MAGLDLaLiberte

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DONALD H. LaLIBERTE

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BIOGRAPHY

SPEECHES

AT FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 2014

DEPUTY GRAND MASTER SPEECH FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST DECEMBER 29, 2014

FREEMASONRY IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Most Worshipful Grand Master, Past Grand Masters, Distinguished Guests, Brethren all:

I stand here tonight in a position that I never expected to be in when I entered the doors of Freemasonry; that is to give a speech to such a distinguished group of brethren on such an honored occasion. For this, I wish to state my heartfelt appreciation to you, M.W. Bro. Waugh, for selecting me to serve as Deputy Grand Master to this Grand Lodge. I pray that my service in the next 12 months reflects the confidence you have shown in me.

As the 191st installed Deputy Grand Master for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, I wish to reflect back on where our great Institution has come from and to the challenges that face us today and into the future. Tradition is the touchstone that allows us to view Freemasonry on continuum of the “Level of Time” from the past to the present and stretching into the future. But, is tradition a hindrance on where we now stand in the second decade of the 21st century? In fact, why do we meet on this evening to celebrate St. John the Evangelist?

Since 1733, The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has for 282 years held its State Communication and the Feast of St. John annually on December 27th (unless required to be held on another date has prescribed by the Grand Constitutions). We are taught in the Entered Apprentice degree that St. John the Evangelist was one of the two eminent Christian patrons of Freemasonry along with St. John the Baptist being the other patron. So, it would be altogether proper and worthy that we celebrate this eminent man for his patronage of the Fraternity on December 27th each year which is his feast day in Western Christianity.

However, there is another reason that we meet at the end of December. In fact, this duty was placed on the Provincial Grand Lodge of New England by the Grand Lodge of England when the Original Charter, or Warrant, was issued to Henry Price in 1733, which included the following stipulation:

“And, lastly, we will and require that our said Provincial Grand Master of New England do annually cause the Brethren to keep the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, and dine together on that day, or, (in case any accident should happen to prevent their dining together on that day) on any other day near that time as he shall judge most fit.”

Tradition can be good as it binds us to our brethren from the past and provides a sense of history. But, tradition can be the equivalent of a philosophical “millstone” that can weigh us down and not let us move forward.

As we are poised to enter the 283rd year of Freemasonry in the Commonwealth, we face many challenges that are well known by most of the brethren in this room and outside of these walls – declining membership, the merger of Lodges, the maintenance of the physical plant of this Grand Lodge building and those of the local Lodge buildings and a sense of whether Freemasonry is still relevant to today’s society and to a younger generation of men. To many there appear to be many questions to be asked and challenges to overcome. What are the answers to the following questions:

  • How do we replace the generation of brethren that joined in the “golden age” of the Fraternity during the decades of the 1950’s and the 1960’s?
  • Where do we find the next group of officers to lead the Fraternity into the future?
  • Do we have the financial resources to maintain our mission?
  • And, are we still relevant in the fabric of society?

The question that I am asking tonight, and hopefully providing some answer to, is –

What does Freemasonry mean in the 21st century?

Secret handshakes and signs, meeting in private in a guarded Lodge room, reciting ritual writing over 200 years ago, wearing a tuxedo are these the images that the public have of our Fraternity? Is this what we are? Or, is there more to Freemasonry then the image that popular literature and the Internet makes of us? As an Institution, are we still relevant do today’s society?

I am sure that every one of us attending this Stated Communication would answer in the affirmative. But, we are the true believers and have made the request of a friend that we later found to be a brother to join the Fraternity. However, do we still have value to the secular world? The simplest answer is “Yes”. But why?

There is the connection that we have to each other by those sacred bonds of friendship, morality and brotherly love. We know this because we have knocked on the doors of a lodge hall and have been entered to the world of Freemasonry. But, are we relevant to a younger generation of men?

It only takes a look at the Millennials and the younger generations who have their eyes glued to their IPhone or Android with their fingers busily tapping away to wonder if they are more interested in a non-personal connection made through a metallic device then to have a conversation with the person next to do them. We have all seen the iconic setting of 4 or more people sitting at a table in a restaurant or in a public place texting with a person connected through their PDA device and whom they are busily engrossed with instead of having a conversation with the person sitting next to them. Unfortunately, many of us in this room have been party to such a scene.

