The Mother-Lodge

The Mother-Lodge

A Masonic Poem By: Rudyard Kipling 

 There was Rundle, Station Master,
An’ Beazeley of the Rail,
An’ ‘Ackman, Commissariat,
An’ Donkin’ o’ the Jail;
An’ Blake, Conductor-Sargent…
Our Master twice was ‘e,
With ‘im that kept the Europe-shop,
Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside — “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
Inside — “Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ‘arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

We’d Bola Nath, Accountant,
An’ Saul the Aden Jew,
An’ Din Mohammed, draughtsman
Of the Survey Office, too;
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
An’ Amir Singh the Sikh,
An’ Castro from the fittin’-sheds,
The Roman Catholick!

We ‘adn’t good regalia,
An’ our Lodge was old an’ bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
An’ we kep’ ’em to a hair;
An’ lookin’ on it backwards
It often strikes me thus,
There ain’t such things as infidels,
Excep’, per’aps, it’s us.

For monthly, after Labour,
We’d all sit down and smoke
(We dursn’t give no banquits,
Lest a Brother’s caste were broke),
An’ man on man got talkin’
Religion an’ the rest,
An’ every man comparin’
Of the God ‘e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin’,
An’ not a Brother stirred
Till mornin’ waked the parrots
An’ that dam’ brain-fever-bird;
We’d say ’twas ‘ighly curious,
An’ we’d all ride ‘ome to bed,
With Mo’ammed, God, an’ Shiva
Changin’ pickets in our ‘ead.

Full oft on Guv’ment service
This rovin’ foot ‘ath pressed,
An’ bore fraternal greetin’s
To the Lodges east an’ west,
Accordin’ as commanded
From Kohat to Singapore,
But I wish that I might see them
In my Mother-Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,
My Brethren black an’ brown,
With the trichies smellin’ pleasant
An’ the hog-darn passin’ down;
An’ the old khansamah snorin’
On the bottle-khana floor,
Like a Master in good standing
With my Mother-Lodge once more!

Outside — “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
Inside — “Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ‘arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!


Bro. Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English author and poet. Born in Bombay, British India (now Mumbai), he is best known for his works of fiction The Jungle Book (1894) (a collection of stories which includes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King (1888); and his poems, including Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), and If— (1910). He is regarded as a major “innovator in the art of the short story”; his children’s books are enduring classics of children’s literature; and his best works speak to a versatile and luminous narrative gift. Kipling was one of the most popular writers in English, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was also a very active in Freemasonry.



In “Something of Myself” Kipling writes:

“In 1885, I was made a Freemason by dispensation (being under age) in The Lodge of Hope and Perseverance #782 E.C. because the Lodge hoped for a good Secretary. They did not get him, but I helped, and got Father to advise me in decorating the bare walls of the Masonic Hall with hangings after the prescription of King Solomon’s Temple. Here I met Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, members of the Araya and Brahmo Samaj, and a Jewish Tyler, who was a priest and butcher to his little community in the city. So yet another world was opened to me which I needed.”

This explains the “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”  We get a little more detail in a letter Kipling wrote in the London Times, dated March 28, 1935:

“In reply to your letter I was Secretary for some years of the Lodge of Hope and Perseverance No. 782, English Constitution which included Brethren of at least four different creeds. I was entered by a member of the Brahmo Samaj (a Hindu), passed by a Mohammedan, and raised by an Englishman. Our Tyler was an Indian Jew. We met, of course, on the level and the only difference that anyone would notice was that at our banquets some of the Brethren, who were debarred by caste rules from eating food not ceremoniously prepared, sat over empty plates. I had the good fortune to be able to arrange a series of informal lectures by Brethren of various faiths, on baptismal ceremonies of their religions.”

