An Old Past Master-The Ideal Mason

by MasterMason

So you think Brother Parkes is an ideal Mason, do you?” asked the old Past Master of the young brother. “I like Brother Parkes, but before I give assent to your adjective of ‘ideal’ I’d like to have you define it.”

What I meant” answered the young brother, “was that he is so well-rounded a Mason. He is brotherly, charitable, loves a good speech and a good time, and does his Masonic duty as he sees it.”

Oh! Well, if that’s being an ideal Mason, Parkes surely is one. But I cannot follow your definition of ideal. For there are so many ideals in Freemasonry, and it has been given to few, and I doubt really, if it has been given to any one man to realize them all. Certainly I never knew one.”

There are so many kinds of Masons! I do not refer now to the various bodies a brother may join; Royal Arch, Commandery, Scottish Rite, Lodge, etc, a man may belong to them all and still be just one kind of Mason. When I speak of ‘kinds of Masons I mean kinds of ideals.”

There is the man whose ideal of Masonry is ritual. He believes in the ritual as the backbone of the fraternity. Not to be perfect in a degree or charge is actual pain to him; he cares more for the absolute accuracy of the lessons than the meaning in them. His ideal is a necessary one and to him we are indebted for our Lodges of Instruction, for our accuracy in handing down to those who come after us, the secret work, and to a large extent, for what small difficulties we put in the way of a candidate, by which he conceives a regard for the order. What is too easily obtained is of small value.

Requiring a new Mason to learn some difficult ritual not only teaches him the essential lessons, but makes him respect that which he gets by making it difficult.

There is the brother with the social ideal of Masonry. To him, the Order is first, a benevolent institution, one which dispenses charity, supports homes, looks after the sick, buries the dead, and, occasionally manages a Ladies Night or a ‘free feed’ or an ‘entertainment.’ He is the man who thinks more of the lessons of brotherly love than the language in which they are taught; as a ritualist, he uses synonyms all the time to the distress of the ritually-minded Mason.

There are brethren to whom the historical, perhaps I should say the archaeological ideal, is the one of greatest appeal. They are learned men; the men who dig in libraries, who read the books, who write the papers on history and antiquity. To them we are indebted to the real, though not yet fully told, story of the Craft. They have taken from us old apocryphal tales of the origin of the order and set truth in their places; they have uncovered a far more wonderful story than those ancient ones which romanticists told. They have given us the right to venerate our age and our vitality; before they came, we had only fables to live by. To them we owe Lodges of research, histories, commentaries, the great books of Masonry and much of the interpretation of our mysteries.”

Then there is the symbolist. His ideal is found in the esoteric teachings of Freemasonry. He is not content with the bare outlines of the meaning of our symbols found in our lectures – he has dug and delved and learned, until he has uncovered a great wealth of philosophical, religious and fraternal lessons in our symbols as would amaze the Masons who lived before the symbolist began his work. To him we are indebted for such a wealth of beauty as has made the Craft lovely in the eyes of men who would otherwise find it only ‘another organization’. To him we are indebted for the greatest reasons for its life, its tenuity, its vitality. For the symbolist has pointed the way to the inner, spiritual truths of Freemasonry and made it blossom like the rose in the hearts of men who seek, they know not what, and find, that which is too great for them to comprehend.”

There are other ideals of freemasonry, my son, but these are enough to illustrate my point. Brother Parkes follows the social ideal of Freemasonry, and follows it well. He is a good man, a good Mason, in every sense of the word. But he is not an ‘ideal’ Mason An ‘ideal’ Mason would have to live up to, to love, to understand, to practice, all the ideals of Freemasonry. And, I submit, it cannot be done.”

What is your ideal of Freemasonry?” asked the younger Mason curiously, as the old Past Master paused.

The one from which all the others spring” was the smiling answer.

I am not possessed of good enough memory to be a fine ritualist; I I don’t have enough time to spare for many of the social activities of Masonry, and I am not learned enough to be historian or antiquary, nor with enough vision to be an interpreter of symbols for any man but myself.”

My ideal is the simple one we try to teach to all, and which, if we live up to it, encompasses all the rest;
the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.”

The above short talk was from The Old Past Master by Brother Carl H. Claudy.

This paper is quite short, however, in my opinion, it says a lot.

We are all, as Freemasons, on our own personal journey and how we reach our destination is entirely up to ourselves and do remember, no one can complete the journey for you!!!!

Have a wonderful Day & God Bless


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