Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Millennial Freemason Visits: Saint Paul Lodge #3
I was fortunate enough to have been invited by the Senior Warden of Saint Paul #3, Worshipful Brother Clay, to attend a Special Communication of his Lodge dedicated to education on the 2nd degree. Saint Paul #3 is the oldest Lodge in Minnesota and is our Grand Lodge’s only Traditional Observance Lodge. For anyone unfamiliar with what a Traditional Observance Lodge is, TO Lodges, as they are called, follow a set of guiding principles developed by the Masonic Restoration Foundation. These Lodges believe in ritual work being done well, an Agape or a Festive Board being held after the meetings, a lecture, music piece or some other presentation being given at each meeting to expand the brethren’s formal Masonic knowledge, formal attire being worn, and attendance being expected by all brothers of the Lodge. TO Lodges use a combination of English, North American and Continental European and South American traditions in the practice of Freemasonry. Traditional Observance Lodges do not use different ritual, but are able to take what we have and make it awe-inspiring.
I have never been to a TO Lodge and really didn’t know what to expect. So I donned my newly purchased white shirt, black tie and black suit and went on my way with a brother from of my Lodge, Brother Jon. I have never been to the Triune Masonic Temple on Iglehart and Howell but immediately, I was impressed. The building exudes the greatness and importance that our Fraternity brings to men. The building was built in 1911, a few years before the Farmington Masonic Temple was built. The building is quite impressive and has been especially built for the practice of Freemasonry. In fact, Triune Masonic Temple is one of the few Fellow Craft’s lodges still in existence. This means that the Lodge Room is specifically designed to confer the 2nd Degree on candidates with all the Fellow Craft degree’s symbolism built into the Lodge Room itself. It is truly a remarkable building to see as a Mason.
As I met the brothers of Saint Paul #3, Jon and I were asked to wait to be allowed into the Lodge Room. As Jon and I entered, I knew I was entering a very different Lodge environment by the dim lights and burning tapers around the Lodge Room as the other brothers entered wearing tuxedos and white gloves. It was at this moment that I knew I would be going through a very new and wonderful Masonic experience. I won’t go into detail on how the brothers performed the ritual but I can say that the ritual was done extremely well with great proficiency.
I was truly amazed by how the ritual is treated by the brothers of Saint Paul #3. It is my opinion that it is our ritual that sets us apart from all other social clubs, men’s groups, or fraternities. Our forefathers presented us with beautiful ritual built on a system of morality and thoughtful contemplation. What the brothers at Saint Paul Lodge #3 do is treat Masonry and her ritual as solemn and pensive. I wouldn’t consider myself a perfect ritualist but I have been trying to become proficient in our ancient traditions and when I watch good ritual work performed, I feel a true affinity to my brothers and to Masonry. It wasn’t just the ritual that made this Lodge experience special but also the presentations and musical performances.
As I sat in the dim, candle-lit Lodge room, I listened to two well-written papers on Masonic subjects, one by Worshipful Brother Clay, the other by Worshipful Brother Jim, and closed my eyes as I listened to two beautiful piano pieces, one by Debussy performed by Worshipful Brother Jim and one by Bach performed by Brother Andrew. I wanted to get the full effect of this Lodge experience. I looked about myself and listened intently to the sounds of the ritual, the musical pieces and the periods of silence, searching and finding meaning within each pause, each word, each note and each movement about the Lodge. Although I have no problem with the way my Lodge does its ritual work, I really found this to be a new and refreshing Masonic experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
We in Minnesota are truly fortunate to have a Traditional Observance Lodge within our jurisdiction. If you are a brother and you live in Minnesota or will be in Minnesota, I would suggest giving this Lodge a visit. If you will be planning to visit Saint Paul #3, please contact their secretary as they need to know how many will be at the Agape or Festive Board after the Lodge meeting. Also, if you are fortunate enough to live near a Traditional Observance Lodge in your state, you need to visit it so you too can be immersed in the Wisdom, the Strength and the Beauty of our Fraternity and to have the same transcendent experience that I enjoyed during my time with the brothers of Saint Paul #3. I was incredibly impressed and I want to thank Worshipful Brother Clay for his invitation to attend a Lodge experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.