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Monday, July 23, 2012

THE LIGHT OF MASONRY

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Ezekiel M. Bey


Heaven sent me here through the womb of a woman
Heaven sent me here from on high
Heaven sent me here through the force of my Creator
The one seen on Masonic aprons, the All Seeing Eye
Creations are powerful, and so Creations are Great
Creations are blessings, helping craftsmen navigate
As I see two tall pillars at the foot of a porch
The entrance of mysteries scientifically torched
Full of grandeur and strength, full of power indeed
The foundation are laid-out in our first three degrees
So the one important question, “What came I here to do”?
To improve myself in Masonry, That’s what I came to prove
Not to prove it to man, many men have been fooled
Not to prove it to woman for from her some became fools
Not to prove it to idols for they have made some lives wreck
But to prove it to ONE, The Almighty Grand Architect
So as you focus on me, don’t ignore the focus on YOU
We’ve been made in an image which make you who are you
Remember that day when the inner door flew wide open?
Remember that hand of friendship given you as a token?
It was once mouth to ear, which you kept breast to breast
I’ve kept all of the secrets in the compartments of my chest
As the two points of the compasses all stretched out to its extreme
Yes those two points of knowledge manifest in my inner being
So understand the dot that sits center in the circle
And understand the vortex where the scriptures sit to guide you
And understand the parallel lines representing two Saints
And understand they’re two Solstice guarding two inner gates
So ask yourself one more time, “What came I here to do”?
I was sent from on high, to understand GOD is TRUTH.
As the celestial skies show its beautiful canopy
Shining bright rays of light, the infinite Light of Masonry
It does not matter what you call yourself
But it does matter being yourself
And so you are, what you will always be
A manifestation of the eye that eternally sees




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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Purple & The Gold

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Ezekiel M. Bey


I once knew a young Freemason
Who learned the ritual good
He strived to wear a collar
Masonic giants wore
He learned the
1st  degree lecture
The middle chamber was a breeze
The symbolisms and the charges
All through-out the
3rd  degree
Elected Worship Master
The jewel he wore with pride
The square all in the apron
With a large all seeing eye
His chest all out in splendor
His body all erect
He polished all the silver
Of the jewel around his neck
He only lacked one thing
An old Past Master saw
He asked the young Freemason
The meaning of it all
The young Freemason replied
Ignorantly and very bold
“Come on you old Past Master”
“I want the Purple and the Gold”
“I don’t care how I get it”
“So long I’m recognized”
“I’ve done all of the lectures”
“Word for Word I’ve memorized”
The Old Past Master asked
What does the purple mean
The young Freemason said
“It means prestige for Me”
“Have you any idea
What all the Gold is for?”
The young Freemason said
“Another title I can score”
The Old Past Master,
began to shake his head
Began to walk away,
disgust his face displayed
At one Grand Annual election
the young Freemason thought
That he would get positions
To wear what he had thought
He plotted and he planned
What he thought he can under-mind
How he can gain the favor
Of manipulating minds
To his surprise his eyes were open
He just found out, his heart was broken
He thought it was a great disaster
The one elected, the old Past Master
Come young Brother the Past Master called
Let me explain what is this all
You focused wrong, you could not see
You failed to realize the mystery
You should have paid a great attention
What you recited in all the lessons
The greatest thing is understanding
You stood on edge without a landing
All you had wanted was Purple and the Gold
There’s great responsibility in wearing those
The greatest lesson is the foundation
The Lessons lye in your white apron




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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Purpose of Masonic Knowledge

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Ezekiel M. Bey, FPS


Socrates had knowledge, Hippocrates did also
Alexander was great, the Egyptians more-so
We had several Ramses, many different Pharaohs
All were great in knowledge, sharper than an arrow


Galileo’s wisdom in mathematics and physics
his historical achievements that anyone can visit
you can read of his knowledge, of telescopes and graphs
he improved the compass to view the sky so vast


So what is knowledge, many men have asked
Masonic Knowledge taking some to task
Have you not seen the perambulation?
Have you not witnessed circumambulation?


