Paper on Masonic Education
Paper on Masonic Education
Some months ago I became conscious of the urge to give expression to certain thoughts which were passing through my mind on the subject of Masonic Education and the opportunity came my way to express these thoughts in more concrete form when I was invited to give a Paper on this subject at the Inaugural Meeting of the Bromley and District Masonic Study Circle and also at the Annual Meeting of the Federation of Schools Lodges. The reception which this Paper received at these meetings was so gratifying that I was persuaded to give similar Papers before the East Surrey Masters Lodge, the South West Surrey Masters Lodge and the Masonic Study Society.
This is the first time that I have attempted to give a Paper before the Dormer Masonic Studio Circle, although I have been associated with the Circle almost since its inception and for fourteen years have served as- its Secretary. As one, however, who is in close touch with the members, indeed my office serves as the link between the member and the Circle itself, I have for some time been aware of the need in our Transactions for a Paper which deals, not so much with the interpretation of our Rites and Ceremonies, but one which seeks to give some practical assistance to the members of the Circle in order to enable them to make use of what they learn here to the advantage of their respective Lodges and for the benefit of their fellow Lodge members.
It therefore seemed that what I had already written would serve most admirably as the basis on which I could give a Paper to the Brethren of the
Dormer Masonic Study Circle and, therefore, I now propose to offer you a Paper which, although it will not aim to provide you with any deep esoteric
knowledge, will, I hope, help to impress upon your minds the need for the better Masonic Education of the Brethren of our Lodges and the manner in
which we, as members of the Circle, can assist in making the education available.
Whilst reading copies of some Masonic journals a short while ago I came across a remark which I would like to quote to you. I found it in the Freemasons' Chronicle and it had been reprinted from the "Ashlar ", which is the official organ of the Grand Lodge of Queensland, Australia. It read as follows:
"Masonic education in our respective Lodges stops too often with mere learning of the required lectures and we do not adequately impart to our initiates the wealth of knowledge and inspiration and Masonic Light which they are seeking and to which they are by right entitled."
There is quite a large body of thought within the Craft today which would echo the sentiments expressed in this quotation and a perusal of the Masonic Press, both in this country and also overseas, will provide many similar statements of belief.
The purpose of this Paper, therefore, is to examine the criticism raised in this statement of opinion and to see whether there is anything which we can do, not only as individual members of the Craft, but more particularly to us as Masonic Students, to remedy the state of affairs which is alleged to exist.
First, however, we must see whether the criticism is fair and whether it does actually portray a state of affairs which really exists. Most of us, I think, will
agree that very little investigation is necessary to realise that we do indeed do little to enlighten the minds of our candidates in Freemasonry upon a
knowledge and understanding of the Ceremonies through which they pass. In most cases the candidate is passed through his Three Degrees as quickly as the Book of Constitutions will allow and all he is required to do is to answer a set of formal questions to which he gives formal replies which he has learned to repeat by heart without really understanding one word of what he is saying.
Very few lodges ever devote any of their meetings to the work of Masonic Instruction; usually they are far too busy in Initiating, Passing and Raising
candidates and the so-called Lodge of Instruction is seldom anything more than a Lodge of Rehearsal.
I would not say that a Lodge of Instruction does not serve a useful purpose, but its usefulness is usually restricted to providing the Brethren with an
opportunity of rehearsing the Ritual and making themselves accustomed to hearing themselves speak. Here and there one occasionally finds a
Preceptor who will attempt to give explanations of some of the Ceremonial and the Symbols used in our Lodges, but such instances are far too rare.
We find, therefore, that Lodges themselves have not the time to devote to educational work and that in practice, the Lodges of Instruction have failed
to fill the gap. As a result our Lodges are full of Brethren, many of whom are most anxious to learn something more of the meaning and purpose of
the Craft, but have neither the facilities within their Lodges to gratify this desire, nor the knowledge to know where these facilities can be obtained.
I propose to examine this question of Masonic Education in some detail and, for the purposes of this enquiry, I have divided my Paper into three parts:
1. Why is Masonic Education necessary?
2. What is the subject matter involved?
3. How can the Masonic Education of the Brethren be best achieved?
Why is Masonic Education Necessary?
The more thoughtful of the members of the Craft have at all times urged the importance of giving the Brethren a greater instruction. Probably one of the
most quoted of Masonic statements of recent years is that attributed to the late Lord Ampthill - "What we require is to put more Masonry into men and
not more men into Masonry."