Then there is the fact that human society is expanding at a faster and faster pace. Since the beginning of the 20th century through the early part of the 21st century, human knowledge and the speed of society is increasing at a frenetic pace.

Moore’s Law, which is attributed to Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel, stated in 1965 that the number of transistors on a dense integrated circuit doubles every 2 years. Now, we carry more computing power in the IPhone we carry in our hand than was found on the most powerful computer in the 1960’s that send Bros. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and John Glenn into space and onwards to the Moon.

The theory of the “Knowledge Doubling Curve” formulated by Buckminster Fuller in the 1980’s stated that human knowledge had doubled approximately every century until the 20th century. In the first half of the last century, the speed of acquiring human knowledge had sped up so that it now was doubling every 25 years. Recently, technologists have speculated that in the second decade of the 21st century human knowledge is now doubling at the rate of every 13 months. How can this speed in the growth of human knowledge be processed? What does this mean for each of us? How does this effect each of us in our daily interaction with our fellow creatures?

Freemasonry still provides the universal truths that are still profound and meaningful in society to those men who are seeking enlightenment and betterment; who want to add to the brotherhood of mankind; and, who want to be productive member of society, not a drone in the hive of nature.

In 1792, Bro. George Washington replied to a gift of a new Book of Constitutions presented to him by this Grand Lodge. In his reply to the gift received was a sentence that still speaks eloquently to why Masonry matters in any century. Bro. Washington wrote—

"To enlarge the sphere of social happiness is worthy of the benevolent design of a Masonic institution; and it is most fervently to be wished that the conduct of every member of Society, as well as those publications that discover the principles which actuate them may tend to convince mankind that the grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of human race."

I truly believe that the younger generation of men are still looking for the real connection of friendly and brotherly grips. Men today still seek the “social happiness” that Bro. Washington spoke about over 220 years ago.

This Fraternity is still capable of taking good men and making them better. It still provides the environment that allow men to improve themselves and to provide utility to society. These goals are still relevant in the 21st century as they were to those first brothers that met in the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston on July 30th, 1733. The truth of these convictions will exist until time is no more.

Freemasonry provides the opportunity to men to learn the principles of leadership which are still looked for by men, be they young or older. The environment created in a Lodge and in the wider world of Freemasonry provides the opportunity to learn and exercise leadership.

Simon Sinek, an organizational management consultant, defines leadership as “…the daily practice and exercise to help others and put others interest ahead of yours.” Mr. Sinek has observed that trust and cooperation in the right environment will create good people. He calls this “the social contact of leadership” and has found that leaders set the tone and the conditions to create the right environment that promotes growth of leadership. These observations are true from the U.S. Marine Corps to small businesses as well as to non-profit and for profit organizations.

Freemasonry has always provided the proper environment and still is able to do this at this time for those men seeking to better themselves, both morally and spiritually, and are looking to become leaders among men. I have seen this happen time after time as men have entered the doors of Freemasonry and become leaders in their Lodge whether it is as a line officer or taking upon themselves to organize and run a Toys for Tots event for the first time.

Yet, we have challenges in the fact that we have declining membership which is evidenced by the decrease of around 36,000 brothers in 2010 to approximately 30,000 brothers in 2014. The number of Lodges have decreased in 2014 to 230 due to mergers. If our Fraternity has some much to give to society and if it provides the opportunity to make good men better, then should not our Lodges be working more candidates for the degrees? Are we in position of decline and at risk of not seeing our 300th anniversary in 2033? There are naysayers that would say that our better days are behind us. However, I am an optimists that we can grow and solve our problems by returning to the basics, which I call the “The 3’Rs of Freemasonry”.

The "3 R’s" of Freemasonry – the Tools for Building the Fraternity for the Future

We learned our “3 R’s” in primary school – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. These are the building blocks to a solid education and to success in the world. There is much discussion now in society about the need for a return to the basics. Is this a striving for a return to a simpler time? Maybe. But, I think this speaks to the broader need to return to those true and tried methods that have worked so well for so many past generations to educate and move humankind forward on the ascent from ignorance to self-enlightenment.

