You have just been raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. It is indeed a "sublime" degree, which a man may study for years without exhausting.
In the First and Second Degrees you were surrounded by the symbols and emblems of architecture. In the Third Degree you found a different order of symbolism, cast in the language of the soul, its life, its tragedy, and its triumph.
To recognize this is the first step in interpretation of this sublime and historic step in so called "Blue Lodge" Masonry.
The second point is to recognize that the Third Degree has many meanings. It is not intended to be a lesson complete, finished, or closed.
There are many
interpretations of the Degrees. But most essentially, it is a drama of the immortality of
the soul, setting forth the truth that, while a man withers away and perishes, there is
that in him which perishes not.
That this is the meaning most generally accepted by the Craft is shown by our habits of language. We say that a man is initiated an Apprentice, passed to the degree of Fellowcraft, and raised a Master Mason.
By this it appears that it is the raising that most Masons have found to be the center of the Master Mason Degree.
Evil in the form of tragedy is set forth in the drama of the Third Degree. Here is a good and wise man, a builder, working for others and giving others work, the highest we know, as it is dedicated wholly to God.
Through no fault of his own he experiences tragedy from friends and fellow Masons. Here is evil pure and simple, a complete picture of human tragedy.
How did the Craft meet this tragedy? The first step was to impose the supreme penalty on those who had possessed the will of destruction and therefore had to be destroyed lest another tragedy follow.
The greatest enemy man has makes
war upon the good; to it no quarter can be given.
The next step was to discipline and to pardon those who acted not out of an evil will, but one of weakness.
Forgiveness is possible if a man himself condemns the evil he had done, since in spite of his weakness he retains his faith in the good.
The next step was to recover from the wreckage caused by the tragedy whatever value it had left undestroyed.
Confusion had come upon the Craft;
order was restored. Loyal Craftsmen took up the burdens left by traitors. It is in the
nature of such tragedy that the good suffer for evil and it is one of the prime duties of
life that a man shall toil to undo the harm wrought by sin and crime, else in time the
world would be destroyed by the evils that are done in it.
But what of the victim of the tragedy? Here is the most profound and difficult lesson of the drama. It is difficult to understand, difficult to believe if one has not been truly initiated into the realities of the spiritual life.
Because the victim was a good man, his goodness rooted in an unvarying faith in God, that which destroyed him in one sense could not destroy him in another.
The spirit in him rose above the evil; by virtue of it he was raised from a dead level to a living perpendicular.
|We Have Had|