This statement, however, is so broad in its possible interpretations that without a more precise definition it is not easy to determine what is
I think that Lord Ampthill was inferring that the teachings of Masonry should become better known among men generally - that the principles of our Craft should be the guiding principles of all men, but I believe that his words are also capable of the interpretation that those who have already been formally Initiated into our Order should become more fully aware of the real meaning and purpose of Masonry. In other words, put more Masonry into Masons. Accepting it in this interpretation it would seem to indicate that the teachings of Masonry must be instilled into the Brethren and, in order to do this, some form of education is obviously not only desirable but very necessary.
The First Section of the First of the Craft Lectures contains this question: "What is a Lodge of Freemasons?" The answer is stated: "An assembly of
Brethren met to expatiate on the mysteries of the Craft."
To "expatiate" means, I think, something more than a recital of Ritual and "the mysteries of the Craft" would, I think, indicate that there is something
more important than the surface meaning of the Ritual to be studied and sought after. I would suggest, therefore, that the answer to the question,
"What is a Lodge of Freemasons?" would indicate that there is definitely something which has to be taught to the Brethren at the Lodge Meeting.
In the third of the Antient Charges given in the Book of Constitutions we find a statement worded in very similar terms. It states, "A Lodge is a place
where Freemasons assemble to work and to instruct and to improve themselves in the mysteries of the antient science."
Again, that word "mysteries." I shall refer to this again later in my Paper, but for the moment wish only to draw your attention to the fact that in these
words there is a definite charge that the work of the Lodge shall consist in "instructing and improving" the Brethren.
The references which I have just made refer to the work of the Lodge generally, but if we consider the various charges which are given personally to the candidate we find that:
1. In the First Degree it is suggested that he should feel himself "called upon to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge."
2. In the Second Degree he is expected "to extend his researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science."
3. In the Third Degree he is invited to reflect on a certain awful subject. (May I here interpolate a desire that Masters should be careful how they
pronounce that word "awful." It is a word which in modern terminology has become debased. According to the Oxford Dictionary the word means
"inspiring awe" or "worthy of profound respect." Let us therefore remember this when we speak of the subject of our reflections in the Third Degree)
Now Brethren, whether it be the daily advancement of the First Degree, the researches of the Second Degree or the reflections of the Third Degree, a
candidate must have assistance in his labours, his efforts must be guided. In other words, he needs to be educated.
In the charge given to the newly Installed Worshipful Master on the night of his Installation, it is stated, "In like manner, it will be your province to communicate light and instruction to the Brethren of your Lodge."
There can be no misunderstanding of the duty contained in these words. It is a direct instruction given to the Worshipful Master at the most important
moment in his whole Masonic career. It places on him a responsibility to give proper instruction to all the Brethren of the Lodge and also to see that
each new candidate, is he passes through his Degrees, is given that light and understanding which is so vitally necessary to make his progress not
only possible, but fully justified.
A Brother writing in an Australian Journal, the "New South Wales Freemason", states the position very clearly when he writes :
"It is not the primary function of Masonry to initiate candidates or to enlarge its membership. Were it so, there would be no basis for our laws against
proselytising. The ordinary function of a Masonic Lodge - indeed the primary function of our Craft, is to train its members to an understanding of the truths which its rituals and its ceremonies are calculated to inculcate. Therefore it should be the duty of every Masonic Lodge to put into action a plan for the education of its members in Masonic history, symbolism and philosophy, devoting more of its meetings to this much neglected function."
Within the time available I cannot deal more fully with this aspect of the problem, but I hope that I have said sufficient for you to appreciate the reasons why Masonic Education is necessary.
I feel too that on this occasion a greater emphasis is unnecessary because, as Students who have already received a considerable amount of Masonic
Education, I am sure that you already hold similar views,
We now come to the second part of our problem, perhaps the most important.
What is the Subject Matter Involved in Masonic Education. In other words, what is it that we have to teach our Brethren ?
Candidates come into our Order ignorant of the Craft and its teachings both material and spiritual, largely because there appears to be a mistaken
impression that one must not tell a prospective candidate anything about the Craft before he is Initiated. In my opinion, there is quite a lot which can
be said; in fact, I think that it is quite true to say that Masonic education should commence before Initiation. It has been my privilege to serve on
the Standing Committee of more than one Lodge. I have often asked the prospective candidate what his Proposer has told him about the Craft and
I have been amazed to find that in a large number of cases information has been practically nil. The reason for this is probably not difficult to find
because the Proposers themselves, in many cases, are uninstructed Masons and obviously incapable of giving the required information to the
candidate. Usually the limit of their teaching is to fill in the blanks in the candidate's question card and, later on, in his Ritual book.
