PRESCRIBED MASONIC EDUCATION FOR THE MONTH OF MAY 2023
With the ascension of the our newly-installed Grand Master, MW DON T. RAMAS-UYPITCHING to the Grand Orient during the 106th Annual Communications of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines held from April 27 to 28, 2023 in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Philippines comes the adoption of a new GLP theme for the year: “Freemasons Altogether, Building Temples INSIDE The Hearts of Men.”
The Grand Master—being a known and ardent builder of masonic temples and having been instrumental in the construction and erection of several masonic temples in this grand jurisdiction, desires that such magnificent structures be likewise built within every member of the Craft, particularly within the most sacred and intimate part of man where we were all first prepared to be made a mason.
In interpreting and translating the vision of the Grand Master for the Craft for the current masonic term as contained within our GLP theme, the Masonic Education program for the year shall focus in building, creating, and further fortifying spiritual and metaphorical temples within each and every one of us.
Symbolically, a temple is a house of God—a place where the Magnificence and Divine Presence of the GAOTU dwells, a stronghold where the goodness of the Great Creator resides, where the prayers are offered, and where the innermost desires of man are contained. As masons, we are expected to act with goodness and propriety in order to make ourselves worthy of being the vessels of such presence and avoid such acts that will destroy and dishonor the sacredness of such temples.
As Masonry intends to make good men better, members of the Craft needs to accept that we are not perfect and that change is needed to bring the plan of the God into realization.
Indeed, if changes, reforms, and improvements are to be made possible and sustaining, it should emanate from within and whatever desires and aspirations we may have within our hearts, it should not only be for the betterment of ourselves but also for the benefit and well-being of our fellowmen for such is the earnest desire of the GAOTU for each and every member of the great cosmos.
This year, using symbols and allegories, we shall strive to build such spiritual and metaphorical temples through masonic education focused on the values of Charity, Humility, Kindness, Justice, Equality, Empathy, Hard Work, Patience, Perseverance, Integrity, Diligence, Fear Of God, and Dedication to One’s Faith. Instruction on these tenets shall be delivered in four modules, symbolizing the parts of a temple such as foundation, pillars, walls, and roof.
In addition, masonic education will also include revisiting some of the edicts valid and existing, issued by Past Grand Masters. These pieces of legislation, duly-approved during their respective AnComs and have become part of masonic law, represents the wisdom of the Grand Orient and revisiting these laws may promote familiarity and compliance thereto.
A new sun has risen in the Grand East, brethren. With hope, fervency, and joy, let us resume our labors for the advancement of Freemasonry and for the benefit of our fellowmen.
PRESCRIBED MASONIC EDUCATION FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE 2023
(This month, we begin instruction on the Masonic Education program for the year in line with the theme adopted by the GLP: “Freemason’s Altogether, Building Temples INSIDE The Hearts Of Men.” The first among the monthly topics is the subject of humility as one of the foundations of the Craft. Masonic instruction is often taught by symbols and allegories and the topics outlined in the Masonic Education program will mostly adhere to the same practice.)
During the construction of King Solomon’s Temple, operative masons toiled in the quarries where they break stone and moved earth to create the building blocks that will form part of the temple. As they labor all day to complete their tasks, it was inevitable that they would immerse themselves in the soil upon which they stand on.
The soil can teach us a lot about humility. Often taken for granted, Soil is the habitat for over a quarter of the planet’s biodiversity. In addition, the soil provides the nourishment that society needs to survive as well as at times, provides the habitat and shelter for men by being the source of the building materials. The soil also holds the foundation to most superstructures and stabilizes it from any unnecessary movements that may imperil its inhabitants.
Yet, despite its many contributions and uses to man, the soil occupies the lowest position on the planet. Always beneath our steps, the ever humble soil ever so provides generously for us and receiving any unwanted filth that men may acquire in the pursuit of their daily lives.
In the construction of temples inside the hearts of men, we should always aspire to be as humble as the soil that forms part of the foundation of such structure. In recent years, this grand jurisdiction has repeatedly declared that humility always forms part of the foundation of a freemason.
In the tragedy of the 3rd degree, the soil that covered the master overseer served as transformative agent by allowing the destroyed body, with its faults and imperfections, to be reborn again into a life of brotherhood, love, and service.
Humility is often defined as the quality of being humble or the freedom from pride and arrogance. Indeed, in order to become a mason you must first ask how to be one. Such act requires setting aside pride and preparing oneself for the possibility of being rejected as not every request merits a positive answer. Even the act of asking is an admission in itself that one does not know how to become a mason thus an acceptance of learning on the part of the applicant.
As one of the first lessons taught in Freemasonry, humility allows us to absorb the instructions as we pursue our journey from a rough ashlar to becoming a perfect one--- as no improvement is made possible unless and until a person admits to the need to improve and to be become better; thus, the need for humility.
Humility also allows us to seek forgiveness to those that we may have injured or offended and to acknowledge our faults in such matters
As master masons, we should be humble as the very soil we stand upon.
Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Keep your eyes on the stars, keep your feet on the ground.”
Like the soil, we should provide substance and stability to those around us and become agents of change not only to ourselves but also to the brethren, to the Craft, and to society in general. Like the soil, we should never hesitate to occupy the lowest of positions in order to be of service and use to the Craft.
In an article by Bro. R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F.
& A.M, he quoted English writer John Ruskin, who said, “I believe that the first test of a great man is his humility. I don't mean by humility, doubt of his power. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them, but through them. And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.” Bro. Shirley further stated that humility has a bad time in our society in a large measure owing to the fact that it’s a quality misunderstood by most people. He said that people think of it as a willful disregard of one’s own ability, an abnegation of self that ignores talent and achievement but it is not. For him, humility is the act of taking oneself out of the center of the universe, and recognizing that others are as deserving of God’s love as we are, which is to say, not at all. He reminds the brethren that it is the ability to make requests, but not demands, for a demand is a way of saying “I am more important than you are.” A Mason can’t make that claim, because we are all Brothers, living on the level, with no man more important than another.
To our Worshipful Masters and other officers of our lodges, remember that you occupy the East to serve the lodge and not be served by and by being referred to as
“Worshipful” is because of the office you temporarily occupy. You are no better in the sight of the Grand Architect of the Universe than they the rest of the brethren. To the rest of the brethren, the mysteries of the Freemasonry is as deep as the expanse of the universe and we soon realize that we learn something new every day. Remain the ever attentive apprentice that you still are as when you first knocked upon the doors of the fraternity.
Remain grounded. Learn and provide substance to our ancient profession. Be part of the foundation upon which future generations the fraternity may build on and provide stability to our honorable way of life.
Brethren, we have been previously informed that it is prohibited to solicit candidates for Freemasonry but are you aware that we have a specific edict that declares soliciting of candidates as a masonic offense?
According to Edict No. 26 issued by then MW Samuel Hawthorne in 1935, “no person so solicited to become a Mason can conscientiously declare upon his honor, as he is required to do no only on his petition for the degrees but also immediately before he is admitted to the Lodge room, that unbiased by friends, he freely and voluntarily offers himself as a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry. To solicit a man to become a Mason is therefore, to invite him make twice, upon his honor, a statement which both he and his sponsors must know to be false.”
Thus, the edict, based on such principles punishes the act of dishonesty in such declarations and punishes it as an unmasonic offense.
Page 30, Grand Lodge Book of Edicts
Note to the Lecturers:
This is the prescribed masonic education for the month of June 2023. However, nothing prevents you from adopting another lecture as long as it focuses on the topic of humility as one of the foundations of being a worthy mason. The culture of subordinate lodges differ from one another and you may desire to adopt your lecture in accordance to the preference and inclinations of your target audience.
At the end of the lecture, pose a challenge to the brethren to perform acts of humility at least once in the next few days and enjoin them to reflect upon the impact that act has made upon them and on other people.
PRESCRIBED MASONIC EDUCATION FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2023
(This month, we begin instruction on the Masonic Education program for the year in line with the theme adopted by the GLP: “Freemason’s Altogether, Building Temples INSIDE The Hearts Of Men.” Among the monthly topics that forms the foundation of our spiritual temple is the subject of CHARITY. Masonic instruction is often taught by symbols and allegories and the topics outlined in the Masonic Education program will mostly adhere to the same practice.)
One of the most striking stories of the Holy Bible is that of two women fighting over the possession of an infant. To settle the matter, they were brought before our first Most Excellent Grand Master, King Solomon, who was said to be the wisest amongst those that sat upon the throne of Jerusalem. As the kinship of the infant could not be determined at that time, the King proposed a “solomonic” solution to the women by suggesting that he take up a sword and cut the infant in half giving each women a piece of the severed child. While one of the ladies agreed to the proposition, the other decided to give up her claim and give the baby to the other rather than see the child dead and disemboweled. It was then that King Solomon determined that the latter was the true mother of the child.
While the story did speak of the immeasurable love and sacrifice a mother is willing to undergo for her children and of the great wisdom that King Solomon possessed, it also illustrates the ultimate expression of charity---in that of giving and thinking of the welfare of others rather than oneself. In the story, the mother was willing to submit and sacrifice her claim for the benefit of her child.
In another part of the Holy Bible, particularly in the Gospel of Luke which told of the parable of widow’s offering wherein it was said that the woman gave more than the rich. The poor woman, as a widow, would have had no source of income after her husband's death. Therefore the two small copper coins were all she had - and yet she offered them to God. The rich, on the other hand, had a lot of money to spare. By shining a light on the unnamed widow's generosity, the parable reminds us that what is most important to God is not the quantity of the gift, but the generosity of the one doing the giving.
Oftentimes in our passionate and fervency to serve the Craft, our members at times get lost on the message of Charity: that one’s greatness and worthiness of being members of the Craft is measured the deepness of one’s pockets—a message often translated into a criteria of accepting petitioners into our lodges, which should not be the case.