Tonight, I would suggest that this Fraternity needs to use the “3 R’s” as the tools to build for the future and prepare Massachusetts Freemasonry for its 300th anniversary. Like the educational “3 R’s”, the fraternal “3 R’s” are simple and universal and can be employed by any of us. These “3 R’s” are:

  • Rejuvenation
  • Retention
  • Recruitment

The order of precedent of these “3 R’s” is important as each build upon the previous one.

First, there must be reasons to have men to attend a Lodge meeting or want to come out to assist at Masonic events whether there are a social event or a fundraiser. To hear tired ritual or to eat a plate of lukewarm spaghetti is not going to do it for most brothers. We need to rejuvenate and increase the energy level in the Lodges. More social activities will increase the desire of brothers and their family to spend time together.

In addition to spiritual rejuvenation, we need rejuvenation of our lodge halls. Many of the buildings are tired and are in need of TLC. When we drive by a home where the paint is peeling and the yard is unkempt and there appears to be a lack of activity, we are not induced to stop by and visit.

Most of Lodge buildings in this jurisdiction have been well maintained and are inviting. For those building associations that are in trouble, then there is help. RW Bro. Richard Johnson’s Building Association committee has been working diligently this past year to develop a set of guidelines and resources for building associations.

Yet, the work needs to begin at the local level since these are local issues. A small group of committed and dedicated brothers can make the difference. My immediate predecessor, R. W. Brother Joseph DeNicola, came back to the Lodge when he was contacted to assist with the sale of the Lodge building in Hingham. Instead of a sale, a successful effort was made to save the building which is now a prime example of what can be accomplished when brothers work and strive together for the future.

The next step is the retention of members. Any marketer or salesmen will state that it is the more cost effective and efficient to get sales from a current customer then to seek a new customer. Hopefully, a current customer understands the value proposition with the relationship with a vendor who understands your needs and business. This truth holds for the Fraternity.

We spend significant time to recruit a new brother, go through the investigation process, vote to admit these men into the Fraternity, perform the ritual and give these men their degrees, then have them sign the by-laws just to see them walk out the doors and never have contact with these brothers again except to send them a monthly notice, to ask them to pay their dues and process their request to demit from the Lodge.

I am an not a marketing expert or a salesmen par excellence, just a simple accountant, but I can see that to lose a brother after making so much effort to bring them in is not a good use of a lodge scarce resources and time. We need to make the additional effort and work to make these brother stick to the Lodge because it does not stop when we have raised the man to the sublime degree, in fact this is only the beginning. There are tools available such as the Cable-Tow and Rusty Brother programs, but the best tool is the human touch. The current Masonic Leadership Institute class is working on the issue of retention and I wait in anticipation the result of their hard work and their thoughts and plans on retaining current brothers. But we don’t need to wait. The task can be taking up now.

I challenge every Master of a Lodge in this jurisdiction to take it upon themselves to have them along with their officers to reach out to every brother that has not been seen in Lodge in the last twelve to eighteen months. Ask them why they are not coming back to Lodge and then develop a plan to get them back in the sideline seats. Maybe, it is the need for a ride for an older brother, maybe it is a reminder of the signs that the brother has forgotten because he has not been in Lodge for a while, and maybe it is simply to ask a brother to attend and to tell him that he is missed and we would like to see him and the Lodge would pay for his meal.

With more active and rejuvenated Lodges and an increase in active brothers both attending Lodge meetings and activities, then we can move to the next “R” – recruitment.

The recruitment of new members has been and will always be our primary mission. We should do this under the goal that we have an organization that has great worth and should be shared with fellow men so they can improve themselves and aid in the promotion of the values of friendship, morality and brotherly love. Or, as Bro. Washington so aptly put it, we are in the business of enlarging “the sphere of social happiness” and “to promote the happiness of the human race”.

All of us have entered the doors and found these values. Now, we must all commit to finding how to share this great institution with our fellow men. Since M. W. Bro. Jeffrey Hodgdon started new programs for recruitment, we saw a rise in the number of new brothers taking their degree. However, in the last couple of years, the numbers have slowed down to approximately 850 new members in the past year. Does this mean that these programs don’t work? No, the message is that recruitment along with retention is a constant effort.

