OUR MASONIC RESPONSIBILITIES
H. Dwight McAlister, P.G.M.
Grand Lodge of South Carolina
This Short Talk Bulletin is adapted From a
paper presented by M.W. Brother McAlister at a
"Crossroads Session" oF the Masonic bodies in
Columbia, South Carolina in June, 1980.
I have been speaking on this subject for over
forty years. Ever since I became a Mason, when
I was given the opportunity to speak to Masons
in Lodges or Grand Lodges, I have tried to remind them of their duties and responsibilities
and impress Upon them the importance of living
up to those duties and responsibilities which
they have taken upon themselves voluntarily as
Masons. Every man who comes into Masonry,
comes of his own free will and accord. He is not
invited to join the Fraternity. He must knock
upon the door for admittance.
Our Masonic responsibilities can really be
summed up in one word, "PRACTICE." We
have the responsibility of living our Masonry
before the world. Every Master Mason is charged with the practice of Masonic ideals and principles as taught in Masonry's degrees. Every
Master Mason must realize the gravity of his
responsibility as a Mason, and practice, in his
everyday life, the principles taught at the Altar
of our Lodges. In Masonry we say that it is un-
Masonic to solicit members, and it is if you are
speaking of asking someone to join the Fraternity. I submit, however, that we do solicit by
the lives we live before the world. I submit also
that to influence others to seek admission to
our Fraternity by the lives we live is a far better
way to get new members than by simply asking
men to join.
I repeat-every Master Mason should realize
and be conscious of his responsibility to live
Masonry in his daily life. In short, we should
practice what we preach.
A Minister's daughter said to her boy
friend, "Dad's sermon tonight is on the text,
LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Wouldn't you like to
go to church and hear him? Her boy friend
replied, "I had rather stay here at your house
and practice what your father's preaching."
One of the most tragic truths I know is that
Masonry means so little to so many who call
themselves Masons. Can you imagine the impact if suddenly every Lodge member would
become a Mason in deed as well as in word; if
suddenly every Lodge member would become
what he professed to be; if suddenly every
Lodge member would do what he is obligated
to do; if suddenly he should practice what he
preaches; if suddenly he should measure up to
his Masonic Responsibilities.
Let us look at a few of the specific areas of
our responsibility as Masons:
RESPONSIBILITY to the LODGE
Every member has a duty and responsibility
to the organization to which he belongs. So
many receive the three degrees and then forget
all about the Lodge. They seem to feel that it's
somebody else's responsibility to keep the
Lodge going. For a Brother to forget the Lodge
that gave him his Masonic birth is like a son
who would forget his mother that gave him
physical birth. Suppose no one attended Lodge
meetings any more than you do, nor took any
more of an active part than you do, nor showed
any more interest than you do, what would
have happened to your Lodge? Would it still be
in existence? I quote from the charge given to
you in the first degree, "Although your frequent appearance at our regular meetings is
earnestly solicited, yet it is not meant that
Masonry should interfere with your necessary
vocations, for these are on no account to be
neglected." Some interpret this to mean that it
is all right for anything and everything to interfere with their Masonry.
RESPONSIBILITY to OUR COUNTRY
I quote from a charge given in the Entered
Apprentice Degree: "In the state, you are to be
a quiet and peaceful subject, true to your
government and just to your country, you are
not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but
patiently submit to legal authority, and conform with cheerfulness to the government of
the country in which you live."
We can say with the Psalmist, "I have a
goodly heritage. " We enjoy the greatest
freedom of any nation on the face of the earth
but I have the feeling we are fast losing it. Some
deliberately, some by complacency and some by
simple default. We must wake up to the dangers
that face our nation and do something about
them. I subscribe to the words of Daniel
Webster who said, "God grants liberty to those
who love it and are always ready to defend it."
We must let the world know that patriotism and
love of freedom and individual liberty are not
dead in this country. Those who lived before us
were proud of their citizenship. They guarded
their heritage. They defended their freedom.
