By: Brother Ed Mortensen
The first thing to note is that to be a Freemason; you must be a good man. Before your petition is voted upon, your references are checked, and you are “investigated” by the Brothers of the Lodge to verify that you are indeed a good man and will make an upright Mason.
As far as making you a better man is concerned, consider the working tools:
The Square – The symbol of the Worshipful Master, the square is an implement of the operative mason to make a perfect 90 degrees in stone. As with the other tools, there is a speculative use, namely to square our actions by the square of morality and virtue. Squaring our actions means that we strive to be moral and virtuous. Morality, while taught in the sacred Book of Law, really points us in the direction of what is right and what is good. Virtue is both moral in behavior and keeping up a high standard of conduct.
The Level – The symbol of the Senior Warden, the Level, in addition to its operative use, reminds us to act straightforwardly and to be sincere. It also tells us that we are “on the level,” equal to all Brothers, even the Worshipful Master, who is temporarily raised above his Brothers for a time, must regard himself primarily as a Brother to all.
The Plumb – The symbol of the Junior Warden, the Plumb reminds us to “walk uprightly.” It cautions us to never deviate from the direction of proper conduct, the correct course of life.
The Twenty-Four Inch Gauge – The twenty-four markings represent the twenty-four hours in the day. It is taken in three parts of eight hours each. One part, representing our duty to God and the relief of a distressed worthy Brother, for all Masons must profess a belief in a supreme being and are taught the lesson of charity. Another part of a Mason’s day is spent in our various vocations and the third for rest and refreshment. The first part of that twenty-four-hour block pertains to how a Mason makes himself better.
The Common Gavel – The Gavel, an implement of wood, is used to break off the corners of rough stones laboriously. Like the operative mason, we use the Gavel to divest our hearts and minds of the vices and superfluities of life. By eliminating that which is unnecessary and wicked, we improve ourselves.
The Compasses – The Compasses remind us to circumscribe our behavior and keep our passions within due bounds. Essential to a Mason, and presented to the Master upon installation, the compasses caution us to act always as an upright man and reign in our emotions to evenly deal with our fellow men.
The Trowel – It is the Trowel that spreads the cement that binds the stones of the edifice. It is the symbolic trowel that spreads the bond of Brotherhood, cementing the relations between Brothers and our fellow man.