Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year in Review

Well, this year has been a busy one. I served as Eminent Commander for my Commandery of Knights Templar and Worthy Patron of my Eastern Star Chapter. March was a very busy time as I was initiated in the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon and the Knight Masons in Washington; I also received the appendant orders of the Red Cross of Constantine. The rest of the Spring was school and normal Masonic functions as it was through the Summer and into the Fall. In November I was honored when the Brothers elected me as Worshipful Master of my Lodge and now that I have been installed, I look for forward to my year in the East for a second term in this Lodge. I was also initiated into the Royal Order of Scotland in November. It definitely has been a busy year for traveling as I drove around 6,000-miles to attend meetings...and my driving will only increase this next year, but it's worth it.



I have finished yet another year of school, and after working my academic adviser, I am projecting to graduate the Fall of 2014. This last semester I earned a 3.46-GPA which definitely was trying as I took a foreign language course. The Winter Break has been nice and relaxing so far.



Military wise, I changed Platoons and have served them in any way I can. I am also coming to the end of my military career, but that is something to be discussed later.

I look forward to the upcoming year and the changes it will bring my life. Now it's time to go over to a New Year's Eve Party and ring in the New Year with some good friends.


Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Saint John the Evangelist's Day

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist and in Masonry we strive to educate ourselves, so let us look at this historical figure. He is also known as the Beloved Disciple or John of Pathmos. Saint John, son of Zebedee and Salome, was born in Bethsaida, near the Sea of Galilee. He is brother to James the Greater, another disciple of Christ. Salome is said to be the younger sister of Mary, the mother of Christ, and thus John and James were the cousins of Christ.

He was a fisherman who worked on the 
Lake of Genesareth, or Sea of Galilee, and while mending nets he met Christ during the first year of His ministry and would become a very faithful disciple of the Savior. He is credited with writing the Fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and the Book of Revelations. There is some uncertainty as to whether it was all one person who authored these books and some believe that Saint John may have hired scribes to assist him.

He was the only one of the Twelve who did forsake him during his Crucifixion, but was present at the foot of the Cross as well as observing the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. For the love he showed the Blessed Redeemer, he was entrusted to care for Mary after the Ascension of Christ.

After Christ's Ascension, he moved around Asia Minor establishing many churches. Much of his time he was in Jerusalem and then in Ephesus, with some time exiled on Pathmos, a Grecian island in the Aegean Sea near Turkey. It is believed that he wrote Revelations during his exile on this island.

Tradition states he was brought to Rome by order of the Emperor, Dometian, who attempted to kill him by throwing him into a cauldron of boiling oil at the Porta Latina (Latin Gate), but came forth uninjured and was banished to the island of Pathmos for a year. After the assassination of Dometian, he was allowed to return to Ephesus where he lived to be 94-years old, dying around 100 AD (the 3rd year of the Emperor Trajan). Traditions says that in his final years he could no longer walk so he had to be carried by his followers to the church, where he would leave with the words, "Little children, love one another." Over his tomb was erected a church, but after the rise of Islam it was converted into a mosque.

Saint John the Evangelist is considered the Patron Saint of many things such as against poison, art dealers, authors, bookbinders, booksellers, burns, editors, engravers, painters, paper-makers, printers, publishers, theologians, typesetters, writers, Asia Minor, and many others. He is often symbolized by a cup or chalice, eagle rising out of a cauldron, a serpent entwined upon a sword, an eagle on a closed book, the scroll of the Apocalypse, or John seated on a tomb with a book, an orb, and a sword.

Maybe it is because he was considered the "Beloved Disciple" that he is honored with a feast day just two days after Christmas Day. To commemorate this Saint, wine is often used as one tradition tells us that he was served poisoned wine by a Priest of Diana (a Roman goddess), but as he put it to his lips the poison rose from the chalice in the shape of a serpent. Another tradition of this story states that the pagan priest denied the divine origin of the apostolic miracles and challenged Saint John to drink a cup of poison to prove he is protected by God, so after making a sign of the cross, Saint John emptied every last drop without injury. The toast given asks for those participating to "Drink the love of Saint John." It is thought that by drinking hallowed wine on this day would secure one from all danger of poison during throughout the next year. In Germanic areas there was an old ceremony known as "Johannissegen" (or John's blessing) where a Catholic priest blessed wine brought to him by the parishioners. They would then go home and make a toast similar to that above and which was supposed to bestow health and prosperity.

