Monday, 24 October 2016

Another busy week ahead

After a fairly restful weekend, the evenings of the first half of the forthcoming week look like they are going to be busy.

On Monday evening Sue and I are off to meet two of my nephews for dinner. The eldest of the pair is on holiday from China, where he has been working for the past few years. He began working as a teacher in an English Language school but now works in a bar/restaurant in Beijing that he co-owns. The younger of the two has just started his degree course in Mathematics at Queen Mary College, London, and judging by his Facebook page he has quickly settled in to the student life.

On Tuesday evening I am off to Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, to attend a Lodge of Instruction or LOI. This is basically a rehearsal of the ceremony or ritual that we will be performing at the next meeting of my Mother Lodge ... which will be on the following day!

Just after lunch on Wednesday I have to go to North Greenwich station to pick up an old friend who is also a member of my Mother Lodge, and then we will drive to Cheshunt to attend the October meeting of my Mother Lodge. He is going to act as the Chaplain (which involves him in reading the short prayer that opens the meeting) and I will be the Immediate Past Master. The latter sounds as if it is a very important role, but my main job is to prompt the Worshipful Master if he forgets the odd word or phrase during the meeting and to act as Master of Ceremonies at the after-meeting meal.

The ceremony we will be performing at the meeting is what were refer to as a 'First' or 'Initiation'; in other words we will be initiating a new member into both Freemasonry in general and our Lodge in particular. This is the first step every member of 'The Craft' takes on their way to becoming a Master Mason, and besides introducing someone new to our 'secrets and mysteries' (see below), it helps the rest of us to reaffirm our belief and understanding of Freemasonry.

The meeting and meal should end by 9.30pm, and I will then drive my friend back to my house as he will be staying overnight as our guest. Once he leaves us on Thursday, my wife and I will have the rest of the week to recover!

'Secrets and mysteries' sounds far more portentous than it actually is ... but it does hark back to the origins of Freemasonry when operative masons (i.e. the men who built the great cathedrals and castles of the Middle Ages) would move from place to place seeking work.

In order to prove what level of skill that they had, they would have to be able show some proof that they had served an apprenticeship, become a craftsman, or even reached the level of being a Master Mason. As there were few written records and many of the masons were unable to read or write, they relied upon the use of special passwords and signs to identify their level of progress through the ranks. Once they had done that they could be employed and could live and work with their fellows in the special on-site accommodation built for the masons ... which was known as the lodge.

Albrecht Dürer's woodcut showing Maximilian I (the Holy Roman Emperor 1508 - 1519) visiting a stonemason's lodge.

4 comments:

  1. Bob,
    Most interesting information provided by you about Masons - my Father was a Mason and to be honest I knew very little about it all. You are certainly in for a busy time of it! Who said Retirement was for easing back and putting your feet up.... Best wishes. KEV.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kev,

      Nowadays we are encouraged to be far more open about Freemasonry and what it does. Members will not tell non-members the 'secrets' or outline what each ritual entails, but will give non-members as much other information as possible.

      Freemasons are the second biggest charitable givers in the UK (the National Lottery is the biggest), and regularly donate money to worthy causes (e.g. London Masons recently donated £2,000,000 to help buy the capital's second air ambulance and Masonic Charity gave £50,000 to the Red Cross to help with the cost of giving aid to the people of Haiti).

      Keeping busy - but not too busy - is a good thing for retirees ... just as long is it isn't too tiring!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. I hope your nephew enjoys Queen Mary College. I did my statistics degree there. I think the place has changed a lot since then, probably for the better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nigel Drury,

      I'll find out for definite what he thinks about Queen Mary this evening. From what he has written on his Facebook page, he seems to be enjoying it.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete