From comments made to me by many brethren during open
forums and at other times, it seems clear that master masons would take a
greater interest in Masonic matters and be more regular in attendance at lodge
meetings and other functions if they could be given the chance to participate
more actively in lodge activities.
The future of our order will depend to quite an extent
on the interest and dedication of master masons and every effort should be made
to stimulate the enthusiasm of these brethren. Masters, in particular, should be
constantly looking at ways and means of affording their master masons the
opportunity of achieving a greater degree of involvement in Masonic affairs.
As a guide to Masters in this task of seeking to
involve master masons (and these proposals can also be addressed to lodge
wardens en route to the chair), the following suggestions and ideas are
Appointment as lodge steward
After a candidate has taken his third degree, fairly
early consideration could be given to offering him appointment as a steward. The
Master should explain the general duties attached to the position and indicate
the advantages to the brother of such closer involvement in the operations of
In describing the various duties or responsibilities
that can be allotted to stewards, the Master should ascertain whether the
brother has any particular interest or ability in respect of any of the various
activities of the lodge. As an exercise in developing keenness, it will also be
helpful for the Master to make reference to other activities relating to the
wider world of Freemasonry.
Appearance Book and welcoming visitors
Masters can arrange for a steward or other master mason
to be in charge of the appearance book at all meetings of the lodge. Brethren
who are given this responsibility should receive clear guidance regarding the
manner in which visitors should be welcomed and it should be emphasised to them
that, in carrying out this task, they are acting as the representative of the
lodge and of the Master.
Visitors will be impressed to receive the hand of
friendship as soon as they arrive at a temple and to be engaged in conversation
with someone who displays a personal interest in them. Appropriate questions can
be asked concerning the name and meeting place, etc, of the visitor's lodge,
whether the lodge has had the pleasure of the visitor's company previously, the
reason prompting the present visit and other relevant matters.
If he so desired, the Master could, of course, arrange
for the preparation of a roster of master masons to take charge of the welcoming
function from meeting to meeting.
Register of lodge members
A master mason could be nominated by the Master to be
responsible, in collaboration with the secretary, for the maintenance of a
register of members containing general information relating to each member. The
register could be in the form of a book with alphabetical tabs, or it could be
kept on a loose leaf basis.
The register, which could serve as a most helpful ready
reference for the Master, could contain such data as the member's full name and
address, wife's name (if applicable), home and business telephone numbers, date
of initiation, date of joining the lodge and name of previous lodge(s) if the
member is a joining member, list of offices held in the lodge or other lodges in
different years, details of other Masonic associations, information regarding
personal skills, interests or hobbies and other appropriate matters.
Masonic anniversary scheme
At some lodges a toast is proposed at each meeting to
those members whose initiation into Freemasonry took place in the same month in
a past year. The Master can appoint a master mason to control such a scheme.
As part of the arrangement, the brother responsible for
the register of members would supply the anniversary scheme
"controller" with a monthly list showing those brethren who will
celebrate the anniversary of their initiation during each month (irrespective of
the lodge in which it took place) and the number of years of membership in the
Craft in each case.
The brother handling the anniversary scheme can advise
the secretary and the Master on a monthly basis of the names of the brethren who
will celebrate their initiation anniversaries at the next meeting, so that
appropriate arrangement can be made to remind personally the brethren concerned
of the occasion and to seek their attendance at that particular meeting. The
reminder can be in the form of a letter, telephone call, personal call, or by
suitable endorsement on the lodge summons.
Arrangements can be made for a list to be supplied for
each month to the brother who is selected by the Master to propose the toast at
the next meeting to those celebrating anniversaries. From experience, it is
suggested that the proposer of the toast can develop greater interest by
commencing with the newest member celebrating an anniversary and finishing with
the brother with the longest period of membership of the order.
Appointment as lodge transport officer
A Master should give consideration to the appointment
of a brother to take charge of transport arrangements in the lodge and this is
an obvious area where a master mason can be involved. A transport officer is
particularly concerned with Providing a means by which elderly or infirm
members, or brethren who may be without transport facilities (permanently or
temporarily) may be called for and brought to and from lodge meetings. To ease
parking problems and transport costs, there could be value in extending the
transport plan further and encouraging some of the regular members to travel to
meetings and rehearsals in groups of two or even three or four.