These days were started around the 6th century, but were not very widespread until the 16th and 17th centuries where Europeans would celebrate with large quantities of wine. The celebration of Saint John in the Masonic system came around the end of the 16th century. The earliest known record of the mention of the Evangelist is in Edinburgh around 1599 and in fact the Lodge of Scoon and Perth is also referred to as the Lodge of Saint John, but there are earlier mentions other fraternities using this Saint as early as 1430. During the Great Schism, the Premier Grand Lodge of England favored Saint John the Baptist while the Antients favored the Evangelist. It is interesting to note that the United Grand Lodge of England was established on December 27th, 1813.

Many jurisdictions require that it's Lodges install it's new officers by December 27th and which marks the beginning of the Lodge year.

This day also falls around the Winter solstice which marks the shortest day of the year and the end of the solar year. This is contrast to the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist which falls on the 24th of June, around the Summer solstice which designates the longest day of the year. If one remembers that the Saints John are connected with the Point within the Circle. The perpendicular parallel lines that support the circle represent the Saints. From this we see them on opposite sides of a circle, a symbol that represents cycles, just as there Feast days fall upon the two solstices, the two extremes of the sun's appearance during the Earth's rotation. For such reason, these two show us balance and remind us of the lessons taught by Freemasonry.

Lodges today are dedicated to the Holy Saints John and it is sad to see that many Lodges do not hold anything to celebrate this day. Forgetting our past we lose a piece of our heritage. I hope everyone enjoys this day and remember the man for who we commemorate.

References

1. Chambers, R. (n.d.). December 27th. Retrieved from Chamber's Book of Days: http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/dec/27.htm

2. Feast of St. John. (n.d.). Retrieved from Fish Eaters: http://www.fisheaters.com/customschristmas4.html

3. John the Evangelist. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Evangelist

4. Saints John Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic World: http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/stjohndays.htm

5. Simser, J. (2012, June 22). Saint John the Evangelists Day. Retrieved from Masonic Thoughts blog: http://masonicthought.blogspot.com/2012/06/st-john-evangelists-day-122709.html

6. St. John. (n.d.). Retrieved from Catholic Culture: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2012-12-27

7. St. John the Apostle. (2011). Retrieved from Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=228
8. St. John’s Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Christmas Celebations and New Year's Celebrations: http://christmas-celebrations.org/208-st-johns-day.html

9. St. John's Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._John's_Day,_Masonic_feast

10. Godfrey, L. L. (n.d.). The Holy Saints John. Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Virginia: http://www.grandlodgeofvirginia.org/education/programs/monthly_talks/The_Holy_Saints_John.pdf

11. Ward, H. L. (n.d.). And Dedicated to the Holy Saints John. Retrieved from Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/ward.html

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Templar Prayer

May the grace of the Holy Spirit be present with us. May Mary, Star of the Sea, lead us to the harbor of salvation. Amen.

Lord, Holy Father, eternal God, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, Bestower, kind Ruler and most tender lover, pious and humble Redeemer; gentle, merciful Savior, Lord! I humbly beseech The and implore Thee that Thou may enlighten me, free me and preserve the brothers of the Temple and all Thy people, troubled as they are.

Thou, O Lord, Who knowest that we are innocent, set us free that we may keep our vows and your commandments in humility, and serve Thee and act according to Thy will. Dispel all those unjust reproaches, far from the truth, heaped upon us by the means of tough adversities, great tribulations and temptations, which we have endured, but can endure no longer.

Omnipotent, eternal God, who hast so loved the blessed John the Evangelist and Apostle, that he reclined upon Thy bosom at the Last Supper, and to whom Thou revealed and showed the Mysteries of Heaven, and to whom, while suspended on the Holy Cross, for the sake of our redemption, Thou commended Thy most Holy Mother and Virgin, and in whose honor (our) Order was created and instituted; through Thy Holy mercifulness, deliver us and preserve us, as Thou knowest that we are innocent of the crimes that we are accused of, so that we may take possession of the works, by which we may be guided to the joys of Paradise, through Christ and the Lord Our God!