They kept the Torch of Liberty burning. They
kept the Liberty Bell ringing. They kept the
Light of Freedom shining. We should be equally proud of our citizenship, guard our heritage
and defend our freedom. We must keep the
Liberty Bell ringing, the Torch of Liberty burning and the Light of Freedom shining.
RESPONSIBILITY to GOD
I quote again from the charge given in the
Entered Apprentice Degree. "There are three
great duties which, as a Mason, you are charged
to inculcate-to God, your neighbor, and
yourself. To God, in never mentioning his
name but with that reverential awe which is due
from a creature to his Creator; to implore his
aid in all your laudable undertakings, and to
esteem him as the chief good."
Masonry is not a religion, but a Mason is
religious, a man who believes in God. He must
acknowledge his belief in God before he can be
made a Mason. Everything in Masonry has
reference to God. It implies God, speaks of
God, points and leads to God. There is not a
degree, nor a symbol, nor a lecture, nor a
charge but finds its meaning and derives its
beauty from God, the Great Architect of the
Universe. Every Lodge is erected to God and
dedicated to Holy Sain's and labors in God's
name. No initiate enters a Lodge without first
kneeling and confessing his faith and trust in
God. A true Mason is a Godly man.
A Mason is a man who believes in prayer.
We are to implore His aid in all our laudable
undertakings. We are taught never to begin any
great or important undertaking without first invoking the blesssings of Diety. One of the
greatest privileges God ever gave to mortal man
is the privilege of prayer, "Ask, and it shall be
given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it
shall be opened unto you." (Matt 7: 7) One of
the greatest unused powers in the world today is
the power of prayer. Prayer is the key that
unlocks the storehouse of God's bounty. One
of the greatest tragedies is that men fail to exercise the privilege of prayer, "ye have not,
because ye ask not." (Ja. 4: 4)
There is the story of an ancient king who
was a good ruler and a Godly man. He worshipped regularly in his church and was a great
believer in prayer. As he grew older, he suffered
hardening of the arteries, yet he still attended
worship services. In the service when the
Minister would say, "Let us pray," the old
monarch would say aloud, "By all means, let us
Many of you probably remember the story
of the doctor in a small French village who was
about to retire. He had been on call day and
night; the people could not afford to pay him
much, but that had made no difference. He
cared for them as he was able. As the day of his
retirement approached, the people wished to
make a concrete expression of their gratitude
and affection. It was proposed that on a given
day (since they had so little money to give) they
each bring a pitcher of wine from their own
cellars and pour it in a large barrel. The day arrived and all day long the people were seen
pouring their offerings into the barrel.
The evening came and the barrel was taken
to the doctor's residence and presented with inevitable speeches.
The presentation over, the people went back
to their homes and the doctor was left alone
with the memory of their love. He went to the
barrel and drew off a bit of wine and went into
the house and there sat comfortably by the fire
to enjoy it. The first sip was a shock. It tasted
like water. He sipped again-it was water. He
went back to the barrel and drew off some
more, thinking that there must have been some
mistake. But, no, the barrel was filled with
water. He called the Mayor and the Mayor called the Assemblymen and there were hurried
consultations. THE TRUTH WAS REVEALED. Everyone in town had reasoned: My little
pitcher of wine won't be missed. I have so little
for myself. The others will take care of it. The
little water I substituted will not be noticed.
It is a tragic story. It may never have happened, but it is the kind of thing that can and
does happen when people refuse to accept their
responsibilities, and when they reason as the
Frenchmen did. . .I have so little for myself. . .
Others will take care of it. This is the attitude of
so many Masons concerning the Lodge. Oft
times it is the dedication and devotion of a few
in a Lodge of two or three hundred that keep
the Lodge alive and active. The following lines
illustrate what I am trying to say:
I have no voice for singing
I cannot make a speech
I have no gift for music,
I know I cannot teach.
