The Wages of a Fellowcraft
For some time I have wondered what is intended by the words of the Senior Warden in the closing of the Lodge (Emulation Ritual) when, being asked by the Worshipful Master as to his place in the Lodge, he responds, (in part)
“to close the Lodge, by command of the WM after having seen that every Brother has had his due “
To my mind, I immediately think of WAGES, however, not being operative masons how do we expect to receive wages? Hopefully this paper will add some light to that question or maybe even add more questions for contemplation and discussion.
Corn, Wine and Oil
Amended from a paper presented by Bro. E.J. Dunn-Barclay Lodge No.90 in The Masonic Bulletin-BC& Yukon (Canada) Jan 1940:
The wages of a Fellowcraft Mason, we are told, are corn, wine, oil and, in some jurisdictions, specie. The symbolism of the three of these is comparatively obvious.
Corn and oil represent, as they have from time immemorial, the necessities of life, food and shelter.
Specie symbolizes not only the immediate rewards of our labor, but also the transition of Masonry from an Operative Craft Guild of which our ancient brethren were members, to a speculative and spiritual force, in the modern community where the guild system has been replaced by no other tie between master and man than that of the earning of wages.
But of all the symbolic wages of the Fellowcraft Degree, it is wine that intrigues the writer the most.
For wine is rich in associations, from most of which we can gather instruction in the very fundamentals of our Craft in that wine represents something more than a sheer necessity.
For the mere purpose of quenching thirst, water would have served not merely as well, but even better.
Wine, from the earliest times has represented something more, a symbol, if you wish, of enjoyment at the proper times and places. It is associated with fellowship, in the highest and worthiest use of the word.
But there is another side to its use. Wine is a two-edged sword.
Indiscriminately used, it brings discredit to the user and may even destroy him.
It demands of the recipient, that he may properly enjoy its taste, for its fullest appreciation and moderation, for his own protection and the avoidance of satiety.
It is worthy of note that the wage of wine is reserved for the Fellowcraft Degree, where the beneficiary is presumed to have received some instruction in subduing his passions and improving himself in Masonry, and the fact that it is dispensed by a warden whose duties are to see that none convert the purposes of refreshment into those of intemperance.
The fact that wine represents something more than a mere necessity of life, is not without Masonic significance, nor should the fact that, in primitive times, it was used as wages be overlooked
As Masons, we are supposed to do more than the absolute minimum necessities of our daily avocation.
We are supposed to have a pride in our work, a joy in it, and a self-discipline which requires us to perform every task to the utmost of our ability and in keeping with Masonic ideals.
To do so, we are informed, will ensure that we can expect to receive our wages in an amount which will enable us to get more out of life than the mere necessities of it.
Particularly is this true in Masonry, for as a speculative art or science, Masonry rewards us in proportion to what we put into it.
In my opinion, it is quite reasonable to assume that in today’s Masonic environment we would not see wages our Lodges paying wages in the form of Corn; Wine; Oil or Specie, therefore HOW is the Senior Warden able to state that every brother has had his due??? How can this be done??
My answer is, I believe I have witnessed TWO examples employed in Lodges which I have had the opportunity and pleasure to attend and I will now share those with you:
- Fraternity Lodge #23, Mazatlan Mexico; Grand Logia of Sinaloa. (Honourary Member)
This Lodge has an Appointed Officer, titled the “Orator” who at the end of the Lodge meeting takes the floor and comments on the evenings proceedings.
In his comments he specifically identifies Brethren who have contributed to the proceedings and extends gratitude and thanks on behalf of the Lodge, this is followed by applause.
From my observation these comments are very well received and brethren seem to be very pleased to have been recognized. This process they identify as the issuance of “Wages”.
- True Resolution Lodge #16, Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Prince Hall Masons of Washington and Jurisdiction (Grand Lodge Representative and Associate Member)
In this Lodge a Senior Member of the Lodge is appointed by the Worshipful Master to “Pass out Wages” at the close of the proceedings, which he does in much the same fashion as in Mexico, again followed by applause.
In other Jurisdictions, (that I am familiar with), including that of my home Lodge, there is no formal process in place, and any such compliments (wages) are left for the attending Brethren to extend under “Good of the Order”.
Personally, I find it very interesting to view customs and practices, such as the above, and feel that by doing so, I get to learn more about my neighbours and appreciate their uniqueness.
Hopefully you will have found this sharing of some interest you.