We Must be Charitable

BY: NATHANIEL P. WARREN

Have you ever found yourself destitute?  I have.  I have been both destitute in terms of coin and of spirit.  It is was an invaluable experience, one which I hope to never find myself in again, but if I do, I fear it not.  My only hesitation with being destitute is that it hampers my ability to assist others.  You can never fully comprehend the power of charity, until you are the necessary beneficiary.  The feeling of being helpless and dependent upon another feels very vulnerable indeed, like standing in a crowded room without clothes and without the ability to dress.  You can feel exposed and weak.  It can feel like the whole world is looking on at our dire situation.

There was a time in Masonry in which this lesson was given to me.  At the time I understood it only from a financial standpoint.  Of course, I would contribute to a brother’s relief financially if that’s what he needs.  We are brothers, after all.  A few years passed after my initiation into the fraternity before this lesson would crack from the seed and implant roots into my soul.  I never met a brother in those first few years that needed any charity.  I had helped a few guys move and clear trees, but never any real need.  How fortunate.

It struck me one day that this charity must extend beyond money.  It must extend beyond the help to move from one home to another, providing an ear to listen, furnishing clothing, or granting a place to stay.  Our charity must be not only from a place of love, it must be love, manifested.  We must practice spiritual charity.  We must employ empathy and embrace the pain of others.  We must strip ourselves down and stand with those in need upon the darkened square. 

One day I came to realize that the practice of charity must apply to everyday situations with everyday people.  After this realization, I looked around and saw the suffering of others in a whole new way.  I saw people with body issues, people with inferiority complexes, people who were unsure of themselves, and people who withheld the beauty of who they are for fear that they simply were not good enough, as measured against what they perceived as normal.  I saw people who were told that they were different and that different was no good.  I saw people who didn’t feel like they could or should, write, speak up, or tell a joke in a crowd.  I saw these people all around me in daily living and I saw it within the fraternity.  My heart broke.

Charity is to include everyone, not just our brethren.  We must empower everyone to succeed, and we MUST make sure that no one stands alone with their emotions.  We as Masons are duty bound to help a brother as well as those who are not initiated.  We are to be a light in the community.  We cannot be content to rely upon the legacy of trustworthiness and generosity of our grandfathers, which we inherited by the donning the same apron, ring, and appellation of “FreeMason.”  We must act every day, in every way, as if our fellow humans are entitled to the full bounty of spiritual loving-kindness that we all muster for our brothers. 

We know that we will do just about anything that a brother asks, but if we are content with waiting until he asks we are missing the point.  The charity we need to be practicing cannot be measured in simple dollars or organizing festivities for a cause.  This charity is measured in feelings of worthiness, validation, comfort, smiles, gratitude and enlightenment.  We are in the business of being generous men, not for the sake of strengthening the bonds of brotherhood, but for strengthening the condition of the human spirit at large.  The goal should be to share a piece of yourself, of your spirit, and to truly connect with another person on a deeply personal and intimate level.  This is charity.  This is the warm feeling that washes over you when you first realize that your brethren are here to support you both inside and outside of Lodge.   This is the feeling of love.  To make another person that has been scattered upon the rocks of life feel like their plight is not a singular struggle; to comfort the ones that are shaky in their resolve, and to bring warmth to those that need it, is Charity.

Charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity. [2] We must be charitable, brethren, or there is no point in being a Mason at all.  If we do nothing in this life to improve the lives of others, then we have done nothing.  This is why charity is the first great lesson of Masonry.

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 [2] The Official Monitor of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, State of Texas. Waco: Gayle Printing, 1921. Print.

You're an Entered Apprentice. So What?

You're an Entered Apprentice.  So what?

When is a man made a Mason?  I believe the phrase used in the Entered Apprentice degree is "you are now made a Mason."  This makes sense, because when we speak about it later we say we were "then" made a Mason;  therefore, once you have been through your Entered Apprentice degree you are now a Mason.  Congratulations. 

What follows; what does that mean for you; and, as the title suggests, what does it mean to me... or so what?

It means a great deal actually, and very few men have the true weight of how important this is communicated to them.  First off, you are my brother.  The primary, yet initially shallow, thing that binds us is our solemn obligation.  It is only as good as your honor.  As we grow together, sharing virtue and selves, that honored promise becomes all the more sacred.  It becomes seasoned with trial.  You will find that when you need your Masonic brothers, they will be there.  When you start seeing your sacred promise manifested it gets a little more serious.  I know, because I have seen it.  It is with that authority that I say, I will do the same for you.

You have sought us out.  We did not pitch it to you, or recruit you.  You asked.  You knocked.  You came to us.  Thank you.  The trust that you as an Entered Apprentice put into our hands is so humbling,  that I often feel unworthy.  The only reason that I am here, as a Mason, is because of Entered Apprentices.  Without Entered Apprentices there would be no Masonry.  It might last another sixty years or so, but no longer.  Masonry is the continuation of virtue passed down through the centuries.  The only way to get there is by initiating people like you, our precious and appreciated Entered Apprentice.  

Many men join the fraternity with some attachment in the form of nostalgia.  For some that is their primary motivator.  Along the way, though, most if not all will say that they want to be a better man.  Our members are men who are brave enough to look at themselves in the mirror for one honest second, drop their mask, and decide that their ego will no longer suffice.  As an Entered Apprentice you are already a hero for deciding that what was once good enough will stand no longer.  You have come to a place seeking help, strong influence, and answers.  You have come to slay the dragon and find the light.  There are many things that lead up to your initiation, but this alone is a task not suited for most men.  You are already enlightened, a little.  Me too, but just a little. 

