“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.

Parallelepipedon

Here is the definition of another word that is used in Masonic Ritual, but is not common outside the Lodge room.

Parallelepipedon.

The Entered Apprentice hears this word as a description of ‘the form of the lodge’. Every Entered Apprentice I’ve spoken with after his Initiation admits that he has never before heard the word parallelpipedon. And he admits he has no idea what it means!

I try to help with the explanation that it is a shape defined in the first English translation of the works of the geometrician Euclid. It is a shape or space having six sides of which the opposite sides are parallel.

And I can add that in this year of 2020, the word is now 550 years old! A detailed explanation of my research is accepted for publication in Ars Quatuor Coronati Volume 133, to be released in November 2020. You may subscribe to receive it at www.quatuorcoronati.com.

And here is a short video courtesy of Bro. Danny McLaughlin and ‘Squaring the Circle’.

I’ve never heard that word before!

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

Parallelepipedon. The Entered Apprentice hears this word as a description of ‘the form of the lodge’.  Every Entered Apprentice I’ve spoken with after his Initiation admits that he has never before heard the word parallelepipedon.  And he has no idea what it means.  I try to help with the explanation that it is a shape defined in the first English translation of the works of the geometrician Euclid: that of having six sides of which the opposite sides are parallel.

Image of a copy of the 1570 Billingsly Euclid at the University of Waterloo. The book includes many drawings which may be copied, cut out, and used to form the geometric shapes that are defined and described in the text.

And I can add that in this year of 2020, the word parallelepipedon is now 550 years old! A detailed explanation of my research is accepted for publication in Ars Quatuor Cornonati 133, November 2020.  Subscribe at www.quatuorcoronati.com

Is it just fantasy?

A Brother made a comment on a social media platform that is, in my opinion, quite valid.  He observed that explanations of old Masonic artefacts are often just fantasy.  No one can claim “this gavel was used when building the Temple at Jerusalem”.  I agree, and can add that doing any good Masonic research is hard work.  It demands time, creative problem-solving skills, and then communication skills to be able to share the result.

There are two goals with any good Masonic research.  One is to share knowledge, to inform, and to educate other Masons.  This is visible when the end product of research is delivered.  Whether in a tyled Lodge meeting, or published somewhere, good research adds to the body of knowledge of all men, and more particularly to the knowledge of Masons.

The second goal is to make a change in yourself.  This is achieved by ongoing examination of the process and products of research.  In my own case, it is easy to say that I have traveled down many false paths, and collected lots of irrelevant information, as I’ve looked at artefacts, and ideas.  I think my skills have improved, and my confidence grows that I am supporting the fundamental principle of truth.

So when I share my research I also share my sources of information. 

My article on a Highland Lodge Seal includes mention of my contacts with the current Regiment, and with the Grand Lodge of Ireland.

My biography of James Agar includes over a dozen of the most relevant primary sources of information so others can confirm my research.

My small book regarding the motto Audi, Vide, Tace has 20 references in the footnotes and 3 pages of images.

My book The Master’s Emblem Explained for Masons has 7 pages listing my sources.

But back to the observation of the Brother.  I am glad that he made the comment because it means he is looking for Masonic education.  He is searching for truth, for knowledge, and for understanding.  I commend him for doing so.  I hope that my efforts in Masonic education assist him in his researches.