Do you understand the way the sun travels?
Or the Mental light given you above all mammals
Masonry is life and a life is living
Masonry is light when light is given


Masonry is living according to its laws
Masonry is aiding by the lion’s P**
You’ve received some handshakes but all of them will slip
So achieve the knowledge of the Master’s grip


All of this is done by the heart and mind
By the spirit-soul which we hold divine
By our obligations which we cannot dodge
By our invocation summoning our GOD


Try to understand from the inner soul
Binding with your spirit to achieve your goal
Your whole life’s the preparation for another life
Not a life existing through the flesh or sight


So as we finish, don’t confuse the “ending”
The beginning cycle, spirit life ascending
All the knowledge gained in Universities
Don’t amount to life, living Masonry.




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Friday, July 20, 2012

Those Men Who Wear Those Mason Rings

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W:. Bro:. Michael R. Strampe
P:.M:. Lake Lodge No.189 Milwaukee, Wisconsin


 Those men who help my dad each day,
They wear those Mason's rings,
A Square and Compass set in gold,
The praise of which I sing.

 My dad, he hurt his back you know,
One cold and wintery day.
He slipped and fell upon the ice,
The insurance would not pay.

 And since that time those rings I see,
On hands that help us much,
With mowing lawns and hauling trash,
Each day my heart they touch.

 They even built a house for me,
Amid our backyard tree,
Where all the neighbour's kids,
Would play with laughter full of glee.

 My Mum she cried with happiness,
The time the Mason's came,
To aid our family in distress,
Without a thought of gain.

 And when I'm big, just like my Dad,
Of this it must be told,
I want to wear a ring like his,
A Square and Compass gold.

 Long years have passed since when,
My Dad was in that plaster cast,
And since then I've sworn that Solemn Oath,
Which unites us to the last.

 But more than that I'm proud to say,
I wear his Mason's ring.
The one Dad wore for many years,
Until his death this Spring.

 And one last time his comrades came,
To aid my weeping Mother,
They praised and bid a fond farewell,
To our fallen Brother.

 And after which MY son did ask,
About their aprons white,
And of the rings upon their hands,
Of gold so shiny bright.

 With tearful eyes I said with pride,
They're men of spirit pure,
Those men who wear those Mason's rings,
Of that you can be sure.

 And before he went to bed that night,
The family he foretold,
Someday I'll wear a ring like dad's,
A Square and Compass Gold.




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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Presentation of the Pillars

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Robert "Robbie" Burns
(1759-1796)


Long may this Lodge in prosperity shine
And its members still vie with each other
In spreading the light of our order divine
And relieving the wants of a brother.

May envy and malice ne’er enter that door
That is aye closely tyled to the cowan
But peace, love and harmony aye be in store
More abundant the older you’re growing.

May our Master who presides like the Masters of old
In wisdom excel and astonish
May he never be heard erring brothers to scold
But with brotherly love aye admonish.

May our Warden in the West, like the sun’s setting rays
Illumine the golden horizon
May his strength never fail with the burden of days
But increase every moment that flies on.

And to our Warden in the South, like the beauty of day
May he gladden the worn, tired and weary
Inspire with his smiles as they rest by the way
The toilers, and make them feel cheery.

And to you whom our Master is honoured to rule and instruct
Be ye always sober and steady
Expert in the use of each working tool
And aye hae them handy and ready.

Thus will the Temple we seek to upraise
Be completed when all do their duty
And our voices unite in a chorus of praise
To Wisdom, to Strength and to Beauty





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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adieu, A Heart-Warm, Fond Adieu

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Robert "Robbie" Burns
(1759-1796)

Adieu, a heart warm, fond adieu,
Dear brothers of the mystic tie!
Ye favored, ye enlightened few,
Companions of my social joy!
Tho' I to foreign lands must hie,
Pursuing fortune's slidd'ry ba',
With melting heart and brimful eye,
I'll mind you still, though far awa'.


Oft have I met your social band,
An' spent the cheerful, festive night;
Oft, honored with supreme command,
Presided o'er the sons of light;
And by that Hieroglyphic bright,
Which none but Craftsmen ever saw,
Strong memory on my heart shall write
Those happy scenes, when far awa'.


May freedom, harmony and love
Unite you in the grand design,
Beneath th' omniscient Eye above,
The glorious Architect divine;
That you may keep the unerring line,
Still rising by the plummet's law,
Till order bright completely shine,
Shall be my prayer when far awa'.


