Parallelepipedon: The Presentation

Not long ago I had the pleasure of speaking at an online meeting of Templum Lucis Lodge No. 747 (GRC). Templum Lucis Lodge No. 747 is an Observant Lodge, based in Stratford Ontario. Their practices of an opening ode, closing ode, and strict dress code, are enforced even with online meetings.

The evening was a delight! I wasn’t the only speaker. RW Bro. Neil Dolson delivered a presentation on his experience in helping to bring Templum Lucis Lodge into being, and serving as the charter WM. By my count, there were 40 attendees online, hailing from many homes across the Province of Ontario and beyond.

I explained that my presentation was limited to a study of one word: parallelepipedon. The presentation was based on research I’d completed for an article that is now published in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum Volume 133 for 2020. And the presentation includes some additional material that I offered — just for fun.

A PDF version of the presentation is now posted on the website of Templum Lucis Lodge No. 747. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed researching and delivering the presentation.

Here is the link to the PDF: https://templumlucis.ca/parallelepipedon/

Wiped out? Forgotten?

Here is another word that is heard by Masons in our Ritual. But I’m pretty sure it isn’t used when a few guys get together for a coffee or other beverage.

Effaced.

Effaced rhymes with ‘defaced’ and doesn’t quite mean that.  The Mason on his journey is reminded of an earlier lecture, with the hope that he hasn’t forgotten that lesson because Masonry is a progressive science.  Something that is effaced has been removed, or obliterated, or erased, or worst of all: forgotten.  Our lessons are portrayed with drama to make an impression not only on the mind of the initiate, but on the mind of every Mason, so each of us can learn to apply the lessons throughout our lives.

Robbie Burns, and James Agar

Each January 25th there are many celebrations of the birth of Robbie Burns. He is recognized and honoured as the famous poet of Scotland. Also on this day we can bring to mind James Agar, on the anniversary of his death. He is underappreciated as an Irishman who did well in England.

Both Robbie Burns and James Agar were Freemasons. Both contributed significantly to the Fraternity by their words and with their actions.

As we toast the birth of Burns, let us also recall the death of Agar. And for both let us be grateful for lives well lived.

Epitaph on a Friend by Robbie Burns

An honest man lies here at rest,

The friend of man, the friend of truth,

The friend of age, and guide of truth,

Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,

Few heads with knowledge so inform’d,

If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.

“Conduce” means something…

Here is a definition of a word found within Masonic ritual that is not common outside of our Lodge rooms.

Conduce

The uninitiated man might think the word was mis-pronounced and should have been ‘condense’, or perhaps ‘conduct’, or maybe ‘induce’.  A newly-made Mason upon hearing the word ‘conduce’ in the context of the lecture may begin to appreciate that it has some meaning connected to a positive action.  And indeed, educated men of the Middle Ages brought the word ‘conduce’ from Latin into English with the positive and active meaning of ‘to lead’.  As an experienced Mason delivers the lecture with this word he is encouraging the Candidate to take a course of action that will lead (or conduce) to make him a better man; and able to exert his natural abilities more fully; and toward two high goals. 

The Vocabulary of Great Oratory

Assiduity

One might hear the word assiduity in great oratory: Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill have used it.

Masons hear it during an annual ceremony, where it is part of an instruction. 

Assiduity is an obscure word with the several meanings of ‘constant diligence’, and ‘close personal attention or care of a person’.  These are traits we expect in those who lead us; that they will always focus on being a leader, and be aware of the needs of the Lodge.  Learning from the example of the esteemed Brethren who have gone before us, and demonstrating those abilities to others, is how leadership in our Fraternity offers a path for good men to become better.

What is a cardinal?

Here is a definition of a word found within Masonic ritual that is not common outside of our Lodge rooms.

Cardinal

Look!  Is it a red bird?  Is it a baseball player?  Is it a leader of the Catholic church?  No.  It has something to do with virtues.  How can that be?  An outdoorsman, or navigator, or one who has worked with a compass to determine a direction might recall the four cardinal points of the compass being north, east, south, and west.  It is the educated man who understands that a ‘cardinal rule’ is the most profound rule, and that the ‘cardinal virtues’ are those natural virtues which are so important that all other virtues derive from them.  The cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice, can be traced in both religion and philosophy to earliest times.  They are so fundamental, crucial, and important, that all other virtues hinge upon them.  The newly initiated Mason learns that when the four cardinal virtues are practised together with the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity), then within our fraternity may be found the three great social treasures of fraternity, liberty, and equality.  The cause of good then hinges on the cardinal virtues.