Remember Brethren that there are scores of books written about Masonry and there are many Masonic journals, any of which can be purchased by
members of the public, or borrowed from lending libraries, or read the reading rooms of reference libraries.
Therefore, do not let us delude ourselves into feeling that it is impossible for anyone outside the Craft to know anything of Masonry and that we must
not tell the candidate anything until he is Initiated. For the very reason, however, that the public are enabled to discover something about the Craft,
it is vitally necessary that a prospective candidate should receive certain instruction in order that he may not enter our Order with ideas based on some of the misconceptions which exist in the public mind.
So, often a prospective candidate's ideas of the Craft are based purely on the social activities of the Brethren, usually because he has probably met many of them at Ladies' Festivals, or other similar social functions. A prospective candidate must be made to realise that Masonry has a spiritual foundation. This might prevent some from joining, but it would ensure that those who do join are of the right material.
I would suggest therefore, that the Grand Lodge pronouncement, entitled "Aims and Relationships of the Craft," which was issued in August 1938 and
re-issued in September 1949, should form the basis upon which information can be given and this, supplemented with perhaps a paraphrase of some
of the Antient Charges, should then enable a candidate to have some idea of the type of Institution to which he is seeking admission.
Listen Brethren to the first of these Charges - "Concerning God and Religion":
"A Mason is obliged, by his tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understand the art he will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious
libertine. He, of all men, should best understand that God seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh at the outward appearance, but God looketh
to the heart. A Mason is, therefore, particularly bound never to act against the dictates of his conscience. Let a man's religion or mode of worship be
what it may, he is not excluded from the order, provided he believe in the glorious architect of heaven and earth, and practise the sacred duties of
morality. Masons unite with the virtuous of every persuasion in the firm and pleasing bond of fraternal love; they are taught to view the errors of
mankind with compassion, and to strive, by the purity of their own conduct, to demonstrate the superior excellence of the faith they may profess. Thus
Masonry is the centre of union between good men and true, and the happy means of conciliating friendship amongst those who must otherwise have
remained at a perpetual distance."
There is nothing in that charge which you could not tell a prospective candidate and I think there is much in it that you should. Incidentally, I would remind you that in the Book of Constitutions on the title page where the Antient Charges are printed it is stated that they are "For the use of Lodges, to be read at the making of new Brethren or when the Master shall order it." Few of us, I am afraid, have ever heard them so read.
Having considered some of the things which might be mentioned to a prospective candidate, we now come to considering the matters which might form the basis of instruction after he has become a member of the Craft.
Broadly Speaking, Masonic Education can be Divided into Three Aspects:
1. The Material Aspect.
2. The Ritual.
3. The Spiritual Aspect.
Taking these in turn the Material Aspect will obviously include information regarding the organization and administration of the Craft. It will deal with
its recorded history from the period of the formation of the Grand Lodge in 1717 down to the present time. It will instruct the candidate of the manner
in which the Provincial and District Grand Lodges operate. It will explain the nature and importance of the Masonic Institutions and the part played
by them in the cause of Masonic Charity. These things may seem obvious to you, but usually the younger Brethren are left to obtain this information
for themselves, whereas it should form the basis of the elementary education of candidates.
With regard to the second division of our subject - the Ritual itself - there is little that I need say here. This aspect of Masonic Education is the only
one which at present really receives any attention - normally it is well covered by the Lodge of Instruction. Suffice it to say that every Brother
entering the Craft should be encouraged to make himself as proficient as possible in the Ritual at the earliest possible moment, otherwise any real
progress in Masonic knowledge is impossible.
The third aspect of study, the spiritual aspect, is the most important and to this aspect I want to give more serious consideration. Much ink has been
spilled by Masonic writers, many of them men of great erudition, in endeavouring to prove that Modern Speculative Masonry has developed out of the old Operative Craft. They have spent considerable time in research work in order to discover how the transition from Operative to Speculative came about and who were the first to become Speculative Masons.
