Daily Masonic Advancement Talk February 2013
In the Grand Lodge’s Quarterly Communication of December 2011, the issue of appointing a Lodge Mentor was discussed.
The Communication stressed that it was a matter of personal choice whether individual lodges made such an appointment and it was not intended that the Lodge Mentor should carry out all the Lodge’s mentoring activities himself, but should rather act as the coordinator of mentoring activities within the Lodge, including the nomination of individual mentors assigned to assist a particular brother.
My personal view is that within the Lodge of Happiness we are a sufficiently cohesive group to take a general interest in the Masonic welfare of all our fellow brethren, and be sufficiently vigilant to notice when a particular brother is in need of guidance and support, and be willing to offer the necessary assistance.
This care and attention is additional to the mentoring activities carried out by a brother’s proposer and seconder because of their special interest in the welfare and progress of the brother concerned.
Brethren will also be aware that at each Annual General Meeting of our Lodge of Instruction, a review of who is mentoring whom, is a standard agenda item.
The R W Bro. Peter Lowndes, our Pro Grand Master, in a recent article in Freemasonry Today, notes that whatever approaches an individual lodge adopts towards mentoring, the key things to bear in mind are:
That mentoring should aim to promote an environment of belonging, understanding, involvement and enjoyment within the Lodge. The aim should be to achieve this with a light touch.
Secondly, mentoring is about pastoral care; seeing that candidates and brethren are looked after and kept informed and that this support remains in place throughout each member’s Masonic life.
This last point is important because we should not forget that whatever stage of seniority a brother reaches in masonry, be they new initiates or Grand Lodge Officers, there will inevitably be issues and challenges where support is needed and because we are all brothers, there need be no reluctance either to offer, or to accept guidance and assistance from each other.
Peter Lowndes goes on to say that the real test of appropriate mentoring is to consider how you would like to have been welcomed when you first joined freemasonry, and how you would like to have been supported from then onwards.
He notes that mentoring is essentially comprised of three stages:
The first stage is for each candidate to understand the basic implications, logistics and benefits that are involved in becoming a freemason:
I do not propose to expand here on the full process of recruiting prospective candidates but, initially, they should be given every opportunity to get to know the brethren and their wives and vice versa.
Essentially, a Candidate should get a proper welcome into the Lodge. He should never feel under- briefed and should be made aware of his financial and time commitments. During this stage, the personal mentor, who will normally be the candidate’s proposer, should answer any questions the candidate may have for him, to gain a sense of belonging. In other words, there should never be any surprises.
This stage of mentoring is to ensure that the Junior Brother understands the basic purpose of each element of the ritual, especially after initiation and, thereafter, prior to and after the ceremonies of Passing and Raising.
The opportunity should also be taken to explain how the Lodge functions in terms of the duties of the various officers and in terms of the purpose of meetings of Past Masters and Officers, Lodges of Instruction and Lodges of Rehearsal, etc.
The mentoring activity should also encompass an explanation of the common myths with which non- masons frequently concern themselves, i.e. the funny handshakes and rolled up trouser legs.
In addition to the need to continue to look after Junior Brethren, the third stage of mentoring concerns giving them the confidence, from the outset, to be able to speak to family and friends about freemasonry. This is vital to ensuring the vibrant future of our organisation.
A junior brother needs to understand how to talk to non masons about what Freemasonry means. Our aim should be for us all to become enthusiastic ambassadors for Freemasonry.
Peter Lowndes notes that being an ambassador is not a rank or an office, but a mode of behaviour.
On the basis that we only recruit people whom we believe live up to our principles, an ambassador will not only understand the basics of ritual but will also be able to talk to others in an open and relaxed way about their freemasonry and their reasons for joining the movement.
As ambassadors for Freemasonry, we should all be able to explain our activities without recourse to the sometimes obscure terminology of our ritual. In doing so we will be able to more effectively dispel myths and reduce discrimination against our organisation. Thus, rather than try to explain our Grand Principles of Brotherly Love ,Relief and Truth, we should simply explain that our key principles centre on respecting everyone , looking after others, and being honest and forthright.
Similarly, it would be easy to give the impression that the central purpose of our organisation is to engage in charitable activities. Many organisations do charitable works, and it is important to ensure that this is not regarded as our raison d’être, although we should nevertheless be proud of our charity.
I suggest that our real raison d’être centres on respecting and looking after our fellow men, and improving ourselves, whilst enjoying the fun and fellowship of like minded people.
In the Grand Lodge’s Quarterly Communication dated March 2012, Peter Lowndes expands on the theme of the recruitment of new candidates, and states “we do not hunt for numbers for the sake of it, but strongly encourage those who show a genuine interest in finding out more about the subject”. Thus freemasonry is about the quality of the people who join, not the numbers. Therefore, having recruited the appropriate brethren, they will be naturally receptive to the acquisition of new knowledge and understanding about freemasonry, provided by their mentor.
Finally, it is worth noting that the mentor himself will receive the indirect benefit of refreshing and clarifying his own knowledge and ideas on Masonic ritual, etiquette, and traditions, and should never be reluctant to say “I don’t really know, let’s find out the answer together.”
Brethren, I am aware that on various occasions, we have spoken about the need to clarify our stance within the Lodge of Happiness, on mentoring, and I trust that this short exposition on this topic will serve to inform our views, as a precursor to a future discussion on this matter.
W. Bro. Alastair Scales