Arrangements of a similar nature could be made in
relation to lodge social functions, particularly in relation to the transport of
Social Committee membership
Social activities are an indispensable part of the life
of a lodge. Stewards and other master masons should be encouraged to support the
social committee by attending committee meetings and taking part in the
discussions at those meetings. This active interest in all social functions will
give master masons an increased sense of participation in the life of the lodge.
Masters can arrange for individual master masons to be
given responsibility or part-responsibility for specific aspects of the
organisation of particular social events.
Appointment as lodge officers
Masters have the authority and opportunity to appoint
master masons not only to the "floor-work" posts of inner guard,
deacon or warden, but also to the positions of secretary, assistant secretary,
chaplain, almoner, choirmaster or organist. In addition, master masons may be
elected to the posts of treasurer, tyler or auditor. In many lodges, of course,
provision exists in the by-laws for several master masons to be appointed as
master mason representatives on the lodge committee of general purposes.
Appointment of brethren to assist Almoner
Lodge membership may be such that the almoner is
unable, by himself, to look after the interests of all brethren in an adequate
manner. In such circumstances, a Master could appoint an almoner's committee
including several master masons, or, alternatively, could nominate several
master masons to act as assistants to the almoner as required.
Action could be taken to divide the total membership
either alphabetically, geographically by age, or in some other appropriate way,
and to have the almoner and his assistants each responsible for a section, thus
splitting the responsibility into a more manageable one. The assistants would
provide information to the almoner who would keep the Master fully informed and
submit a report to the lodge at each meeting.
Appointment as understudies for lodge officers
Worshipful Masters can appoint master masons as
understudies or "stand-ins" for some of the lodge officers, including
wardens, deacons, inner guard, chaplain and tyler. Understudies would be
encouraged to attend rehearsals regularly to develop proficiency in ritual and
ceremonial practices pertaining to their "substitute" posts, and to be
ready to act for an absentee officer at short notice. It would follow that
understudies would need to be in attendance at lodge meetings before the time of
tyling to facilitate the making of substitution arrangements where required.
Similar arrangements, of course, could apply in relation to rehearsals.
It is of great benefit to lodges and members to have a
lodge newsletter prepared and issued with each lodge summons and a Master can
invite an interested master mason (or, perhaps, two brethren) to undertake this
The newsletter can contain information relating to
matters such as:
· the proceedings of the last lodge meeting and the
program planned for the next meeting (and, perhaps, future meetings);
of interest at the festive board at the last meeting;
future social events;
snippers of news concerning members and their families,
including reference to matters such as illnesses,
retirements, deaths, interstate and overseas trips and honour awards;
· other Masonic matters of interest such as Grand
Lodge functions and including, if desired, a short informative reference to some
aspect of Freemasonry for the enlightenment of members; and activities of the
lodge ladies' committee.
Following recent rule changes, Master Masons can now
deliver any charge in any of the three degree ceremonies, except the obligation
and communucation of the Secrets.
Tracing board lectures
The first and second degree tracing board lectures may
be presented by suitably qualified brethren below the rank of warden. This
provides an opportunity to involve a master mason, or, because of the length of
the lectures, several master masons who may make the presentation as a group.
These lectures may be given as part of an actual degree ceremony (when they
should be delivered after the working tools have been presented) or separately
at another regular meeting. It is suggested that both lectures should be given
at least once per year for the instruction of brethren.
Apart from the tracing board lectures, other lectures
covering a variety of Masonic subjects can be obtained from the Grand Lodge
Librarian or from the Grand Lecturer. These can be presented at regular meetings
by master masons -- either by an individual member or by a group of brethren
operating as a team. Or, a number of master masons could be employed in
presenting on a group basis "The Charges of a Freemason" as set out in
the Book of Constitutions. Again, a number of master masons could, under
the control of an experienced brother, present a questions and answers session
in lodge based on matters dealt with in the Book of Catechetical Lectures
available at the Masonic Centre. This book is, in effect, an instructional
system in Freemasonry related to the ritual of the degrees but having a more
comprehensive application. Master mason members could be also encouraged to
prepare their own lectures on Masonic topics, but these should be submitted to
the Grand Lecturer for approval before presentation in lodges.
A large number of lecturettes of approximately five
minutes' duration covering numerous aspects of Craft activities have been
developed for the enlightenment of brethren, and these are available from the
Masonic Centre. Masters can arrange for master masons to present these
lecturettes at lodge meetings .