I do not intend to enter into any controversial discussion on this subject because I do not think that we, in this Circle, are really concerned in the matter. However, I would like to state that the more thought I give to the matter, the more I become convinced that Modern Speculative Masonry had no connection whatsoever with the Operative Rite, other than that, for reasons best known to the Founders of the Modern Rite, the Craft was grafted on to the old Operative Lodges. I believe that the Founders of our Modern Masonry adopted a method which in the present day we would call infiltration. That certain individuals, whose aim it was to bring about the change, infiltrated into the Operative Lodges and gradually changed the nature of their Rites and Ceremonies by the introduction of ceremonial and rituals which had been expressly prepared for that purpose. Naturally, I can bring no written evidence to prove my theory, it is an idea based purely on intuition.
I often feel that in this materialistic age we do not allow our intuition sufficient scope. What is intuition? Surely it is that small voice which resides within us, and do not forget that we are told that truth resides within us too.
I believe that somewhere about the year 1600 there lived in England certain men of great learning and that they perceived that esoteric knowledge could be made available through the teachings of what we now know as Speculative Freemasonry. They therefore prepared the Ritual and the Ceremonial of our present Rites. Then, as indicated just now, they began to infiltrate into the Operative Lodges.
Up to this time these Operative Lodges had a Ritual and a Ceremonial of their own, but its purpose was merely to teach certain moral lessons. The
ritual which was now introduced was of a more esoteric nature and its purpose was to teach truths more deeply veiled in allegory and symbolism.
It sought to give to the world the ancient mystery teachings in a new form more adapted to modern needs, and these Founders of our modern
Masonry perceived that the old Operative Craft of Masonry was well adapted as a foundation on which to build the new teaching.
It took approximately 100 years for the full immergence of the Speculative from the Operative and it was not until 1717 that it came fully into the open
with the formation of the First Grand Lodge.
I fear that I have digressed somewhat, my only reason for so doing being that I am anxious to impress upon your minds the distinction between
Operative and Speculative Masonry and to explain to you that we, as Masonic Students, are not really concerned with researches into Operative
Rites. We are Free and Accepted or Speculative Masons and, if I may be forgiven for so expressing it, the operative word is "Speculative."
Brethren must, therefore, be encouraged to Speculate upon the meaning and purpose of the Craft.
To quote from one of our earlier Transactions
"There must be a definite purpose and motive for the existence of the Craft which is outside the scope of the present social and charitable activities
and if any Brother should ask me if I do not consider that our Great Charitable Organisations and our wonderful Masonic Hospital are definite evidence of the accomplished work of the Craft and that the social side of our proceedings is a valuable and humanising asset to the community, I would reply - certainly, I grant all this, but at the same time I would remind such a Brother that other people besides Freemasons are grouped together in societies for the purpose of social and philanthropic work. It cannot be truly claimed that a society which conducts its Lodge proceedings in a strictly private and secret manner would be necessary just to provide charitable and social ends and it is the gradual realisation of this truth that is causing many earnest Freemasons today to seek for a more satisfying explanation for the existence of our Ancient and Honourable Institution."
Freemasonry is said to be a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Freemasonry has also been said to exist from time
immemorial. Any thinking member of the Craft will cast doubts on the latter statement if he regards Freemasonry in its purely material aspect. What has
existed from time immemorial is (a) the system of symbolism which the Craft employs and (b) the hidden truths which lie behind that symbolism.
In all ages, esoteric truths have always been taught by means of symbols, partly because mere words are inadequate to impart the message which
it is intended to convey, but also because it has been, and still is, necessary to veil certain truths from the profane and those who are not yet
entitled to understand them.
The primary landmark of Freemasonry is a belief in the Great Architect of the Universe and the acceptance of this belief by all who become initiated
into the Craft confirms that those initiated should have definite spiritual beliefs. It is obvious, however, that in actual fact, not all who become members of the Craft are prepared to acknowledge the essentially spiritual basis of the Craft teachings and to such Brethren a proper understanding of the symbolism of the Craft is difficult, if not indeed impossible.
One is often asked for authority in dealing with the interpretation of symbols. It is asked by what authority do you state that such is the interpretation of a particular symbol. Brethren, there is no handbook of symbolism, no standard text book which can be quoted by all and sundry. The matter can be considered from two aspects. On the one hand one must be prepared to accept the word of those who, having themselves studied, should be in a position to know. One does not argue with an Einstein unless you consider that you have a knowledge comparable to his. A University Professor does not take kindly to the student who casts doubts on what he is told whilst undergoing instruction. One must, therefore, accept explanations without asking for authority.
