Guest Contribution - Learning from Afar: Virtual Masonic Education Initiatives
Disclaimer: The following article does not represent the statements or opinions of any Grand Lodge or Jurisdiction, and are solely those of the author.
The following article is a guest contribution on the "From Darkness to Light" blog site.
By WB Jacob M. Bressman, PM
Our Illustrious Brother Albert G. Mackey is quoted as writing, “The ultimate success of Masonry depends on the intelligence of her disciples.” Merriam-Webster defines a disciple as “a convinced adherent of a school.” I believe that this is an incredibly interesting idea, as Brother Mackey appears to be qualifying the ultimate success of Masonry, along with that of its disciples’ intelligence. I believe that he is not telling us that Masonry is successful because it has intelligent members, but rather that Masonry will be successful if it has intelligent disciples. But what does it mean to be intelligent in Masonry? This is not a statement on our base intellect, or regarding our learned knowledge of the profane world, but rather our knowledge of Masonry. Our Lodges will have intelligent members if our Lodges provide Masonic education. Moreover, our members will be educated and intelligent in Masonry if they take advantage of the educational opportunities which are offered. This is what is required of us as Masons for the “ultimate success” that Brother Mackey spoke of to take place.
The question then arises how we can educate our members in light of the crisis we are facing. Many Lodges of various Grand Jurisdictions have found creative solutions around this issue. If we cannot meet and educate our members in person, then why not use whatever other means are available at our disposal? We must not become complacent, and we must continue to engage our members, even when we cannot physically meet. Masonic education, like practicing Masonry itself, is a life-long journey. Our studies of the Craft do not end once we pass our proficiency after the Master Mason’s Degree. Nor does it end once we have “cleared the East.” Masonic education, therefore, is as relevant to the newly initiated Entered Apprentice, as it is to the holder of your Lodge’s Fidelity Medal. We must continue to learn and improve ourselves in Masonry, and through our continued studies and observation of our Craft, we may play a part in leaving Masonry in a better place than it was when we found it.
One of the key teachings of Freemasonry that always resonates with me is the concept of diffusion of light. As Freemasons, we are encouraged to improve ourselves in Masonry so that we may diffuse light to all of our surroundings. During this time when the world seems, at least in part, so very dark, we can seize the opportunity to study Masonry, both in our Lodges, and on our own.
Thankfully, we are not alone in our studies. We are united in our Mystic Tie, and there are many resources available to assist us in our contemplations of our Sacred Mysteries! We mustn’t allow our current situation to hinder us in our journey, and we must strive onward in our studies and practice of Masonry. Be it through reading books on our Craft, speaking with well-informed Brethren, or attending virtual communications and Masonic conferences, we should always know that there are various resources available to aid us in our studies. Together, we can approach our Masonic education with a seriousness of purpose, and bring Brother Mackey’s vision of the “Ultimate Success” of Masonry into reality.
Worshipful Brother Bressman is a Past Master of La France Lodge No. 93 and a member of several Lodges under the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. He is currently the Chairman of his Grand Lodge’s Hospitality Committee, and also serves on the Grand Lodge’s Research Lodge Exploratory Committee and Education & Service Committee. In addition to his service within the Blue Lodge, Worshipful Brother Bressman is active in the York Rite, where he is the current High Priest, Deputy Master, and Commander of his respective Royal Arch Chapter, Cryptic Council, and Knight Templar Commandery. Worshipful Brother Bressman is a 32° KCCH in the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction, and is a member of several invitational Masonic bodies.
Cover Image Courtesy of Marcus Spiske @ Unsplash