Monday, March 1, 2010

‘Masonic Week 2010: Grand College of Rites’

Grand Chancellor David Dixon Goodwin, at podium, gets a ‘Standing O’ from the officers of the Grand College of Rites at the annual meeting February 13 during Masonic Week in Alexandria, Virginia. (Click on the photo to see everyone.)

On Saturday morning (February 13), it was time for the Grand College of Rites to meet, install officers, pay some bills, and unveil the new edition of Collectanea.

If you are not familiar with the Grand College of Rites, and if you enjoy reading rituals (that you don’t have to memorize!) and like learning genuinely arcane Masonic history, then please do visit our website and pursue membership. Every year, the College publishes one volume containing either the rituals or the jurisprudence or other defining literature of a Masonic body now defunct. This book is titled Collectanea, and represents the hard work of Grand Archivist Arturo de Hoyos, who also is Grand Archivist and Grand Historian of the Supreme Council, 33º, A&ASR, Southern Jurisdiction.

The 2009 book (Vol. 20, Part 2), contains the 19º to 45º of the Egyptian Masonic Rite of Memphis.

You didn’t know there were degrees beyond the 33°, did you? Well, keep in mind that Collectanea reveals the secrets of defunct Masonic bodies, and Art de Hoyos and the Publications Committee undoubtedly withhold crucial esoterica to prevent any chance of modern day entrepreneurs, however benevolent and well intentioned they may be, from working these rituals and jumpstarting these orders.

If you love reading, then these books are charming ways to learn of the language used by Masons of generations past, especially if you are from a jurisdiction that has made changes to its rituals over the years. For much of this decade, the GCR has been publishing various versions of Memphis Masonry, and I find in their prayers, odes, charges, and other orations some truly beautiful verbiage, the kind of speech totally outdated today, but highly literate and enjoyable. I mean enjoyable to read; I would not want to be a ritualist responsible for conferring this work.

From the 29°, titled Knight of Time:

Time is a great mystery, the general relation in which all things perceptible stand to each other in regard to their origin, continuance, and dissolution. It is a movable image of eternity, or the interval of the world’s motion, illimitable, yet silently ever rolling and rushing on, like an all-embracing ocean tide, on which we and the universe swim like apparitions, which are, and then are not. The means employed at different periods of the world’s history for reckoning Time, have been both varied and numerous. The constellation of the Great Bear was the first great time-keeper. This constellation was at that time much nearer the North Pole than at present, and was seen to revolve around it, the extremity of its tail, indicating the different seasons, as the hands of the clock now indicate the hours of the day. When it pointed to the East, it was springtime; when it pointed to the South, it was summertime; when it pointed to the West, it was autumn; and when it pointed to the North, it was wintertime. The second great time-keeper was the Moon, which revolves around the earth once every thirty days, twelve of its circuits being equal to one of the Great Bear. The third and last great time-keeper was the Sun, which to our ancient brethren appeared to revolve around the earth thirty times during the circuit of the Moon, and three hundred and sixty times during one circuit of the Great Bear.

From the 34°, titled Knight of the First Property of Nature:

The essential, or first part of Nature, of which the sensible universe is now composed (that is neither mind nor force), is called matter. Of the intimate nature of matter itself, we know nothing, but through its external properties only do we know that it exists. The origin of matter is beyond the domain of human knowledge. It is to us not only unknown, but unknowable. Our faculties are so limited that we cannot imagine nor conceive how matter could be originated. We cannot conceive how it could be created out of nothing – how it could have come into existence in any manner whatever. All we know is the simple fact of existence, and must content ourselves with studying the phenomena of its action, and the evidences of its action in the past, and must infer its properties and forces from its action. Contemplating matter as in existence in a chaotic and perhaps nebulous condition, we can form some imperfect conception of the gradual formation of our earth and solar system, and of some of the changes which the earth, its surface and atmosphere, underwent before it was fitted for the abode of man. As a Masonic symbol, matter vividly illustrates the darkness, confusion, and ignorance of the uninitiated and our final advancement from darkness to the light of Masonic knowledge. It also illustrates the dark change which was believed to take place between our earthly residence and that in the A*****u.

M.I. David Dixon Goodwin delivers his allocution, closing his term in office as Grand Chancellor of the Grand College of Rites, as R.I. Franklin Boner, incoming Grand Chancellor, listens.

The College’s officers for 2010:

M. Ill. Grand Chancellor Franklin C. Boner
R. Ill. Senior Vice Chancellor Martin P. Starr
R. Ill. Junior Vice Chancellor David L. Hargett, Jr.
R. Ill. Grand Registrar Craig C. Stimpert, KGC
R. Ill. Grand Treasurer and Grand Registrar Emeritus Gary D. Hermann, KGC, PGC
R. Ill. Grand Registrar Emeritus Herbert A. Fisher, KGC, HPGC
R. Ill. Grand High Prelate Pierre G. (Pete) Normand
R. Ill. Grand Archivist Arturo de Hoyos, The Premier KGC, HPGC
R. Ill. Grand Redactor Lawrence N. Jolma, Jr.
R. Ill. Grand Mareschal Lawrence E. Tucker
R. Ill. Grand Seneschal Sid C. Dorris, III

One of the truly great moments of Masonic Week 2010 was this surprise. Fellow Aaron Shoemaker was called to the podium to deliver his annual report as the GCR’s webmaster, but before he could resume his seat, M.I. Goodwin bestowed on him the College’s Knight Grand Cross for his years of outstanding service. Congratulations Aaron!

And after his installation as our new Most Illustrious Grand Chancellor, Franklin Boner, left, received the Knight Grand Cross from his predecessor, David Dixon Goodwin.

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