Saturday, December 27, 2008

‘A happy St. John’s Day’

The Master of Fairless Hills Lodge No. 776 in Pennsylvania, presents a gift to the Rev. Canon William Rauscher in thanks for his talk on religion and Freemasonry today. Rauscher has been a Mason for 40 years.

I enjoyed a terrific afternoon in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania today, driving out there to join the St. John’s Day celebration at the invitation of the lodge’s Worshipful Master. Scores of other Masons, family, friends and the curious converged on the lodge for a full program of cordial ceremony, food and intelligent conversation.

The keynote address was provided by a very thoughtful man and a delightful speaker. The Rev. Canon William V. Rauscher spoke, mindful that about half the audience members were not Freemasons, on the subject of religion and Freemasonry. He began in broad terms, describing religion as the human need to have “a general belief in powers larger than oneself” to allow “the experience of harmony with oneself and with God.” And Freemasonry he defined with familiar language: “A system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated with symbols that give insights into life, service and brotherhood.”

Masonry is not a church, he explained, although it can serve as a “spiritual anchor” for men who rightly understand its “short morality plays” as lessons of charity, fraternity and wisdom. “There is nothing incompatible with traditional religious beliefs,” something attested by the many clergymen who cherish their Masonic affiliations. Indeed Masonry’s “spiritual content is its most attractive and significant” offering. The degrees are the “embodiment of the simple words of the one eternal religion: the brotherhood of man, the fatherhood of God, the Golden Rule, the hope for everlasting life.”

“We need it today more than ever.”

He touched on other factors that shape Freemasonry’s relationship with religion, including the secrecy of the fraternity, and also anti-Masonry, defining the foes of Freemasonry as varying from mainstream religions to communist regimes to “extreme radical secularists” whose aim is to have “a society without any rules at all.”

A very well received talk.

In other Fairless Hills Lodge news, the Worshipful Master has unveiled his schedule of lodge events for the coming year. Not unlike New Jersey’s Alpha and Nutley lodges (see below), this lodge is heavy on education.

Jan. 20 – The Magpie Mason speaking on the Four Cardinal Virtues.

Feb. 17 – Bro. Matthew D. Dupee, Esq., PM speaking on “Freemasonry in Europe.”

March 17 – Bro. Jerry Hamilton, PM on “The True Meaning of Masonic Ritual.”

April 21 – Three speakers: Bro. Rev. William D. Hartman, Grand Chaplain, on “George Washington and Freemasonry.” Bro. Walter Lamont on “Music and Freemasonry Around the Globe.” And Bro. Carl L. Swope, DDGM on a topic to be announced.

May 19 – Bro. Aaron White, PM of Kite and Key Lodge No. 811 speaking, appropriately, on “Traditional Observance Lodges.”

May 23 – The ceremony of initiation! The EA° will be conferred at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Va.

May 27 – The lodge will visit Kite and Key Lodge, which meets at the Allentown Masonic Temple.

Oct. 20 – The MM° will be conferred by Past Masters. Speaker: Bro. Frank Walker, PM of Texas, comparing Pennsylvania and Texas rituals.

Nov. 17 – Bro. George R. Haynes, PM on “Lodge Models and Model Lodges.”

Nov. 29 – The Annual Lodge Banquet, featuring Bro. Tom Jackson, Past Grand Secretary.

In addition to all that, this lodge has a great program, devised by the aforementioned Bro. Haynes, called “One Lodge, One Book.” The lodge purchases copies of a book of Masonic significance, and mails those copies to all the lodge’s brethren. The result is improved attendance at lodge, and meaningful discussions at meetings, said the Worshipful Master, who recalled how Hodapp’s “Freemasons for Dummies” doubled lodge attendance. The book now being provided is the new one from Bro. Robert L.D. Cooper of Scotland titled “Cracking the Freemasons Code,” which is one of those great books that makes Masonry comprehensible to non-Masons without forgetting to teach Masons themselves a thing or two also.

Worshipful Master, you’re going to have an amazing year! See you on the 20th.

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