Monday, August 29, 2011

Guest Article: Jason Eddy - Charity

Jason is currently Senior Deacon at High Point Lodge #773 in Monroe, OH. He has a strong passion for Masonic Education and meeting and sharing with Brothers from all across the country.


Masonry is indeed about Charity, but what is the proper application of this virtue and are we missing the mark? As Entered Apprentice Masons, we are taught that charity “extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity”. I agree with this, but find that the proper application of Charity is often misunderstood among Masons. I had a discussion recently with a few Brothers about how to revive Masonry in general. At some point in the discussion, Lodge finances came up and I made the statement that we, as an Order, need to learn to live within our means. This led to talk about budgeting and forecasting of Lodge expenses. During this discussion, in response to a Brother who said that we need to make sure that we keep our donations to charitable groups going, I made the statement that “Masonry is not a charity”. He was visibly taken aback and challenged my stance. “Of course we are!” he said. “Each body has a different charity. The Shrine takes care of burn victims. The York Rite helps people with vision impairments. The Scottish Rite helps children with learning disabilities. Charity is what Masonry is all about!” We are certainly charitable men, but is Charity really what Masonry is all about? Perhaps a big part of it, but I believe that our Brothers are often misguided in its application.

I digress. We are taught that the three great tenets of our profession are “Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth”. I believe that they are taught in this order (at least under the Grand Lodge of Ohio) for a reason. We are taught to first look after our fellow Mason and see that he does not find himself in distress, nor do his widow or orphans. This seems to be overlooked by a great many Masons and perhaps even the Grande Lodges under which they exist. I see Lodges that will donate several hundred dollars (perhaps even thousands) to charities like Toys-for-tots or the Salvation Army but do not have a fund set up to take care of members who are distressed. This is not Masonry. In fact, it is not even Masonic. The intent of Masonry is to “Make Good Men better”. When this is done, those men will then go out into the world and provide relief to his fellow man. Right now, Masons seem to be so intent on being seen by the public as charitable that they are ignoring the needs of their own Brothers. Masonry is a system designed to help men grow into better men and therefore better citizens. This is our primary objective. We must focus on making our Brothers into the type of men that bring about positive change in the world. When we do the work to make men better, they will in turn make society better. This may take any number of forms, but most likely will include charitable giving. Let us not lose sight of the mystic tie that binds each and every one of us. Masonry is a castle in the sand right now. We are slowly losing sight of what we came here to do… earn a Master Wages… contribute to the relief of worthy, distressed Master Masons, their widows and orphans. Once that is done, we can look to the rest of society.


burntloafer said...

Br. Jason - a very well crafted essay and good food for thought.

Jack R. said...

Agreed- Great post. This is an ongoing issue, but the louder the issue gets, the more $ our Grand bodies contribute to charities while brothers sit in need. Since 2008, the economy has been brutal and many in our craft have suffered. This would have been an ideal time for Grand bodies to work with individual lodges to set up Almoner's Funds, and divert some of the Big $ from pet charities to brothers in need. How long are we supposed to sit around and wait for change at the Grand level? It corporate Masonry just too big of a barge to change course?


Jack Roberts
Nicollet Lodge #54, St. Peter, MN