MASONS: KNIGHTS of CHARITY
by Chesler R. MacPhee, P.G.M.
Grand Lodge of California
This article first appeared in the November,
1981 issue of The New Age, and is reprinted as a
Short Talk Bulletin through the courtesy and with
the permission of The New Age and the author.
Politics, religion and secrecy -- these are
three subjects never discussed within any legitimate Masonic lodge or during any event of
Masonic sponsorship. Our Craft is non-political
in that it transcends narrow partisanship to
exalt freedom and the full development of every
person's human potential. The prohibition of
sectarian concern is central to Freemasonry's
acceptance of all men who express belief in a
Supreme Being and who have dedicated themselves to His service. Most of all, Freemasonry
is not a secret organization, but one that publicly announces its meetings and openly works for all types of civic, philanthropic and patriotic
Given the multitude of beneficial activities
and worthwhile projects going on at any given
Lodge, there is no time--even if it were permitted--to waste on such unproductive matters as politics, sects, or secrecy. The "secret"
purpose of Freemasonry is publie knowledge--
the enlightenment of society and the improvement of mankind.
Far from being a "secret society," Masons
in America proudly wear their pins and cordially invite non-Masons to public meetings
sponsored by Masons. Notices indicating the
time and place of meetings are widely printed
and in many places advertisements in the newspapers inform of such meetings. Although
Masons seek no public approbation for their
benevolence, the actual supportive facts are
that the sum of $1.3 million is made available
every single day by the Masons in this Country
for such benevolence. The figure of $1.3 million
per day is not a typographical error, but rather
a conservative estimate by The Masonic Service
Association that Masonic Bodies and affiliated
organizations expend more than $480 million
per year in benevolent activities. About 60 percent of this sum is made available for public
assistance, and 40 percent is oriented toward
support of Masonic Homes for the young and
the elderly -- completely provided for by
Masons without public assistance. No organization in the history of mankind has ever accomplished such a massive and high purpose on a
continuing basis. Crippled children's bones are
healed. Many persons c,nce given up for dead
are now returned to society because the Shrine
became a catalyst in the treatment of second
and third degree burns. The great Masonic Centers in Chicago, New York and elsewhere about
the Country testify in the work of the Masons.
The Aphasia Program the Scottish Rite
sparked has been for more than 20 years returning speechless children to society in lieu of
incarceration in State institutions. Other charitable agencies are now taking on the work, but
it was the Scottish Rite that initiated interest.
Today thousands of youngsters live normal
lives because the Masons of the Scottish Rite
gave of their efforts and their substance.
More than 10 years ago at a Los Angeles
Bodies Scottish Rite meeting, I concluded my
remarks by referring to the great work of the
Aphasia Program of the Mother Jurisdiction.
Thereafter, a fine, clean-cut young man of
about 18 years came up to greet me and said,
"Mr. MacPhee, when you see the Masons of
California thank them for me." I asked,
"What did the Masons do for you?" He re-
plied, "When I was six years old I could not
speak; had never spoken a word. No one
seemed able to help me. A friend suggested we
try the Scottish Rite Aphasia Program which
had been established at Stanford University.
That program did the job for me. I graduated
from high school last month as captain of the
Debating Society. So please thank the Masons
for me. " It was one of the greatest experiences I
have ever had as a Mason. I think I stood
twelve feet tall as I listened to that young man.
Millions of persons have been assisted by
the Masons of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation in their expenditures for research, treatment, correction of diseases and problems of
the eyes. The Knights Templar continue to
make substantial grants to the Departments of
Ophthalmology at many universities throughout the United States. An unsolicited letter addressed to the Knights Templar of Phoenix,
Arizona, some time ago tells the story better
than any words of mine. The letter read:
"One month ago I did not know of the existence of the Knights Templar Eye Founda-
tion. Your making possible the corneal transplant precipitated decisions of Iasting conse-
quences. Nine days after the transplant in the
hospital room, I heard these words, 'Mother, I
see you, I see your eyes. I can see your lips moving, Mother, I see you. ' Gentlemen, what can a
grateful mother and father say but thank you
for making possible the return of our son's vision, for giving him eyes that he may see."
Thousands of such letters over the ycars testit-y
to this great work.
It is well within the mark to say that hundreds of millions of dollars are made available
annually for deserving scholarships and leadership training programs for boys and girls and
young adults of all races, colors and creeds by
the Scottish Rite, York Rite, Masonic Foundations, Hi-Twelve Clubs and other Masonic
Today in this Country there are numerous
laboratories where research is supported by the
men of Masonry -- all working to find the
answer to cancer, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, leukemia, arteriosclerosis, schizophrenia and a host of other medical problems.
Then we have the great work of The Masonic
Service Association in providing funds and the
manpower to continue each year the tremendous Hospital Visitation Program.
And there is more! Space is not available to
do justice to all Freemasonry has accomplished
and is accomplishing.
Masons in the early days of the guilds,
before the Lodges were formed, recognized the
importance of charity for the less fortunate,
and on each Patron Saint's day they regularly
provided funds for that purpose. For each
Mason learns in the First Degree, "Charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless
ages of eternity."
Accordingly, we Masons recognize there
must be a greater charity than that of giving of
our substance. And there is. It is the gift that no
one else but you can give. It is the giving of our
ourselves--the giving of time and talents in a
thousand different ways to our churches, syna-
gogues, our schools, our Lodges, hospitals, Little Leagues, Boy and Girls Scouts, Boys' Clubs,
DeMolays, Rainbows, Jobs' Daughters and
others. Through these acts we personally help
the weak, the poor, the needy, the sick and
those requiring our care and love.
Think for a moment of the giving of your-
self by extending the charity of compassion to
those with whom you may not agree. Or con-
sider how Masons are the first to extend our
hands in friendship to those who would despitefully use us. I once wrote, "The individual who
would truly exemplify Brotherly Love comes
closest to Heaven on Earth." I believe it!
It has been said that Masonic charity is the
greatest of all virtues, for such charity is indeed
the law of balance.
And it is entirely conceivable that the guidance of the so-called Patron Saints of the
medieval Masons indoctrinated a concern for
others, a responsibility to the guild and subsequent Lodge members.
Thus down through the ages came the importance to the men of Masonry in the giving of
charity or relief in its many forms including
financial help and relief for the distressed in
body, mind and spirit. How proud these early
Masons would be to see the great philanthropic
work of their counterparts today providing extensive humanitarian service to all mankind in
the giving of themselves and their substance in a
manner unparalleled in the history of the world.
Masons do indeed have substantial cause to
be proud of their heritage and their efforts today on behalf of all mankind.