We all work with men who appear to hold the values we cherish. There are friends, relatives and acquaintances that have the desire to join if we only explained to them that we are an active social organization that promotes the welfare of mankind. Maybe we only need to plan the seed. Maybe we need to be bolder. This effort and work can bear fruit. From my own personal experience, the raising of my son to the sublime degree of Master Mason was one of the happiest and most rewarding moments of my life. But, my work is not done. A simple goal should be to find one man to replace us and one more to grow the ranks of the Fraternity. If we did meet this goal, then we would succeed in increasing our membership.

In addition to reaping the low hanging fruit of family members and friends, this Grand Lodge needs to continue to invest in membership programs. Digital advertising on social media will let us connect with the younger generation. We need to focus our efforts to where the future brothers can be found. In this light, I would strongly support the effort of the local Lodges and Districts, in conjunction with Grand Lodge, to promote and support local DeMolay chapters and to establish new chapters. In the last few years, R. W. Bro. Brian Noble, as Executive Director of DeMolay, along with the state DeMolay officers, has seen remarkable growth in membership. They should be complimented, but we should do more than mere words especially when we find that over two-thirds of DeMolay boys become Master Masons. This is a valuable source of members just as it was for our Grand Master who was a Senior DeMolay.

With the “3-Rs” of Rejuvenation, Retention and Recruitment, we have the tools to move the Fraternity to the 300th Anniversary in 2033.

Conclusion – The Future rests with us

In the end, if we don’t succeed in rising to the challenges that I have laid out in this speech, if we fail in showing that Freemasonry is still relevant to society, if we have seen the best days of the Fraternity and if we are not here in 2033 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of this Grand Lodge, then all of us, must accept responsibility for this unhappy outcome.

But, at this point, I don’t see the end of Freemasonry because of the eternal lessons of salvation, of man’s enlightenment and of human progress pushing forward the “Ascent of Man” that are the foundation of the ritual we have learned when we entered the doors of Freemasonry.

There are lines that come back to me from my senior high school English class (if my English teacher was here tonight he would be surprised that I remembered anything from that class) that speak well to this moment. These are words from the 17th century Anglican minister, John Donne, who wrote in his Meditation #17:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Freemasonry connects each of us by the invisible bonds of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. If the bell tolls, then it tolls for each and every brother in this room tonight and all the brethren outside of this room. But, do I now fear for the future? NO! I believe that we carry within us the sacred fire to lead into the future, to face the unknown and to leave the Fraternity in a better place and to pass it off to a new generation in a better state for future progress and achievement.

I look forward to the future with guarded optimism that when the 300th anniversary of this Grand Lodge is held it will be a date of much celebration. Those future brethren will have praise for those past brothers who have led and toiled in the quarry to pass on this great Institution with a strong foundation and in its full vigor forward to the future.

In closing, I wish to leave you with the words of one of the Past Grand Masters of this Grand Lodge since they still ring today with a message that states much better than my mere attempt on this day to try to define the meaning of rising to the task at hand and to face the challenges before us here in 2014 and in future years.

M. W. Bro. Joseph Earl Perry standing here at the December 27, 1935 Feast of Saint John said in his Deputy Grand Master speech these following words —

“For such is Masonry – ever a challenge, an invitation to a clearer vision, a loftier aim, a braver struggle, a kindlier and more unselfish way of living. That is the significance of Masonry, and that is what we as Masons should stand for if we would be real men…As individuals, we and we alone, can cherish and preserve the tiny morsel of sacred fire which has been entrusted to each of us. The choice rests with each of us as individuals.”

Let us remember the words of our Brothers Washington and Perry and to pledge here tonight to carry from this place a renewed commitment to Masonry and with a fervent desire to leave our great Institution in a better place than when we first walked through those doors.

Most Worshipful Grand Master, in closing, I appreciate this honor you have bestowed on me and I again express my sincere gratitude for the faith that you have placed in me. On behalf of myself and all your officers, we pledge our support, our sacred honor and our fidelity to you and the Grand Lodge as we strive to meet the challenges before us. May God continue to bless our Fraternity and keep safe the United States of America.