While it is not entirely wrong to consider how much members and petitioners can contribute to the Craft financially, we should also look into how much further can our members and petitioners can contribute towards the promotion of the principles of Freemasonry in terms of time, energy, and effort too. No less than the late Bro. Andrew Jackson, once said, “Freemasonry is an ancient and respectable institution, embracing individuals of every nation, of every religion, and of every condition in life. Wealth, power and talents are not necessary to the person of a Freemason. An unblemished character and a virtuous conduct are the only qualifications for admission into the Order.”
As masons, it is in our very nature to serve and by the very aprons that we wear every time we perform our labors underlines our commitment to be of service not only to our brethren and families, but also to our fellowmen. Bro. Benjamin Franklin once elucidated that, “Masonic labor is purely a labor of love. He who seeks to draw Masonic wages in gold and silver will be disappointed. The wages of a Mason are in the dealings with one another; sympathy begets sympathy, kindness begets kindness, helpfulness begets helpfulness, and these are the wages of a Mason.”
Indeed, it is in serving others that we find fulfillment as masons. And as service is the act of giving oneself for the benefit of others, there is no greater gift or charity than to offer up oneself to relieve the distress, to provide for the needy, and uplift the spirits of the downtrodden. This is the true and faithful fulfillment of charity. Even the late Bro. William Howard Taft once advised us, “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.”
In this wise, we are reminded that the journey in Freemasonry is a continuous process of giving. While we see petitioners and candidates give their time and effort towards learning the rituals and lessons of the Craft, we also see our members and officers, continuously giving their wisdom and guidance to these petitioners and candidates as well as those newly-raised and greenhorns in the fraternity through the process of mentoring. Thus, if candidates are properly oriented, taught, and raised within our lodges, these acts of charities will eventually extend “beyond the grave” of the giver and result into a lasting legacy in the form of a properly erected spiritual temple within every new member of the lodge—a moral and spiritual edifice, not built with physical hands, but with the firm and kind guidance of his brethren, well worthy of praise and the name of being a Freemason.
To our brethren, be as generous as your status allows you. It is said that charity is the act of extending love and kindness to others unconditionally, which is a conscious act but the decision is made by the heart, without expecting a reward. When charity is carried out sincerely and selflessly, it is but a unilateral act where a person gives but seeks for nothing in return. While we should be as charitable with the things we give to others, we should likewise be as charitable with the kindness and patience we can give unto our brethren, especially those who are often misunderstood and remain at a perpetual distance.
This month, we revisit Edict No. 172-MW Angeles, which allows the opening and closing of a lodge in short form as part of the rendering of Necrological Services for a departed brother.
According to Edict No. 172-MW Angeles, the opening and subsequent closing ceremonies of a masonic lodge in connection with the Necrological Services to be rendered to a departed brother may be done in SHORT FORM under the following conditions:
- The Necrological Services are to be done at a place other than the lodge premises
- The opening ceremony shall be done in private and the closing ceremony shall be done in public;
- The Altar is to be attended to; and
- The District Deputy Grand Master, or in his absence, the Lodge Master, shall perform both the Opening/Closing and the Necrological Services.
Page 240, Grand Lodge Book of Edicts
Note to the Lecturers:
This is the prescribed masonic education for the month of July 2023. However, nothing prevents you from adopting another lecture as long as it focuses on the topic of charity as one of the foundations of being a worthy mason. The culture of subordinate lodges differ from one another and you may desire to adopt your lecture in accordance to the preference and inclinations of your target audience.
At the end of the lecture, pose a challenge to the brethren to perform acts of charity at least once in the next few days and enjoin them to reflect upon the impact that act has made upon them and on other people.
REKOMENDADO NA KAARALANG MASONERYA SA BUWAN NG AGOSTO 2023
(Sa buwan na ito, ating tatalakayin ang Kaaralang Masonerya ng taon na ito alinsunod sa temang pinagtibay ng GLP: "Sama-samang mga Malalayang Mason, Nagtatayo ng mga Templo sa Puso Ng Sangkatauhan." Kabilang sa mga buwanang paksa na bumubuo sa pundasyon ng ating espirituwal na templo ay ang paksa ng KABUTIHANG-LOOB. Ang pagtuturo ng Paksang Masonerya ay kadalasang itinuturo sa pamamagitan ng mga simbolo at alegorya at ang mga paksang nakabalangkas sa programa ng Kaaralang Masonerya ay kadalasang susunod sa parehong kasanayan.)
Dahil sinaad ng Proklamasyon Blg. 1041 ni dating Pangulong Ramos ang taunang pagdiriwang ng buwan ng Agosto bilang Buwan ng Wika, ang ating rekomendado na Kaaralan Masonerya sa buwan na ito ay isasaad sa ating pambansang wika.
Mga kapatid, ang ating paksa sa buwan na ito ay Kabutihan o Kagandahang Loob. Ngunit ano nga ba ang Kabutihan o Kagandahang Loob?