Kipling also received the Mark Master degree in a Lahore Mark Lodge and affiliated with a Craft Lodge in Allahabad, Bengal (now Pakistan). Later, in England he affiliated as an honorary member of the Motherland Lodge, No. 3861 in London. He was also a member of the Authors Lodge, No. 3456, and a founder-member of the Lodge Builders of the Silent Cities, No. 4948, which was connected with the War Graves Commission and which was so named at Kipling’s suggestion. Another Masonic association was formed when he became Poet Laureate of the famous Canongate Kilwinning, No. 2 in Edinburgh, the Lodge of which Robert Burns is said to have served in the same office. Enquiry of Brattleboro Lodge, No. 102, in Vermont, discloses no record of Rudyard Kipling having visited during his residence in the community. Years later, however, he accepted a fellowship in the Philalethes Society, an organization of Masonic writers formed in the United States in 1928. The February 1963 issue of The Philalethes, a publication of this Society, recalls that, before the original list of forty Fellows was closed in 1932, Kipling was proposed as the fortieth Fellow. When the Secretary wrote to advise him that they wished to honour the author of My Mother Lodge, The Man Who Would Be King, Kim and other Masonic stories, Kipling accepted.

Disclaimer: I do not know who the original author of this learned biographical discourse was, as I have cobbled it together from a number of sources in print and on the web. However,  it is important to me that the readers understand I am not the original author. I have merely edited and formated the content for presentation purposes.





Most  significant sources —

  • Something of Myself, For My Friends Known and Unknown
    Rudyard Kipling: London, MacMillan and Company Limited, 1964.
  • Short Talk Bulletin Vol. XLII, October 1964 No.10

As Published in MunnLodge.ORG – eNews, 0902.2 (FEB#2), Special Edition, Volume 2009, No. 2

Freemasonry in Italy

Written by Giovanni Lombardo

Part 1 – From the beginnings up to 1805

italyModern Freemasonry was created in London in 1717, from there it spread in France, Holland and into the Germanic world. Each Grand Lodge adapted the general rules to its national features. In Italy the environment was quite different: Italy was not yet a State, being divided into smaller reigns, so a national Grand Lodge was missing. Italian Lodges were set up by foreign Grand Lodges, which patented them. The lodges were therefore under the influence of foreign Crafts. The political climate was also different from that of north-European countries. In England, for instance, Freemasonry was the liberal instrument to bring peace to the nation, which had faced a civil and religious war between Catholic and Protestants. Italy was instead in the domain of a harsh Counter-Reform, which hampered developing free consciences with any means, either brutal or underhanded. Italian Freemasonry was therefore forced to act clandestinely, because of the influence of the Holy See on the various States of the peninsula. This explains the anticlericalism in the Lodges and their becoming ‘the gathering place’ of nonconformists of every tendency: from deists and libertines to the most convinced champions of the political liberties and the democracy

The first lodge was set up in Florence in 1731 and seven years later on 28th April 1738 the Catholic Church published In Eminenti, the first papal bull against Freemasonry. The various Italian States refused to register it, however in Tuscany the situation was delicate: the Medici dynasty was just ended and the political power passed to Francis Stephen of Lorraine, brother-in-law of the Emperor and husband of Maria Teresa. In 1739 Cardinal Corsini, the nephew of Pope Clemens XII, personally asked the Duke to arrest the Freemasons and to hand them on the Inquisition’s tribunal. Only the poet Tommaso Crudeli was arrested. He was kept in jail for one year, in hard conditions that seriously weakened his health. He died in 1745. Other lodges were founded in Leghorn, in 1763 and 1765, patented by the Antients. The Moderns instead established two lodges in 1771.

On 27th December 1789 Vincenzo Balzamo arrived in Rome and tried to set up his lodge, which in his opinion would have been working in accordance with the Egyptian ritual (nowadays Memphis and Misraim). Cagliostro was arrested, excommunicated and put in jail in the fortress of Saint Leo, where he died in 1797.

In Turin, in 1744, a lodge probably existed. We surely know that 1749, in Chambery, was set up the Saint Jean des Trois Mortiers lodge, whose patent had been given by the Grand Lodge of London to the marquis François Noyel de Belleguarde. Other lodges were created afterward. In 1771 this lodge acquired even more importance, due to the quality of the Brethren and to their contacts with other high-rank Freemasons, all over Europe. Let us remind Sebastiano Giraud, a physician, Gabriele Asinari earl of Bernezzo and Giacomo Gamba della Perosa. They all were pupils of Martinez de Pasqually. In 1774 Dr. Giraud set up the Strict Observance – member of which was Joseph de Maistre. Some years later, in 1779, such Freemasonry converted itself into the Scottish Rectified Rite. In 1783 Vittorio Amedeo III banned Freemasonry from his reign.