On the other hand the purpose of symbolism is to make one think for oneself, and when we consider it from this aspect, we realise that the same symbol can conjure up in the minds of two different people two entirely different mental pictures. Therefore, if again one of these individuals states his interpretation, the other must not question his explanation nor ask for his authority.
Symbolism is not something restricted to Freemasonry. Symbolism is as old as life itself, and exists everywhere around us in our daily lives. The very words we speak or write are merely symbols. Many of our actions are symbolical - we shake hands when we meet, we stand when the national anthem is played. We use flags and standards, we wear rings on our fingers. With all these things, it is not the object itself which is important, it is the ideas which associate themselves with it in our minds.
So it is with the symbolism of Masonry and as Masonry is a spiritual science the symbols of Freemasonry are intended to make Brethren think along spiritual lines, so that when working in the Temple the thoughts of the Brethren may be raised from a mundane level to spiritual heights and when the work in the Temple is completed, these high concepts of right living can be carried out into our daily lives.
Some time ago I was reading a book of which, unfortunately, I omitted to note the name of the author or of the book, but I came across a paragraph
which struck me as being so true that I made a note of it and would like to read it to you now:-
"A literal-minded man can never know the real meaning of Masonry any more than he can read the Bible aright, since both speak in metaphors and parables for such as have eyes to see and ears to hear. In the New Testament it is stated 'the letter killeth but the Spirit maketh alive' and in the Old Testament - 'where there is no vision the people perish.' Masonry is intended to appeal to the thinking man. The ritual is but an outline. To fill in that outline a man who is resolved to become a real Mason has to do some reading of what thoughtful Masons have written about Masonry."
Such are the matters to which we should devote our attention in considering the Masonic Education of our Brethren and in the final section of this Paper I want to consider some of the means by which we might be able to achieve this purpose.
How can the Masonic Education of the Brethren be Best Achieved?
Broadly speaking, Masonic Education can be conveyed to the members of the Craft in three ways
1. By means of the printed word.
2. By verbal instruction within the Lodge or at the Lodge of Instruction.
3. By means of Study Groups, Research Lodges and Masters Lodges.
Many Brethren like to pursue their own enquiries and their studies in private - in their own time and in their own way. This should be encouraged, but
it is necessary that a lead should be given to such Brethren in order that they may know where to look for their information. Masonry, being a science, it cannot be learned without study and Brethren must, therefore, be prepared to read and to read extensively.
As I mentioned earlier in this Paper, there are many books which have been written about Masonry. Every Lodge should possess a library of books and
should subscribe to some at least of the Masonic journals which are issued both at home and overseas, and these books and papers should be under the jurisdiction of a Past Master of the Lodge whose duty it should be to see that they are made available to the Brethren of the Lodge. Most Lodge Treasurers have a habit of trying to accumulate Lodge funds against possible contingencies in the future, but in my opinion some of this money should be put to the more practical use of providing a library for the benefit of the present members of the Lodge. Although a very laudable object, the idea of provision for benevolence can be overdone, particularly as there are other sources which can be called upon to assist in this work and most Lodges have large sums of money lying in benevolent accounts which could be much better employed in providing books for the use of the members.
No doubt, many of you are familiar with some at least of the books which have been written about Masonry by the more well known of the Masonic
authors, but for the sake of record I would here mention some of the names of such authors, bearing in mind that I am giving the greatest emphasis to those authors who have written on the spiritual and mystical aspects of the Craft:-
J. D. Buck
F.de P. Castells
J. Fort Newton
Manly P. Hall
Dr. G. Oliver
and the brother who writes under the name of Essex Master
Works by authors such as these should be found in all Lodge Libraries and thus available to the Brethren of the Lodge
Many of you here will have seen copies of the various Masonic journals which I have brought to these meetings from time to time, but I doubt whether Brethren generally are aware of the large number of Masonic journals which are published, both in this country and also in English overseas and to my mind Brethren should have the opportunity of reading some of these, if only to get away from the parochial outlook in their conception of the Craft and to realise what Brethren in other jurisdictions are doing and saying.
Some of these journals suffer by reason of the fact that they do not receive from the Craft the support to which they feel they are entitled and, therefore, if Lodges subscribe to them on behalf of their members, the journals would be enabled to provide better service by reason of their increased circulation. In addition, there are of course numerous Study Groups, Research Lodges and Masters Lodges, both at home and overseas, all of whom would I am sure be only too pleased to have a larger circulation for their Transactions.