And you farewell, whose merits claim
Justly that highest badge to wear,
Heaven bless your honored, noble name,
To Masonry and Scotia dear!
A last request, permit me here;
When yearly ye assemble a',
One round, — I ask it with a tear
To him, the Bard, that's far awa'.




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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ye Sons of Old Killie - Masonic Song

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Robert "Robbie" Burns
(1759-1796)

Ye sons of Auld Killie, assembled by Willie,
To follow the noble vocation;
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another
To sit in that honoured station.
I've little to say, but only to pray,
As praying's the ton of your fashion;
A prayer from the muse you well may excuse,
`Tis seldom her favorite passion.


Ye powers who preside o'er the wind and the tide,
Who marked each element's border,
Who formed this frame with beneficent aim
Whose sovereign statute is order,
Within this dear mansion may wayward contention,
Or withered Envy ne'er enter,
May secrecy round be the mystical bound
And brotherly love be the center.



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Monday, July 16, 2012

The Master's Apron

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Robert "Robbie" Burns
(1759-1796)

Ther's mony a badge that's unco braw;
Wi' ribbon, lace and tape on;
Let kings an' princes wear them a'
Gie me the Master's apron!


The honest craftsman's apron,
The jolly Freemason's apron,
Be he at hame, or roam afar,
Before his touch fa's bolt and bar,
The gates of fortune fly ajar,
`Gin he but wears the apron!


For wealth and honor, pride and power
Are crumbling stanes to base on;
Eternity suld rule the hour,
And ilka worthy Mason!
Each Free Accepted Mason,
Each Ancient Crafted Mason.


Then, brithers, let a halesome sang
Arise your friendly ranks alang!
Guidwives and bairnies blithely sing
To the ancient badge wi' the apron string
That is worn by the Master Mason!




Tupelo Masonic Lodge No. 318 F&AM
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MASONIC TEMPLARY: MODERN GUARDIANS OF THE AUTHENTIC GRAIL TRADITION

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New Albany Commandery, No. 29

  
    Ever since the early to mid 13th century, when German knight Wolfram von Eschenbach identified them as such in his epic poem Parzival, the legendary Knights Templar have been closely associated with the mythical Knights of the Holy Grail. While no hard historical evidence has ever been produced establishing a direct connection between these two chivalric orders, in the paragraphs which follow will be demonstrated the notion that the influence of Von Eschenbach’s association may have played heavily into the development of the Templar knighting ceremony as it is practiced to this day by the Commandery of the York Rite of Freemasonry. It is on this account that the author has come to view Masonic Templary as something of a modern guardian of the authentic Grail tradition. Given the sensitive nature of the subject matter at hand, it has been necessary that the author take certain precautionary measures so as to avoid any violation of his Obligation as a Knight Templar. Such being the case, any apparent interruption in the continuity of the paper should be taken a direct reflection of the difficulty in the author’s task of conveying his platform under the stated necessary precautions.


   That being said, let us take a moment to briefly touch upon some of what it is that the Grail tradition actually entails. It will also be helpful to examine a couple of the primary literary precursors which some scholars believe may have contributed to the rich lore surrounding the Grail tradition. The Holy Grail is most commonly depicted as being the cup from which Jesus Christ drank during his ‘Last Supper’ prior to being crucified.[1] According to legend, this cup was later used by Joseph of Arimathea, the secret disciple of Christ who donated the tomb wherein Jesus was to be laid following his crucifixion, to collect the mixture of blood and water which flowed from the laceration in Jesus’ side made by the lance or spear of Roman soldier Longinus. Being thus sanctified, the cup was then said to have been imbued with miraculous virtues such as curative powers and the ability to make barren land fertile, and it was for the purpose of preserving this sacred vessel that the Order of the Knights of the Holy Grail was originally founded.