Amen.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

To all of my family, friends, Brothers, Companions, and Sir Knights, around the world;


Remember the Reason for the Season. Stay safe and may God be with you.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Deacons and their Staffs

There is so much symbolism within Freemasonry and often we overlook some of it that is plain sight. Some often have questions, but never really ask as to why we use it. One such question surrounds the use of the staffs by the Senior and Junior Deacons. These officers as well as the Stewards and Marshall carry a staff or a similar implement. Some of our ceremonies, regalia, rituals, and symbols can be traced back to ancient days, the medieval days of Operative Masonry, and some through the evolution of our degrees during the early years of Speculative Freemasonry.

The word "deacon" comes from the Greek word "diakonos" meaning servant, attendant, or messenger. This definition is appropriate to these officers as they serve as the messenger of the Worshipful Master and Wardens. The duties may change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but a realistic look at their duties is as follows. The Senior Deacon, who sits as the messenger between the Worshipful Master and Senior Warden, introduces and accommodates visitors; conducts and guides new candidates during the rituals; attends at the altar during the opening and closing ceremonies; and takes control of the ballot box. The Junior Deacon, the messenger between the Wardens, attends to all alarms at the door; ensures the security of the Lodge alongside the Tyler; and assists during the rituals (initiation and opening/closing).

In the early years of Speculative Freemasonry, not all Lodges had Deacons and if they did they may not have had the same duties as they do now. In some Lodges the Deacon was the presiding officer while the Wardens often served as the financial officer. During the Great Schism, the rivalry period between the Antients and the Moderns, the former had Deacons while the latter had Stewards (there were some exceptions as there always is). With the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the Lodge of Promulgation recommended the adoption of both the Deacons and Stewards as they were seen as useful and necessary. Through a succession of the ages we now have two Deacons as we see them today.

Both of the Deacons carry staffs. The name of these implements may change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Looking at history, Deacons were associated with columns, but around 1822 the Wardens took over the columns as the symbol of their office while the Deacons were given the staffs. The tops of the staffs have changed and do vary with each jurisdiction. The tops are also the jewels of the office, which today is the sun for the Senior Deacon and moon for the Junior Deacon, both within the Square & Compasses. In the early years of the UGLE, the staffs were topped by pine cones, but this would then change to doves that are also seen as messengers. The dove was also a symbol of peace and harmony, and the Deacons should remember they are officers of peace. One can see this during the initiation when the Senior Deacon is escorting the candidate. The Senior Deacon places himself between the candidate and the Altar, thus protecting the Altar from the uninitiated man, but once the candidate becomes a Master Mason, the Senior Deacon moves to his left side.


The use of staffs by officers is very symbolic and has been used in a variety of cultures. The most obvious use is by the Greek god, Hermes, who was the messenger of the gods, just as the Deacons are the messengers within the Lodge, and who carried the caduceus. This wand was used to ward off evil and to ensure that he was unimpeded in his journey. Carrying a staff is a mark of authority and we see this with the king's scepter, the bishop's or verger's staff, the mace of Parliament, and, Biblically, with the staff of Moses. Now we can't talk about the Deacon's staffs without talking about the rods that are carried by the Stewards of the Lodge as one of the origin theories of these implements surrounds the Stewards of the King in England. These Stewards carried a white rod which was a symbol of their authority appointed by the King. Other officers carried rods such as the usher of the Lord Chamberlain's department who carried a black rod.

One such theory that caught my eye was from the works of Bro. Bill Douglas. In his 2001 article, he talks about a hillside carving that is located on the south coast of England. In Sussex County near Wilmington is what is known as the "Long Man of Wilmington" which displays a man with arms outstretched and in each hand he holds a staff or "asherah". This figure stands 125-feet tall. The word "asherah" refers to wooden columns or staffs that represented the goddess Asherah. These were 6-feet in length and were carried by attendants of priests and stood as the insignia of their office. The goddess Asherah was the mother of twins named Shachar, the god of dawn, and Shalem, the god of dusk. Thus we see a connection to Masonry as the Deacons carry staff, one with the sun and sits in the East, representing the rising Sun or dawn; and the Junior Deacon with the moon as the jewel of his office to represent the end of the day or dusk.

