Monday, March 9, 2009

Fidelity, Constancy, and Perserverance


The following is a short talk that I recently gave at my Valley's Stated Meeting. Some of the Brothers suggested that I post it here. I am happy to do so, with a little editing.

Greetings brothers,

I’d like to offer my thanks to our Venerable Master for asking me to start off this series tonight. This series of educational talks is all about putting a little bit of the classroom into the Stated Meeting. As the Classroom Director, I am certainly happy to help out. I promise to keep it short. I further promise that you’ll be left with a lot to contemplate.

Being a part of the Rose Croix line of officers, I wanted to stay within the degrees of the Chapter. Tonight, I’ll focus on the 15th degree as I think it has much to say about the situation that we find ourselves in … both in Masonry and in general society.

As we do not perform the 15th degree here, and many will not have seen the degree in action, I’d like to briefly describe for you some of the key symbols of the degree.

The hat, cordon, gloves, and apron all predominantly feature the colour green. Green represents the immortality of the soul – and even the immortality of Masonry itself. In the centre of the apron are three nested gold triangles, made from chains with triangular links and said to represent the chains on the human intellect – tyranny, superstition, and privilege. The jewel of the degree is made from three nested triangles of gold – symbolizing liberty, equality and fraternity; and also law, order, and subordination. Inside the triangles are two crossed swords, points up, resting on the innermost triangle – representing truth and justice.

The candidate is received in this degree as Zerubbabel – a name that should be familiar to us all.

Thus the 15th degree opens, as does the Chapter of Rose Croix. The people of Israel have been seemingly abandoned by God and are living in captivity under the Babylonian king Cyrus.


Why does it seem that God has abandoned them? What set of circumstances allowed for the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon? What is the role that God has chosen for Zerubbabel? As Zerubbabel travels from Jerusalem to Babylon, in which direction is this journey headed?

This degree teaches that the destruction of the temple and the long captivity in Babylon were due in large part to the people’s worship of lesser gods. Pike illuminates on this, not by listing the gods themselves, but by listing the obstacles to the success of Masonry. I’d like to think that they are one and the same - Apathy, Faithlessness, and Indifference.

Regardless of your religion, do your scriptures teach you to be lukewarm? Do they preach a doctrine of carelessness? Do they say to be indifferent to the cares and concerns of your fellowman? Hardly.

According to Pike, Fidelity to our obligations, Constancy and Perseverance under difficulties and discouragements are the leading lessons of this degree.

Pike wrote:
“He who endeavors to serve, to benefit, and to improve the world, is like a swimmer, who struggles against a rapid current, in a river lashed into angry waves by the winds. Often they roar over his head, often they beat him back and baffle him. Most yield to the stress of the current, and float with it to the shore, or are swept over the rapids; and only here are there the stout, strong heart and vigorous arms struggle on toward ultimate success.”

Pike goes on to say that
“… the only true question for us to ask, as true men and Masons, is, what does duty require; and not what will be the result and reward if we do our work.”

Nehemiah 4:17-18 says, “… work with sword in hand.” Pike adds to this to say “… work with the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other.”

Faithlessness can drain the life out of you. Watch the news. Read a paper. You may begin to believe the lies that are being sold to you. Masonry teaches that God formed man’s eternal soul for a purpose. It teaches that all of the events and actions of the world are part of God’s plan.

In the First Degree, each candidate is asked a simple question, in Whom do you put your trust? What was your answer?

Your trust being in God, you rose and were instructed to fear not what man could do unto you.

What’s changed?

What do you have to fear now?

As leaders of men, it’s up to us to demonstrate the teachings of this degree in our daily lives. It means that we are not apathetic, indifferent, or lacking in faith. If anything, these troubling times should cause us to count our blessings.

To Masons, Zerubbabel is the type of leader who is worthy of emulation. According to our Illustrious Bro. Rex Hutchens, he “perseveres, encourages the disheartened, cheers the timid, incites the indolent, forces the apathetic and reluctant, and has incorruptible fidelity to honor and duty.”

Masonry can thus be seen as a roadmap out of the current troubles we; Masonry, and our country may find ourselves in.

Fidelity to our obligations:
• Pay our bills on time
• Only take on the obligations that you can realistically support
• Don’t over extend yourself

• Let your yes be yes and your no be no
• Be the stability, the rock that your family needs
• Let your faith be steadfast

• Don’t give up – don’t give in
• Calmly bear the difficulties of life without complaint
• Commitment, hard work, patience, and endurance will see us through this mess that we find ourselves in

This degree begins the construction of the Second Temple out of the ruins of the first. The reconstruction symbolizes the restitution of truth. It also symbolizes liberty and the “state of peace and toleration that will make the earth a fit place to dwell.”

We all stood and took the obligation of this degree. In these troublesome times, can we not become more like Zerubbabel and zealously assist in making our Temple a fit place to dwell?

Thank you, and may God bless and keep you all.

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