Lodge Though Regular, Just and Perfect, Needs Some “Life Support”
our 2001/2002 Year Book, there are 1,150 Daughter Lodges chartered by the Grand
Lodge of the Antient, Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland. Of these, 68 are in
Nigeria. World-wide, there are hundreds of other Grand Lodges recognized by our
Grand Lodge as regular. Some have
as many Daughter Lodges under their jurisdiction as our Grand Lodge. Here in
Nigeria, we have Daughter Lodges chartered by the United Grand Lodges of England
and Ireland in which several of our Brethren are affiliates. Worldwide
therefore, our Lodge is but one other precious little drop of water in the
mighty and majestic ocean of Regular Freemasonry. This our jeweled position
notwithstanding, a study of our summonses, indicates a long list of our Brethren
who were very eminent Masons only a few years back but who unfortunately, do not
associate any longer with the Order. They
have since stopped attending our meetings.
A few still acknowledge signs and are often the first to give them. The
sad aspect in their renouncing fellowship is that some few of them who had
attained to very lofty heights in the Craft have turned out to be great scandals
to younger Masons, some few of whom had unfortunately followed their footsteps.
The result is that our summonses end up securing just enough to form and work
our Lodge. These not withstanding, we are by the grace of the Great Architect of
the Universe, still Regular, Just and Perfect.
By Lodge numbering, the youngest Lodge in the 2001/2002 Year Book of
Scottish Freemasonry is Lodge Fort Nassau No. 1819 S.C. The inference is that
some 669 chartered Lodges (ie: 1,819 minus 1,150) under this Constitution may as
at that date be moribund. More of their members than in ours, have for
unavoidable misfortune and calamity, experienced sub-marginal glows of
enthusiasm towards the Craft.
is no justification for our seeking solace in Dr. Oliver’s erudite quote that
“if you have a good Lodge, keep it select, great numbers are not
always beneficial.” There is nothing wrong with a big, prosperous Lodge.
All that is desirable and strictly so, is that we keep our Lodge select, namely,
that our applicant-acceptance procedure be as genuinely thorough as our antient
Brethren had always insisted. To what may we attribute this backsliding and loss
of membership? What are some
remedies which ought to be tried?
very few of our Brethren are willing to be known and addressed as Freemasons to
the knowledge of members of the outer world.
This is a reflection of the changed perception of the Craft in the
modern, politically complex society in which economic and profit motivation as
well as competitive business concepts even dominate transactions in
traditionally sacrosanct organizations. In
some open societies, enemies of Freemasonry hiding behind the veil of these
organizations have charged the Order of catering for only its members to the
detriment of non-masons. Some of
those open societies have in some measure yielded to pressure to require Masons
in positions of public trust to officially declare and register their membership
of the Craft. In Nigeria, the
government had at sometime required public officials to renounce and declare
their renunciation of membership in the Order.
Some religious organizations in Nigeria have also indicated to their
members, that associating with the Craft is not only ill advised but
categorically evil. Any member of
their church organization found to still retain his membership of the Order, is
denied participation in the Communion Service, is not recommended for
Knighthood, and may not receive the church rites at death.
this environment, some Masons have found it difficult retaining their membership
of the Craft. The reasons are many
and varied but may be counted on the fingers of one hand under the following
the first category, family pressures to receive the Knighthood in order to be
seen in preferred cathedral and church pews, solemnly attired with their wives
in accompaniment, were so much of an inducement to impel their backsliding from
second class, to whom the glamour of church knighthood hold no attraction, and
who also had a more in-depth appreciation of the virtues and principles of
Freemasonry, a strictly enforced denial of participation in Communion Service
and burial rites were equally not enough reasons for renouncing Freemasonry. But
having advanced in age, and for reasons beyond their personal control, did not
create adequate capital to sustain them in their retirement, they are compelled
to fall back on their families for sustenance. Invariably in these circumstances
where the purse-bearer-family member is in the group that erroneously classify
Freemasonry as irreligiously worshiping a false god, these Masons are coerced to
renounce membership in order to benefit from the family’s conditional
identifiable group of backsliding Masons consists of those who according to our
rituals, “sought Freemasonry from biased and improper solicitations against
their own inclination and/or influenced by mercenary or other unworthy motives.”
