I’m sure many have seen it. The excitement in a Lodge when there’s a new petition, the thought of another joining our ranks, and before you know it we have another Master Mason standing next the the Master of the Lodge – often at the bare minimum time frame to complete the journey.
Now, before we go too far I know that there are some instances where this is a case of necessity, a young man in service to his country and wanting to complete his degree work before leaving. Beyond that I’m not sure there’s another reason to rush, I myself finished my degrees rather quickly and looking back on it I wish the process had been slower and involved more – hindsight is always 20/20.
Freemasonry often ties its roots the the Stonemason Guilds of medieval Europe and I often find myself asking why if that’s the case do we rush things and not require more of the candidate? In medieval times an apprentice served up to seven years (depending on the guild) and had to understand the basics of his craft before he moved on to become a Journeyman.
A Journeyman then had to produce a piece of work to prove his skill. This work was then examined by his Master to be sure it demonstrated a level of skill equivalent to a Master of the Craft.
It seems as though in our world of instant gratification and next day shipping we’ve forgotten where we’ve come from and the lesson of patience.
When was the last time you saw anyone sit down with a candidate to see if they had any understanding of what they went through? Did anyone go back over the events of the degree with them? Has anyone taken the time answer the questions they may have?
How often have you seen it where a candidate is told the night of his next degree before he has even opened his lesson book?
We need to slow down. We need to take the time to build Master Masons.
When we receive a knock on the door we need to see who’s there and get to know them. We need to understand why they knocked and then we need to answer the questions they have, but it shouldn’t stop there. We need to look at every step of the process of becoming a Master Mason the same way.
You need to ask the candidate, do they wish to continue? Why? Do they have questions about the degree they just participated in? We need to set aside the lesson book for a while and have the conversation with them to make sure they understand things. If you personally don’t have an answer for them ask someone else – a chance for everyone to learn!
While you may not be able to make it a requirement in your Lodge, encourage the candidate to write up something of what they’ve learned or how the experience has changed them. If they’re up to it, have them share it with the Lodge or at the very least with their mentor so it can be discussed and deepen their knowledge and their tie to the Lodge.
Will there be some that want to rush to get to Master Mason? Sure there will and by no means should you stop them, not everyone’s path is the same. It may take them years to circle back and start their journey of learning but if you offer it every time, to every candidate, they, you, your Lodge, and the Fraternity will be stronger for it.