Maari nating sabihin na ang kabutihan o kagandahang loob ay ang pagpapakita ng kabutihang asal at kaugalian sa kapwa. Ang kabutihan at kagandahan ng kalooban ang nagtuturo sa isang tao upang gumawa ng mabuti at naayon sa ibang tao.
Sa ating mga tahanan, sa mga paaralan, at paminsan-minsan, sa ating mga lohiya natin natutunan ang pagkakaroon ng kabutihan at kagandahang loob. Dito nahuhubog at nahuhulma ang ating pagkatao. Ang pagkakaroon ng kabutihan at kagandahang loob ang magdadala sa iyo sa pagiging isang mabuting taong likha ng Panginoon.
Ang Kabutihan at Kagandahang Loob ay maari nating isalarawan sa Pagiging magalang sa kapwa, ang pagpapakita ng takot sa Diyos o pagiging madasalin, ang pagkakaroon ng malawak ang pang-unawa at pag-intindi sa kapwa, ang pagpapamalas ng mahabang pasyensya, ang pagkakaroon ng maayos pakikisalamuha at pakikisama sa iba, ang pagkakaroon ng malinis ang dangal, ang pagkakaroon paggalang sa dignidad ng tao, ang pagkakaroon ng pagmamahal sa katotohanan at pagmamalasakit sa kapwa, ang pagiging marunong tumanggap ng pagkakamali, at ang pagkakaroon ng malasakit sa kalikasan at kapaligiran
Bilang mga kasapi ng kapatiran ng Masonerya, bakit nga ba mahalaga ang pagkakaroon ng Kabutihan at Kagandahang Loob? Ang pagkakaroon ng kabutihan at kagandahang loob ng isang tao ay nagpapakita ng pagiging isang mabuting tao. Kapag nagtataglay ang isang tao ng kagandahang asal, ang nangingibabaw sa kanya ay ang paggawa ng mabuti sa kapuwa. Napapamalas din natin ang mga kabutihan at kagandahang loob sa pamamagitan ng paggalang, pagmamalasakit at pagtulong sa kapuwa. Ang pagtataglay ng kabutihan at kagandahang loob ay nagiging basehan ng iyong pagkatao para magkaroon ng positibong pagtingin at pananaw sa atin ang ibang tao. Sa kasalukuyang panahon, ang pagkakaroon ng kabutihan at kagandahang loob ay kinagigiliwan, kinatutuwaan at hinahangaan ng marami.
Bilang mga mason, ating naipapamalas sa ating kabutihan at kagandahang loob, an gating kapatiran ay may marangal at malinis na adhikain para sa lipunan at sa sangkatauhan. Ang pagiging maganda natin sa loob kung saan nakatayo ang templo ng ating Dakilang Lumikha ay sasalamin sa ating mga panlabas na gawa at pagkilos.
Ating aalahanin nung tayong lahat ay sumailalim sa unang pagsusulit nati sa Masonerya. Isa sa mga paunang tanong na sa atin ay binigay ay kung ano ang dahilan ng ating paglapit sa Masonerya. Ang ating mga tugon ay upang matutunang supilin ang aking kapusukan at pagbutihin ang aking sarili sa masonerya. Ang pagpapaganda ng kalooban ay isang pamamaraan upang pagbutihin ang ating pagkatao. Kahit ang Banal na Kasulatan kung saan tayo ay kumukuha ng liwanag at paggabay ay nagsasaad na: “Lahat ng mga bagay na ibig ninyong gawin ng mga tao, gawin naman ninyo ang gayon sa kanila” (Mateo7:12). Ang naturang kataga mula sa Banal na Kasulatan ay nagsisilbing matibay na gabay sa ating pakikitungo at pakikisalamuha sa ating mga kapatid sa Masonerya at sa publiko. Nawa’y ating tupdin at isapuso ang mga salitang ito upang ating maalala ang tunay na dahilan ng ating pagkatok sa pinto ng kapatiran.
Sa buwan na ito, atin pong babalikan ang Edict No. 297-MW Tolentino, kung saan ay alinsunod sa Proklamasyon Blg. 1041, s. 1997, na bilang pagdiriwang sa Buwan ng Wika tuwing Agosto ng bawat taon, ang mga lohiya sa ilalim ng hurisdiksyong ito ay magbubukas at magsasara ng lohiya sa kanilang mga takdang pagtitipon gamit ang wikang Filipino. Sinasaad din ng Edict No. 297-MW Tolentino na maari ding gamitin ang pambansang wika sa pagtalakay ng mga bagay-bagay sa takdang pagtitipon ng mga lohiya.
Note to the Lecturers:
Ito ang itinakdang mason na edukasyon para sa buwan ng Agosto 2023. Gayunpaman, walang pumipigil sa iyo na gumamit ng isa pang lecture basta't patungkol ito sa paksa ng kabutihang-loob bilang isa sa mga pundasyon ng pagiging isang karapat- dapat na mason. Ang kultura ng mga subordinate lodges ay naiiba sa isa't isa at maaari mong naisin na gamitin ang iyong lecture alinsunod sa kagustuhan at hilig ng iyong makikinig.