As soon as they find out that the Order does not involve itself with
canvassing for pecuniary or other worldly benefits for its members, they get
frustrated and unceremoniously quit.
are sub-sets of the third category just discussed.
These are those searching for easy solutions to their problems.
They are usually of the impression that “the secret to wealth and
success” can be found in Freemasonry. They also believe that this secret is
though not revealed to members until they shall have attained a certain high
level of membership. In such instances one observes persons in this group
quitting after attaining the Chair, or in a few instances, after receiving some
of the non-Craft higher degrees.
other group worth mentioning consists of those who on identifying that a person
of substance whose friendship and trust they would want to nurture and exploit
to selfish advantage is a Mason, promptly seek admission.
They are usually deceptively very enthusiastic at these initial stages of
their Masonic life. As soon as
their initially perceived advantage is fully exploited or lost, these
‘mercenary-masons’ cease from associating with Masonry and in some
instances, profess to have renounced the Order. This also happens when some
Brethren canvass an individual with no other good qualification than that he is
wealthy or has access to the corridors of power.
There Any Remedies or Palliatives?
all the above categories, the backsliding Brother most often fails in our prayer
that he lives many years to wear the distinguishing badge of a Freemason with
pleasure to himself, usefulness to the Craft, and honor to our Lodge. He
also fails in our exhortation never to disgrace that badge, which he was assured
will never disgrace him. We can
only strive to minimize the rate of decline in membership. All the causes of
backsliding we have identified are principally attributable to ignorance or lack
of adequate knowledge of Freemasonry on the part of our lost Brother and members
of his immediate family. Our Lodge
should recognize the importance of information in the life of every entity.
It is information to the tree that harmattan (in our own climate system)
or winter (in the further northern climates) is approaching, that makes it shed
its leaves in order to survive that season.
In business management, information is assigned a very high premium. We
need therefore to appropriately and continuously educate Brethren and ourselves
on the tenets of the Craft.
approach and the most important, is to be much more meticulous in our processing
of applicants for initiation. We
are almost all guilty of imprudently filling out the right side of that
center-spread page of the “Application For Initiation Form.”
This relates to information required of the Proposer and the Seconder.
What efforts do we make to confirm that the applicant is conversant with
the first two and a half pages of the Application Form which in summary dealt
with “What Is Freemasonry?”, “What Freemasonry Is Not,”
“Who May Become A Freemason,” and “What Freemasonry Expects Of
You?” Do we really appreciate the
import of the time-honored Dr. Oliver’s admonition that we be very cautious
whom we recommend as a candidate for initiation? One false step on this point may be fatal.
This fatality may lead not only to matters detrimental to the governance
or even the subsistence of our Lodge but to dishonor of the Craft in general.
We ought to strive to ensure that as far as lies in our power, the
candidate we sign his application form is in the language of our Order, “of
good report.” Philosophers agree
on a few maxims. One generally
accepted principle is, “When in doubt, withhold decision.” If we have the slightest doubt as to the good qualities of an
applicant, or any misgivings that he would not be a good Mason, we are then
bound to decline to sponsor or second his being proposed for admission.
Most importantly, we ought now to request to meet with his immediate
family to discuss his application and explain to them all those issues indicated
in the Application Form. This should be compulsory.
It was shocking to learn only at the installation of a Brother in one of
our Daughter Lodges, that his wife did not even know that he is a Mason. This
only became known when Brethren wanted to know why he wanted his post
installation banquet held in the Temple premises under contract catering, while
being resident with his wife and family in the city where the Lodge meets.
some Lodges, they have adopted a requirement that the applicant first submits in
his own handwriting, a formal letter of intention to apply for membership,
before he is given the official Application For Initiation Form. In the letter, without any prompting from a Mason, he
indicates his incentives for seeking admission and that his immediate family has
been appropriately informed. These are preludes to confirming the declaration
the applicant would later make on the floor of the Lodge, that he is prompted to
solicit the privileges of Freemasonry from a favorable opinion, preconceived, of
the institution, a general desire for knowledge, and a sincere wish to render
himself more extensively serviceable to his fellow creatures.
