Saturday, March 31, 2012

Building with living stones - Part 1

The presentation at our recent 309 dinner sparked some interesting discussion with our Fellowcrafts last Sunday. The statements that follow as well as the questions I may ask are a result of those two events.

When interviewing potential candidates, many of us have been stressing that “You JOIN the Elks…you are MADE a Mason.” In addition we discuss that the greatest secret of Freemasonry is the inner transformation that should occur while one is undergoing the initiatory experience of the three degrees. Research has solidified that fact with me as a dissection of each degree illustrates a deliberate sequence of events and a deliberate timeline of the introduction of concepts and symbols.

This brings me back to a concept I had written about a few years ago – Masonic Formation (also known as Applied Freemasonry). Just as a man cannot enter a religious order (i.e. the Franciscans) without undergoing a process of formation, it would seem that this type of process would be essential for the proper formation of a candidate into a Brother. Our current work on Masonic education of new Brothers is one aspect of our movement towards a formative process – but it shouldn’t stop there. Further Light is obtained (or should be) in an ongoing way. This cannot be done passively, but must be done actively.

I am currently researching information which will (I hope) develop into a formal presentation on the concept of Masonic Formation/Applied Freemasonry. To that end, I have the following questions:

1) If a goal of the fraternity is “to make good men better”, how do we – as Master Masons – define “better?”

2) The formation process would seem to develop over the course of the three degrees (including some initial orientation). What do you feel is important at each of these steps? How can a Brother show himself to be “proficient” in a tangible way?

3) What for you were important milestones on your journey so far? What would have been useful to you while you were undergoing the formative process?

4) What do you feel is the essential mission of Freemasonry? If our purpose is to “make Masons,” what are your thoughts on how we go about doing that?

5) What, in your opinion, would help to spark some appropriate intellectual, physical or spiritual Masonically-oriented debate in our Lodge? Why, in your opinion, is there such a malaise among members to share their research?

It is my hope that I will get some feedback (more than just a “sounds good” kind of reply) on these questions. We continue to complain that we need to do something and yet, we make little to no effort to move forward. As one who has been tasked with the responsibility of training our new Brothers, it is essential for me to know how they should be shaped – so that they may better fit our “spiritual building.”

Please send me your thoughts - either to my email (on my profile) or post them here. If you feel that there might be other helpful questions, please note them as well. It is my intention to coordinate a Lodge gathering to discuss my findings at a future date and will post my findings on this blog. Thank you in advance for your time and assistance.

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