Sa pagtatapos ng lecture, magbigay ng hamon sa mga kapatid na magsagawa ng mga gawa ng kabutihang-loob kahit isang beses sa susunod na mga araw at hikayatin silang pag-isipan ang epekto ng pagkilos na iyon sa kanila at sa ibang tao.
PRESCRIBED MASONIC EDUCATION FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER 2023
TOPIC/S: JUSTICE AND EQUALITY: UNDERSTANDING THE “PLUS-MINUS” PRINCIPLE
(This month, we begin instruction on the Masonic Education program for the year in line with the theme adopted by the GLP: “Freemason’s Altogether, Building Temples INSIDE The Hearts Of Men.” Among the monthly topics that forms the pillars and supports of our spiritual temple is the subject of JUSTICE AND EQUALITY. Masonic instruction is often taught by symbols and allegories and the topics outlined in the Masonic Education program will mostly adhere to the same practice.)
This month, we proceed with the second module of the Masonic Education Program for the year which focuses on creating pillars and supports that will provide strength and form to the structure which we aim to create.
In the Institutes of Justinian, a sixth-century codification of Roman law, justice is defined as 'the constant and perpetual will to render each his due'. The definition can also be stated by saying that justice, or righteousness, is a constant and perpetual will to give each person what it is right to give him, for his right is what is his, what he deserves, what is properly due to him. The concept of justice is also illustrated by a lady hoodwink holding the scales in one while grasping a sword in another—thereby inferring that every act of man bears a corresponding consequence. As far as our monitor is concerned, justice is defined as “that standard or boundary of right which enables us to render unto every man his just due, without distinction.
These definitions of justice are legal and ancient concepts that have been framed through the experience of mankind and if we are to attempt to fully understand and comprehend it within the four corners of this month’s masonic education, it may result in an incomplete instruction on the matter.
For now, allow us to explain the concept of justice in an interesting anecdote:
A Greek philosopher was walking along one day, thinking about things, when he saw two very tall women towering away in the distance; they were the size of several men placed one on top of another. The philosopher, as wise as he was fearful, ran to hide behind some bushes, intending to listen to their conversation. The huge women came and sat nearby, but before they could start speaking the King's youngest son appeared. He was bleeding from one ear and shouted pleadingly towards the women:
-"Justice! I want justice! That villain cut my ear!" He pointed to another boy, his younger brother, who arrived wielding a bloody sword.
-"We will be delighted to give you justice, young Prince," replied the two women, "That's why we are the goddesses of justice. Just choose which of the two of us you would prefer to help you."
-"What's the difference?" the victim asked, "What would each of you do?"
-"I," said one of the goddesses, who looked the more weak and delicate, "will ask your brother what was the cause of his action, and I will listen to his explanation. Then I will oblige him to protect your other ear with his life, and to make you the most beautiful helmet to cover your scar and to be your ears when you need it."
-" I, for my part," said the other goddess, "will not let him go unpunished for his action. I will punish him with a hundred lashes and one year of imprisonment, and he must compensate you for your pain with a thousand gold coins. And I will give you the sword and you can choose if you're able to keep the ear or, on the contrary, you want both ears to end up on the ground. Well, what is your decision? Who do you want to apply justice for the offence?"
The Prince looked at the two goddesses. Then he put his hand to the wound, and on touching it his face gave a gesture of undeniable pain, which ended with a look of anger and affection for his brother. And in a firm voice, addressing the second of the goddesses he gave his answer, "I'd rather it was you who helps me. I love him, but it would be unfair if my brother doesn't receive his punishment."
And so, from his hiding place in the bushes, the philosopher saw the culprit get his comeuppance, and watched how the older brother was content to make a small wound on his brother's ear, without seriously damaging it.
A while passed and the Princes had left, one without an ear and the other served justice, and the philosopher was still in hiding when the least expected thing happened. In front of his eyes, the second of the goddesses changed her clothes and took her true form. She wasn't a goddess at all, but the powerful Aries, the god of war. Aries bid goodbye to his companion, with a mischievous smile: "I've done it again, dear Themis. Your friends, mankind, can barely distinguish between your righteousness and my revenge. Bwahahaha! I will prepare my weapons, a new war between brothers is approaching ... ha, ha, ha, ha."
When Aries had left and the philosopher was trying to quietly make off, the goddess spoke aloud: "Tell me, good philosopher, would you have known how to choose correctly? Did you know how to distinguish between the past and the future?"
And with that strange greeting began many long and friendly talks. And that's how, from the very hand of the goddess of justice, the philosopher learned that true justice lies in improving the future, moving it away from past wrongs, while false justice and vengeance is incapable of forgiving and forgetting past wrongs, and doing so fixes the future, it always ending up being just as bad.