It is also hoped that the letter would limit the amount and content of
‘testimonies’ the Brother may be tempted to make if he backslides and
becomes a ‘born-again’ in one of the money spinning churches that now spring
up in Nigeria.
of Instructions to an initiate
is observed that as soon as one is initiated, he is totally left on his own to
recollect and appraise whatever he may have remembered of the very lengthy
lectures he was given, most of which were during the time he was in a state of
darkness. The result is that he is
not thereafter, assisted in appreciating the importance of the ceremony he had
undergone. This abandonment by his
sponsors and other Brethren is brought out succinctly when prior to his being
made a Fellow of Craft, he stutters through the only eleven usual questions
related to the ceremony of his initiation.
This happens at least one calendar month after his initiation and ought
to be very expertly answered by him, if we had been good Brethren to him,
guiding and instructing him on the tenets of Freemasonry related to his rank as
an Entered Apprentice Freemason. We
should appreciate the import of his being known and addressed as an Apprentice,
and therefore undertake to teach and inform him accordingly.
The Right Worshipful Master should on coming to the level to extend a
hand of fellowship to him also charge his sponsors to make it a point of their
Masonic responsibility to make out time to duly instruct the Initiate on related
matters. The same process should be
undertaken with newly made Fellows of Craft and Master Masons. We should now no
longer hesitate in making a copy of the Ritual available to an initiate.
This is available at some bookstores to all who may want to pay for it.
The printing press that produce them as well as the bookstores that
retail them employ all and sundry who are not necessarily Masons.
In passing, I would also suggest that we no longer hide the contents of
our regalia box from our wives and children.
This unnecessary secrecy to even our immediate family members is often
misinterpreted to infer that Freemasonry is satanic.
respect to the newly made Fellow of Craft Freemason, we forget the charge that
we expect him to make “the hidden mysteries and nature of our science his
future study so that he may be enabled the better to discharge his duties as a
Freemason, and estimate aright the wonderful manifestations of the Almighty
Architect’s Plan.” To
complicate matters more for him, he is told that he will now be permitted to
extend his researches into the more hidden mysteries of the Craft.
If any Fellow of Craft later recalled these admonitions and charges, he
definitely would be troubled with the extent of the immediate meaninglessness of
the long lectures. To extend a
research implies that some form of research is already being undertaken, and
there he stands, wondering what he had missed in the first degree.
Here again, the Lodge owes him a duty of care, to assign some Brethren to
meet with the Fellow of Craft and explain to him the import and implications of
this second degree in Freemasonry.
the Master Mason’s stage, the situation is bleaker.
Entered Apprentices and Fellows of Craft uninformed as to the nature of
their engagement, anticipate that these “mysteries” would be made clear at
the Master Mason’s degree. Here
again, the Exhortations may be well delivered, but the candidate neither fully
appreciates the meaning, nor the significance of subsequent rites of his
raising. Instead, the Senior Warden
and the Worshipful Master now give him a very enormous responsibility in his
investiture charge. There he stands
in his ignorance of the world of Freemasonry and is being informed that he has
attained “full Masonic manhood.” He
is further embarrassed in his ignorance by being charged to recognize “his own
superiority” which calls on him “to afford assistance and instruction to
E.As and Fs. of C.”
each and every one of us reflect on our mood when we were so addressed, vis-à-vis
what we then knew of Freemasonry. To
worsen our embarrassment at that time, if we really were listening and
comprehending the import of the words, the charge after raising talked about our
“zeal for the Institution of Freemasonry, the progress” we have made in the
art and our conformity to the general regulations which it claims, pointed us
“out as a proper object of” Masonic favor and esteem.”
We must have felt that these were references to our regular attendance at
meetings with shiny shoes and well pressed out three-piece suit since after our
initiation. Otherwise, what did we
then know about Freemasonry to merit such accolades? Did we really possess those qualities? Whatever level of knowledge we then possessed was not
even adequate for instructing EAs and Fs. of C let alone meeting challenges from
the detractors of the Order. It
though, was not our fault as newly made Master Masons.
