opinion, aspect of Freemasonry. Some brethren I have spoken to consider the fourth degree (fellowship after Lodge) the most important. We are a fraternity and part of being in a fraternity is getting together with our brothers and enjoying each other s company. Studies have shown that taking time out of your week to spend with other men is beneficial. German researchers have found that it can lower stress and, of course, stress related illnesses. While engaging in fellowship it is almost a given that you would develop friendships! Friendships, it seems, is declining for men because of busy work and family schedules, as well as other distractions. Friends can serve a very important purpose for us, they can help keep us honest, advise us when we are about to err and show us loyalty. Charity, generous actions or donations to others, giving to someone in need. Charity has been a hallmark aspect of the Craft for a long time, possibly since the beginning. Giving of oneself to others is one of the ancient landmarks and is still practiced today. Most Masonic bodies provide some kind of charity. Some charitable givings are more widely known than others, such as the Shriner s Hospitals, KIDS ID/Masonic CHIP programs and the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, however; some are less known, the Masonic foundations and scholarships, Eastern Star cancer dressing stations, training guide and companion dogs, Jacob s Heart Children's Cancer Association, diabetes and arteriosclerosis research, as well as

3 local Lodge, District and Grand Lodge charitable donations. Practicing and celebrating cultural diversity. Cultural diversity, the cultural variety and differences that exist around the world is something that is at the core of Freemasonry. The acceptance of men who believe in a supreme being, regardless of religion, race, creed or culture has been a landmark, at least, since Anderson s Constitution and has allowed many good and honest men to enhance and adorn our Royal Craft. Cultural diversity is becoming the norm! In fact, Global Citizenry, the idea that one s identity, responsibilities and rights extending beyond geographical and political boundaries and that one s identity can be derived from a membership of a broader community, humanity, is becoming more prevalent in the twenty-first century. Businesses and organizations are adopting cultural diversity and are reaping the benefits. No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive. Mahatma Gandhi. Freemasonry can be found on every continent and in many countries, some of these Masonic organizations are newly founded and others are long-standing. This gives our fraternity a long and varied history, in fact, it stands to reason that each of those countries have rich masonic histories, containing many exceptional deeds and individuals. In my own country, Canada, the first evidence of Freemasonry goes back to A square and compasses with an Arabic character and the date 1606 had been found engraved on a stone near what is now Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia (then Port Royal, New France) the first recorded Freemason arrived in New France, Lord Alexander, Viscount of Canada and Master of the Work to Charles I. In 1738 the first Masonic Lodge in Canada was consecrated in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

4 Moral lessons; lessons of, relating to, or concerned with the principles/rules of right conduct. Morality is worthy ideas or principles that we follow that distinguish right from wrong, these ideals or virtues are considered essential for the building up of the character of an individual. Good virtues, such as, honesty, integrity, truthfulness, compassion as well as helpfulness, love, respectfulness and hard-work are taught many times over in our rituals and I feel confident in saying that they are the bedrock that the Craft is built on. Spiritual lessons; spirituality, the quality or practice of being concerned with the human spirit/soul as opposed to material or physical things; and or, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit or sacred matters. Many Masonic scholars, such as; Wilhmhurst, Leadbetter, McNulty, Pike and Mackey; as well as, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes Adventures, have found spiritual lessons in the symbols and myths of Freemasonry. Freemasonry speaks to the hidden parts of ourselves and have spoken to a great many brethren, and teaches us to regard our immortal core with reverence and respect. The more we study our myths and symbols with the aim of digging deeply into the mists of time and legend the more relevance we seem to find. Initiation; the rites, ceremonies, ordeals, or instructions with which one is made a member of a sect or society or is invested with a particular function or status. Initiations can range from hazing to quests, journeys, or challenges and are an integral part of traditional societies. It promotes acceptance into a society, teaches the sacred lessons of that society and marks the death of the old initiate and the birth of the new initiate.

5 Making Good Men Better, the hallmark raison d etre of Freemasonry. Along with developing friendships, contributing to charity, celebrating differences, gaining historical, moral and spiritual knowledge as well engaging in an initiatory process, Freemasonry affords men an opportunity to develop their mental faculties and enhance their usefulness in society. This is done by promoting the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as memorization. The liberal arts do not conduct the soul all the way to virtue, but set it going in that direction. Seneca, Moral Letters to Lucilius vol. two. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks. Albert Einstein Grammar; the art of words, studying both technical rules and their meaning, nuances and proper use. Studying the ritual s, sometimes, usual or old words can help enhance speaking, reading and writing and gives us a better understanding of our native and learned languages. Rhetoric; the study of speaking and writing to persuade others, i.e. public speaking and creative writing. In Lodge, hopefully, we are encouraged to perform ritual work, which requires performing in front of others. We are also encouraged, hopefully, to make speeches and write about our experiences in masonry. Logic; faculties of conceiving, judging and reasoning, logical problem solving. Teaches us to view the world around us objectively and logically. Arithmetic; computation or reckoning with numbers; offers a structured system that operates on rules, order and in terms of equations. To perceive our world accurately we need facility with counting and measurement. Geometry; analysis and reasoning on shapes and solids and the relationship between the two, discovers unmeasured areas by comparing them to already known areas.

6 Contributes to spatial reasoning and problem solving. Geometry can be found in art, architecture, engineering, astronomy, nature and sports. Music; the science of vibration and the art of harmonizing different vibrations. Music/vibrations are a part of our being! It teaches pattern recognition, develops coordination, refines discipline and patience and can boost self esteem. Astronomy; study of the heavens and the relationships between the heavenly bodies. Gives an appreciation of the vastness of creation and can be done simply with the naked eye or with simple and complex instruments. It returns us to a primal science. Aside from the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences there is also the art/practice of memorization which helps make men better. Memorization is committing something to memory, learning by heart. Training the brain to remember, challenges and exercises it and makes the brain stronger and able to work more efficiently. Our degree work and ritual memorization provides us with a great opportunity to practice this essential skill. Through the promotion of these aspects, within the bounds of ritual and obligation, we can begin to get good/thoughtful men into our fraternity. With an influx of quality brethren it can help sustain our order and allow it to grow long after all of us have passed to the Grand Lodge Above.

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