Back to School Lodge

Ah yes, it’s the end of August, Labor Day weekend is here, and families and friends are rushing to get those last few holiday cookouts in before we kiss summer goodbye and settle in for the fall.

Where did the time go?

This means that it’s also time for me to get back to my new Masonic duties, to wit: keeping an eye on the ritual proficiency of the officers in the 5th District.

The Senior Warden at Friendship actually made his last year, and Eric, the Junior Warden made his last month. I know that a few other lodges in District 5 are covered, but I think that a few potential Worshipful Masters still need to be certified. That’s why I’m posting this message, so that my Connecticut readers – all 23 of them – will be ready to get together soon.

If my experience with the Ritual Day at Friendship last month is any indication, it will probably take about a half hour per officer. I’m hoping that any officer who needs certification would prefer to do this on a degree rehearsal night (usually Sunday evenings), that way we also have a chance to clarify any other points that might come up. Besides, as anyone who has sat in the East for a degree knows, you already have enough on your mind, you certainly don’t need the distraction of a purple apron sitting next to you, taking notes.

Although I’ve discussed Ritual Certification several times, I’m going to reiterate what is expected.

“Proficiency” in Connecticut is actually very simple; unlike some other US states in which entire passages of ritual need to be recited and judged for exactness and conformity to some standard, we only ask for five things.

  • – Open the lodge in full form
  • – Receive a Masonic dignitary (A District Deputy or Grand Master, for example)
  • – Go to refreshment (some people refer to this as “calling off”)
  • – Come back to labor
  • – Close the lodge in full form

That’s it.

Well, okay, there’s more. We expect you to do this without (or at least, with very minimal) prompting. And getting most of the words correct and in order would be preferred.

Sorry, I don’t mean to sound flippant, it’s just that compared to some jurisdictions in which officers are tested on word-for-word accuracy, what we’re asking seems almost embarrassingly simple. Yet, several of the lodges in which I’ve sat (not necessarily in District 5) have shown a surprising lack of consistency. I’m not talking about “off nights” because, GAOTU knows, we’ve all had them; I’m talking about Worshipful Masters who have made it to the Oriental Chair who seem to have “off” nights more often than “on” nights.

At the risk of blowing my reputation as a nice, easy-going guy, I’m going to repeat what I’ve written elsewhere: While I appreciate that we are all volunteers, and have limited time in which to memorize ritual and to study obscure bylaws, the fact remains that in volunteering for the job as Worshipful Master of a lodge, we gave an implied promise that we would do everything possible to be up to the task at hand. If all you need to do is know how to open and close a lodge, and to remember, or at least know where to look up an appropriate rule, then complaints about a lack of time begin to smack of a lack of effort.

I mean, c’mon brothers: if you can memorize 20 years of sports statistics, or repeat word-for-word the dialog for Monty Python sketches you saw in college, then you really don’t have an excuse to not get at least most of the opening and closing ceremonies.

All right, all right. I’m off the soapbox.

For now.

While I’m on the subject of Grand Lodge requirements, though, I want to remind everyone that there are some additional (although very easy) requirements that went into effect this year. I’m copying from the Grand Lodge website:

Wardens should heed MW Greene’s requirements for 2008 Worshipful Masters. Certificates of successful completion will be necessary before installation as Master of a lodge:

  1. Be certified to open and close a lodge and receive dignitaries. Contact the District Lecturer for certification.
  2. Perform at least one of the following:
  • Attend the Masters Seminar, October 6, at Ashlar Village, Wallingford, 8:00 a.m. registration. Attendance to be verified by the Committee on Masonic Education.
  • Attend the Wardens Seminar, November 3, at Ashlar Village, Wallingford, 8:00 a.m. registration. Attendance to be verified by the Committee on Masonic Education.
  • Successfully complete the Masonic Education Course. Contact RW Dwight Mertens
  • Pass the 50 Question Quiz prepared by Grand Lodge. Contact the District Lecturer for certification.

I want to point out that our Grand Lodge could make things easier by listing the contact information for RW. Brother Dwight Mertens, not to mention the various District Grand Lecturers. Any of you l33t GL w3b d00ds reading this?

Well, that’s enough for me today. I have to rest up tonight so I can hit the picnics this weekend.

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