We all came to the fraternity seeking greater truth and enlightenment.  Some wish to understand culture.  Some seek to unravel the mysteries of history.  All, sooner or later, come to realize that they are trying to understand themselves, and their place in this universe.

Manly P. Hall, in Words to the Wise, says, "All progress leads toward truth.  Progress, growth, and development are manifestations of the impulse toward truth, but the means should never be confused with the end.  When we refer, therefore, to the achievement of truth by external contact, we do not mean that reality itself is to be perceived outwardly, but rather that from certain outward contacts, we may gain instruments of comprehension and understanding by which we are better fitted to approach the mystery of truth itself."

We are here to seek truth, that we may know it for the first time.  As an Entered Apprentice you have traveled from the west to the East, seeking Light; however, that Light is not simply dumped on you by the Worshipful Master.  He will help and guide you, as will every brother of the lodge.  Just like when you become an Entered Apprentice you do not automatically gain enlightenment, the same goes for Fellowcrafts and Master Masons.  We are always traveling East.  Together.  In that aspect we are tied to one another.  We expose the spark of our being upon the altar, before the Creator, so that we might get out of the way of ourselves, alter ourselves, and evolve.

This is a journey of the spirit to discover the soul.  Who you are in the beginning makes no difference.  You have come to the sacred altar in hopes of finding the pure essence that lies within you.  We all have performed that act, and continue to do so daily.  This is our kinship.  This is our sacred tie.  It is so righteous and sublime.  Never feel that you are unworthy or outside the circle because you don't "understand the next degrees," or "aren't a Master Mason."  So what?  Do not feel out of place.  Do not feel uncomfortable or shy.  You are charged to converse with well-informed brethren, who will be always as ready to give as you will be ready to receive instruction.  This fraternity is here for you.  We have been waiting for you.  You have done the most important thing any Mason has EVER done.  You may have only taken your first step, but it is the most crucial step that you will ever take. You are so valuable.

We are all Entered Apprentices.  Welcome into our humble fraternity.  To those whose paths may cross with mine:  I cannot wait to see who you are, and grow together.

Brethren, be in order as Entered Apprentices.


Thank you for reading The Laudable Pursuit! If you enjoyed this piece, please feel free to share it on social media sites, or with your Lodge.

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The Apron and the Entered Apprentice Degree

by Jason E. Marshall

                                                                                                       Bro. Trevor Martin, Lodge Veritas No. 556.  . Photo by   Matt Anthony

                                                                                                       Bro. Trevor Martin, Lodge Veritas No. 556.. Photo by Matt Anthony

The masonic apron is first presented to the New Entered Apprentice following his obligation. The symbol of the apron is a powerful symbol that embodies the work that begins as an Entered Apprentice, and lasts until the apron is placed on each brother’s mortal remains. While the apron is present in all masonic degrees, it plays important foundational and symbolic roles in the work of an Entered Apprentice.

To begin, the Masonic apron is the universal badge of a Mason, which sets Masons apart from the world at large. The apron should be an ever-present reminder to each of us to live and act according to the ideals of our fraternity. It is important to remember that each of us represents the fraternity in our daily lives, and the bad acts of one member not only stain his personal apron, but they can stain the fraternity as a whole. For the Entered Apprentice it is especially important for them to temper their zeal for the fraternity, and not excitedly misrepresent the fraternity that they just entered into, and have yet to obtain the basic knowledge and proficiency’s required for full membership.

The Masonic apron is also a symbol of labor, and as the candidate is informed, ancient stonemasons wore aprons during their various labors. Although the phrase “laboring among us” could be construed to mean physical labor; since Masonry is designed to be an initiatic organization, the labor eluded to most likely means spiritual and intellectual labor. After all, the ancient mystery schools that were the precursors of modern Freemasonry required much more of their initiates than learning a relatively simple catechism. Therefore, the apron should remind us to earnestly endeavor to labor in the quarries of knowledge, and spiritual development, and to apply the fruits of our labor in our daily lives, to not only better ourselves, but the world around us.

The Masonic apron’s material is traditionally made of lambskin. The lamb has long been held as an emblem of purity and of sacrifice, which is why a spotless apron should represent a life well lived. Also, the lamb has long been associated with rebirth and resurrection, hence why Jesus Christ is often called the Lamb of God. In the biblical book of Revelation, St. John also associated the symbol of the lamb with purity and rebirth, “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’.” (Revelation 13-14)

Finally, the Entered Apprentice is instructed to wear his apron with the triangular flap pointing up. One obvious reason for having the Entered Apprentice wear his apron in this peculiar fashion is to serve as a reminder to other members that the member is not a Master Mason, and to refrain from discussing higher degrees with him. However, the upward facing triangle has several possible symbolic meanings. First, the upward facing triangle has long been used as a symbol for Deity, and an upward triangle traditionally represents man’s yearning for gnosis. Also, an upward facing triangle is an ancient alchemical symbol for fire, which makes sense since this degree can be viewed as representing the alchemical process of calcination, which requires fire or heat.

In conclusion, the Entered Apprentice degree should be taken seriously, and not looked at merely as a stepping-stone to higher degrees and Masonic honors. The Entered Apprentice is the foundation of the Masonic system, and sets the stage for future Masonic work. In the end, the Entered Apprentice degree is about the candidates entrance into the fraternity, and hopefully the beginning of a spiritual journey which will last until the apron which he was presented at the end of the Entered Apprentice degree is laid to rest with his mortal body.


Thank you for reading The Laudable Pursuit! If you enjoyed this piece, please feel free to share it on social media sites, or with your Lodge.

For more information on Bro. Jason E. Marshall, please CLICK HERE.

Bro. Marshall is also the author of: LivingInTheNow.net