Thursday, March 8, 2012

Untempered Mortar

In the several degrees of Freemasonry we are taught that the workmen of the Temple wore their aprons in different ways.  Apprentices at the Temple were said to wear their Aprons in the peculiar manner that they might protect their clothes from being soiled by untempered mortar. This is mortar which has not been properly composed of the correct ingredients or in which these ingredients are improperly mixed. In operative Masonry this results in a weak and defective structure which will not properly stand. Therefore, untempered mortar, or improperly mixed mortar, was not to be used. The proper knowledge and understanding of how to properly mix the ingredients was essential if the apprentice wished to become a master of his craft.

For speculative Masonry, "untempered mortar" became a symbol of passions and appetites not duly restrained. This untempered mortar is also symbolic of improper mixtures in the building of one's character or the employment of bad materials in moral, ethical and spiritual architecture in the construction of the institution of Freemasonry.

Not tampering with untempered mortar is critical for the new Apprentice as well as seasoned Master Masons. It is imperative that we are creating a spiritual building - "that house not made with hands" - that can withstand the test fo time. In doing so we must ensure that our thoughts, words and deeds provides that cement which will contribute to building a spirtual ediface that is stable, beautiful, and lasting. Every action - every choice - we make either adds to the strength of the mixture, or weakens it. We must not only remain knowledgable, but use that knowledge wisely.

J.L. Haywood said:
“The innocence of a Mason is his gentleness, chivalrous determination to do no moral evil to any person, man or woman, or babe; his patient forbearance of the crudeness and ignorance of men, his charitable forgiveness of his brethren when they willfully or unconsciously do him evil; his dedication to a spiritual knighthood in behalf of the value and virtues of humanity by which alone man rises above the brutes and the world is carried forward on the upward way.” The lambskin apron presented to the initiate during his entered Apprentice Degree should be for all his life a very precious possession; the outward and visible symbol of an inward and spiritual tie."

So, as the operative mason wears their apron to prevent soiling his clothes, the speculative Mason wears his to remind him of that rectitude of conduct, strength of character and spirit of unity that is imperative toward avoiding "daubing with untempered mortar" in the building of our inner temple and thus ensuring its stability and that it will stand the test of time.

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