Provided for your daily advancement in Masonic knowledge from the Sarnia District Masonic Library.  Wor. Bro. Marshall Kern, Librarian & Historian. 

Masonic Library and Museum Association

On Saturday September 12, 2020, the Masonic Library and Museum Association presents their Annual General Meeting. It will be on-line, as so many events are this year.

I will be presenting at the AGM. Yes, I’ll talk about the Master’s Emblem — and my focus will be on the role that Libraries have to support research.

For more information and to register, visit this website:

UPDATE AFTER THE EVENT — Some AGMs are dull. Not this one. Dedicated librarians and museum staff attended from Europe, North America, and Australia. There was free-wheeling sharing of opinions and suggestions for software to catalogue books and publications. And even some good-natured comments about who has the largest personal library! As well, there were a couple of attendees just starting with Lodge or Grand Lodge libraries — all they have is a large pile of books and lots of questions. They were given lots of answers and encouragement. And my presentation was very well received. Next year’s AGM will be in Grand Rapids MI.

Appellations by any other name…

Here is another word used in Masonic ritual, and used not quite the same way outside our Lodges. Appellations.

The worldly man hears this word and immediately thinks of different wine regions around the world.  There are certain locales noted for producing a local grape variety which can become synonymous with the region.  But what does this have to with a lecture in a Masonic ritual?  Nothing. 

Masonic ritual traces its origin to an earlier age; when certain words held different meanings than are commonly encountered today.  Such it is with the word ‘appellations’.  In an earlier time this meant the naming of an object.  The word ‘appellations’ comes to English from the French language, where even now the verb ‘appeler’ means ‘to call’ something by a name.  Thus in Masonic ritual, it is noted that a specific object is known to Masons by one name, and a similar object is known by those working in other trades by some other names. 

Learning this more ancient meaning allows a Mason to expand his lexicon, and add esoteric meanings to his vocabulary.

James Agar and Contact Tracing

A significant challenge, and extremely important task, during the current COVID-19 pandemic is ‘contact tracing’.  Knowing who has been in contact with an infected person is key to interrupting the spread of the virus.  Major tech companies are launching apps!  Some governments are monitoring movements of their citizens!

Masons have them beat.  And we’ve been doing so for over two centuries!

The normal thing for Masons to do when they attend their own Lodge, or visit another Lodge, is to sign the Tyler’s Register.  This is a record of who attended a meeting; and when the meeting was held.  This information is so valuable to a Lodge that old Registers are kept in a secure location.  The Tyler’s Register is considered (along with the minutes) of the vitality of a Lodge.

Indeed, concordant and attendant bodies do likewise.  Scottish Rite, Order of the Eastern Star, Royal Arch, Shrine, all have some formal means of tracking attendance.

Thus – every Masonic body can use their Tyler’s Register to inform members who attended a meeting that someone later became ill.

Why do we have this very useful tool?  It is because of the insight and authority of RW Bro. James Agar.  In 1803 he proposed that a register be used so that all who entered a Masonic meeting would sign, and be confirmed as qualified to enter the meeting.  Now, over 200 years later, we can continue this tradition and use the Tyler’s Register to trace all Masons who might have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus if a Brother becomes ill after a meeting.

Let the dictates of right reason lead us.  Stay home if we are sick.  Wash your hands frequently.  Don’t touch your face.  Stay physically distant; and wear a face mask when you can’t.  Demonstrate brotherly love.  Offer relief.  Seek truth.

Who was RW Bro. James Agar?  A biography is posted here:  http://www.mastersemblem.com/JamesAgar.html

What is ‘Preferment’?

Here is a definition of a word found within Masonic ritual that is not common outside of our Lodge rooms.

Preferment. This is a uncommon word today and someone hearing for the first time might think it is a ‘preference’ or a sign of favouritism.

Indeed, such a misunderstanding could feed into conspiracy theories about our Craft, or the false idea that to become a Mason is a path to fame and fortune. To the educated man well-studied in English history or well-read in English literature, ‘preferment’ means one who has received an appointment to a higher position in the English court or the Church of England.

In this sense, a preferment is synonymous with a promotion. A well-studied Mason will recognize within our Ritual that we congratulate a candidate for his preferment and remind him that his behaviour and actions have earned the honour which leads him to have a new character or identity. It is not favouritism. To a Mason the word ‘preferment’ means a rank he has earned by his own labour and with the assistance of his Lodge. The challenge to all Masons is to assure ourselves we are assisting each candidate for our mysteries to attain their preferment.

We should honour those who by merit and ability have earned preferment and rank as Grand Lodge officers.