I would, therefore, urge every Lodge to adopt this idea of a Lodge Library and to appoint a Brother, whose duty it would be to attend to this matter on behalf of the Lodge.
The second method for the dissemination of Masonic knowledge with which I wish to deal, is where instruction is given to the Brethren at actual Lodge
meetings. The difficulty here is that so much time is taken up with Degree work that normally there is no time left over for this purpose. I feel, however, that this is a problem to which we should endeavour to find a solution. The Temple is the proper place in which instruction should be given and the tmosphere of the Lodge room is more properly attuned to this purpose than any other place. We, therefore, have to consider whether it would not be wiser to limit the number of candidates so as to leave one evening occasionally available for this purpose. Better still, instead of trying to do two or more ceremonies at each meeting, to have one ceremony only, and leave a little time for the purpose of a short paper or talk on some matter of Masonic nstruction, preferably on the ceremony which has just been performed. This may necessitate a slowing-up of the intake of candidates into the Lodge, but if the number of candidates coming forward is so large the solution to that problem lies along the line of more Lodges. I realise that there is an commodation difficulty here, and that it is almost impossible at the present time to secure adequate accommodation for more Lodges. The obvious answer is more Masonic Temples which, of course, cannot be provided at the present time, but I believe that a temporary expedient for the difficulty will be found in a realisation that the prime purpose of our meetings is the work that is performed in the Temple and that if a more simple form of after-proceedings was adopted accommodation might more easily be found. I rather feel, too, that something of this sort will be forced upon us as the increasing cost of the after proceedings is beginning to cause some concern, not only to the Lodges generally, but to the Brethren individually.
There is one way, which I would like to suggest to you, in which instruction can be given at Lodge Meetings at least as far as the young Mason is concerned. Never let Entered Apprentices and Fellowcrafts leave the Lodge room alone, when the Lodge is raised to a higher degree. When such Brethren withdraw from the Lodge they should always be accompanied by a Past Master who can utilise the time in giving them some Masonic instruction. This is a method which I have adopted in my own Lodge with very encouraging results.
In some Overseas jurisdictions there are Grand Lodge Officers known as Grand Lecturers. The duties of such Brethren are to visit Lodges and deliver Lectures on Masonic subjects. Under the United Grand Lodge of England we have no such Officers.
With the exception of the Prestonian Lecture - that Lecture which is usually given once each year before three Lodges chosen by the Board of General
Purposes, a Lecture written specially for the occasion by some well-known Brother of the Craft, a Lecture sponsored by Grand Lodge under a provision in the will of William Preston who died in the year 1818 - there is no other official sanction or even encouragement given by the U.G.L. of England to the provision of lectures within our Lodges.
I feel however, that eventually there must come a change in the attitude of Grand Lodge to this problem and that in time short lectures within the Lodges will become the rule rather than the exception. It is then that I hope that the Dormer Masonic Study Circle will be able to exercise its influence and be in a position to provide from a panel of lecturers Brethren who are able to visit Lodges with the express purpose of enlightening the minds of the Brethren on the mystical and spiritual aspects of Freemasonry together with such other instruction as may enable them more fully to appreciate the importance of the Craft and its teachings.
I would next like to deal with the instruction of Brethren at Lodge of Instruction Meetings and whilst I agree that to most Brethren a Lodge of rehearsal is necessary, I think that a proportion of such meetings can well be devoted to instruction rather than to a rehearsal of the Ritual. In the early stages of a Mason's career, in particular, I believe that instruction is of more value than rehearsal and, therefore, where accommodation is available, I believe that a useful purpose would be served in having two rooms in use - one in charge of the Preceptor for rehearsal and one in charge of a Past Master who would give Masonic instruction to the younger members of the Lodge. Indeed, I would suggest that each Lodge should select a skilled Brother whose especial duty it should be to look after this question of Masonic Education. This Brother would be responsible to see that each candidate as he passes through his Degrees is given the requisite knowledge to make his advancement not only possible, but justified. I am well aware that, hitherto, it has been regarded as the duty of the Proposer to instruct his candidate, but in my submission, this method has failed because, in the vast majority of cases, these Brethren are not themselves sufficiently skilled to be able to answer any but the most obvious of enquiries. I am also well aware that such a Brother could not
be regarded as an Officer of the Lodge, as such an office is not permitted by the Book of Constitutions, but in the same way that we regard the work of the Preceptor of the Lodge of Instruction as important to the Lodge, the work of this Brother would be even more so. In many respects his work would go hand-in-hand with that of the Preceptor. His work would consist in giving such information to the candidate as was within his capacity, but even more than this, of making known to the candidate where he could obtain further information. Much of the ignorance which prevails in the Craft is due more to the fact that individual Brethren do not know where to go for information rather than to the fact that information is not given to them directly by their Lodges. Therefore, the Brother selected for this particular service must be one who has had considerable experience of the Craft. He need not necessarily be one who has a profound depth of knowledge in any of the three paths of Masonic knowledge which I mentioned, but he must rather be one who has the knowledge of where information can be obtained.