It has been suggested that one of these lecturettes be
presented at each lodge meeting (or, at least, at some lodge meetings during
each year) either just before the first time of rising, or after the second time
Proposition of toasts
In connection with the allocation of toasts at the
festive board, including those concerning newly initiated brethren, visitors to
a lodge and those celebrating initiation anniversaries, Masters should ensure
that master masons receive a fair share of this responsibility.
Care should always be exercised to see that adequate
notice is given to the proposer of any toast in order that he may have
sufficient time in which to prepare a presentation which will give pleasure to
the recipient and satisfaction to the proposer. This is especially necessary in
the case of master masons, many of whom may be lacking in experience in speaking
Brethren should be informed that there is no need to
present lengthy propositions. Indeed, verbosity should be firmly discouraged. As
a guide, few of the toasts at the monthly festive board need be of more than
three to five minutes' duration.
Harmony at the festive board
From among lodge members, including master masons, it
may be possible to build up a choral group which can provide an harmonious and
impressive backdrop not only to the degree workings but also at the festive
board. If instrumentalists are available, they could add to the pleasure and
enjoyment of the South either in solo presentations or in combination with the
choral group. Reciters of poetry and artists in other areas of entertainment
could also be incorporated in a lodge harmony group.
As part of "harmony" at the festive board,
master masons, as well as other brethren, could be encouraged to prepare and
deliver short talks pertaining to their occupations, hobbies, crafts, travels or
other interests. This type of presentation can be both interesting and
educational to brethren generally and represent an outward example of the
application of the symbolism of the chisel. At the same time, brethren speaking
on matters of this nature on which they are well versed can gain confidence in
appearing before an audience which could assist them in carrying out ceremonial
work in the lodge room.
Lodge of Instruction
Masters should stress to master masons the undoubted
benefits which can be derived from their attendance at a lodge of instruction,
particularly guidance and instruction in the delivery of ritual and performance
of ceremonial from experienced and dedicated past masters. Attendance at a lodge
of instruction, coupled with normal lodge rehearsals, can do much to assist
brethren to develop confidence in their ability to play an effective part in
actual lodge workings.
Special instructional lodges and groups
Master masons should be informed of the value to be
gained by their attendance at meetings of the Rhetoric Lodge of Communication No
831and the Lodge of Research No 218, both of which meet as regular lodges at the
Masonic Centre. The Rhetoric Lodge of Communication serves to train brethren
effectively in the various Masonic communication processes, while the Lodge of
Research provides general enlightenment for brethren in the presentation of
lectures on a wide variety of Masonic topics by leading speakers. Further
information on both of these lodges will be included in a later chapter.
Other research groups in Victoria include the Holden
Research Circle which meets at the Camberwell temple, the Chisel Lodge of
Research No 434 which is a regular lodge meeting at Kerang, and the West
Gippsland Research Group at Warragul.
Master masons could also be encouraged to consider
seeking membership of the world-wide Correspondence Circle attached to the
Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076, English Constitution, meeting in London. This
lodge, which is regarded as the principal research body in the Masonic world,
will also be referred to in more detail later.
Use of Grand Lodge library
Brethren, especially master masons, should be made
aware of the service provided by the Grand Lodge library at the Masonic Centre.
The Grand Lodge librarian and his assistants are available to discuss any aspect
of the Craft in which enquirers may be interested, including such areas as
history, philosophy, symbolism, administration, ritual, degree workings,
universality and other facets of the order.
Brethren may become members of the library at a normal
subscription and this enables them to borrow books and other material. The
library, which also embraces a museum of Masonic regalia and other artefacts,
will also be dealt with again in a later chapter.
Visits to other lodges
Masters should arrange for newly-admitted brethren to
visit other lodges as soon as possible and to accompany them on these visits.
Arrangements should also be made for a new member's proposer and seconder and/or
the lodge mentor, if there be one, also to attend and provide support on these
occasions. When official visits are made to other lodges, Masters should make a
special effort to interest master masons in joining the lodge party.
Masters should endeavour to interest master masons in
attending Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodges to enable them to gain a
wider view of the operations and general activities of the craft.
Meeting with Grand Master
At periodical intervals, invitations are issued to new
members of the order and their ladies to attend a short informal meeting at the
Masonic Centre at which the Grand Master and other senior Grand Lodge officers
will be present. Masters should recommend to brethren concerned that they make
every effort to attend these meetings, first to meet the Grand Master personally
and, secondly, to have the opportunity of learning something of the purposes of
Freemasonry right at the very beginning of their Masonic careers.