AT THE CENTENARY OF MOUNT ORTHODOX LODGE, FEBRUARY 2015

Worshipful Master, Distinguished Guests and Ladies, Brethren all:

We are here this evening to celebrate the life and times of Mount Orthodox Lodge that over the past 100 years of its existence has been an intricate member of the public community of Westfield, Massachusetts and the surrounding communities. However, we want to look to the future of the Lodge. I hope to take a few minutes tonight to talk about the past, but more importantly to look to the future of this Lodge.

The first regular meeting of Mt. Orthodox Lodge was opened on February 4, 1913 at 7:30 pm in the Grange rooms in the White Church when D. D. G. M. for the 18th Masonic District, R. W. William E. Gibbs, announced that Mount Orthodox Lodge, A. F. & A. M. was qualified to do business. Brother Fred Colby Hubbard was appointed that evening to serve as the first Worshipful Master of the Lodge. Brothers Frank Orville Scott and Herman Frederick Forester were respectively appointed as the Senior and Junior Wardens of the Lodge and eventually served as Worshipful Masters of the Lodge.

The Lodge was chartered on December 12, 1913 when the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts was under the capable of hands of Most Worshipful Everett Chamberlin Benton. The Constitution of the Lodge and the installation of the Lodge Officers was presided over by Most Worshipful Melvin M. Johnson on the evening of January 27, 1914 when a distinguished suite of Grand Lodge officers traveled to West Springfield for this joyous evening in the life of the Lodge.

Present in the room that evening were 13 Grand Lodge officers, a Past Grand Master, M. W. John Albert Blake and a future Grand Master, M. W. Leon M. Abbott as well as the Deputy Grand Master from the Grand Lodge of Connecticut. M. W. Melvin Johnson installed Brother Fred Hubbard as the first Master of Mount Orthodox Lodge, A. F. & A. M. and then the remaining officers were installed by the Deputy Grand Master R. W. Emery B. Gibbs.

Since the visit by M. W. Melvin Johnson to charter the Lodge in 1914, the Lodge has been visited by six Grand Masters including M. W. Joseph Earl Perry during the Lodge’s 25th Anniversary in 1938, M. W. A. Neill Osgood during the Lodge’s 50th Anniversary in 1963 and M. W.Albert T. Ames at the time of the Lodge’s 75th Anniversary in April 1989. During the past 100 years, Mouth Orthodox Lodge has been a productive member of the local community and of the Fraternity.

There have been seven brothers of this Lodge who served as a District Deputy Grand Masters for the 18th Masonic District starting with R. W. Harold Schellenger in 1942 and 1943. This tradition of providing capable men to serve as District Deputies has continued since the Lodge became part of the 29th Masonic District with two brothers serving in this capacity including the current District Deputy Grand Master, R. W. James R. Cooper, who is here tonight, and I congratulate him on his appointment.

A review of the Lodge’s history notes that the Lodge provided a very capable brother to serve Grand Lodge, R. W. Robert A. Meffen. This brother served as Grand Steward in 1987 and in 1990 as Junior Grand Warden under the leadership of M. W. Edgar W. Darling. R. W. Meffen is a third generation member of Mt. Orthodox Lodge and is a Navy veteran of the Korean conflict and served 34 years in the Springfield Police Dept.

The preceding presents a fine history of Lodge and how it has been a productive member of the Fraternity over the past 100 years since the Lodge formation in 1913. During this time, the Lodge and its brothers have seen much transpire in World events with the start of the First World War in the months after its first constituted meeting, during the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Korean and Vietnam conflict, the end of the Cold War, the start of the 21st century and to the beginning of the second century of Mount Orthodox Lodge. Through all of this history, the Lodge has provided a place for like-minded men to meet and to practice the tenets our great Fraternity – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, and to be useful members of Society.

However, human progress does not always move forward in a straight line. There are ups and downs during the progress forward in human history along with twist and turns that are not seen nor could have been contemplated.

As I was preparing for this evening and for the remarks to be given, I had communication with R. W. Jim Cooper request information about the Lodge. He gave me an overview of the recent history of the Lodge’s activities. Brother Cooper was honest and open in the information that he gave me.