   As a literary precursor to this tale, several scholars have sought to identify the legend of the Holy Grail with the Welsh legend of King Bran, the mythical king of Britain, and his magical cauldron -- the latter of which was said, similar to the qualities attributed to the Holy Grail, to be able to mysteriously restore the dead to life. Magical characteristics such as these were not limited to King Bran’s cauldron, but were also attributed to Bran himself. According to The Mabinogion, an ancient book of Welsh folklore, after realizing his impending fate, the king ordered that his head be severed and returned to Britain where miraculously it continued to speak and, in some cases, even prophecy. After some eighty years, the head ceased speaking, at which time it was taken to a place called ‘White Hill’ and buried facing the direction of France in order to protect the British from French invasion. The legend even goes on to declare that it was none other than King Arthur, the same who features prominently in the Grail tradition, who recovered the skull from its place of rest.[2] In more recent times, certain scholars have sought to align the Holy Grail with the golden platter on which the severed head of St. John the Baptist was served to the dancing Salome by the remorseful King Herod. The reader is asked to note that in both cases the object identified as a forerunner of the Holy Grail is directly associated with the motif of a severed head.

   The Knights Templar were formed in the 12th century for the noble purpose of escorting Christians on their pilgrimages throughout the Holy Land during the Crusades. After inventing a system which is widely recognized as the forerunner of modern banking, the Templars grew exceedingly wealthy to the point that the powers that be, i.e., the crown and the tiara, sought to relieve them of their riches, and in 1307 a statement was issued by the debt-ridden King Philip IV of France declaring the Templars to be heretics. A great many of them were subsequently arrested, interrogated, tortured, and executed -- their wealth then claimed by the greedy Philip. While no ‘holy cup’ was reported to have ever been discovered amongst the Templars’ treasures, the most widespread of the confessions made by the knights during their interrogation was the collective veneration of a mysterious severed head, reportedly called Baphomet, which was used by them during their ceremonies of initiation.

   According to Von Hammer, the word Baphomet is a combination of the two Greek words Baphe and Metis which, when combined, translates to the baptism of wisdom -- but as we shall see, the use of the word ‘baptism’ here may have less to do with the physical act of submerging the body in, and raising it up out of water, and more to do with the imbibing of a certain libation from a sacred ‘cup.’ Such is the case in The Corpus Hermeticum, a collection of writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, the famed author of the Tabula Smaragdina or Emerald Tablet, wherein we read the following:

Reason indeed[...]among all men hath [Deity] distributed, but Mind not yet; not that He grudgeth any, for grudging cometh not from Him, but hath its place below, within the souls of men who have no Mind[...]He willed, my son, to have it set up in the midst for souls, just as it were a prize[...]He filled a mighty Cup with it, and sent it down, joining a Herald [to it], to whom He gave command to make this proclamation to the hearts of men: Baptize thyself with this Cup's baptism[3], what heart can do so, thou that hast faith thou canst ascend to him that hath sent down the Cup, thou that dost know for what thou didst come into being!” (The Cup or Monad, vv. 3 & 4).

Thus we see that that the term ‘baptism’ can be a reference to the well-known ritual of bodily submersion in water and, more obscurely, a sacred cup or libation. Baphomet therefore, the severed head allegedly venerated by the Templars, may be at once a cryptic reference both to a baptism of wisdom as well as a cup of mind. Interestingly, Von Eschenbach specifically refers to the Knights of the Holy Grail as “baptized men.”

   As demonstrated above, the lore surrounding the Grail tradition is intimately connected with legends involving severed heads. These two seemingly separate themes, a sacred cup and a severed head, would appear somewhat irreconcilable if it was not for the historical precedent provided by the potentially shocking rituals once observed by the Goths of Scandinavia who, according to the research of English Freemason Rev. George Oliver, were prone to drink alcoholic libations from the cap of a human skull, thus uniting neatly the theme of the sacred cup or libation with that of the skull or severed head. Paraphrasing from Oliver’s 1840 work The History of Initiation, Gen. Albert Pike, 33° says that the initiatory rituals of this Eastern Germanic tribe included

“[a] long probation, of fasting and mortification, circular processions, [and] many fearful tests and trials…[The candidate] was obligated upon a naked sword (as is still the custom in the Rit Moderne[4]), and sealed his obligation by drinking mead out of a human skull.[5]

Turning our attention to the Far East, we find that the ritual motif of drinking from a human skull plays a central role also in the ceremonial observances of the reclusive Shiva worshipping Aghora of India, as well as the remote Vajrayana Buddhists of Tibet, both of whom preserve the curious rite of imbibing libations from a sacred kapala or skullcup. These kapalas are often employed by the practitioners of Vajrayana Buddhism for the additional purpose of making religious offerings to the deific Dharmapalas, who themselves are frequently depicted as bearing these strange yet fascinating relics. The word Dharmapala literally translated means Defender of the Faith, which itself is a phrase that should be particularly meaningful to every Masonic Templar.

