"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Monday, March 16, 2020

"Masonry Never Stops"

by Christopher Hodapp

COVID closures are coming in thick and fast now across the U.S., and the latest recommendation from the CDC about cancelling large gatherings for eight weeks will only make things more immediate now. Many states are now requiring restaurants to close down, as well.  

The Grand Lodge of Washington D.C. sent out their message on Monday shutting down all Masonic activity in that jurisdiction, and it's similar wording other GLs have issued. But what is notable about their message from their Grand Master, MW Michael D. Nicholas, Sr., is what he says after ordering the suspension of physical gatherings:

Most of our individual temples and meeting locations have already closed, and most of the staff of our various Masonic organizations are already working from home, including the Office of the Grand Secretary...[snip]

But here is the good news:

- Our cell phones still work

- Our computers and internet still function

- Masonic affection and brotherly love is not postponed

- Music, laughter, love, learning, and compassion are all still permitted!

Find your most vulnerable brethren and families and see how you can help them. This is a time for increased communication, not less. Lodges are free and encouraged to conduct all manners of meetings and events virtually (just not ritual or Communications.)

You can also use this time to deal with some "Spring Cleaning" items that may be difficult when everyone is so busy. For example:

- Encourage your members to update their Grand View [website database] listings - add emails, photos, and occupations.

- Inventory your Lodge records and treasures. You'll hear more about this from our Grand Historian.

- Digitize your old Lodge records, minute books, pictures and other treasures. We can coordinate for individual use of our Grand Lodge book scanner.

- Energize some of your talented brethren (woodworkers, for example) to create lodge furnishings

This is exactly right. In my own jurisdiction, a Brother angrily protested that our grand master shouldn't have shut down all Masonic activity or meetings unilaterally (despite that our Constitution says he can do so "for any reason"). He contended that, "Instead of shuttering up inside our houses, we should've gotten together in our individual lodges and come up with a way to help these brothers that shouldn't leave their houses, get the things they need." 

He's right. All Freemasonry is local, or it should be. Masonry doesn’t end at the door of the lodge.

BUT nothing prevents any of us from doing exactly what this Brother suggested, or as the Grand Master of D.C. suggests. It is precisely what we should all be doing on our own, without orders from the GM or anyone else. Fortunately, we live in an age where everyone can easily connect with each other electronically because we all have phones in our pockets. If you sense that your lodge should be seeking ways to help Brethren who are shut-ins now (and it should), formulate a plan, pick up the phone and contact your lodge Master and officers, sell them on the idea, THEN DO IT. Send out messages via email, text, robocalls, FaceTime chats, Facebook Messenger, or a dozen other methods now available to seek (or appoint) volunteers to help you. 
Meeting in person at lodge is never where the bulk of organizing happens in any endeavor. 

The current extraordinary circumstances that the world has never really encountered before on this massive scale call for extraordinary solutions and visionary, take-charge leaders in our own lodges. If you believe yourself to be such a person, make it happen and demonstrate to the rest of us what can be done.

Grand Master William Sardone of the Grand Lodge of New York also issued his own jurisdiction's notice today, and he concluded it with the most important message all of us should to take to heart:

The keyword in this message is POSTPONE. Masonry never stops.
Masonry does not exist just in the Lodge Room. It exists in each of us as we call a neighbor or lodge member toi check in on them. It exists wherever we get the call to help, aid or assist.
Masonry never stops.

As we say to the Fellow Craft, "Freemasonry, notwithstanding, has still survived."

A very helpful Brother has been continually updating his own website list of Masonic jurisdictions worldwide and their official reactions and announcements concerning COVID 19.  To get a sense of what other Masonic jurisdictions are advising their members, check the Forthright website at: Freemasonry and COVID-19 Updates HERE

Meanwhile, here on the home front, I'm not sure why it's necessary that my local furniture store has to bombard me with messages patting themselves on the back for their "bravery" in reducing their hours "for everyone's safety," but c'est la guerre.

Sophie will be seven months old in another week - if she lives that long. She hasn't ripped up paper much before, but this morning she discovered the toilet paper.

The toilet paper. In our darkest hour.

After a weekend of whacking elderly hoarders with their own canes just to wrest away six precious rolls of the stuff, we've been sabotaged by our own French poodle. Typical. The Jerrys got to the little quisling after all. 

She's at the groomer being shaved now. To mark her as a filthy collaborator.

Now I have to dig up a blindfold and cigarette for her, because she goes at dawn tomorrow...

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