He stated that ten or twelve years ago there would be nights when it was difficult to have three brothers present to open the Lodge. Degree work could only be done with the assistance of the other Lodges in the District. These were times when it was thought that the Lodge would inevitably be forced to merge and disappear from the roles of Lodges of this Grand Lodge. Unfortunately, this tale told to me is one that has been all too common in the past couple of decades in the Fraternity, whether in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or in other jurisdiction.

During the Feast of St. John held this past December, I had the privilege to continue the tradition of the newly installed Deputy Grand Master presenting a speech to the assembled brethren. The theme of the speech was what Freemasonry means in the 21st century. In the speech, I presented the “The 3 R’s of Freemasonry – the Tools for the Building the Fraternity for the Future”.

The 3’Rs are – Rejuvenation, Retention and Recruitment. The order of the 3’Rs is important because the first step in building for the future of the Fraternity is to take care of our own Lodge. Before we seek new members, we need to rejuvenate the Lodge and show that social happiness exist among the brethren.

How is rejuvenation accomplished? It is done one step at a time and performed at the Blue Lodge level. It is the brothers in this room that must take it upon themselves to work to rejuvenate their Lodge, not Grand Lodge. During those discussions with R. W. Cooper, he informed me that in recent years that Mount Orthodox Lodge started to grow again with new members, many of them young men who were eager. What they may have lacked in experience, then made up many folds with their eagerness to learn. Slowly the Lodge started to move forward again and to grow and to become vibrant with Masonic activity.

This tale of the recent activity of this Lodge provided me with the proof that the most important “R” is Rejuvenation. Once we are able to renew and rejuvenate our Lodges with greater activity and fraternal love, then we can work to bring back “rusty brothers” and then to recruit new members.

But the work of Fraternity does not stop. It is ever moving forward and never resting. Challenges will be on our path and how we respond to them will determine how future generation of brothers will judge our work in the quarries.


As M. W. Bro. Joseph Earl Perry stated in his :Feast of Saint John speech given in December 1935 after his installation as Deputy Grand Master speech, challenges are ever present. He stated that

“For such is Masonry – ever a challenge, an invitation to a clearer vision, a loftier aim, a braver struggle, a kindlier and more unselfish way of living. That is the significance of Masonry, and that is what we as Masons should stand for if we would be real men…As individuals, we and we alone, can cherish and preserve the tiny morsel of sacred fire which has been entrusted to each of us. The choice rests with each of us as individuals.”

I applaud the work of the Lodge brethren to rejuvenate and revitalize Mouth Orthodox Lodge and wish you much success for the next 100 years. I hope that the Grand Architect of the Universe waits to call me up to that “Building not made with human hands” for many years so that I can return for the 125th Anniversary of Mount Orthodox Lodge.

AT MASSASOIT-NARRAGANSETT LODGE, NOVEMBER 2015

Worshipful Master, Ladies, Guests and Brethren, it is a pleasure for Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to be invited to attend and share in this Anniversary dinner to celebrate the past 100 years of Masonic activity by the brethren of Massasoit-Narragansett. I bring you the warm fraternal greetings of Most. Wor. Brother Harvey John Waugh, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, along with those of mine and the Grand Lodge officers in attendance tonight.

R.W. Bro. Walter H. Hunt has just provided an excellent review of the times that the Lodge has operated in since November 1915. R.W. Bro. Hunt’s talk has provided an illuminating insight and a historian’s view of the times of the Lodge. In my few remarks tonight, I will attempt to tie the history and activity of this Lodge to the greater Masonic world and to why Freemasonry still matters as the brothers of Massasoit-Narragansett Lodge commence on your second century of work.

When the brothers of Massasoit Lodge commenced their work as a Masonic Lodge in the City of Fall River, the world had been at war for 15 months since the guns erupted in the fields of Europe in August 2014. A great struggle to determine the fate of the human society and whether human freedom or tyranny would triumph would be ongoing for another 18 months before America would enter World War I. The brothers of this Lodge, like so many other Masons, would enter the ranks of the U.S. Armed Forces to give their effort, and for some of our Masonic brothers – their “Last Full Measure of Devotion” – to ensure that Democracy and Freedom was the eventual victor in this great struggle.