Brethren, masonic justice is a peculiar topic as the implementation and coverage involves parties that are brethren. While Freemasonry seeks to eradicate the evil that is in men, it also seeks reforms by making good men better. Freemasonry does not tolerate wrongdoings but must temper consequences with compassion and the gentle whisper of good counsel into the ear of one’s brethren.
Thus, we consider what we may call the “plus-minus” principle in implementing justice and equality between members of the Craft. As we seek to always meet upon the level and part upon the square, it is a reality that not all brothers stand on equal footing and as writer George Orwell quips in his work The Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”
In the “plus-minus” principle, the call for justice between brethren comes into play when a brother transgresses upon the peace of another thereby tipping the balance between them in favor of the other. To rectify the situation, some adjustments must be
made by subtracting some rights from the other and adding some accommodations to the other thereby correcting and levelling the status between them.
In masonic cases for instance, if a brother has been found after due process to have wronged another brother, some of his rights and privileges may be taken away and some concessions may be given to the aggrieved party by granting some of the relief that he prayed for.
In ordinary situations, we also consider the “plus-minus” principle in seeking wages and assistance from our brethren- taking notes that with every favor we ask from our brother, some subtraction from his resources and status may also come into play. Thus, as one gains, so does the other loses something. Thus, our rituals encourages us to practice restraint and circumscribe the slowly growing practice of using the Craft to gain certain advantages. After all, we are still brethren.
This month, we revisit Edict No. 82-MW Puno, issued on July 31, 1984 prohibiting the filing of administrative, civil or criminal cases by a brother against another brother without first giving the Grand Lodge a chance to settle the dispute.
The Edict took into consideration that “one of most beautiful tenets of Freemasonry is the reminder that in dealing with an erring brother we should whisper good counsel in his ear, gently admonish him of his error, and in the most friendly manner possible, endeavor to bring about a reform.”
It also took into consideration that “the cogency of this concept cannot be doubted for even our civil laws and rules of court prohibit members of a family from litigating against each other without first exhausting all possibilities of an amicable settlement.”
Such is the beauty of masonic law.
Page 104, Grand Lodge Book of Edicts
Note to the Lecturers:
This is the prescribed masonic education for the month of September 2023. However, nothing prevents you from adopting another lecture as long as it focuses on the topic of Justice and Equality as one of the pillars and support of constructing the temple inside the hearts of men. The culture of subordinate lodges differ from one another and you may desire to adopt your lecture in accordance to the preference and inclinations of your target audience.
At the end of the lecture, pose a challenge to the brethren to perform acts of justice at least once in the next few days and enjoin them to reflect upon the impact that act has made upon them and on other people.
PRESCRIBED MASONIC EDUCATION FOR THE MONTH OF OCTOBER 2023
TOPIC/S: PATIENCE AND DILIGENCE: TIME, PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE SHALL ACCOMPLISH ALL THINGS
(This month, we begin instruction on the Masonic Education program for the year in line with the theme adopted by the GLP: “Freemason’s Altogether, Building Temples INSIDE The Hearts of Men.” Among the monthly topics that forms the pillars and supports of our spiritual temple is the subject of PATIENCE AND DILIGENCE. Masonic instruction is often taught by symbols and allegories and the topics outlined in the Masonic Education program will mostly adhere to the same practice.)
The Holy Bible states that the word of God came to King Solomon (1 Kings 6:12-15):
"As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, carry out my regulations and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel."
So Solomon built the temple and completed it.
Indeed, King Solomon was able to build such a magnificent edifice erected to God within a span of seven years. Considering today’s building technology, seven years seems a very long time to build a temple of such scale but a grand structure especially if it is dedicated for such a sacred purpose is never rushed.
Truly, the Holy Scriptures provides us many examples where patience and diligence are required to achieve God’s purpose: examples like the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land (which took 40 years), the story of Jonah preaching to the people of Nineveh to turn away from their evil ways, the story of Sarah, wife of Abraham, patiently waiting for God’s promise of a child, who would later be born later as Isaac, the story of Job who lost everything except his faith in God, and so on and so forth.
Brethren, as master craftsmen of our ancient and honorable Order, we are expected to be patient and diligent in the performance of our noble profession—to always strive for perfection and make sure that our labors are never rushed or haphazardly done since such work is always aimed for the betterment of ourselves, the service of our fellowmen, and for the honor and glory of God.
An expression of patience and perseverance can be seen in the performance of our rituals and ceremonies. Quoting from our wizened and distinguished Past Senior Grand Lecturer, RW Hermogenes P. Oliveros, PHDGM, who stated:
“The carrying out of our ritual actions in a purely perfunctory manner should, therefore, be replaced by full mental intent based upon knowledge concerning the duties of one’s office and intellectual realism in their fulfillment. Words spoken and actions performed without paying due attention to the significance of either must inevitably reduce the value of the work. Therefore, unconsidered and mechanical ceremonial acts ought to be changed to movements firmly and gracefully made. Rituals will then achieve the maximum results for the attainment of which they were planned.”
