I should have written about this way earlier: the Templum Lucis (“temple of the light”) Lodge No. 747, a new Observant Lodge, has been instituted on September 21, 2016, and constituted by the Grand Lodge on September 21, 2017. Unfortunately, I wasn’t among the initial members who signed the petition for a new lodge but I handed in my affiliation request even before their very first meeting, before it was instituted. I was hoping that would make me also a “charter member” but the rules are rules… so unlike the original petitioners, my name is not on the Charter of the new lodge. It is a bit sad because there are not many Ontario Masons that would be more supportive of the idea of Observant Lodges than I am. Of course, on a bigger scale, looking at the interests and the future of my beloved Craft, being present as a member and ad-hoc officer at the ceremony of Constituting and Consecrating a new lodge, a new Observant lodge in our jurisdiction – was a very unique and unforgettable event! And a valid reason to be happy and proud…
In case you missed the most important Masonic movement of the last twenty years – you can read about it at the Masonic Restoration Foundation. One single quote of two sentences should explain the most important things: The goal of the foundation is to restore Freemasonry to the historical and philosophical intent of its organizational founders. We believe that in so doing, Masons will return to the development of a fraternal culture of learning and intellectual growth, which will not only benefit the individual Mason but society as a whole.
When I first visited such a lodge in Ontario, there was only one Observant lodge in this jurisdiction. The idea of being part of this trend is very dear to me: the practices in Observant lodges remind me of the beginning of my Masonic journey. Many elements that are not present (got lost?) in the usual Canadian Masonry – and which I missed all these years! – suddenly re-surfaced and brought back the original excitement that characterized my journey through the degrees.
Masonic author Andrew Hammer (whose book “Observing the Craft” I will review soon on this blog) put together an 8-points list, Eight Steps to Excellence for those aiming to follow the Observant ideal:
- Guarding the West Gate
- Being proficient in Masonic ritual and law
- A commitment to advance brethren through the degrees by mutual and genuine effort
- The selection and advancement of officers should be by merit alone
- Dressing your best for lodge
- A lodge must offer quality assemblies and be willing to pay for them
- The return of a sense of awe to our ceremonies
- Masonic education at every meeting
We often quote the old saying that the devil is in the details… and it is equally true for the good things as well. While every point is important in the list above, for me the most significant is #7 – the sense of awe in our ceremonies. That’s where the details become more important than we would think. Looking back on my experiences on this continent, probably, the so-called casual approach put me at unease the most. What, initially, was thought to make Masons casually “comfortable”, made me feel very uncomfortable. Because it took away the solemnity, the festive character of the “working”.
Somehow as if we have forgotten the reason for having a ritual. Rituals exist in every organization or group or circle for only one reason: to elevate the soul and mind into a different realm, into a solemn world that is different from the usual days and worries, a state of mind focusing on the “inner” knowledge of the initiated members.
Perhaps, there are many ways to achieve that sense of awe that most of us long for… maybe your lodge does it in a different way, without turning to the Observant practices. For me, it is the Observant Lodge (also known as Traditional Observance) that offers the experience that was always associated, in my memories, with Freemasonry. It is again the place where spiritual and intellectual growth and interaction is possible among likeminded Brethren.
I invite you to visit my Observant Lodge (see details on the website) – Templum Lucis No. 747!