That Masons would be part of this effort is not unexpected since Freemasonry is based on the principles of human freedom and the rights of Man that found its first expression in the thoughts and ideals of the Enlightment period of the 18th century. The Universality of Freemasonry is based on the foundation that man is a rational being who has been endowed by the Supreme Architect of the Universe with certain unalienable rights – among these being Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

From these principles that were first expressed and espoused in our Declaration of Independence, Freemasonry has strived to provide a way of living that will help to make men better and to improve society. The concept that Freemasonry provides a framework or path for men to lead a better life and to be a productive member of society was given a formal realization when the Grand Lodge of England was established in 1717.

The ritual and tenets that were given form with the establishment of Speculative Masonry in 1717 has led to the spreading of Freemasonry throughout the World and starting in North America when M. W. Bro. Henry Price brought back a warrant from London in 1733 to establish a foothold for Masonry in the New World and quickly formed the first Lodge of Masons in Boston in July 1733.

The “Masonic Way of Living” was first given formal expression by M.W. Bro. Joseph Earl Perry, who served as the Grand Master of our Grand Lodge from 1938-1940. In his first address as the newly installed Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts at the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge on March 9, 1938, M.W. Bro. Perry laid out what it meant to be a Mason at that time and how Freemasonry was relevant to the times these brothers were living.

At the time of this address, the world had survived the “War to end all Wars” that ended at the Eleventh minute of the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month of 1918, which happens to be the Third Anniversary of the Precedence Date of this Lodge. So much blood, treasure and lives were sacrificed during these four years to ensure that the principles of freedom and liberty were victorious over those of darkness and tyranny.

Yet, at the time of M.W. Bro. Perry’s first address to our Grand Lodge in March 1938, our Masonic brothers was in the midst of the Great Depression that had been ongoing for a number of years at this time. The World was witnessing the rise of Totalitarian societies under the theories of Fascism and Communist which was starting to threaten the ideals of Democracy and Freedom and of those people who lived under a free society based on the concept of human rights, liberalism and capitalism. The prospect of looming conflict was on the mind of many of the Brothers at that time along with the thought that the world was hurtling out of order and ready to enter a dark period.

In his speech, M.W. Bro. Perry laid out a general survey of the current situation in the world in the late 1930’s and to provide some insights on the general purposes and objectives on how a “Masonic Way of Living” would prepare Masons to deal with this New World order. After a discussion of the current world conditions and threats to a free and independent society, M.W. Bro. Perry laid out a philosophy on how a Masonic Way of Living provide a moral and philosophical framework to a brother to a live and build a moral and spiritual life that benefits an individual brother, his family and society by stating that “A sound body, orderly industry, public spirit, but primarily the building of character – these emerge as major laws of successful living.”

This structure and philosophy of “A Masonic Way of Living” is based on the individual brother practice of self-restraint, straightforward dealing, active friendship, tolerance and brotherly love. M.W. Bro. Perry states that “when a brother can he can be serviceable he is admonished to be ever ready to assist the worthy and the needy, to sympathize with their misfortunes, and to be generous in encouragement.”

The foundation of a Masonic Way of Living rest upon the ritual taught in the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason degrees to every new initiate to the Fraternity. In the Entered Apprentice degree, the new brother is taught that the Tenets of his Profession are – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Upon these Tenets, each of us are instructed to build our moral and Masonic edifice.

The Universality of Freemason and of the Tenets of our Fraternity were recently brought into focus to me as I traveled to Scotland to visit my daughter who is a student at the University of Edinburgh. While in Edinburgh, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) No. 1.

Lodge of Edinburgh No. 1 has continuous lodge records of Masonic brothers meeting since 1599. On the walls of the Lodge room, there is inscribed the names of every brother, since 1599, who has served as the Right Worshipful Master of this Lodge. This history is impressive and brings to mind that Freemason was in existence and teaching the tenets of our Fraternity well before the start of the Grand Lodge system in 1717.