Onus of Information Dissemination
entire responsibility for these lapses falls squarely on the Right Worshipful
Master. Each time prior to his
Lodge being opened, he is reminded by no less an official than the IPM
(Immediate Past Master), that it is his duty “to open the Lodge, and to employ
and instruct the Brethren in Freemasonry.”
His appointment to the office was predicated on his being “an expert
brother” elected from among the members of the Lodge to preside over it.
He is elected because he is “well skilled in our science, and a lover
of the Craft.” Among the Charges
and Regulations he submitted himself to uphold as all good Masters have done, is
“to propagate the knowledge of the art of Freemasonry.”
Furthermore, he was required as part of his obligations and
responsibility in the discharge of the duties of his high office, “to
communicate the light of Masonic knowledge and instruction to his brethren, and
fan the flame of enthusiasm and zeal for their Lodge and for the Craft.”
It is upon his skill and assiduity that the honor, the reputation, and
the usefulness of his Lodge will materially depend.
The happiness of the Brethren of his Lodge will also “be promoted in
proportion to the zeal and ability with which he promulgates the genuine
principles of the institution.” He
is though as Master, empowered to delegate some aspects of these duties of his
important trust to appropriately qualified Brethren, particularly Past Masters
of his or other Regular Lodges. As
Past Masters they had been similarly charged on their respective installations
and therefore fall within the rank that “must of necessity rule and teach.”
fact that the Master opens his Lodge to employ and instruct the Brethren in
Freemasonry, implies that he must during the course of business in each such
opened Lodge, devote his time not only in employing the Brethren in what is
usually the working of one of the degrees, but also in instructing them by way
of a talk, a lecture, or a question and answer session.
With this understanding, permit me to state that a Master definitely
fails woefully in his duty if he engages in what is termed an “open and
close” meeting. A topical
well-researched lecture of fifteen minutes duration would liven up meetings,
improve the knowledge we charge the EAs, Fs of C, and MM to acquire and utilize,
and induce Brethren who thirst for knowledge to attend.
A question and answer session would elicit from Brethren the areas in
which they may need assistance for comprehension. It would also assist in determining areas of assistance in
dealing with persons of the outer world who are not Masons.
In each case, the Right Worshipful Master would engage his expertise to
ensure that Masonic prohibitions regarding discussion on religion and politics
are strictly observed. Reduction
of lectures to hard copies thus enabling Brethren refer to them later for
greater understanding is recommended. Brethren
who have the facility may have the lectures sent to them via their e-mail
Freemasonry is not a religion, it strictly insists that its members must be
astutely religious. This among
others, distinguishes us from irregular lodges and each brother should be very
knowledgeable in the differences. Where each brother is sufficiently versed in
the nature of our science that is founded on the practice of every moral and
members uphold the name of the one, true and living God with that awe and
reverence due from the creature to his Creator, imploring his Divine aid in all
their lawful undertakings, and looking up to Him in every emergency for comfort
to their neighbor in a like manner as they would expect from him;
such virtues as prudence and discipline which may best conduce to the
preservation of their corporeal and mental faculties in their fullest energy
thereby enabling them to exercise those talents wherewith God has blessed them;
due obedience to the laws of any State which may for a time become their place
of residence; and,
every domestic as well as public virtue,
we shall expect that he would be adequately informed to rationally counter the
opposition from his immediate family members and therefore those of his larger
a brother will be equipped to detail the explanation that Freemasonry is neither
a religion nor a substitute for religion; and is not a charitable or insurance
institution, nor does it lend itself to the promotion of selfish or mercenary
interests or connected in any way with a political creed.
Most importantly, the Freemasonry we practice is regular as distinct from
irregular Lodges with whom we share no association.
Often, some family members may refer sarcastically to a brother they know
to have some socially undesirable habits. An
enlightened brother should be able to proffer adequate explanation that the
observed anomie would have been worse were the fellow not a Mason. Furthermore, no society of humans can claim to have a
totality of its members conforming to the prescribed path of virtue enshrined in
its precepts. If more of us are
knowledgeable and persevere in the practice of the principles and virtues of
pure and unsullied Freemasonry, and exemplify them to the world at large, in our
homes, neighborhoods, work places and churches, our detractors will be
are left with one category of deserters, who cannot be very easily helped
through the suggested continuing education program.
