The Masonic Commitment to Character
Many years ago one of Iowa’s most prominent Masons and theologians, Joseph Fort Newton wrote these magnificent words:
“Gentle, gracious, and wise. It’s mission is to form mankind into a great redemptive brotherhood. A league of noble and free men enlisted in the radiant enterprise of working out, in time, the love and will of the eternal.”
Those words capture the meaning of Freemasonry. As the world’s oldest and largest Fraternity, our goal is to build a man’s most valuable possession — his character.
We believe that the strength of the family, the church, the community and our country rests with men of strong conviction, firm ethical and moral values, and a devotion to our democratic system of government. As Masons, we help each other intensify our devotion to these enduring values.
A Masonic lodge is a place where a man can really improve himself, and spend time with a group of fine men endeavoring to do the same.
In lodge meetings, there is no talk of politics, no discussion of religious issues, even though every Mason must affirm a belief — according to his own understanding — in deity, and devotion to his country.
Masons are concerned with developing their minds and enlarging their scope of knowledge. In a word, Masons are dedicated to becoming better men.
Men of every walk of life belong to Masonic lodges. They are proud of their centuries of tradition, their belief in brotherhood, country, and the many Masonic acts of charity and compassion.
The Founding of Freemasonry
The origins of Masonry reach back to Medieval times when the great cathedrals of Europe were built. The stonemasons who created these awe-inspiring Gothic structures formed craft guilds to protect the secrets of their trade and to pass on their knowledge to worthy apprentices.
In 17th century England, these guilds began accepting honorary members, men of learning and position. These new members were not working stonemasons or even associated with the building trades. As “accepted Masons,” they eventually grew into a separate organization called Freemasonry, a moral and ethical society that taught the 18th century ideals of equality and the importance of education in freeing mankind from prejudice, superstition and social injustice.
Masons continue to use the simple tools of the ancient stonemasons — the square and compasses, the trowel, plumb and level — as symbols to teach their ideals. A Mason is oath-bound to build his life and character with the same care and precision that stonemasons used to construct the cathedrals and temples centuries ago.
Today, there are about three million Masons in the world, with the United States claiming about 1.6 million of the total membership. A survey that was conducted by the Masonic Service Association puts the charitable aspect of Freemasonry into perspective. That survey shows that American Masonic philanthropy is approximately $2.0 million per day.
Masonic Concern for Others
Freemasonry has an outstanding record for helping others. Along with scholarships and loan funds to assist young people in furthering their education, Masons support many community-based charitable projects. Retirement homes and hospitals for the elderly provide care for those who no longer can care for themselves.
The Improvement of Life
Masons are active in their dedication to improve quality of life. Always ready to undertake a difficult task in a quiet, dignified way, today’s Masons go about the job of extending the hand of brotherhood to their communities.
For the man who is looking for a deeper meaning in life and who wants to be a part of a Fraternity committed to his growth and improvement, Masonry is filled with marvelous opportunities and limitless possibilities.
The three principal tenets of Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.