By: Brother Ed Mortensen
The tenets of the Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. It is these tenets that embody the spirit of a Mason and guide him on the path to self-improvement.
Brotherly Love is the bond between Masons, and people, that proves a man’s humanity and compassion. Once initiated, a man becomes a Brother to all other Masons, but it is in developing this bond that a man improves himself and better serves humanity.
Relief – While Freemasonry is not a charity, it does promote the involvement in charitable works. While a man’s duty is to his God, his neighbors, his family, and himself, he is also responsible for his Brothers and fellows. The better man does good works and remembers to be charitable.
Truth – It is in seeking the truth and speaking it that a man improves and proves his worth. Truth can be found in Masonic ritual, the Book of Sacred Law and between Brothers. Truth is the foundation of virtue and improves the behavior of a Mason.
The four cardinal virtues of the order are Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, and Justice. They represent the behaviors of that upright man, the Mason:
The compasses represent temperance – More than moderation in indulgences, temperance within the fraternity refers to all desires. It is through this moderation that we limit our passions, curb our zeal, and restrain ourselves as we improve.
Prudence – Prudence is the application of reason to our thoughts and actions. It is used to judge our thoughts and actions wisely. It guides us in our decisions and our conduct.
Fortitude – It is through a man’s inner strength that he finds the courage to live rightly and stand up for himself and others. It is the courage, bravery, strength of mind, and strength of character that differentiates the average man and the Mason.
Justice – Justice, in this case, is not solely the punishment of the perpetrator of evil deeds but is that which binds us to our principles and causes us to act rightly and responsibly. We do not judge our Brothers, but we whisper good counsel in the ear of an erring Brother.
By listening to the ritual and taking to heart its teachings, a good man becomes better. But repetition does not always inculcate improvement of behavior. Development of self requires constant striving effort. A man is made better in degrees as he studies the tenets and virtues of Freemasonry.
All of these tools, tenets, and virtues are monitorial and are proper to be discussed between men and Masons.