Besides having the great joy of spending an evening of warm fraternalism with our Scottish brothers, I witness the Entered Apprentice degree being worked on a candidate who was entering the doors of Freemasonry that evening. As this new brother was brought in, I was sitting in the East and facing the West where right above the Senior Warden was the words of the Tenet of our Fraternity – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, which were spelled out high on the wall for all to see especially the youngest Entered Apprentice.

The ritual performed that evening might have differed slightly from that given to our candidates in the Massachusetts in the order of the words, which officer performed the ritual and how the lessons are taught to the candidate. Yet, the basic Masonic philosophy and way of living was the same whether taught in Scotland or Massachusetts.

This idea of the Universality of Freemasonry was forcefully brought home to me during my visit by the words on display on the Lodge walls and the actions of the brothers of the Lodge of Edinburgh No. 1. To spend an evening of warm brotherly love with these brothers is a highlight of my travel through Freemasonry since I have first passed through the doors of our Fraternity.

However, as in 1938, we see today in 2015, that there are forces in the world that bring our society and way of life under threat. The events of last evening in Paris brings forth very starkly that there are forces in the world who have a different philosophical view, who are agents of darkness and evil, which threaten our society and who want to bring destruction to those ideals that we cherish of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

These events of 2015 show that the best way to fight these forces is for each us to look towards the teachings of the Fraternity. The Masonic Declaration of Principles, adopted at the March 8, 1939 Grand Lodge Quarterly Communication, states in a clear and concise voice that as an Institution we stand for a charitable, benevolent, educational and religious society.

These principles were written and adopted during a period of great upheaval and a time of much uncertainty for the future of these past Brethren. We now stand at a similar period in human history with forces abounding in the world that are fighting against the ideas of Human Enlightment and of the Ascent of Man. How do we fight these forces?

My conclusion is that the answers to dealing with the ruthless hand of ignorance and devastations of war that have laid waste and destroyed many valuable monuments of antiquity lays in the teachings of the Fraternity. The Ancient Landmarks of the Fraternity and the Masonic Declaration of Principles provides a moral foundation to live a virtuous life and to be a productive member of a free, democratic and capitalistic society.

By building a Masonic Way of Life that is based on a moral temple inside each of us we are able to fight these forces and thereby transmit unimpaired the most excellent tenets of our institution.

Each of us tonight should re-commit ourselves to building a better way of life and to extend this to good men whom we know who could benefit by being a member of a society of friends and brothers based on a moral and spiritual philosophy of improving men and society. We all know men in our lives, who could be a relative, a neighbor, or an employee at work, whom could benefit from being a member of our Great Fraternity and whom the Fraternity would benefit from their work. By doing this noble work, we will ensure that Lodges like Massasoit-Narragansett and the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts will survive for another 100 years and to be an example of a way of living that promotes a moral and philosophical way that promotes the advancement of the human race and fights against the forces of evil.

As I reach the end of my remarks and the themes discussed this evening, I find that the best challenge to all of us here tonight as we leave this dinner is again from the words of MW Bro. Joseph Earl Perry. At the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist held on December 27, 1935, M.W. Bro. Perry concluded his Deputy Grand Master speech with these following words —

“For such is Masonry – ever a challenge, an invitation to a clearer vision, a loftier aim, a braver struggle, a kindlier and more unselfish way of living. That is the significance of Masonry, and that is what we as Masons should stand for if we would be real men…As individuals, we and we alone, can cherish and preserve the tiny morsel of sacred fire which has been entrusted to each of us. The choice rests with each of us as individuals.”

The challenge to each and every one of us sitting here tonight is to pledge to carry from this place a renewed commitment to Masonry and with a fervent desire to leave our great Institution in a better place than when we first walked through those doors and to continue to build our moral and Masonic edifice.

I wish to conclude my remarks tonight by stating my gratitude, and those of the Grand Lodge Officers present this evening, for the opportunity to spend an evening of brotherly love and fraternalism with our brothers of Massasoit-Narragansett Lodge as you celebrate the first 100 years in the life of this Lodge. May the blessings of the Grant Artificer of the Universe continue to descend upon and impede within the walls of this Lodge; and, May the Supreme Architect of the Universe holds us in his Hands, keep safe the United States of America and enrich our Grand Lodge with his manifest love and spirit. Thank You and Good Evening.


Distinguished Brothers