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The Entered Apprentice ...revisited

© Bro. Jean-Michel David, PM


'A Good man be… and good for goodness's sake alone…

Ye who seek the solace of our ancient brotherhood, know that its mysteries are one: Use the tools by which to better yourself, unveil with understanding the allegories of the Good, & illumine its symbols…

Man, … Know Thy Self, … that the dross which may abide be discarded, that the light which dwells within brighten, that its cup overflow.'

'But how am I', the candidate may well ask, 'able to better myself — I am no Saint, nor an angel descended!?!'

The first lesson is in the preparation of the candidate.

Be humble, for humility recognises the good in others, and seeks not to elevate itself above what it is.

Before entering the Lodge, the candidate was prepared: in humble clothes attired, his right heel slipshod, that he may remove his humble sandal & step barefoot on the sacred ground he approaches, his left breast made bare, that his heart be exposed for all to see, his right arm and left knee bared, that he kneel at the altar and extand his arm towards the sacred volume.

Humble in attire, for his clothes also imprint upon the mind the idea of one who has travelled far, his clothes torn & his sandals broken from the long journey in search of the Greater Light…

& yet, despite the long travel, the candidate still finds himself in darkness!

What must he do to reach that Light?

The second lesson is that he must be willing to trust.

He cannot see the way, but must be lead, taken by the hand, his steps guided through unknown paths.

When a seeker is properly prepared, one shall come who shall guide him!

Before he can be admitted, he must desire, must feel moved, to seek advancement: Do you feel anything?!

Trust.

'In whom do you place thy trust, O seeker of Light?'
'In God, before whom all are humble.'

The aspirant becomes a good man through humility & trust.

Yet the candidate is given greater direction than simply these two lessons, though great they be — for, after having taken the obligation of an Entered Apprentice Freemason, which he swears, as a man of honour, to keep, he seals such with his own lips on the Volume of the Sacred Law – a text he has previously professed to hold sacred!

'You — believer in a Supreme Being, have knelt on your naked left knee, & have placed the hand which extends from your naked right arm on the pages of the Volume of the Sacred Law, whilst your slipshod foot showed your rectitude, & a point from a pair of compasses pointed deep within your heart — In that position you swore, & made it binding for life by sealing your oath with your lips…'

Can you be anything but a wilfully perjured individual if you cannot even keep such a vow?

The third lesson: — the worst that a mason can become is a wilfully perjured individual, void of all moral worth — one who has moved away from the living path of the Good.

Thus, having come as a humble person seeking admittance, having trusted the  process of admission, the candidate is now the one who has trust placed on his head — he was able — & required — to place trust in those who have gone before him — they must now trust him.

A good man — a righteous and upright man — must be humble, trust others, & be able to be trusted.

'Seeker of Light, now that the blessing of material light has been restored, see that which Freemasons call the 3 great emblematical lights.

'Let your faith not meander from place to place, but be governed by the Volume of the Sacred Law, let your actions follow the path of rectitude, & keep within due bounds of mankind!'

Before the newly made brother has even been shown the tools with which he is to work, he is told that his faith, actions and social relationships are to be lit, or guided, by the 3 great emblems.

The fourth lesson: your faith, relations & acts — your thinking, feeling and willing life — all contribute to the ultimate good — that of being a Good Man.

The lesser lights are the fifth lesson:

'Let not thy surroundings be marred by filth nor ugliness, but adorn them with Beauty, let not weakness affect thy resolve, but be as a pillar of strength, & let not stupidity nor idiocy dominate, but prudence & wisdom!

'A good man be — & good for goodness's sake alone.
'Be humble, willing to trust, and trustworthy.
'Have faith, act uprightly, & keep within due bounds of humanity.
'Adorn with beauty, with strength, & with wisdom'

Now the candidate may wear the apron.

'Having stepped upon the path, let not guilt clothe thee, but henceforth innocence. Its badge is honourable, for never can innocence disgrace the wearer'

Though the apron is a badge — a symbol — of innocence, it is a symbol which the new brother is now entitled to wear. Yet, the symbol can only truly be worn if the wearer maintains that which it symbolises.

The sixth lesson: — maintain innocence.

'& lest thou deem that thou have transcended the needs of the first lesson, again feel humble, and let your charitable dispositions be awakened:

'Have you anything to give?'

Having being deprived of all money and metallic substances of value, the brother has naught to give but to sacrifice any false pride that may reside in his breast and give his greatest gift: — give of himself!