In 1746 two Englishmen, John Murray and Joseph Smith set up a new lodge, with the Italian Brothers Giacomo Casanova, Francesco Griselini and Carlo Goldoni. Other Lodges followed in the forthcoming years. In 1772 Bro. Pietro Gratarol founded L’Union, patented by the Grand Lodge of London.

In Milan two Swiss citizens, Pierre George Madiott and a certain Moussard, founded the first Lodge around 1756. The abbot Pavesi, the monk Celestino Scalzi, the marquis Ottaviano Casnedi, earl Carlo Belgioso, doctor Vincenzo d’Adda, general Joseph Esterhazy and some officials of the Army were member of the Lodge. In 1776 another lodge was established in Cremona. Worshipful Master was count Pasquale Biffi, a close friend of Cesare Beccaria and of the Verri brothers. Other lodges were in Liguria: in Genua the Old British and Ligurian Lodge was patented by the Grand Lodge of London.

In 1751 pope Benedict XIV released the bull Providas Romanorum Pontificum, thus confirming the Freemasonry’s prohibition contained in the previous bull, In Eminenti. The publication of this new bull forced king Charles VII of Bourbon to ban Freemasonry from his reign. 

Neapolitan Freemasonry ‘slept’ till 1763. Charles VII was crowned king of Spain and his throne passed to his son Ferdinand IV, under the tutorship of Bernardo Tanucci. The Grand Lodge of Holland patented Les Zelés lodge, which was promoted Grand Provincial Lodge one year after. The Grand Lodge of London quarreled with its Dutch sister on the right to patent new lodges abroad. The dispute was won by London, whose daughter lodge, Perfect Union, was confirmed Grand Provincial Lodge in 1770. In 1775, however, the prince of Caramanico set up Lo Zelo lodge, claiming independence from any foreign Obedience.

In 1775 king Ferdinand IV forbade any Masonic activity. Some Associates were imprisoned, others exiled. In 1776 Diego Naselli was elected Grand Master of the Neapolitan Grand Lodge. Beside it, the English Provincial Grand Lodge survived. The difference between the two was quite clear: permeated by esotericism, often confining with extravagant fantasy, the former; more democratic, open to Enlightenment the latter. The French Revolution and the following reaction shall sweep both away.

Part 2 – From 1805 up to today

Grande Oriente d’Italia was founded in June of 1805 to Milan, and was set under the regency of Eugene Beauharnais. It was the epoch of the Napoleonic Freemasonry, more courtesan than loyalist and heavily neoclassic. With the fall of the French empire and of its Murat’s appendage in Naples, the Italian Freemasonry fell in a deep crisis. Some groups went on working under traditional principles, especially in Sicily, but this was not enough to assure the necessary cove rage to develop and to produce a sketch of essential unitary Freemasonry at the end of the ‘Risorgimento’.

The extreme precedent dispersion of the Masonic groups, combined to the formation of “secret societies” similar to the Freemasonry, but active on the political plain only, contributed to make difficult and hard-working the following Masonic reconstruction. The rudder of the rebirth was firmly grasped by the Loggia Ausonia denominated then “Mother Lodge” that, at the end of 1859, the Grande Oriente d’Italia reconstituted. In those years the anticlerical position of the Grande Oriente d’Italia became rather hard, above all for the Roman matter, for which the Lodges were lined up against the clergy in Rome.

In the 1867 Giuseppe Garibaldi wrote to the Supreme Council in Palermo: “Let’s make Freemasonry the Roman Bundle, so to act united in politics. We don’t yet have the material unity because the moral unity misses us. Let Freemasonry do this, and that immediately will be done”.

In 1870, thanks also to the active share of the vertexes of the Craft, then held up by the regent Giuseppe Mazzoni (1808-1889), the Italian Army conquered Rome.

The polemic tones with the Church became sour. In 1884, when the Pope released the encyclical Humanum Genus, Freemasonry’s house-organ heavily scoffed the Au thor, pope Leone XIII.

The most important year of the Italian Masonic history of beginning XX century was 1908, when a schism occurred in June. The Parliament he was intensely dealing with a motion formalized by Leonida Bissolati, against the proposal of law for the prohibi¬tion of the religious teaching in the elementary schools. Despite the appeals and the declarations of tolerance pronounced in the circumstance by the Grande Oriente d’Italia, many free masons members of Parliament voted against such motion, being thus blamed by Grand Master Ettore Ferrari. Those Brethren then set up a new Masonic body, called Gran Loggia d’Italia of “Piazza del Gesù”, which is still active today, although as co-masonic order.

