I can’t believe we’re already into August. Hope everyone is having a good summer and staying cool. Safe travels if you’re doing vacations.
One of the common claims of Freemasonry is that we “Make Good Men Better.” One of the ways we accomplish that is through Masonic Education. The Grand Lodge of Florida offers a number of excellent programs by which Masons can expand their knowledge base and become good leaders, not only in Lodge but in the outer world as well. Last evening I attended a Masonic Education / Masonic Leadership Training session at Eola 207. The topic covered at some depth during M.E. portion of the meeting was “Mentoring”. This is an area where we have lots of room for improvement within the Fraternity. How often do we have brothers that have gone through their Entered Apprentice degree and then fall completely off the map? Effective mentoring encompasses much, much more than just delivering the required pre/post degree mentor’s lectures. We need to be maintaining frequent contact with these new brothers, answering any questions they might have, discussing the symbolism of the degree(s) to make sure they understand what they’ve experienced, giving them guidance on Masonic etiquette, reinforcing the fact that they are now part of a fraternity that cares about them and is committed to making them better men, as promised. Such on-going follow-up care will go a long way toward reversing the decline in membership the fraternity has been experiencing in recent years.
The MLT program consists of 15 modules, covering different topics that are critical to Lodge leadership. Last evening’s session covered Module 1 (Lodge Officers’ duties), Module 3 (Planning Your Year in the East) and Module 4 (Becoming Worshipful Master). These ME/MLT sessions are conducted quarterly at Eola 207, since it’s centrally located within our District. A number of brothers put in a lot of hard work to prepare and present these topics and it behooves us to take advantage of this learning opportunity.
District School of Instruction is focused on improving our ritual work. Our ritual is what sets us apart from other fraternities. It is conducted monthly by our Right Honorable District Instructor, W؞ Eric Romano. The location rotates around the District and is held at the Lodge that hosts Masters & Wardens that particular month. It will be held at our Lodge on Wednesday, November 28th. This past month District School focused on the ritual of balloting which involves every single member of the lodge. Per the Masonic Etiquette manual, the ballot is the most sacred thing in the Lodge after the Holy Bible. We should treat it as such by taking the time to learn the ritual associated with it, as we would degree ritual. We should take this duty seriously, as the ballot guards the portals of our fraternity.
Open Books is a chance for us to review all the ritual in written form. This is held monthly at Winter Park 239 from 8am until noon. It’s also an opportunity to test for a proficiency card. If you have a question about something in the Red Book cipher, Open Books is where you’ll get a definitive answer.
Finally, the Master Mason I, II and III exams and the Lodge Officers Training Course Modules I, II and III are additional educational programs offered by Grand Lodge to improve yourself as a Mason. The Master Mason exams can be done on-line thru Circumscribe or the answer sheets can be printed, completed and submitted to W؞ Michael Catello for grading. These are basically “open book” tests and can be done fairly quickly. Legislation has been approved at Grand Communication requiring the Junior and Senior Wardens to have completed these three exams before being installed in their chairs. Next year that requirement will most likely be extended to the Worshipful Master as well. The LOTC exams can be downloaded from the Grand Lodge website and must be submitted in written form to R؞W؞ Ed Sexton for grading. These are a bit more involved, but well worth the extra effort.
So, if you’re interested in getting the most out of what Masonry has to offer, I strongly recommend you take advantages of all these educational opportunities that are available to you. An educated Mason is a good Mason. You’ll learn a lot and your Lodge, as well as the fraternity as a whole, will be better for it.
Reg Lyle, W؞M؞