RW Oliveros further elaborated:
“The reality of the inner significance is difficult to attain, particularly during the early days of one’s Masonic life. Due self-preservation and memorization will assuredly bring to the devoted Mason increase in realization of the ultimate effects and external results produced by ritual actions. One hardly needs to say that a sense of self-sufficiency and self-importance, particularly above any other mason, must be changed into selflessness, self-forgetfulness, and a natural humility.
The combination of correct floor work and body movements and ever-clear concept of the meaning of the ceremony is one part of the valuable training which all who so choose, may receive from participation in degree work. Eventually, the association of physical and fully-intentional procedures with their spiritual and occult meanings and purposes becomes increasingly natural, and this might be regarded as a development to which the ideal mason aspires and may attain.
To sum up regular daily contemplation of the divine and the purification of the bodily life, the heart and the mind, specially freeing them of cruelty or self-desire, are the surest means of developing that interior intuitive vision and implicit insight from which may be gained knowledge of the underlying principles, laws, and processes in nature.
If masonry is to fulfill its function, it is most important, even essential, that the occult implications of the rituals and true interpretations of the symbols and allegories, be also clearly understood by every mason, and as each individual mason feels moved deeply, apply the process of living the masonic life.”
Such aged truth still finds truth and application in the present practice of Freemasonry.
Remember brethren, while our rituals and ceremonies may define us as members of the Craft, it is the outward expression of these principles as seen in our conduct before God and men that truly defines us as master masons and as better men.
Thus, as our rituals and ceremonies require refinement in the performance so should we in the practice of our Craft, in our daily dealings with our fellowmen, and in our ever-constant relationship with the GAOTU, be tolerant of mistakes and deviations, and endeavor to gently remind each other to rectify to bring about positive change—always remembering that time, patience, and perseverance shall accomplish all things
This month, we revisit Edict No. 163-MW Aportadera, issued on November 17, 1993 which decreed that no invocation, benediction, or prayer shall be delivered in any Masonic function or undertaking which would be sectarian in character, referring only to the Supreme Being in names common to all as God, Father, or Supreme Architect or Ruler of the Universe.
The Edict took into consideration that “members of our fraternal order are of various religious beliefs and religious denominations”
It also took into consideration that “masons are tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs especially those of their fellowmen.”
Note to the Lecturers:
This is the prescribed masonic education for the month of October 2023. However, nothing prevents you from adopting another lecture as long as it focuses on the topic of PATIENCE AND DILIGENCE as one of the pillars and support of constructing the temple inside the hearts of men. The culture of subordinate lodges differ from one another and you may desire to adopt your lecture in accordance to the preference and inclinations of your target audience.
At the end of the lecture, pose a challenge to the brethren to perform acts of patience and perseverance at least once in the next few days and enjoin them to reflect upon the impact that act has made upon them and on other people.
PRESCRIBED MASONIC EDUCATION FOR THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER 2023
TOPIC/S: HARDWORK AND PERSEVERANCE: NOTHING WORTHY COMES EASY
(This month, we begin instruction on the Masonic Education program for the year in line with the theme adopted by the GLP: “Freemason’s Altogether, Building Temples INSIDE The Hearts Of Men.” Among the monthly topics that forms the pillars and supports of our spiritual temple is the subject of HARD WORK AND PERSEVERANCE. Masonic instruction is often taught by symbols and allegories and the topics outlined in the Masonic Education program will mostly adhere to the same practice.)
Freemasonry is serious labor.
Our rituals and ceremonies are based on operative masonry, using its tools and implements to impart lessons and values towards creating the better man. Operative Masons were the builders of old who worked with stone. They were architect, builder, craftsman, designer, and engineer all in one, armed only with a set of compasses, a set square, a staff, or a rope, and an understanding of geometry. With these tools, they built wondrous Gothic cathedrals that have inspired people for generations.
On the other hand, speculative Freemasonry can be defined as the application of Operative Freemasonry’s principles for moral and intellectual development. Essentially, while Operative Masons use their rules, tools, and science to build literal, physical structures, Speculative Masons work see these craftsmen rules and tools as metaphors for building up their character as men.
Both forms of Masonry require hard work and perseverance. While the operative form requires the use of physical, strength, and skill to create magnificent structures and edifices, the speculative version of the Craft need to rely on the proficient knowledge and application of masonic laws and principles, a keen sense of perception and observation, experience, and an uncanny level of prudence to determine if a candidate for the degrees of Freemasonry is well worthy and qualified to be granted entry into our fraternity as well as the effective use of time, mentoring, and the proficiency conferral of the degrees to produce worthy members who would contribute towards the honor and prestige of the Craft.