   Sir Knight Frederick Shade, in his The Quest for the Holy Grail and the Modern Knights Templar[6], provides an outline of several other similarities between what he calls the Templar hallows and the lesser hallows of the Grail tradition. The lesser hallows of the Grail tradition are described as being certain sacred relics for which the Grail Knights are searching in addition to the Holy Grail. The similarities between the so-called Templar hallows and the lesser hallows of the Grail tradition include, among other things “[t]he dish of bread, which is the food given to the pilgrim on his arrival” and “[t]he skull of mortality, with which the novice undertakes a year of penance, and with which the imprecations are made.” Sir Knight Shade goes on to say that

 “[t]here are several other hallows and sacred signs in the Templar tradition. Some of the lesser hallows of the Grail cycle are suggested here, such as the Templar crucifix, with the nails prominently displayed thereon. There is the knight’s sword, which is to be wielded in defense of the faith and also his shield, all which are beautifully explained in the quotation from St. Paul. They may not necessarily come directly from the Grail legend, but they certainly evoke many aspects of that tradition and resonate as hallows in their own right.”

   Thus we see that Von Eschenbach’s association of the Knights Templar with the mythical Knights of the Holy Grail may very well have had more than a minor influence on the development of the Templar knighting ceremony as it is currently practiced by the Commandery of the York Rite of Freemasonry. Because of the probability of said influence, it is the author’s opinion that Masonic Templary can rightly be called a modern guardian of the authentic Grail tradition, furnished with all that such entails. This is true even for the Candidate who sits silently contemplating in the grim Chamber of Reflections at the commencement of the Templar ceremony, where the human skull present there still has the potential to exhibit that miraculous power of prophetic speech attributed to the severed head of the mythical King Bran. Surrounded oftentimes with oracular messages such as I was what you are and, more importantly, I am what you will be[7], does not the skull in the Chamber of Reflection speak something of our fate to us all?  Is not the bitter cup of death that from which every man must sooner or later partake?



REFERENCES

Barber, Malcom. The Trial of the Templars

Barrett, Ron. Aghora Medicine: Pollution, Death, and Healing in Northern India

Bernard, Elizabeth A. Chinnamasta: The Aweful Buddhist and Hindu Tantric Goddess

Burkle, William S. Memento Mori – The Symbol of the Skull with Crossed Bones

De Costa, Helio L. The Chamber of Reflection

De Hoyos, Arturo. Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma: Annotated Edition

De Troyes, Chretien. Perceval, the Story of the Grail

Goering, Joseph. The Virgin and the Grail


Loomis, Roger S. The Grail: From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol

Mackenzie, K.R.H. Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

Martin, Sean. The Knights Templar: The History and Myths of the Legendary Military Order

Oliver, George. The History of Initiation

Shade, Rev. Frederick. The Quest for the Holy Grail and the Modern Knights Templar

The Corpus Hermeticum

The Holy Bible: Master Mason Edition

The Mabinogion

Von Eschenbach, Wolfram. Parzival

Zeldis, Leon. The Initiation in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite







[1] Chretien de Troyes, the trouvere who originally authored the poem, gives instead the dish on which Jesus and his disciples shared in the Paschal Feast.
[2] Note that the name Bran literally means raven. Interestingly, the raven is a symbol commonly employed in Alchemical texts as an allusion to the caput mortuum or dead head phase of the Great Work.
[3] Compare to verse 24 of chapter 20 in The Gospel of St. Matthew, where Jesus says reassuringly to his disciples: “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with…”
[4] “The Rit Moderne is one of the Masonic systems practiced in France.” – De Hoyos
[5] See also Bro. William Steve Burkle’s Memento Mori – the Symbol of the Skull with Crossed Bones: A Perspective on Death and Dying in the Chivalric Orders of the York Rite of Freemasonry.
[6] Knight Templar Magazine, Vol. LVII, Nos. 10-12 (2011) & Vol. LVIII, No. 1 (2012)
 [7] According to R.W.Bro. Leon Zeldis, these phrases are featured alongside the skull in the version of the Chamber of Reflection used in the Entered Apprentice Degree as it is worked by The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.