I am no good at leading
I cannot organize
And anything I write,
Would never win a prize.
But at the roll call in
I always answer, "Here,"
When others are performing
I lend a listening ear.
After the program's over
I praise its every part,
My words are not to flatter,
I mean them from my heart.
It seems my only talent
Is neither big nor rare-
Just to listen and encourage
And to fill a vacant chair.
But all the gifted people
Could not so brightly shine,
Were it not for those who use
A talent such as mine.
An old timer whose income was from ferrying pasengers across a river was asked, "How
many times a day do you cross the river?" He
replied, "I go as often as I can. The more I go
the more I get. If I don't go, I don't get." So it
is with attending Lodge meetings. The more we
go, the more we get out of our Lodge membership. If we don't go, we don't get.
Two drunks were out riding one day. The
driver lost control, ran off the road and crashed
into a telephone pole. The car was demolished.
Both men were knocked unconsious for a short
while. They both regained consciousness at
about the same time. One said to the other,
"Didn't you see that telephone pole?" The
other replied, "Yeah, I saw it, but I thought
you were driving."
Before I became a Mason, I had the idea
that Freemasonry was a tight organization
whose obligations did not go beyond the
bounds of the Lodge. The bounds of the Lodge
I took to be its membership, and that Masons
were under obligation to practice Masonry with
Masons and no more. Then I discovered the
real bounds of the Lodge: "A Lodge is said,
symbolically, to extend in length from the east
to the west; in breadth from north to south; in
height, from the earth to the highest heavens; in
depth, from the surface to the center. A Lodge
is said to be of these vast dimensions to denote
the universality of Masonry, and to teach us
that a Mason's charity should be equally extensive." In other words, the Lodge is a symbol of
Let us never forget the purpose of
Freemasonry. Some person has imagined a conservation between the devil and an angel. The
angel proudly told the devil that a way had been
found to defeat him. When he asked how it
would be done, he told him that God was going
to give to men lofty ideals and challenging principles to be proclaimed to the world. The devil
just laughed, and told the angel that he could
not be defeated that way, for all he would have
to do would be to institutionalize the ideals and
principles, and it would be only a matter of
time until men would forget the ideals and principles as they tried to keep the institution alive.
Someone explained it this way: First the idea
creates the organization, and then the organization chokes the idea.
It is important that we keep the organization of Masonry alive, but we must not forget
the ideas and ideals that gave it birth. Our
responsibility goes beyond the Lodge.
A little girl was saying her prayers in a
whisper. Her mother said, "Speak louder, I
can't year you . " The little girl replied, " I
wasn't talking to you."
A little boy getting ready for bed inter-
rupted a family gathering in the living room to
say, "I'm going to say my praycrs, anybody
Kathy, the daughter of Robert Young, was
praying. She thanked God for his many blessings and asked Him for the things she needed,
she then closed her prayer by asking, "Now
God, what can I do for you?"
RESPONSIBILITY to OUR FELLOWMAN
Again, we read from the charge: "To your
neighbor, in acting upon the square, and doing
unto him as you wish he should do unto you."
THE MEASURE of MAN
Not-How did he die? but-How did he live?
Not-What did he gain? but-What did he
These are the things that measure the
Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth
Not-What was his station? but-Had he a
And-How did he play his God given part?
Was he ever ready with a word of good
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not-What was his church? nor-What was
But-Had he befriended those really in
Not-What did the sketch in the newspaper
But-How many were sorry when he passed
These are the things that measure the
Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.
RESPONSIBILITY to YOURSELF
We read again from the Entered Apprentice
"To yourself, in avoiding all irregularity
and intemperance, which may impair your
faculties, or debase the dignity of your profession. "
I believe that it is my duty and your duty to
take the life that God has given us and make the
very best out of it that's possible for us to
YOUR TASK-To build a better world-God
"The world is such a large vast place
so complicated now
And I so small and useless am;
There's nothing I can do."
But God in all His wisdom said "Just build a better you."