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The making of a Freemason consists in a continued course of education, training and character forming. While it may be accepted that it is an innermost desire, followed by obligations, that makes one a member of the Craft, yet in a truer sense, a man is not a Freemason unless he lives up to his obligations.
Keeping this in mind, you have to realize that as an organization Freemasonry has "Members" and it has "Masons" and the two are not the same.
The Mason goes into deeper research about Freemasonry and the more extensive knowledge of its hidden art and mysteries. The philosophy of Freemasonry, when discovered and then accepted and practiced, provides simple but profound solutions to the problems of human relationships. Freemasonry is a way of living to the Mason who is interested enough to appraise and value the wealth that is his by virtue of his Masonic Membership.
The best-informed Master Mason is the Master Mason who reads and studies about the Craft. He reads and learns to understand the "Volume of the Sacred Law" of his religion and he also should read and study the "Volume of the Sacred Laws" of other religions. For to be able to have some understanding of what others believe, you have to have some knowledge of what it is that they believe. It is with this knowledge and understanding that a Mason is able to find common grounds to come together with others, in Love, Peace, and Unity for the good of all mankind with any good man of any race, creed, or religion.
Freemasonry is not a religion even though it is religious in character. It does not pretend to take the place of religion nor serve as a substitute for the religious beliefs of its Members. Freemasonry accepts men, found to be worthy, regardless of religious convictions. An essential requirement is a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being.
Freemasonry is not an insurance or beneficial society. It is not organized for profit. However, the charity and services rendered are beyond measure. It teaches the Golden Rule. It seeks to make good men better through its firm belief in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the Immortality of the Soul.
The tenets of Freemasonry are ethical principles that are acceptable to all good men. It teaches tolerance toward all mankind. It is known throughout the world. Freemasonry proudly proclaims that it consists of men bound together by bonds of Brotherly Love and Affection. It dictates to no man as to his beliefs, either religious or secular. It seeks no advantage for its Members through business or politics. Freemasonry is not a forum for discussions on partisan affairs.
At our Altars, without any vanity or pretense, we assemble for work and fellowship and to learn to love and cherish one another. By so doing, we bring light out of darkness, beauty out of drabness, exaltation out of despair--to the end that every Brother's life may become more radiant and meaningful.
A Mason believes that Faith is the foundation of justice, the bond of amity, and the chief support of society. He lives by Faith: he walks by Faith; by Faith he has a continued hope in the acknowledgement of a Supreme Being; by Faith he believes he will be justified, accepted and finally saved.
A Mason believes that Hope is the anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and center into that within the veil; let a firm reliance on the Almighty's faithfulness animate his endeavors, and teach him to fix his Hopes within the limits of His promises.
A Mason believes that Charity is the brightest gem that can adorn his Masonic profession. Happy is the man who has sowed in his breast the seeds of benevolence; the produce thereof is love and peace. The objects of true charity among Masons are merit and virtue in distress, persons who are incapable of extricating themselves from misfortunes in their journey through life, industrious men who, from unavoidable accidents, have fallen into ruin. Widows left destitute by lack of husbands' support. Orphans in tender years, needing a father's care. The aged, whose strength is exhausted, and who are thereby rendered unable to procure for themselves that substance necessary to nourish their declining years. This is CHARITY, the keystone of our mystic institution.
The principal tenets of our profession are threefold, including the inculcation and practice of those truly commendable virtues, Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
By the exercise of Brotherly Love a Mason learns to regard the whole human race as one family the high, the low, the rich, the poor who, being created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, ought to aid, support, and protect each other. On this principle Masonry unites men of every Country, sect, and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might other wise have remained at a perpetual distance.
To relieve the Distressed is a duty incumbent on all men, but particularly on Masons, who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. To soothe the unhappy, to sympathize with them in their misfortunes, to compassionate their miseries, and to restore peace to their troubled minds is the great aim we have in view. On this basis we form our friendships and establish our connections.
Truth is a divine attribute and the foundation of every virtue. To be good men and true is the first lesson we are taught in Freemasonry. On this theme we contemplate, and by its dictates endeavor to regulate our conduct. Hence, while influenced by this principle, hypocrisy and deceit are unknown among us, sincerity and plain-dealing distinguish us, and the heart and the tongue join in promoting each other's welfare and rejoicing in each other's prosperity.
In my very short overview of what a Mason is I hope that I have cleared up some of the misconceptions that are out there about Freemasonry.
Now I will move on to what is a Member. A member is hopefully a future Mason. No one came into this world as an adult and no one comes into Masonry as Mason. It is the hope of every Mason that by his example he will lead the Members around him to also advance in Masonry to become the future Masons of our Order.
If all of us are not what you think we should be, just remember that, "God is not through with us yet", and that someday all of us will be just what, "God wants us to be".
No man can live according to the principles and teachings of Ancient Craft Masonry and do anything, knowingly and willingly, that is contrary to moral and upright principles. Freemasonry frowns on every wrongful act and admonishes the right actions between each of us and the world at large. Freemasonry is and should always be a guide to our actions.
Freemasonry is kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, pity and concern for the unfortunate, resistance toward evil, help for the weak, forgiveness for the penitent, love for one another and, above all, reverence and love for God. Freemasonry is many things but, most of all:
FREEMASONRY IS A WAY OF LIFE.
Byron E. Hams, PM
Prince Hall Lodge #1
The MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri and its Jurisdiction