Bro. Bill also makes a reference to Moses' Tabernacle. We learn in the 1st degree that all Lodges are a representation of King Solomon's Temple which was an exact model for the Tabernacle erected by Moses, which was situated due East and West to commemorate the East wind which assisted in the exodus of the Jews out of the land of Egypt. The tabernacle was not a permanent building, but a tent that was dismantled and erected each time the Jews moved through the Wilderness. Prior to dawn the attendants would go to the chosen site and one of them would place the staff or asherah on the spot. When the sun rose, it would send a shadow towards the western horizon. The second attendant would then place his staff at the other end of the shadow. This line would designate the center line of the tabernacle.

The Deacons serve as proxies for the Worshipful Master and Senior Warden. While the Junior Deacon carries messages to the Junior Warden it really is the Senior Warden who he represents and assists; the Junior Warden has the Stewards to assist him in a variety of roles. The staffs have been decorated to represent the Deacons role in the Lodge as messengers and protectors of peace and harmony. Those who serve as Deacons need to knowledge, vigilant, and steadfast that they may be able to perform their duties with impressive zeal.

References

1. Cameron, D. (2007, October 23). The Deacons. Retrieved from Waterloo Masons: http://www.waterloomasons.com/masonic_education/deacons

2. Deacon. (2013). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=deacon

3. Douglas, B. (2001). Why Do Deacons Carry Wands? Retrieved from Masonic Bulletin, BCY: http://weblites.com/images/011506_2.pdf

4. Halpaus, E. (n.d.). Rods and Columns. Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Minnesota AF&AM: http://www.mn-masons.org/sites/mn-masons.org/files/3983.pdf

5. Hodapp, C. (n.d.). Freemason Lodge Officers. Retrieved from Freemasonry For Dummies: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/freemason-lodge-officers.html

6. Walk, C. R. (n.d.). The Masonic Rods and Staffs. Retrieved from Masonic World: http://www.masonicworld.com/education/articles/masonic_rods_and_staffs.htm

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Installed as Worshipful Master

Yesterday was a busy day. The morning started with me attending the Graduating Student Leaders Celebration & Breakfast at Boise State University and then the Winter Commencement ceremony. I was able to watch several of my friends to walk and receive their Bachelor degree.

Once finished I spent my day getting ready for my Lodge's installation. I was concerned as it started to snow and many of my guests had a distance to come. One of our Brothers cooked a delicious Prime Rib meal that was served by one of the local Bethels.

The Installation was well attended, even with the inclement weather, and I had the honor of being installed by a Brother who served as Master when I was Raised and he was my mentor. Tonight was an amazing night as I am the first Worshipful Master to be recycled in 98-years. My Installing Marshall was the Brother who preceded me in the line my first time around and currently serves as the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho. My Installing Chaplain was a good mentor of mine who is a Past Grand Master of Idaho.

I gave my speech and entered into the Presentation stage of night. This was a definite highlight of the night as my Senior Deacon approached me some weeks before with the idea that he wanted to propose to his girlfriend. I was very excited and agreed to take part in it all. At the end of all the presentations I had the Senior Deacon, the boyfriend, escort his girlfriend to the East where after a small speech I took the staff and allow the Brother to go on bended knee to propose to his girlfriend. She was so surprised as was her family who was in attendance. We ended the night with the opening of a Lodge of Tribute then heading to a local pub to have a few drinks.

I thank all of the Brethren for electing me to this honored station. It is a pleasure to preside over such a great Lodge and with a great corps of officers. I look forward to this next year and what surprises it brings into my life.

My Senior Warden took several pictures and once he has them uploaded I will update this post with them.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

William Preston

While we give credit to Thomas Smith-Webb for his publishing one of the first standardized monitors in the US, we must not forget the efforts of William Preston who had a major influence on Thomas Smith-Webb's work as well as many other monitors.

William Preston was born on August 7th, 1742, in Edinburgh, Scotland. At the age of 6, his father had him attend the Royal High School in Edinburgh, where he is said to have studied Latin and Greek. He continued his studies of the classics through college and once he had finished his studies he worked for Thomas Ruddiman, a linguist, and after Thomas' death worked for his Walter Ruddiman as a printer.

