by R. W. Bro. J. H. Young, 1975
From the first moment when the elected candidate enters the ante room and is required to profess his belief in a Supreme Being, and all other subsequent questions as a condition of his being initiated, up to that instant when he is raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, the candidate is marching steadily forward to a greater light and the great secret of Masonry.
Moreover, the candidate is assured that in all that follows in respect to his vows, “there is nothing inconsistent with one’s civil, moral or religious views”.
It is the GREAT secret and yet it is no secret in the sense that it cannot be told. Because the Bible, the Church and Freemasonry the world over herald its message to all men – the truth of immortality and a life beyond.
If the All Seeing Eye is the most ancient in the ritual of Masonry, then the grandest of emblems and symbols of the Master Mason’s Degree, the Sprig of Acacia, holds the greatest of comfort.
As a symbol of hope, this sprig of evergreen marks the temporary resting place of the illustrious dead, for is it not the whole drama of the Master Mason’s degree, one which teaches in most simple terms the immortality of the soul?
The Sprig of Acacia, in its most ordinary signification, presents itself to the Master Mason as a symbol of the immortality of the soul, being intended to remind him by its evergreen and unchanging nature of a better and a spiritual part within us, which is an emanation from the G.A.O.T.U., & can never die.
The acacia tree grows abundantly in many parts of Eastern lands and more especially in the Holy Land. It attains a great height and is among the hardest of wood. It is one of the evergreens and in contrast to other varieties of trees which shed their leaves, the Acacia is a perpetual reminder of life.
Among the Jews it was held in great reverence and was used in building the Tabernacle and its furniture.
Tradition loves to claim Christ’s crown of thorns was from this particular tree.
The Acacia has other peculiar characteristics in that its life seems so tenacious that it is said on authority that if a cut off portion happens to come into contact with the ground it will begin to grow again. From it a very fine species of Arabic gum is secured. The Arabs as well as the Jews hold it in high esteem.
The Acacia has been consecrated from among the trees by virtue of the sacred purposes to which it is used. Masons have appropriated this hallowed and sacred tree to equally sacred purposes of a symbol that teaches this basic truth of the soul.
It is incorporated into the funeral service in such words as “this evergreen is an emblem of our faith by which we are reminded that we have an immortal part which shall survive the grave and which shall never die.”
It is one of the oldest landmarks of Masonry wherein the Sprig of Acacia symbolizes everlastingness of the soul in which is embedded that boundless certainty of spiritual revival, but it also implies and takes for granted a large measure of faith.
It is not only the emblem of a future state but of faith itself.
This, then, is what appears to be the hidden meaning of the symbol of the Sprig of Acacia.
It is the emblem, not only of immortality, but of faith and of a belief in that which cannot be seen; in that which cannot be demonstrated and in that which cannot be shown as evidence.
The Sprig of Acacia is all of a promise but it is far more than that; it is a symbol of that which alone can bring peace and happiness to the human spirit.
This paper has offered me an answer as to WHY at a Masonic Funeral it is very common to see Brethren laying a sprig of Acacia on the altar or other significant table etc.
It proves, once again, that it is never too late for everyone to be made aware of WHY we do what we do.
Have a Wonderful Day & God Bless