By: Lance Card, Marshall
As you involve yourself in a Masonic life, you’ll come across many references to performing Masonic work and receiving Masonic wages. This has been a point of confusion for many non-Masons and new Masons alike and it is the point of this article to offer some clarity.
In the Entered Apprentice Charge we are challenged to avoid all things that may debase the dignity of your profession. The layperson and the newly apprenticed might think that this is in reference to their daily career when it actually refers to their Masonic career. You see, throughout the many Masonic lectures and instruction, Freemasonry is referred to as your profession. Your daily work should be to improve yourself in Masonry, to reflect well upon the Fraternity, and to represent the Craft well to the Public. Thus, Freemasonry is your profession; a lifelong career. When you are reminded to sign the Tiler’s Ledger so that you might “receive your wages,” the wages alluded to aren’t monetary. These wages are explained further in later degrees but you can rest assured that they are only received for Masonic work performed. So, how is Masonic work performed and what is it?
Joining Freemasonry is to take upon yourself an obligation to be present. This is considered part of the work and is, in fact, a very important aspect of your Masonic career. You can’t expect to be paid when you don’t show up. That’s unreasonable. Whether you deem the meetings worthwhile or not, you have given your word that you’ll attend barring interference from your vocations, family, or church.
A Lodge with seventy or eighty Brothers on the books should have nearly that number in attendance at every meeting. Every meeting. In an organization where a man’s word is his bond, this work should be taken much more seriously than it is. We have an opportunity every time the sun rises to remedy any errors on our part in this category and address our attendance.
Attendance isn’t enough, for the silent attendee does not add their back to the workload and many hands mean lighter work. While Attendance is the foundation of the work, a Mason should be willing to get their hands dirty. Whether the work at the time is to set up for an event or being a committee member, whether it is cooking a meal or sitting in an officer’s seat, whether it is picking up and carpooling with your Brothers or cleaning the temple building, the work is in being an active participant.
Can you imagine showing up to your daily vocation and just hanging out, not doing anything to benefit the business but expecting to be paid for it? No. Neither can I. This good work cannot progress without the involvement of the Craft. Dive in and get your hands dirty. Don’t concern yourself with a lack of knowledge or experience. You have veteran Brothers who will instruct. I guarantee that they will be happy for the opportunity.
Gaining knowledge is a priority purpose of Freemasonry and there is a great deal of knowledge to be had just by studying and memorizing the catechisms, lectures, and charges. This is a major part of the Masonic work you’ve signed up for. Freemasonry is not a social club for those who have no desire to progress on their path to being a Better Man. The lessons contained within these ancient directives and symbols is well worth familiarizing yourself with. You’ll find yourself better suited to bearing that lofty title, even that of a Freemason, and you’ll better serve your Lodge.
This particular work will also help you with participation. The more you memorize, the more you are capable of participating in the degree work, opening and closing a Lodge, etc. and the more you’ll want to participate. You’ll also want to attend more events because you will feel that kinship with your Brothers and the Fraternity on a whole.
Memorization doesn’t have to be lonely work. Involve your Masonic Mentor, new Entered Apprentices, Fellowcrafts, and Master Masons in study groups. You are not alone in your work.
To serve your fellow man is a holy edict, delivered to us by the Grand Architect in our Great Trestleboards. To serve is to perform Masonic work. You can serve in your community, schools, church, your daily vocations, and in Lodge.
Within the Lodge, service can range from caring for your temple building to actively executing the functions of the officer’s seat you sit in. There are a great many options for service in your community, schools, etc. so I’ll focus on the Masonic work within the Lodge, particularly the active execution of officer duties.
When accepting the responsibilities—whether voted into the seat or asked to service—you should take the role very seriously. Investigate the functions you’re responsible for and make sure they are performed with the pride of workmanship that is worthy a Freemason. Your ability to perform this work will often result in the success of failure of the Lodge and is not to be taken lightly.
If you aren’t in an officer’s seat, align yourself with the officer whose responsibilities most interest you and put yourself at their disposal. You’ll learn while providing service to your Lodge and be actively performing Masonic work.
Yes, extending that hand of friendship and brotherhood is Masonic work. Be the man that your Brothers want to be around, that they can trust with confidence, that is reliable. When a Mason finds themselves in a situation where they either need someone to confide in or they need someone to share in their excitement, shouldn’t they immediately turn to their fellow Masons?
The Chaplain is supposed to be the spiritual support of the Lodge, the man that the Craft turns to for advice and guidance, but the work of Brotherhood is the responsibility of every member. This work is the cement that holds the Lodge together and cannot be neglected.
A cheerful greeting alone isn’t enough (though it goes a long way towards breaking the ice). At events like the Stewards Dinner, find a place to sit that isn’t with the same group of fellows and engage with a new group. Extend your cable tow and widen your circle. This work pays in dividends.
While I’ve illustrated five ways to perform Masonic work, there are more that the industrious Mason can find. As with all things in this life, the wages will not be forthcoming without the work first being put in. For those who have been absent from the meetings, you are welcome at the West Gate. Your Brothers miss you and the work is there for you. For those who are filling seats, there is much more work to be done. For those who are actively serving, we can all improve our efforts. This is the way of the Freemason. This is our obligation. This is our duty. Continue the work.