These are those who fall into the misfortune of relying for sustenance on
family members who harbor false religious principles.
Masonry teaches us to work while it is yet day.
We have noted the charge that we practice such virtues as prudence and
discipline which may best conduce to the preservation of our corporeal and
mental faculties in their fullest energy thereby enabling us to exercise those
talents wherewith God has blessed us. In
the first degree, the Order employed the 24inch gauge to instruct us to adhere
to the dignity of labor. These not
withstanding, most often age, ill health, economic depression and inflation may
combine to render a brother indigent and in need of financial support. Where he has failed in the period of his economic
independence to convince his immediate family of the excellence of Freemasonry,
he may then be at risk of being pressurized to renounce the Order if he is to
expect financial assistance from them.
Most often their flimsy excuse is that whatever assistance he gets from
them would be expended in his Lodge membership dues and levies.
Knowing that membership in Freemasonry can be expensive, they hope that a
build up of arrears on his financial obligations, would compel him to minimize
and later abandon his attendance at Masonic meetings. To some extent, they may
add-in several other icings to the cake, by indicating willingness to replace
his worn out car and secure him a knighthood in the church.
To compound the matter, they may also make reference to the absence of
visitations by his Masonic brethren.
individuals, we may only take note of this later class.
Chances are that also as individuals or groups, we may find avenues of
assisting such distressed brethren. There
have been some instances where this has been successfully done.
Modalities for easing such distress on true and faithful Masons, should
be our continual care.
Proud of Your Masonic Identity
each installation, the Order demands of us a “just though unobtrusive pride in
our Lodge”. Being proud presupposes having relevant knowledge of the object
for which one is proud of. This entails being fully informed on what Freemasonry
is and is not. Unfortunately, on
yet another aspect, not many of us will want to be seen in a public Masonic
assembly in which wearing of regalia has been sanctioned.
us reflect on our recent past. Here in Nigeria, the early nascent Christian
churches particularly Anglican and Presbyterian, owe a great deal to dedicated
Freemasons who were either missionaries, school principals and masters, or
colonial officials and merchants for their dedication to the principles
enunciated in our Antient Charge namely – “never to act against the dictates
of his conscience…and to strive by the purity of their own conduct to
demonstrate the superior excellence of the faith they” profess as good
Christians. The practice of holding
Masonic meetings in the college chapel was not new to them. In Scotland where
the Presbyterian Church has its beginnings, there are records of Lodges holding
their meetings in parish churches. One such Lodge is Lodge St. John Kilwinning
which held some of its initiations in St. Mary’s Parish Church in Haddington.
Today in Scotland, Ireland and England, several Lodges still hold special
services in their parish churches.
some Nigerian cities, Maiduguri, Kano, Zaria and Jos all in the Moslem dominated
north, Lodges were chartered and worked as early as 1939. In Calabar in the
Christian south, Lodge MacDonald 197 IC was erected in 1896 much before the
birth of the nation Nigeria in 1900, and had for its members the core personnel
of the Presbyterian Mission and Secondary School in the town.
The same can be said of several primitive urban centers in Nigeria,
particularly Lagos, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and Ibadan.
Archbishop Leslie Gordon Vining, was along with other local Clergy in the
then Province of West Africa, a dedicated man of God and Mason. He was the
District Grand Chaplain to both the Nigerian Scottish and English Constitutions.
The Vining Memorial Church in Lagos is named after him.
The same goes for his other associates as Bishops A. W. Howells Sr. and
A. W. Howells Jr. A Street in
Aba, Howells Crescent takes its name from the Howells that was the Bishop of Aba
diocese. When Lodge Ekwulu No.1665 S.C was erected, a solemn service was held at
the high brow All Saints Anglican Church, GRA Enugu in which the Masons
worshiped in full regalia. The
photograph taken in front of the Church with the Clergy is a testimony of the
reality of the amiable relationship between Freemasonry and the Church much
before some of our present church leaders became more religious than their
predecessors in office.
is instructive to know that the first black American Freemason, Prince Hall
(1748-1807), was a Methodist Minister. A
majority of the Methodist ministers were then Freemasons and included the famous
Josiah Henson whose character inspired the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They were
simply in the footsteps of the Wellesley ‘Brothers’ – Rev. John, Charles
and Samuel. A Roman Catholic priest, Rev. Farther Fransisco Calvo, introduced
freemasonry in Costa Rica in 1865. Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, one of the
best-known Protestant clergymen in America and author of several best selling
psychology texts, was a member of Millwood Lodge No. 1062 Brooklyn N.Y.
