Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tonight at the Scottish Rite those who have worked and participated in degrees or done other things for the Des Moines Valley were honored at the Scottish Rite Worker's Appreciation Dinner.
A delicious steak dinner with peaches and cream sweet corn was enjoyed by all. I took a lot of pictures and they are in an on-line album which can be accessed by clicking here.
Several awards were given to deserving members. First was the Outstanding New Member Award earned by Kurt Hoffmann. Kurt also has completed the Master Craftsman Award from the Supreme Council. The first from our Valley to do so.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The Des Moines Scottish Rite celebrated the Feast of St. John at the Royal Mile this evening. This is the 291st Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge of Iowa- June 24, 1717 at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in London England,
Master of Ceremonies Ron Lindhart led us in the Opening Ode:
( To the tune of God Save the King)
Let Mason's fame resound
Through all the nations round
From pole to pole...
Faith, Hope and Charity
Love and Sincerity
Friendship and Unity
As Ever Free.
Long may our Craft be free,
And may we ever be,
Great as of your..
For many ages past,
Masonry has stood fast,
And may its glory last
Til time"s no more.
M. W. Donald E. Mosier gave a brief talk where he compared the legend of the Third Degree to Beowulf.
Toast Master Lindhart explained the method of giving a toast and many toasts were given followed by the Tyler's Toast and the closing Ode to the tune of Auld Lang Syne
Dear Brothers of the plumb and square,
Come join in cheerful song.
Let every heart and voice prepare
The glad notes to prolong
We're Brothers of the Mystic Tie
We're Brothers True and Free,
Then let our song ascend on high -
God Speed Freemasonry!
Now we must close our labors here.
Though sad it is to part
May Love, Relief and Truth sincere,
Unite each brother's heart.
Now to our homes lets haste away,
Still filled with love and light;
And may each heart in kindness say,
Good night Brother, good night.
The event will be repeated tomorrow night and there are still places available if you call the office. An on-line photo Album of all the pictures from tonight may be viewed by clicking here.
I took a little movie of the method of giving a toast while we were practicing. It is below. Just click on the movie to watch it.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Nineteenth Degree - Grand PontiffOn August 13 there will be a reading of the Nineteenth Degee in the Symbolic Lodge Room beginning at 7:00 PM (The parking lot will be open at 6:30)
W. Charles Smithson, 32° - Junior Warden of the Lodge of Perfection will again organize this reading. Following the degree there will be a discussion of the degree. The following is a brief description of the degree. (borrowed)
The title of this Degree sometimes causes confusion, for the term "pontiff" is sometimes applied to the Pope. But the word is used here in its original sense of "bridge builder." A Mason is to build bridges to the future, both his own future and the future of his society and culture.
Our nation is great, not by accident, but because of the sacrifices and efforts of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and all those who have gone before us. One of the key lessons of this Degree is the importance of building for the future. Another is the certainty that good will triumph over evil. Those lessons are reflected in the regalia of the Degree.
Perhaps the most unusual piece of regalia for the 19° is the blue satin fillet or headband. (See photo above.) Embroidered with twelve gold stars, it brings together two of the traditional colors of the Blue Lodge, blue and gold, and symbolically suggests that the process of bridge building begins in those foundation Degrees. But the ritual tells us that the fillet also symbolizes purity, for the slightest contact of the satin with the earth will soil it. It reminds us that it does no good to try to be "virtuous most of the time" or "usually honest."
We have to strive for perfection, even if we know it's not possible to attain. The blue color also symbolizes the heavens. Thus, the fillet and its stars become a kind of miniature of the "starry canopy of heaven." The twelve stars are rich in symbolism, referring to, among others, the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem, the twelve signs of the zodiac, the twelve fruits of the Tree of Life, and the twelve Apostles. A little thought will suggest ways in which each of those sets of twelve represents a bridge toward heaven or the future. The same twelve stars appear on the cordon. The cordon is crimson bordered with white. We have already seen that crimson symbolizes zeal and white symbolizes purity.
The suggestion here is that the Grand Pontiff must act with zeal and determination, but that that zeal must be set off or confined by the greatest possible purity of morals, character, and motivation. The A & W (Alpha and Omega) on the cordon are used in their traditional meaning of "the first and the last" and, therefore, represent totality.
The regalia also includes the breastplate of a High Priest of ancient Israel. The breastplate is of gold, set with twelve different stones. On each stone is engraved, in Hebrew characters, the initial of one of the names or attributes of God as cited in the ritual. The jewel of the Degree is a rectangular plate of solid gold. On one side is an Aleph (a), the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, corresponding to the Greek Alpha. On the other side is a Tau (Z), a letter of the Hebrew alphabet that corresponds to the Greek Omega. Again, the suggestion is of the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the full cycle, totality.
The Degree reminds us that we are supposed to make a difference in the world. We are to make it a better place for others, and we are not to do that reluctantly but with zeal and fire. But we must always be sure of the purity of our own motives. A Mason who desires to help the world or to benefit others so that he can feed his own ego or for self-aggrandizement, completely misses the point.
Check back here for further information about this exciting event. This is a chance to see the degree which is not usually done at the Reunion and to have some in depth discussion about its meaning.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Most of Masonry consists of volunteers who do the things that need doing because they want to and because they are having fun doing it. There is a great deal of satisfaction to be had when you can take a part in a degree and deliver it so that the candidate has a meaningful experience when he is initiated. I know that I enjoy it.
Unfortunately sometimes we forget. We forget that people are volunteers. And we forget to treat them as such. We grow to just "expect" them to be there every week working and doing the things that need doing. And to a certain point we have every right to make that expectation.
In the Eastern Star Ritual there is a line that means a lot to me - (paraphrased here) "woe unto the faithless and insincere who take upon themselves obligations lightly and forthwith forget them." That says to me that if you say you are going to do something then others have every right to expect that of you.
People do all kinds of volunteering. Volunteers are valuable to an organization. There are a lot of people in the hospitals who sit at desks, check people in, take carts around, etc. They are very needed. If it weren't for them expenses would go up to pay others to do these jobs.
And what do we expect from those volunteers and what should they expect from us. We can expect that they will do the job they said they would do or that they will get someone to substitute for them and they should expect from us: courteous treatment from us and our gratitude. Say Thank you once in awhile for all they do. I just did!