'Verily, you give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.'

[Adapted from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet]

The seventh lesson: — Charity — Love — which St Paul mentions as the greatest of the Virtues — begins by giving of yourself. [Cf 1 Cor.:13]

'A good man be — & good for goodness's sake alone.
'Be humble, willing to trust, and trustworthy.
'Have faith, act uprightly, & keep within due bounds of humanity.
'Adorn with beauty, with strength, & with wisdom'
'Maintain thy innocence, & give by giving of yourself
'… a good man be.'

Just a minor task!

'But how shall I do this which may, for you, be minor, but is for me a task whose parts are burdens not yet carried?'
'O candidate, brother amongst masons, you have been given three tools with which to work your apprenticeship — do not, therefore, despair…

'Begin by everyday using an inch to pray to God, and inch to work & rest, an inch to serve a friend — thereafter lengthen these — but each day pray, each day labour, & each day serve.'

If every mason spent part of each & every day in prayer, what revelations of understanding and wisdom would occur!
If every mason spent part of each & every day in labour, what structures would be built!
If every mason spent part of each & every day in serving a friend or brother, what works of charity would truly be accomplished!

The request is not a burden unbearable: — even at this time, there is enough left of today for advancement in masonic knowledge to be made, — for some time to be spent in prayer, some time in labour, some time in refreshment, & some time spent in giving a helping hand to a brother or friend.

The second tool:

'As each day flies, O brother amongst masons, let your conscience be as a gavel, that all superfluous excrescences be knocked broken, that all unbecoming — that all vain — thoughts, obtrude not your words & acts!'

As Conscience guides our thoughts, which in turn guides our actions, it becomes our greatest ally. It becomes the great guide by which we divide the 24 hours of the day, that they be used in accordance with our given constitution and the requirements of a good life – it is the guide which assists us in renewing our minds so that it assists in the internal transformation in each of us, that we may begin to discern for ourselves the Good. [Cf Romans:12]

And the third tool:

'As the chisel further smoothes & prepares the stone for the great work it is destined to do, so too does it point out that education will smooth & render a brother fit for a worthy place in society.'

We have each received some education, acquired some knowledge, developed some skills, which we are now called upon to use — to apply — for the well-being of society, for without these skills, this knowledge, this education, being applied by each & every one of us, society cannot be well functioning.

'O aspirant of the Good, divide your day, let conscience guide, & apply that which you know, that a good man in an enlightened and graced society be the result.'

& if this results, what would be its benefit?

A good man be — & good for goodness's sake alone. Thy Self the better you will know, &  therein humility & faith abide.

The Pillar Of Cloud, by Cardinal Newman, begins:

Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, & I am far from home,
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet: I do not ask to see
the distant scene —

One step enough for me!

'O brother amongst masons, you have taken the first step in freemasonry, before the second is taken, begin to apply the lessons of the first.'

The first step:

A Good man be — for goodness's sake alone…


My appreciation and warm thanks to Wor. Bro. Rev. Neville Anderson, Bro. Rodney Campbell, and, not least, to my mentor, Wor. Bro. Mal Watson, PSGD, for their feedback [these grades were correct at the time of first writing].

most recent minor revisions: September 2004
(November 1992, Lodge Orana, n°836) Jean-Michel David


notes:
Music sheet for Organist
VSL, Square, Compasses on Eastern Pedastal


Notes for Organist:

If possible, I would like some Music to open the talk, again towards the end accompany Newman’s familiar verse, and a third time to close the talk with some music – all the same tune, lentissimo and quite low volume

• To open, tune for ‘Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see’ volume > decrescendo


Near end of paper, I quote (and will speak) the first verse of Newman’s ‘Pillar of Cloud’. Music (has to be quite low for the words to be heard) accompanies each line, except the last

This is what I shall say:

and if this results, what would be its benefit?
A good man be — and good for goodness's sake alone. Thy Self the better you will know, and therein humility and faith abide.
The Pillar Of Cloud, by Cardinal Newman, begins:

• Begin music

Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, & I am far from home,
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet: I do not ask to see
the distant scene —

• Stop music

One step enough for me!

Now play tune to last line, to echo and carry it through

I then resume for 2 paragraphs, ending with:

The 1st step: a good man be, for goodness’s sake alone...


• As I pack up, play from ‘Keep thou my feet’ till end...

And thanks so much for the music – it enriches our rituals and meetings generally.

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