Note: Please read " Blog Participation Requested - Announcement - Education", which explains and describes the purpose of this series of topics. This post does not make a statement "for" the following content and does not make claim that it has a direct relation to Freemasonry. It is for educational purposes only!


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Sunday, July 8, 2012

AH, WHEN SHALL WE THREE

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By JOHN H. SHEPPARD, late of Boston, Mass. 

Ah, when shall we three meet, like them
Who last were at Jerusalem? For three there were, but one is not, -
He lies where Acacia marks the spot.
Though poor he was, with kings he trod;
  

Though great, he humbly knelt to God;
Ah, when shall those restore again
The broken link of friendship's chain?
  

Behold, where mourning beauty bent
In silence o'er his monument,
And widely spread in sorrow there
The ringlets of her flowing hair! 


The future Sons of Grief will sigh,
While standing round in mystic tie,
And raise their hands, alas! to
Heaven, In anguish that no hope is given.
From whence we came, or whither go,
Ask me no more, nor seek to know,
Till three shall meet who formed, like them;
The GRAND LODGE at JERUSALEM.



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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Upcoming Degree Work - Mississippi F&AM

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Below is a list of upcoming degree work that was submitted by Bro Jerry Klein, WM of Fulton Lodge No. 444. All regular Masons, in good standing, are invited to attend. If you have events that you would like to make public, please submit your request to us at TupeloMason®.


  • MM Degree - Monday July 9, 2012 - West Point Lodge No. 40 - West Point, Ms - 6:00 pm. (Grand Lodge of Ms conferring degree)

  • MM Degree - Tuesday July 10, 2012 - Fairview Lodge No. 457 - Golden, MS - eat at 6:30 pm - Degree at 7:00 pm.

  • MM Degree - Friday July 13, 2012 - Fulton Lodge No. 444 - Fulton, MS - Eat at 6 pm - Degree at 7:00 pm.




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THE WORKING TOOLS

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By BRO. A. S. MAcBRIDE
(From The Builder, Anamosa, Iowa, February, 1916)
  

Go, work on mind and matter now,
A Master raised to power art thou,
Impress on each and all you can
Wise Heaven's eternal Temple-plan.
As on a trestle-board portray
The great Design, from day to day,
And build, in silence rever'ntly,
The temple of Humanity.




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Friday, July 6, 2012

A BROKEN ASHLAR

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By BRO. SEYMOUR BRANDES
(From The New Age Magazine, Washington, D. C., April, 1915) 

A sense of imperfection round me clings;
I hear an inward voice in deep lament:
Through the dark chancel of my soul there rings
A boding chant, with fear and yearning blent. 

Thin as a specter's voice in lonely round:
I cannot tell from whence it came-or why,-
It harrows all my thoughts with mournful sound,
Like echoes of a drowning seaman's cry. 

The precious pearls of wasted talent thrown
In isolated spots of my life's field:
Its irrecoverable riches sown
As worthless seed that gave a barren yield. 

The images of folly, sloth and sin
That flecked with error all my nobler past,
Troop mockingly around with leering grin;
I view with shuddering doubt-I am aghast!




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Thursday, July 5, 2012

THE SQUARE

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By BRO. R. J. McLAUGHLIN
  

The ciders of our ancient art
Built Temples, high and fair,
And never stone was laid in place
And never column rose in grace,
Untested by the Square. 

Our elders left a heritage,
Up reared in wood and stone,
That we, who follow, might behold
The craft of these, the men of old,
Thus, through their works, made known. 

Oh, let us do our work as well,
Though never dome we raise,
With brain untutored, hand unskilled,
A square-set Temple may we build,
Of simple nights and days. 

The Square of Virtue for our acts
Wherewith to set them true,
Can make a building, standing quite
As worthy in our children's sight,
And in the Master's, too. 

Thus may we, too, great builders be
As any ancient race;
Our Temple is the square-set mind,
Wherein the Master's Self may find
A fitting dwelling-place.




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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day, United States of America - Happy 4th of July

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Happy 4th of July!
During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain.[4][5] After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.[6]
Adams's prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.[7]
Historians have long disputed whether Congress actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.[8][9][10][11][12]
In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third president in a row who died on this memorable day. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.





The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription



IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.







The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock

Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton




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