Sunday, May 31, 2009
Our ritual tells us that our Instituation is said to be supported by WISDOM, STRENGTH and BEAUTY; because it is necessary that there should be Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support and Beauty to adorn, all great and important undertakings.
The current project clearly shows the foresight of the brothers to make their facility more appealing, the commitment to stick with it until the job is done, and the aesthetic improvement, which will make the St. Paul Masonic Center a more welcoming facility.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Gen. Douglas MacArthur Lodge was one of two new lodges chartered at the last annual communication, presided over by my predecessor in office, MWB Thomas C. Jackson.
The excitement at the ceremony this morning was very apparent. If enthusiasm for a new venture is any indication of its potential for success, and I believe it is, Gen. Douglas MacArthur Lodge looks to have a solid foundation and a sound future.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Also in attendance was Grand Master Virgil Anderson from the Grand Lodge of South Dakota and Minnesota Past Grand Masters Verne Long and J.V. Christianson.
The absolute high point of the evening was the surprise presentation to me and Grand Master Anderson of a Calumet Peace Pipe, quarried from the Pipestone National Monument and hand crafted by a Native American artist known as Whirl Wind. The pipes were the gifts of Prudence Lodge No. 97 and Quarry Lodge No. 148, and were presented by PGM Verne Long.
The certificate accompanying the pipes tell the legend of the peace pipe, which were made by Gitchi Manito from the red rock near Pipestone. Gitchi Manito announced that the grounds were sacred, and must never be the site of violence: "... that no one should ever enter these hallowed grounds harboring any evil intention or thought of wrongdoing, and that this place and the Peace Pipe were synonymous with friendship and brotherly love. ..."
I know that a similar sentiment is true for our lodge halls - they are and ought to be places of peace, friendship and brotherly love.
The photo shows PGM Verne Long presenting the pipes to me and South Dakota Grand Master Virgil Anderson.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
The brothers of Sharon Lodge in Willmar conducted an outdoor lodge on the shores of Mary Lake near New London on Wednesday. I must confess that I was distracted by the red wing blackbirds singing and the pelicans flying overhead. But the work was terrific, there were many visiting brothers and Master Bill Bannon gave a terrific talk on outdoor lodges.
The photo shows the brothers of Sharon Lodge and my home lodge, Sibley No. 209.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
With that preface, let me confess that yesterday, I turned 60 years. I had a very nice day with many of my family members.
And, as a present, Patty gave me a plaque with a quote from Winnie the Pooh:
"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you."
Having reached this advanced age gives me pause to consider my mortality. And considering the Wisdom of Pooh, I agree with my gift: I would choose to live one day - and only one day - longer than my love.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
"As we proudly enter a period of celebrating our Bicentennial of independence as a nation, we must remember that our great traditions of freedom did not suddenly start in 1776. For more than two centuries before the Liberty Bell rang, the processes of conflict and compromise were working on this great new continent, and the impassioned extremes of religious and political rivalry were tested and were found wanting.
"In the end, our Founding Fathers sought to establish a new order of society embodying the principles of tolerance and freedom, of unity in diversity, of justice with charity.
"So, the first amendment was written to ensure the perpetuation of the hard-learned lessons from our colonial history that religious belief can neither be coerced nor suppressed by government; that a free people must retain the right to hear, the right to speak, the right to publish and to read, and the right to come together--all of which had been denied the early American settlers at one time or another."
-- Remarks at the Annual Congressional Breakfast of the National Religious Broadcasters, 28 January 1975
Monday, May 25, 2009
I also thought of PGM Gerald Rhoads and my friend and protector, Tom Frank, who were in Viet Nam about the same time as the interviewees on the Bob Edwards show. PGM Jerry was a medivac helicopter pilot. Tom was a radioman in the infantry.
We must all pause to remember and give thanks to men and women like Dad, Jerry and Tom who served their country with distinction. And also, of course, to those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice, like my daughter-in-law's cousin, Josh Hanson, who was killed in Iraq almost three years ago.
Another Memorial Day thought:
Taps, the hauntingly beautiful Bugle call, which signals the end of day as well as the end of life for American Service men, was composed by our Masonic Brother General Daniel Butterfield of Civil War fame. It has become one of, if not the most recognized musical composition known world wide. He was a member of Metropolitan Lodge # 273,
This tidbit was provided courtesy of Cinosam, the website authored and managed by PGM Neil Neddermeyer. Take a look at Cinosam - it has hundreds of interesting Masonic stories, as well as many PowerPoint presentations. Check it out!
Friday, May 22, 2009
In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
Masons have long recognized and appreciated the sacrifices made by those who serve their country in the Armed Forces. We continue to honor that memory when we wear our poppy this weekend.
