October Temple Topics

Greetings All, this is you favorite Berwyn newsy, Silence Dogood again. Well October is almost over and I hope everyone has a Spoooooky Costume and ready to Trick and/or Treat.

This has been a busy month at Berwyn, a First Degree and a Second Degree, we are really moving along, as well as the fact that, the Annual Grand Lodge Meeting was this month. As I am sure you all know, the Grand Lodge Meeting is utilized to discuss new Bylaws, the current State of Masonry in Illinois, and this time around to ring in a new Grand Master.

Well, with this brief recap stated, I would like to open up for our Worshipful Master, Alan Schwartz to express an important issue which is important to many of us as a Fraternity and as individuals.

“Unfinished Work”

During the 2009 Grand Lodge meeting, reports from the outgoing and incoming Grand Master strongly suggest a concern with the amount of “unfinished work” in Illinois Lodges. This concern is also expressed in the new Grand Master’s Award of Excellence criterion, which includes a new 2-point primary requirement that a lodge have no unfinished work initiated before June 2009 and the ongoing 1-point primary requirement for maintaining an unfinished work committee to encourage brethren to progress to become Master Masons. Many of us have also heard talk about the importance of pushing candidates on to receive their third degrees, and there are a variety of programs – shortened catechisms, Blue Lightning events, etc., designed to help.

In my opinion, this approach to unfinished work is a mistake!

Philosophically, every man and Mason — even those of us who have been raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason, and completed our proficiencies — we remain a work in progress. Masonry should encourage each of us to look at ourselves as unfinished work, and to continue to strive to use our working tools to shape, sculpt, and polish our lives and actions.

Practically, some men will desire or need to take more time reflecting on a degree than others. In some Grand Lodges, in fact, there are minimum waiting periods (often ranging between 4-52 weeks) before a degree can be conferred. Lodges are not pressured to advance candidates who may not be ready to seek advancement. In Illinois, we are sending a mixed message. The catechism and the Intender Program Reflection Questions tell us that a man must make suitable proficiency to proceed. But the advancement programs mentioned above tell us that we must put men on a rapid — and arbitrary — time schedule to advance.

Why the rush? In large part, I lay the blame at the feet of our Illinois by-laws, and particularly on the innovation that a man only becomes a member of the lodge — and begins paying dues and Grand Lodge per capita — when he is raised. Historically, a “master mason” was one who had served as a Master of a Lodge, and most lodge members were Apprentices and Fellowcrafts. In the present Constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England; to take a prominent example, a man becomes a member when he is initiated, and is responsible for paying dues from that point.

We should begin the process of proposing and discussing changes to our Illinois Grand Lodge by-laws to return to this traditional and widespread definition of membership.

Many Illinois lodges already conduct business meetings on the first degree and seek to actively involve their Apprentices and Fellowcrafts in lodge programs. If Apprentices and Fellowcrafts were paying dues, there would be no financial pressure on Lodges or the Grand Lodge, to advance them more rapidly. The brothers themselves, as active members of their lodge, could seek advancement when they are truly prepared, or when they wish to qualify to serve as officers or undertake the additional responsibilities to the Craft that require the Degree of Master Mason. In the mean time, these brothers, seeking knowledge from their more senior Brethren, as well as from their own researches, would contribute to an ongoing culture of Masonic Education in their lodges. Their example could revitalize a lodge, and demonstrate to new Masons how to develop themselves as men and brothers through their own patient initiative.

Petitioners come to Masonry seeking enlightenment and self-improvement. Unfinished work is not a problem. It is, in fact, a key to Masonry.

– Alan Schwartz

Scheduled Events
On Tues Oct 20, Berwyn Lodge will visit LaGrange Lodge for a practice/instruction session. LaGrange is located at 1215 Chestnut, Western Springs, IL

On Tues Oct 27, we’ll have a regular Stated Meeting

On Tues Nov 3, we’ll hold Friends Night — bring one or more friends who you think would be interested in Masonry and qualify to be good brothers if they have the interest. There will be food, fellowship, and Masonic information. Contact: Jadly Gandour and Kenmond Eng with information about whether you’re coming and how many people are coming with you (so they can order dinner) – they would also like to know if you’re available to help out with the event.

So I believe that should sum it up for this Month. But as always I will leave you with a true and timeless bit of wisdom to reflect upon until next time. Silence Dogood signing off.
“When your only tool is a Hammer, all of your problems look like Nails.”

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