IN WHOM DO YOU PUT YOUR TRUST?
By: Rev. Harold J. Schieck
Bro. and Rev. Schieck is a member of Penn-Morris Lodge #778,
Morrisville, PA and is a Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of
Forty-five years ago, which was my eighth year as a young minister
in the Methodist Church, and in my fourth year as pastor of the
Methodist Church in Frackville, PA, I knelt before the altar of
Freemasonry. It was in Frackville Lodge No. 737, I was asked, In
whom do you put your trust? Then, in repeating after the Worshipful
Master, I took the oath and obligation of an Entered Apprentice
Mason. The experiences that November evening, 45 years ago, have
been indelibly etched in my mind. Many men were present in
Frackville Lodge that evening, and I was amazed to have seen nearly
every man who was a leader in the congregation where I was the
pastor. Over the years this has been my continuing experience. In 25
years in parish ministry, and nearly 20 years in church
administration, most of the leaders I worked with were Masonic men.
Membership in Masonry has always been a universally recognized
badge of honor. Its stress has always been on character. The fundamental
Masonic teachings are love of God, loyalty to country, a
high standard of personal morality, and a belief in the universal
brotherhood of man. In the life of a Mason, these fundamental
teachings reach out through participation and support in church and
community life. Masonic men find an inner peace and contentment
when they are contributing to the well-being, growth and support of
the church of their choice.
I asked myself again and again, what attracted these men to Masonry?
What was its appeal? Why were so many of them ardent and active
members throughout their lifetimes? Also, in my parish and church
administration responsibilities, I was privileged to work with Masons
of varied cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds. I soon realized that
the questions just posed also applied to me -as I am sure they must
have been of concern to each of us during our early and most
impressive Masonic years.
Certainly it was not due to solicitation. No man is ever asked to join.
However, today, the literature and public relations of the outstanding
Friend To Friend program, used in Pennsylvania, is encouraging a
positive response for Masonry from men in many areas of life.
I believe the answer is found in Freemasonry's lofty idealism. Its
stress has always been on character. Membership in Masonry is
recognized as a standard of honor, of Brotherhood, of uprightness and
decency. From the Revolutionary period through the founding of this
nation, and through today, fourteen Presidents of the United States of
America were Masons. Innumerable Senators and Representatives,
Justices of the Supreme Court, National and International military
leaders, Governors and elected officials in the many states, leaders in
education, industry, medicine, science, and space technology have
also been members. Also, many of the persons who led their native
lands into democratic forms of government in Europe, South and
Central America were Freemasons.
We as today's Masons have been climbing on the shoulders of an
endless line of splendor, of men across the centuries who believed in
and acknowledged the basic teachings of Freemasonry. Today, I am
convinced the teachings of Masonry have not changed. While all
dimensions of life are adjusting to a new age, to a changing world,
to computer technology, the basic concepts of the Fatherhood of God,
of Brotherhood, of honor, of uprightness and decency will never
change. We have a rich heritage in Freemasonry. It is ours to grasp
and follow during our lifetimes, and is incumbent upon us to pass it
on to future generations.
Let us never forget, or lose sight of the truth, that Masonry begins at
the Altar in the Lodge Room. Its foundation is a belief in the
existence of a Supreme Being. This is the first and fundamental
principle in the life of every Mason. Hear again the question, In
whom do you put your trust?
King Solomon is credited by most Biblical scholars for the words in
Proverbs 3:5- 6, words written a thousand years before Christ, or
three thousand years ago, Trust in God with all your heart and do not
rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He
will direct your paths. In all aspects of life God is to be taken into
account. The thought of God is not to be limited to special seasons or
sacred places. God is to be acknowledged in the home, in business,
at work, and at play. In other words, God is to be thought of
sufficiently to influence conduct and life. To acknowledge God
requires true humility. He has made us and not we ourselves are the
words from Psalm 100:3. Upon God we are dependent for life and
breath and everything. Acknowledging God will help a man not to
think of himself more highly than he ought to.
Yet, Masonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for Religion.
Masonry is not interested, nor is it concerned in how a man may
develop his religious faith. However, it stands for, teaches and
practices, tolerance toward all faiths that rest upon this first and
fundamental principle, belief in the existence of a Supreme Being!
Men of various religious faiths come into Masonry, here in our great
nation, as well as in nations in the uttermost parts of the world. They
retain the religion of their choice and are strengthened in the practice
of their particular beliefs by the truths and teachings of Masonry.
God is known by many names, and worshipped in many ways. There
is no religious bar to anyone who would become a Mason, provided
he is not an atheist. So, a Hindu, a Parsee, a Buddhist, a Moslem, a
Hebrew, a Christian can all agree on the inscription on our coins, In
God We Trust.
Everything in Masonry has reference to God, implies God, speaks of
God, and points and leads to God. Every degree, symbol, obligation,
lecture, charge, finds its meaning and derives its majesty from God,
the Great Architect and Master Builder of the Universe.
While Masonry is religious, it is not, even in the remotest sense, a
religion. Masonry has no creed, no confession of faith, no doctrinal
statement, no theology. Masonry does not assert and does not teach
that one religion is as good as another. It does not say that all religions are equal simply because men of all religions are Masons. It is
precisely because we are not a religion, we can come together as men
of faith. Masonry asks only if a man believes in God. If he were
asked if he believed in Christ, or Buddha, or Allah, that would be a
theological test involving a particular interpretation of God. Belief in
God is faith. Belief about God is theology.
From its very beginning, Masonry has been consistent that religion
and politics--are not suitable subjects for consideration within the
Lodge Room. Masonry believes in principles rather than political
programs. Principles unite men, political programs divide them. So
we are taught to leave our opinions on religion --and politics outside
the door of the Lodge Room.
While Masonry is not a religion, it is not anti-religious. We are a
completely tolerant body. It is a Brotherhood whose trust is in God.
Its stress has always been on character.
We are charged to maintain peace and harmony, and to uphold the
chief Masonic virtue, charity or brotherly love. Membership in
Masonry is recognized as a standard of honor, of Brotherhood, of
uprightness and decency. We are sure that he who is true to the
principles he learns in Freemasonry will be a better church member,
a better businessman, because of it.
As Grand Chaplain, Brother Charles H. Lacquement of Pennsylvania
points out, "Freemasonry gets its amazing vitality because its
foundation is laid on the great truths from which come the great
moral lessons it inculcates. Behind the two great truths, the
Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, is the chief Masonic
virtue, Charity or Brotherly Love. Masons are taught to practice this
virtue at all times and to assimilate it into their very lives. It is this
virtue that leads Masons to do their duties, to stretch forth a helping
hand to a fallen brother, to hold a brother's reputation equally with
his own, to whisper good counsel in his ear, and in the most friendly
manner, endeavor to bring about the best person this brother can be.
In so doing the Mason is strengthening his own inner self and bringing about the best in himself. Masonry makes in men, strength of
character, of thought, and of emotional stability."
And so, following that most impressive and unforgettable night 45
years ago, when I first knelt before the Altar of Freemasonry, and
was asked the question, In whom do you put your trust?, I have
traveled, as you have, across many peaceful and many troubled
waters, and again and again my trust in God strengthened me. No
person, more especially a Mason, can live for himself alone. We are
guided by the great teachings of Masonry, the Fatherhood of God, the
Brotherhood of Man, and the chief Masonic virtue, Charity or