In 1760, he moved to London and started working as a printer again with William Strahan. During this time, a group of Scottish Masons living in London decided to form a new Lodge. On April 20th, 1763, Lodge #111, under the jurisdiction of the Antient Grand Lodge, was constituted at the "White Hart" in the Strand. It is thought that Preston was initiated at this time. On November 15th, 1764, this Lodge would change their changed allegiances and Lodge #111 would become Caledonian Lodge #325 under the "Moderns" or Premier Grand Lodge. This Lodge is still in existence today, but is numbered as #134 on the present registry of the United Grand Lodge of England.

Preston began an extensive program of masonic research which entailed correspondence with Masons from around the world. Through this he built a large amount of Masonic knowledge and started organizing lectures attached to the 3-degrees of Freemasonry. He started meeting with friends a few times a week to present and refine his presentations which culminated on May 21st, 1772, where he held a Gala at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand. Here he presented his lectures to several prominent Masons and Grand Lodge officers. The success of this presentation led to the publishing of "Illustrations of Masonry". This publication would serve as the basis for several monitors. His efforts would earn him an appointment as Deputy Grand Secretary.


“To inform myself fully of the general rules of the Society, that I might be able to fulfil my own duty and officially enforce obedience in others.”

Preston was elected, in absentia, in Lodge of Antiquity (one of the founding Lodges of the first Grand Lodge). This Lodge was suffering and declining so they wished Preston to help turn the Lodge around. He was eventually elected as Master of the Lodge and the Lodge did indeed flourish again.

Some members were not pleased with the policies of Preston and eventually he would be expelled. This resulted from the events of December 27th, 1777, when some members of the Lodge of Antiquity, including Preston, returned from church wearing their Masonic regalia. The incident was reported by some unhappy Brothers and when Preston stated that the Lodge only had to prescribe to the original Constitution of the Premier Grand Lodge, and not any of the subsequent rulings due to its seniority, he and his supporters were expelled in 1779.

It would be 9-years until the dispute was resolved and Preston was brought back into Freemasonry, and reinstated to all of his Honors. During his expulsion, his literary contributions reduced. Preston took no part in the unification of the Antients and the Moderns in 1813.

William Preston died on April 1st, 1818, as a result of a long illness, and was buried in St. Paul's Churchyard. He left a sum of money to the Grand Lodge, to provide for an annual delivery of a lecture; the lecturer to be appointed by the Grand Master.

Although his Masonic journey had moments of controversy, he still contributed a great deal to the cultivation of Masonic education. Preston also had a major impact on the moving Freemasonry away from the Taverns and the dinner appeal, and giving it a deeper appeal for esoteric studies, as well as moving meetings to dedicated Masonic buildings.

References

1. Harvey, A. D. (2012). William Preston and the Prestonian Lecture. Retrieved from The Prestonian Lecture for 2012: http://www.prestonian2012.org.uk/William%20Preston.html

2. Illustrations of Masonry. (n.d.). Retrieved from Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/preston_illustrations_masonry.html

3. McLagan, E. J. (1967, July 21). The Great Dissension (Or Schism). Retrieved from MoF Masonic Library: http://www.masoniclibrary.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88:the-great-dissension--or-schism-&catid=23:lecture&Itemid=30

4. Newell, B. E. (2012, October 30). The Father of the American Rite. Retrieved from Traveling Templar: http://www.travelingtemplar.com/2012/10/the-father-of-american-rite.html

5. William Preston. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/preston.html

6. William Preston (Freemason). (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2013, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Preston_%28Freemason%29


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Last Meeting as Eminent Commander

It has been a busy last few days with school, work, and Masonic engagements. Tonight was my last meeting as Eminent Commander. I enjoyed my year and I will be assisting the next Eminent Commander. I had the pleasure of receiving the Sir Knight Rick Rowe, Right Eminent Grand Commander of Idaho, and his Staff into my Commandery. It was a quick short meeting, but we're getting ready for installation next week and I got to meet with a Sir Knight I had not seen in a few months so we caught up.

Next week is even busier with some installations (including my Lodge) and two Christmas Observances. Then during Christmas Break I don't have to worry about school work and can work on some posts, and more importantly, work on another chapter of my book. Now it's time to shower and head to bed.