In the latter, the burden of labor to create such good and worthy members does not fall only on the Master of the lodge and its officers, but the efforts of the lodge as a whole - to ensure that the candidate who is projected to become a member, will learn the proper culture and disposition to walk uprightly, act squarely, and remain “on the level” in his dealings with his fellowmen. Such labor cannot be rushed nor be shortened and thereby, lodges are enjoined to follow the prescribed process “as all fellows have gone, who have gone this way before”
The Volume of Sacred Law likewise states:
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Such sacred passages enjoin us to remain steadfast in our mission, in our course, in our objective in becoming better men as the aim of Freemasonry dictates. It likewise provides a promise of corresponding wages that comes at the end of a day’s labor.
Brethren, together let us labor truthfully in creating masterpieces of masons in our respective lodges while avoiding the ills of “shortcuts” and non-compliance in the conferral of degrees.
In properly raising master masons, we remain true in our creed of making good men better and in building temples inside the hearts of men.
This month, we revisit Edict No. 66-MW Councell, issued on April 17, 1973 which decreed that the conferring of degrees in this Jurisdiction shall be done only by members of the Lodge in which the candidate has been elected, except only for courtesy conferral by a sister Lodge or by a Lodge of another jurisdiction.
The Edict took into consideration an observation at that time by then Grand Master MW William C. Councell, that many lodges recruiting members of other lodges to confer degrees for them. According to MW Councell, this practice discourages proficiency and attendance in lodges. It was said that members do not make any attempt to become proficient because they tend to depend on others to do their work for them.
MW Councell further stated that if a lodge does not have sufficient proficient members, it is the duty of the Master to see that his own members are proficient to confer degrees or else consider merging with a lodge that does have proficient members.
Note to the Lecturers:
This is the prescribed masonic education for the month of November 2023. However, nothing prevents you from adopting another lecture as long as it focuses on the topic of HARDWORK AND PERSEVERANCE as one of the pillars and support of constructing the temple inside the hearts of men. The culture of subordinate lodges differ from one another and you may desire to adopt your lecture in accordance to the preference and inclinations of your target audience.
At the end of the lecture, pose a challenge to the brethren to demonstrate hard work and perseverance at least once in the next few days and enjoin them to reflect upon the impact that act has made upon them and on other people.
PRESCRIBED MASONIC EDUCATION FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER 2023
TOPIC/S: EMPATHY: UNDERSTANDING LIFE FROM ANOTHER PERSON’S PERSPECTIVE
(This month, we begin instruction on the Masonic Education program for the year in line with the theme adopted by the GLP: “Freemason’s Altogether, Building Temples INSIDE The Hearts Of Men.” Among the monthly topics that form the fascade and enclosures of our spiritual temple is the subject of EMPATHY. Masonic instruction is often taught by symbols and allegories and the topics outlined in the Masonic Education program will mostly adhere to the same practice.)
Apart from being the focal point of the Yuletide season, the month of December represents the culmination of the labors and achievements of various associations, offices, and groups which often lead to numerous celebrations and parties. However, we are enjoined to take into consideration that not all members of our society are as fortunate and as privilege to engage in the merriment and bounties of the year-end celebration. Thus, it is but proper that this month’s masonic education focuses on empathy.
According to Hodges and Myers in the Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, “Empathy is often defined as understanding another person’s experience by imagining oneself in that other person’s situation: One understands the other person’s experience as if it were being experienced by the self, but without the self actually experiencing it. A distinction is maintained between self and other.” We distinguish this from sympathy, which involves the experience of being moved by, or responding in tune with, another person.”
It is said that empathy is a building block of morality—enjoining people to follow and observe the Golden Rule. It helps if they can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It is also a key ingredient of successful relationships because it helps us understand the perspectives, needs, and intentions of others.
Empathy dissuades us from being calloused to the plight of others and teaches us that not all brethren are similarly situated on Fortune's wheel. While some may find themselves currently at the top, others are still languishing at the bottom. As masons, we are taught to understand our brethren; that whatever difficulties and trials that they may be undergoing at the moment may not have been communicated openly to the rest of the brethren and thus, have chosen to remain at a perpetual distance.
In this light we remember the words of our late brother Benjamin Franklin, who once said:
“Masonic labor is purely a labor of love. He who seeks to draw Masonic wages in gold and silver will be disappointed. The wages of a Mason are in the dealings with one another; sympathy begets sympathy, kindness begets kindness, helpfulness begets helpfulness, and these are the wages of a Mason.”
Brethren, an organization is only as strong as its weakest member. In the same wise, our fraternity can only foster true happiness if the welfare and prosperity of all its members is greatly overseen. If a brother suffers or is currently enduring hardships, how can we as his brother be happy knowing fully well that another is not so similarly situated?
Empathy allows us to strengthen the temple that we are building inside ourselves as such magnificent structures that should not only be enjoyed and appreciate by the self but also shared and appreciated by others.
Happy holidays brethren and may the joy and prosperity of the season be with you and your family.
This month, we revisit Edict No. 15-MW Carmona issued on February 25, 1930 which decreed that the Master of each Lodge immediately after installation to prepare a budget of expenses of his Lodge and a statement of its income from dues and investment have approved by the Lodge. And upon approval, that a copy thereof be sent to the Grand Secretary for the Committee of Administration of Lodges.