At the beginning of the First World War, Freemasonry was openly in favor of the war against the Absburgic Empire, either for ideological reasons – Austria was a Catholic country – or to complete the national independence, by annexing Trent and Trieste.

The merit gained throughout the war did not spare Freemasonry from the hate of Fascism. In February 1923 the Gran Consiglio del Fascismo declared the incompatibility between Masonic affiliation and adherence to the Fascist Party. A wave of violence immediately repressed about 400 Italian Lodges, scattering 20.000 Associates.

Mussolini’s politics gained the benevolence of the Roman Catholic Church, flattening the road toward the Laterano’s Agreements. Subsequently many Freemasons were dismissed from public offices, imprisoned or confined.

At the end of 1926 the Grand Master Domizio Torreggiani loosened all the Italian Lodges. The ‘Tribunale Speciale’ (the Fascist Special Court) then condemned him to the confinement of police. When he became blind he was allowed to come back home where he died in 1932. Sporadic groups survived covertly. They persevered in meeting as and where they were able, to preserve the ‘light’.

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, the rebirth of the Italian Freemasonry was characterized by a phantasmagoria of groups seeking after foreign recognitions so to certify their regularity. Most of the regular Grand Lodges progressively recognized the Grande Oriente d’Italia; the American Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite recognized the Rite at the obedience of Grande Oriente d’Italia.

In 1972 the Grand Master Lino Salvini achieved a double, huge success: the reunion with Gran Loggia d’Italia, Piazza del Gesù and the exchange of Grand Representati ves with UGLE, after 110 years.

At the beginning of 1981 went off the scandal of Loggia P2. Both magistrates and Parliament inquired high-rank civil servants charged of conspiracy against the State. “Much ado about nothing” since Freemasonry was discharged by any accusation, the clamor was however such to produce a great number of defections, that brought to the break-up of several Lodges and the weakening of the others. Grand Master Armando Corona (1982 – 1990), worked hard to recoup the prestige of the Craft, shunning the Brethren who had kept an antimasonic behavior.

In 1993 a tremendous episode broke the routine life of Grande Oriente d’Italia. The Grand Master Giu liano Di Bernardo resigned and abandoned his house in the new centre of the Grande Oriente d’Italia, taking away various documents. He motivated his initiative with presumed conspira¬cies against the laws of the State affected by nonexistent covered Lodges, and denouncing false irregularities allegedly committed by some Lodges. Immediately before going out of Grande Oriente d’Italia  with few hundred followers he set up the Gran Loggia Regolare d’Italia, which was recognized by UGLE, as quickly as inexplicably. 

The scandal was enormous, the Magistrates inquired; the inquiry lasted ten years but nobody has been ever charged of any crime whatever.

For sake of truth, it must clearly stated that most of the scandals which happened have been artificially alimented by left-wing political parties that considered Freemasonry ‘enemy of class’ that (allegedly) hampered the democratic life of the country, acting as a ‘secret society’. To charge Freemasonry of being a ‘secret society’ is today ridiculous, since the addresses and telephone number of the various Masonic houses are published in phone-directories.

Today the Craft counts around 18000 members in over 600 Lodges and has fraternal relations with over 200 foreign Communions in the five continents.

Masonic Conduct

The conduct of every member of the fraternity, as well as those publications that discover the principles which actuate them, may tend to convince mankind that the grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race.”

~Bro. George Washington


Foreword by: Bro. Joe Negron
 Webmaster, Munn Lodge ~ NYC

 The following (Short Talk Bulletin: STB-86-06) article was originally published in June of 1986, before I even graduated from High School. Oddly enough,  I remember the first time I saw it. I don’t remember exactly how or why but for some reason I was in a Masonic Lodge in my home town of Perth Amboy, NJ — a small town, twenty-something miles from Manhattan and less than 1-mile out of the southern-most Borough of NYC. I was waiting for my friend Anthony who was picking something up from the Mayor of Perth Amboy, I think Tony’s mom worked for him. In any case, I had the luxury of seeing the inside of our Masonic Hall and boy was I impressed… The atmosphere, architecture, ambiance, men walking around in tuxedos, and for me, the most important thing: the bar & pool table… (I mentioned I was 17, right?) — I didn’t know too much about the Masons. I had read a little about some of the Freemasons in American History. They had a huge portrait of George Washington on the wall, like the one above. Then there was Ben Franklin, another one of my idols; I had just finished reading his autobiography. And then there were a whole bunch of other old men (in tuxes & top-hats) that I didn’t know. 