The third method of dissemination of Masonic knowledge for the education of the Brethren is through Study Groups, Research Lodges and Masters Lodges. I believe that there are not nearly sufficient Study Groups in existence and I would like to see many more come into operation. I think that every centre where Lodges meet should have its Study Group.
I realise, however, that until the interest of the Brethren within the Lodge is aroused, little can be done. First we must begin to give education in our Lodges and through our Lodges of Instruction and then Brethren will be encouraged to join Study Groups where they can add to their education on a slightly higher level. In the same way that in ordinary education, we have kindergarten, elementary and high school or university, so I think the stages
in Masonic Education should be; the Lodge and the Lodge of Instruction as the kindergarten; the Study Group as the elementary and, finally, the Masters Lodges and the more advanced Study Groups as the high school or university stage.
I am not satisfied that at the present time the knowledge to be obtained through the Masters Lodges has reached the level to which it should attain, but I am hopeful that, in due course, these Lodges will achieve the high purpose for which I think they are intended.
I suggested a short while ago that every Lodge should select a skilled Brother whose duty it should be to attend to and be responsible for the Masonic Education of the Brethren of the Lodge. Such a Brother should be one who is a member of the Advanced Group and the Masters Lodge.
And now, Brethren, to bring this matter to you as members of the Dormer Masonic Study Circle, I believe that this Circle can be the training ground for the skilled Brethren whose duty it should be to attend to the matter of Masonic Education within the Lodges.
My remarks, of course, are more particularly directed to those members of the Circle who are Masters and Past Masters, but all I believe can exert an influence on their respective Lodges to bring about a greater awareness to the necessity for giving this matter of education more attention.
Whilst speaking of Past Masters I would like to add that from time to time I have heard such Brethren say that they welcome any opportunity of service to the Lodge, that they fear that having passed through the Chair they are in danger of being "placed on the shelf." Brethren, no Past Master worthy of the name should run any risk of being "placed on the shelf." There is work in Masonry for all Past Masters, except perhaps those aged worthies who, after a life well spent in service to the Craft, should be allowed to retire from their labours and spend the closing years of their life- watching others carry on with the work.
I believe that the Brethren of this Circle can do much to provide the facilities which will make Masonic Education more readily available to the Brethren
of the Craft. You are all members in whom the thirst for knowledge has already become of paramount importance otherwise you would not be here. I am sure that all of you are already sufficiently qualified to give some knowledge to those candidates just coming into the Craft and that is the point from which we have got to start. The best way of learning any subject is to try and start teaching others that subject and a vastly increased understanding will come to any Brother who tries to pass on his knowledge to others.
You come here to learn, but I believe that we should also gather here to work in the cause of Freemasonry. Your work is along the lines that I have indicated so that by our united endeavours we may all help to raise Masonry to its highest ideals and thus help it to achieve its true purpose.
I do not suggest that it will be easy, especially in its early stages. I am only too well aware that in many Lodges there will be opposition from some of
the older Past Masters at any attempt to alter the old order of things, but Brethren, I believe that we have now arrived at a period in the evolution of
our Craft when the old order changeth and a new order is coming into being and that new order can be materially affected if it is influenced by a
proper understanding of the tenets and principles of our Craft.
Moreover, if the members of the Craft have a better understanding of our Ritual and our Ceremonies, the whole of our Lodge work will become uplifted. The Officers will perform their duties more intelligently and the candidates will thus start their Masonic careers under the most favourable of circumstances.
The members of the Craft as a whole will then realise that Masonry is a life to be lived and Masonry will begin to achieve that purpose for which I believe our Modern Speculative Craft was formed, that men the world over can learn to live together in brotherly love.
SO MOTE IT BE.