For more information on the origins of the poppy and Memorial Day, click here.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The photo shows, front row, left to right, Tad Treanor, Wise Master; Jerry Oliver, S.G.I.G., Peg Oliver, Mary Levenduski and her daughter, Christine. Back row: Patty McCarthy, and her first husband, Tom.
I did not know well the Brothers who were remembered as having transferred their membership to that house not made with hands, but I do know some things about each one of them:
Each one of these men believed in God. He may have addressed his Creator as Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, God, the Great Spirit or the Grand Architect of the Universe. But there is no doubt of his faith in a Supreme Being.
Each one of these men was of good moral character, and he had two other men put their reputation on the line when they signed his petition for the degrees and vouched for his moral fiber.
We know that these men followed through on what they proposed. They not only completed the three degrees of a Blue Lodge, but went on to fulfill the obligations of 29 more degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry.
We know that they sought after Truth. All Masons, and more especially Scottish Rite Masons, seek to plumb the depths of Masonic Light – a quest that is never-ending. It was a mystery, but they sought to understand it.
We know that they were loyal. From the time they were raised as Master Masons until they were summoned from this earth by their Creator, they maintained their membership and fellowship with the Grand Lodge of Minnesota and the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite.
We know that they brought different gifts to their fraternity. Some brought leadership and vision. Others brought Masonic scholarship. Still others brought talents to repair, maintain and improve the physical plants of their lodges. Some were organized and became the secretary or the treasurer of their lodge. Some were blessed with a good memory and the ability to recall and recite our ritual with passion, infusing new meaning into old words for the edification of the candidate and the sideliner as well.
How will our Brothers remember us when we answer the summons of the Great Architect?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Last night, I had the privilege and pleasure of playing the part of King Solomon in the second section of the Third Degree at my home lodge in
I have written often of my love for the Masonic ritual. The beauty of the degrees all comes together in the Third Degree, especially in the second section. Themes of faithfulness, duty, justice, death and redemption are explored and explained. The third lecture of the degree is one of the great works of literature, and not limited to Masonry.
One of my favorite lines in Masonic ritual is found in this degree: Masons should ever remember that when the wisdom and strength of man fails, there is an inexhaustible supply above, rendered to us through the power of prayer.
The question I ask myself, as I ponder this quote is: Why does it take me so long to realize that I need to ask for the Grand Architect’s assistance?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Grand LEO, Ed Halpaus, has quoted MWB Larson in his May 12, 2009 article, “Truth and Tolerance”. I commend the entire article for your consideration.
I am reminded of a poem by Martin Niemöller, a German pastor and theologian born in Lippstadt, Germany, in 1892, who wrote about the Nazi rise to power:
In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then... they came for me...
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
When one is caught off guard by a comment, it takes real talent to be able to say the right thing. Take a few minutes and consider how you would respond if an intolerant remark is made in your presence. Who will speak up for you, if you don’t?
Monday, May 18, 2009
Questioning is the door of knowledge. Irish proverb
Every entered apprentice is familiar with the words “to learn” as a part of the answer to the question of what you come here to do. A couple of years ago, I ran into the current Grand Master of Iowa, Jack Butler, who was very passionate that there ought to be a comma after “to learn” – it’s not “to learn to subdue my passions” but rather two separate goals to achieve.
35 years ago tomorrow, I graduated from law school. Thus, after 19 consecutive years, ended my formal education. But only a foolish man stops learning after he graduates from school.
Masonry teaches the never-ending quest for Masonic Light. The rituals of the first three degrees have lessons that constantly give new insights to the brother that will open his mind to them. Add to them the degrees of the Scottish and York Rite rituals, and not even an Albert Pike can answer all the questions, or learn all the lessons, the rituals seek to impart.
Today, recall the day your formal education ended, whether it was 8th grade, high school, college or beyond. Then, consider how much more you have learned since that day. Finally, commit to expanding your education this year by reading a book, seeing a play, watching a program on public television, or seeing the Masonic ritual once again, with new, questioning eyes.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Yesterday, I wrote about the
Job’s Daughters is an organization for young women, age 10 to 20. They must have a relationship to a Mason by blood, marriage or law. My daughters were Girls Scouts - there was not a Job's Daughters Bethel within reasonable distance. This year, I have had more contact with the members of Job's Daughters than I have had previously. This is a great organization that deserves our continued and expanded support.
The Vision of Minnesota Job's Daughters is found at their website, and is worth printing here:
In our Vision – Membership provides a safe haven to Job’s Daughters, where they may find acceptance and develop life long friendships.
