By Michael Jarzabek
First Fraternal Speech delivered in 2014 at Brigham Lodge. Also published in The Trowel Magazine as well as the Southern California Research Lodge’s Fraternal Review.
Be the Revolution
With three knocks at the door a candidate enters hoping for something revolutionary. He wants to change the world, to change his place in it. He takes his degrees looking to gather together with like-minded individuals. He might have watched a show on the history channel or read the Da Vinci Code. He wants to learn those secrets he hears so much about. He looks around the walls of the lodge and finds an oil painting of George Washington. He hears of the American Revolution and those patriots he will soon call Brother. His heart soars. His hope appears to end in fruition.
Then we speak. There are no secrets. The revolution has been cancelled. Nothing is required of him. He thought it would be more challenging. To call himself Master Mason he only has to witness three degrees (in one day if that is more convenient) and pay his yearly dues? Is this really what makes a Mason? He is told of heroes of yesterday but none of today. He finds nostalgia where he should find inspiration. We become to this candidate just another hollow institution not deserving of his time or energy. Are we failing to meet the great promise of Masonry? Is the lodge really no different than the profane world? Before our candidate can find out he is mistaken, he leaves to never again to darken our door. In a few years he will most likely stop paying his dues and he will be suspended, his hope ending in frustration.
The revolution has not been canceled. We wage Revolutions in Masonic lodges all over the world, one man at a time. We wage them in Syria, Iran, Cuba, China and Afghanistan.
“In 1978, the Islamic Jurisdictional College issued an opinion that deemed Freemasonry to be “dangerous” and “clandestine”. Freemasonry is illegal in all Islamic countries except Lebanon and Morocco”. The Grand Lodge of Iran in Exile found an alternate home to practice Freemasonry. These men, like many others, are not allowed to meet in their own country. We in the United States, specifically Massachusetts, have provided them a home. Our Grand Lodge also has chartered lodges in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and China. Please don’t misunderstand, the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts doesn’t plot to overthrow governments, but these actions prove that we stand as much for freedom and liberty today meeting on Tremont Street as we did in 1775 meeting at the Green Dragon.
Masonic author Cliff Porter snuck into Syria, in the trunk of a car, to sit in a lodge with men of different faiths. These men stagger their arrivals to that night’s unique meeting location so as to not be found out. Their makeshift lodge halls are decorated with embattlements and their Tyler is armed not with a blunt sword but with a machine gun. The penalty for being a Freemason in Syria is death. The Revolution has not been cancelled.
My Brothers, be certain that I allude not to armed revolution, but rather to this definition: “Revolution- A sudden, complete or marked change in something.”
The revolution has not been cancelled. We wage revolutions in Masonic lodges all over the Commonwealth, one man at a time. We wage them in Pittsfield, Ludlow, Worcester, Cape Cod, and Framingham.
The practicing Mason, that industrious soul, willing to work in the quarry, whether he be in Afghanistan or Framingham, is the front line of the Revolution. He picks up his working tools and sets himself to labor alongside his Brothers. He “learns, he subdues his passions, and he improves himself in Masonry”. He exercises free will and becomes the Master of his own soul.
The lessons we learn by rote memorization aren’t hollow. We must apply them. We must exemplify them until we become them. Benjamin Franklin kept a ledger of his progress in attaining several virtues. We as Masons are taught seven, Three Heavenly and Four Cardinal. How much progress have we each made? How will the Master of the Celestial Lodge Above allow us to wear our aprons? I hope my hard work inspires Him to accept me as an Entered Apprentice, as a Brother. To this end I work every day. I work to be a better man. I work to earn my apron, to earn the right to be called a Mason, to earn the right to be called your Brother. I aspire to one thing in Masonry and one thing only. I aspire to “live respected and die regretted”. If I do that we will win the revolution, the revolution of one man’s soul, and our hope will end in fruition.
My Brothers, Be the Revolution. That is what we came here to do.