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints was a member of Nauvoo Lodge, Illinois.
The Mormon’s Temple Ceremonies are known to be adaptations from
Freemasonry. Swami Nerendramah
Datta Vivekananda an Indian ascetic and leading exponent of both Hinduism and
Yoga in the west is a member of Hope and Anchor Lodge No. 1 Calcutta.
have no hesitation in concluding with the a High Court judge in South Africa who
said that “in listening to this evidence I believe Freemasonry is the
handmaiden of the Church.” (Quoted in GL of Scotland Quarterly Communication
report 1st November 2001 at page 163). There
is no need for further digression to the early beginnings of Freemasonry and its
close association with the Church. These
are well documented and evidenced in the several cathedrals built and hymns
composed by true and faithful Masons. Franz Josef Haydn, was the
first symphonic composer, famous for his Masses and Chamber music.
His most commonly known and admired oratorios are ‘The Creation’ and
‘The Seasons.’ Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart a member of Lodge Zur Wohltatigkeit, Vienna, introduced him into
Freemasonry and he was initiated also at Vienna in 1785 in Lodge Zur Wahren
Eintracht. The preface to the first edition of the Christian Community
Bible which is very much in circulation in Nigeria, published 1998, has a
section titled “From the Apostles to Us.”
In it, it states that “Mozart’s music has opened a fresh Christian
awareness to more people than some great missionaries.”
What a humble appreciation of the great contributions of this Christian
and Mason to his religion! This is
but a tip of the iceberg.
is a general consensus that no astronaut can be an atheist.
John Glenn who in 1962 became the first American to orbit the earth in
the space ship Friendship 7, is a member of Concord Lodge No. 68 Concord, Ohio.
Leroy Gordon Cooper, the astronaut who made record-breaking flights in
Mercury 7 in 1963 and in Gemini 5 in 1965, is a member of Carbondale Lodge No.
82, Colorado. Virgil Grissom a
member of Mitchell Lodge No. 228 in Indiana in 1965 undertook the first manned
maneuver in space. He died in the
explosion of another mission in Apollo 1 in 1967. Col. Edwin Aldrin who in 1969 co-piloted the first landing on
the moon of the Apollo II lunar module was initiated in Lodge Progresso No. 4
Valparaiso. James Benson Irwin, a
member of Lodge Tejon No. 104, Colorado Springs, piloted the lunar module
“Falcon” on the Apollo 15 mission in 1971 and spent with David R. Scott
nearly 67 hours on the moon surface. Others are Thomas Patten Stafford and Wally
and many more from all works of life, several with intimidating record of
achievements, others as monarchs, kings, and princes with silver spoons in their
mouths, and yet thousands more with modest achievements ranging from Presidents,
Prime Ministers, Judges and personality giants in various fields of honorable
human endeavor, were all Masons true and brave.
We should be prudently proud and happy in the awareness that no society
of men has produced series of excellent individuals as our noble Order.
recall the information given to all applicants for initiation relating to
“What Freemasonry Expects of [them].” It
reads: “The privileges of Freemasonry are no greater than the responsibilities
of its members. Your obligations
will not conflict with those you have already assumed by virtue of your
membership in modern society. On
the contrary, Freemasonry reiterates, reinforces and re-emphasizes them. Thus,
in asking Freemasonry to share with you its past, its present and its future and
all the privileges of its Brotherhood, you must bear in mind the fact that the
relationship is a reciprocal one.” Let
us all creditably stand to be recognized. As we stand out, in our daily lives,
demonstrating the principles and virtues of our fraternity, our associates of
the outer world would be prompted to long to belong and thereby come to
“knock” on our door.