In our Vision – Opportunities enable Daughters to develop life skills in leadership, team work, patriotism, social awareness, self worth, integrity and interaction with people of all ages.
In our Vision – Life experiences passed on by adults, who are a continuing asset, enrich and enlighten the Daughters and other adults.
In our Vision – Understanding of Freemasonry, continually promoted by Master Masons, provides the Daughters and other Job’s Daughters adults with a fuller understanding and appreciation of their Masonic heritage.
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Scottish Rite ritual is full on meaning for anyone who would take the time to reflect. This line, in particular, continues to remind me how I fall short in my attempts to live a good life. The trick is, from my perspective, not to let my shortcomings consume me, but to accept them, vow to improve, and continue to strive to be a better man.
The Minneapolis Valley had their year-end Feast of the Consistory last night. In addition to a great meal, the Consistory recognized volunteers (and we're all volunteers at the Scottish Rite) who help put on over 60 degree - in reality, mini-plays - over the course of a year. The photo shows this year's awardees, along with the officers of the Consistory.
A very special congratulations to my friend, WB Dale Seubert, who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to all things Masonic generally, and to Scottish Rite Masonry in particular.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
It’s almost a cliché that you hear something new and learn something different every time you observe degree work. The same goes for many other Masonic ceremonies. The installation script has many thoughts worth reflection. Here are some excerpts on the position of Master of the Lodge:
My Brother, you are now to be installed Master of this Lodge, with powers and prerogatives which are well nigh absolute. The interests of your Lodge, for weal or woe, will be in your keeping, during your term of office. The good resolutions, which doubtless you have formed, not to abuse or pervert these powers, I would gladly strengthen by a word of admonition. The very consciousness of the possession of a great power will ever make a generous mind cautious and gentle in its exercise. To rule has been the lot of many, and requires neither strength of intellect nor soundness of judgment; to rule well has been the fortune of but few, and may well be the object of an honorable ambition. It is not by the strong arm, or the iron will that obedience and order, the chief requisites, are secured, but by holding the key to the hearts of men. To be Master of his Lodge is an honor to which any well-informed Master Mason may laudably aspire. The office is one of great antiquity, dignity and respect, but its incumbent, to rule well, should possess and practice several important requisites.
The Master should remember, first of all, that he is an individual Mason, sharing in that respect a common lot with his brethren, and therefore be interested in the welfare of each and all. He should be neither unduly ostentatious nor overbearing. He should be accessible to all, and should cultivate the friendship and confidence of his associate officers. He should be willing to take counsel with his brethren, and ready to give it. He should be patient in investigation, deliberate in judgment, prompt in execution, forbearing with evil doers, and ready to reward good. He should be opposed to the restless spirit of innovation, watchful over the treasury, and devoid of favoritism and partiality.
All men who aspire to lead, whether it be a lodge, a Grand Lodge, or a family, should recall these pertinent thoughts.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
"We have gone a long way toward civilization and religious tolerance, and we have a good example in this country. Here the many Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church do not seek to destroy one another in physical violence just because they do not interpret every verse of the Bible in exactly the same way. Here we now have the freedom of all religions, and I hope that never again will we have a repetition of religious bigotry, as we have had in certain periods of our own history. There is no room for that kind of foolishness here." Harry S Truman, Mr. Citizen, 1960.
It occurs to me that when our Founding Fathers discussed religious tolerance, they were talking about different Christian beliefs. This is not surprising, as different Christian sects had a history of persecuting each other.
Masons today accept good men who believe in a Creator, though we call him by many different names. God, Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Great Spirit – we accept into our fraternity good men of any faith. With our world torn in so many different ways, we as a fraternity and as a society, cannot afford to reject the works of good men simply because they have a different faith than we.
There is no room for that kind of foolishness here.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The Grand Master has the opportunity to some interesting things - and one of them happened to me today. I was a part of a tour of the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital under construction. When the hospital opens in 2011, it will be a state-of-the-art facility to treat our region's children with a myriad of serious medical conditions.
On October 24, I will be pleased to be part of the "Cornerstone Dedication" at the Amplatz Children's Hospital. If you have the opportunity to be present, I know you will be most impressed with this dedication.
The photo shows the tour group in front of the Amplatz Hospital construction site. (Thanks to WB Steve Johnson for the photo.)
Friday, May 8, 2009
Past Grand Master Steven R. Johnson presided over the services. The thoughts expressed, the scripture readings and the prayers offered are very moving and reflective. But as important as the words spoken is the presence of Brothers gathered to say goodbye to a friend.
