Omne Evolvit : Mission et Rituali
Last Thursday, the inaugural Strategic Planning Committee meeting of my home lodge commenced with an amazing turning out. Following in the footsteps of the Grand Lodge’s five-year planning session, this year’s Worshipful Master realized that our lodge needed to do something similar. It took a few months to come to fruition, but now that it has, it looks as if we’re off to a good start. Rather than trying to do too much at once, he has broken up the planning into a 6 step process, for which we will meet once a month. For our first meeting, we worked on the specific task of developing a Mission Statement.
Our lodge already had a mission statement, but it isn’t focused or concise, and does not necessarily set a plan, as you can see here:
The Mission of Claremont Lodge No. 436 Free and Accepted Masons, under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the State of California is to raise the moral, social, intellectual, and spiritual conscience of our communities and society by teaching and practicing the ancient and enduring Masonic philosophical tents of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. These will be expressed outwardly by its membership through service to God, family, country, and self under the Fatherhood of God and within the Brotherhood of Man.
A mission statement should say: who we are, who we serve, what we do, why we do it, and why we exist. While the previous mission statement tried to encapsulate all that Freemasonry is, it wasn’t necessarily specific to our lodge. To understand this distinction, we answered particular questions on a worksheet that aided in defining what Freemasonry in general is and means to us and what the lodge is and means to us. Further, we discussed what we liked and disliked about the lodge, and what we felt were the benefits of being a member of our lodge.
I’m sure many lodges would result in a similar list. Likes included events related to the 4 F’s (Fellowship, Fraternity, Fundraising, and Food), and dislikes related to the poor planning and attendance of such events, while benefits included being a safe-haven and feeling of family and trust. This was certainly a great foundation to begin the work of our mission.
As we worked on our mission statement, we kept using words to describe like-minded brethren, family, sociality, self-betterment, community building, and safe-haven. The difficulty was making the statement into a cohesive, concise one that could reflect these important aspects, as well as those important tenets of brotherly love, relief, and truth. Although it is still going through revision, it currently looks something like this:
Claremont Masonic Lodge No. 436 F. & A. M. is a universal fraternity of like-minded brothers becoming better men through esoteric knowledge for the purpose of serving our families and community.
On Saturday, I had the privilege of traveling with a close brother and our newest Entered Apprentice to the lodge of our District Inspector for a deep-pit BBQ. When we arrived, we happily discovered that our lodge secretary was unexpectedly there. We grabbed our plates and sat down with him. Brothers from other lodges greeted and sat with us, as well as our District Inspector. The fellowship and discussion was wonderful, and as we drove back home afterward, we relished in the fun of the event, and I remembered something our District Inspector said at the Strategic Planning Committee meeting a few days before:
The job of a Masonic Lodge is to make Masons, but it’s important to have fun too.
That’s it. We build brotherhood and comradery through the like-minded serious stuff, like ritual and education, but it is solidified by the fun we have because of it, because of the fellowship.
Speaking of education, the next day, I attended the California Masonic Symposium on the Evolution of the Masonic Ritual at the Pasadena Scottish Rite Cathedral. Not only did I attend, but I served for the first time as a squire of the Knights of St. Andrew. I helped set the stage and check-in brothers at the door. During the actual symposium, I tiled the door, as the event was for Master Masons only. Each of the speakers were wonderful. Unfortunately, Grand Master Charvonia was unable to attend the event, but thankfully Right Worshipful M. David Perry, Deputy Grand Master took his place. Past Grand Master John L. Cooper III gave the welcome introduction and Past Grand Master R. Stephen Doan provided as program overview. The two main speakers were Bro. Arturo de Hoyos, Grand Historian and Grand Archivist of the Scottish Rite Supreme Council, 33º, Southern Jurisdiction, and Bro. Robert G. Davis, secretary of the “Mecca of Scottish Rite Masons,” Scottish Rite Temple of Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Both presenters provided a wealth of knowledge on the evolution of masonic ritual. Bro. de Hoyos’ talk discussed little-known features of early Masonic ritual, which included a few funny moments in Masonic history. Although I’m not at liberty to discuss what was said at a tiled meeting, I will say for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the person who owned the cypher typewriter and transcribed many a ritual was not who one might expect, and what is the true origin of WTF. After his talk was a panel discussion, where Bro. de Hoyo seemingly with extra-terrestrial like ability and as fast as you could Google it, answered obscure questions from the audience, inculcating even more knowledge upon the eager brethren. One brother called him “The Masonic Rain Man.”
Bro. Davis’ talk discussed the transition of Masonry from a social club to an elite esoteric society. I learned a lot in his discussion, especially things I had not realized about the influence Bro. Elias Ashmole may or may not have had on the early formation of Masonry. His panel discussion was also very informative, and all-in-all, I learned a tremendous lot and am very thankful to be in attendance. After his discussion, we broke for lunch, having wonderful fellowship with brothers at our table. Then, we returned to the auditorium to see the exemplification of an initiatory degree from 1696, which was wonderfully performed by Bros. Brian Bezner, John L. Cooper III, Robert G. Davis, Adrian Fulle, Brian Godwin, Arturo de Hoyos, and Christopher Sanders, and narrated by R. Stephen Doan.
Unfortunately, I was unable to stay for the panel discussion afterward. I needed to return home where we were having a birthday party for my youngest son, who just returned home from his first Scout camping trip. He also had a very busy weekend. We got caught up, his friends came over, we played some, they ate pizza, we went to Farrel’s for ice cream, and then we came back home and everyone dispersed. It was a great time with friends and family.
I am truly blessed.