I cannot put it any better than the words from the final Masonic rites:
Life is a gift from our Maker; a Divine spark kindled in mortal Clay; a gleam of light; a vision of gladness and then back to its Creator in everlasting fellowship. What each man crowds into his short period of time is his memorial. It is indelibly imprinted upon the hearts of those who were privileged to enjoy his fellowship. As a Mason our Brother was taught to give of the fruits of his labor to the distressed, to strengthen the irresolute, to befriend the orphan, to lend guidance to his fellow man and to walk humbly with his God.
The spirit of our Brother having been called to its Heavenly Home we leave him in the hands of our Heavenly Father who doeth all things well. Friend and Brother Norville Stuber we bid thee an affectionate farewell in the faith of joining thee in that temple not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.
I used to think that all that is necessary to get my 50-year pin is to live long enough. The past few years, as I've attended similar ceremonies in many different lodges, I've come to realize that it's a lot more than that. 61 times, Brother Peterson pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check for his annual dues. A man doesn't do that simply to get a lapel pin decades later. There is something about this fraternity, even if a man does not participate as much as he thinks he should, that keeps him writing those checks.
It might be a relative or close friend that is a Mason that encourages those annual checks. It might be the lessons taught and learned in our ritual. It might be our charitable and philanthropic endeavors. It might be the continued search for Masonic light. Or, it might be because Masons stand for Political Freedom, Personal Integrity and Religious Tolerance.
There may be several of these reasons, or one I have not thought of, that keeps a man in Fraternity. Whatever the reason, when I listen to these Brothers who joined the fraternity before I was born look back over their relationship with our Fraternity, I know I have made the right choice to renew my membership.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Daniel Carter Beard was a Brother who founded the Society of the Sons of Daniel Boone, which became the Boy Pioneers and finally Boy Scouts of America. As the Scout website states, The Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award is an honor due to members of the Masonic Lodge who act as role models and provide dedicated service to the young men in the BSA. The Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Award not only supports the Masonic relationship through the man who brought Scouting to America, but proclaims the integrity of the recipient who is honored by receiving the award.
In addition to Brother Miller, there were four other recipients of the Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award present at the meeting. The photo shows the recipients, along with me and District Representative Don Nolley. Front Row: DR Nolley, Master Matt Lundgren, Steve Miller, yours truly, and Tom Ewing. Back Row: Wayne Fanjoy and Rocky Fanjoy.
We should pause to remember that most brothers practice Masonry outside, as well as within, the lodge walls. These Scouter Masons are a prime example.
31 years ago, Brother Walt Gislason was approaced by a Willmar School teacher about assisting with the purchase of equipment and supplies for a student who had juvenile diabetes. Brother Walt reported back the next day that the lodge had turned down the request to provide one-half the cost of the equipment - they wanted to fund the entire cost! Thus was born Masons for Diabetic Youth.
Sharon Lodge has been so successful, and the technology for the testing equipment has become more reasonably priced, that they are not considering using part of the proceeds from the fundraiser for scholarships to Camp Needlepoint, a summer camp for diabetic youth.
A tip of the hat to Worshipful Master Bill Bannon, and the officers and brothers of Sharon Lodge for continuing this terrific project!
It has been my experience that lodges that have Guest Nights are lodges that receive petitions for new members. Guest Nights are very easy to host - just a light supper and a knowledgeable Mason to make a presentation and answer some questions. If any lodge wishes assistance in hosting a Guest Night, including a Grand Lodge officer to help with the presentation and questions, just contact the Grand Secretary and he'll coordinate the arrangements.
If you are not a Mason, and would be interested in attending a Guest Night, or learning more about Freemasonry in Minnesota, contact the Grand Secretary and he will put you in touch with a Brother who can answer the questions or extend the invitation.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The Grand Lodge Education Officer (Grand LEO) of Minnesota, Ed Halpaus, is a prolific Masonic writer and writes and speaks often about tolerance. His most recent posting on "Three-Five-Seven" is almost exclusively on tolerance, and is worth a look by clicking on the link.
So many excellent quotes have been written about tolerance, by Masons and non-Masons alike. We can learn from them - and should!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Our sisters and brothers in the OES have made a remarkable commitment to the Partners for Life Campaign of Minnesota Masonic Charities to build a new Cancer Pavilion at the University of Minnesota. The goal of $10 million has almost been reached!
While I have done no scientific research on the subject, in my travels to lodges around Minnesota the past five years, I have observed that where there is a vibrant OES Chapter, there is a lively Blue Lodge as well. Our organizations do truly complement each other, and Masons do well to support the Order of the Eastern Star to the best of our ability.
Not only is it the right thing to do, it is what's called "enlightened self-interest."