Right behind the pool table were twin stairways with a signs that read “Members Only Beyond This Point”, but I didn’t think too much of it, at the time. There were portraits going all the way up to the mezzanine. Well as fate would have it, This little blue pamphlet was laying on the coffee table right, next to where I was sitting. Someone must have accidentally left it behind. I picked it up & read it to help pass the time. I remember after reading it I didn’t know what half of it meant. But I remember saying: “Wow, I want to be like that!”  When the Mayor came out, I asked him about it & how I could join this club? My friend gave me a look — like I had breached the protocol, talking directly to the mayor. He said something like “Joe!!! Uncle George, err, Mr. Mayor, err, Sir.. Your Honor… Please forgive my friend…” The mayor laughed & said, “don’t worry, come back in a few years — we’ll make sure both you boys get in…”

Fast Forward 20+ years: The Masonic Hall in Perth Amboy, NJ is no longer there. The building is, but now it’s an office or something. At the time of this writing, the one in the next town over, South Amboy, has got a “For Sale” sign in front of it. For that matter, I’m not sure where are any in Middlesex County. If I wanted to go to a Lodge any where near there, I think I’d have to go to Union County. [I’m gonna hafta look that up…]

Right now, I write articles and publish web logs (blogs) to spread the message, and maybe inspire other young men.  I’m proud to be a Freemason and amazed at how something comes full circle some 20 years later… Now I have the luxury of sharing this article with some young man who may end up joining our lodge, or yours… Or maybe even someone who can help me restore the Perth Amboy or South Amboy lodges and Masonic Halls to their former grandeur and magnificence… Who knows what someone influenced by MY writings will do for The Fraternity in another 20 years — or 200.

What do you do to help grow The Fraternity & “the Happiness of the Human Race?”

What have you done?    What will you do?     What will be done?


[Please feel free to add your comments at the end]



This Short Talk Bulletin has been adapted from a paper of the same title prepared by the Committee on Masonic Research and Education of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota.
It has been said that the purpose of Freemasonry is the pursuit of excellence. All of the teachings of Masonry are directed to excellence in performing our duties to God, our country, our neighbors and ourselves. The continuing effort to improve oneself is the true mark of a Mason. This principle was stated well by Grand Master Donald J. Flood at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. 

“We must constantly remember that in every moment of our life – in public – at work – at pleasure – with our families – even when you are alone – You are a Mason!

     The non-Masons who know us will judge each of US, and Masonry itself, by the way in which we conduct ourselves. We have in trust the reputation of Masonry. Let us not betray that trust! Masonry will flourish if we follow these precepts.
Before we can expect to attract good men to the fraternity by our conduct and reputation in public, we must learn to conduct ourselves with propriety in the Lodge. One of our first duties shall be loyalty to the fraternity and obedience to its laws. This is a fundamental requirement.
     Propriety is not the result of law, but rather of tradition, custom and usage. Like good manners, it has behind it only the force of opinion.  While there (may be) no penalties for breaches, there are tangible rewards for observance of the rules and ceremonies of good manners!” 
An ancient philosopher advised “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  This also applies to your actions when you are visiting another Lodge, particularly in other states or countries.  While the principles and ideals of Masonry are universal, social customs and Masonic traditions and laws differ from place to place. For example, all Masonic Lodges open with a prayer and it is not surprising that the words of the prayer may vary from place to place. When we go to other states in our country we find that the attitude of prayer is not the same everywhere and in other countries the name of Deity may even be different. Likewise we find that the customs concerning such things as the proper way to address a Brother or a Lodge officer, the appropriate dress for a lodge meeting, proper topics of conversation, and even the working tools and the Grand Masonic Word change as we go around the world. But wherever you may be, you can be sure that respect and honesty toward Masons and Masonry, as taught by the square and com-pass, will be the fundamental guide for your conduct.

In this paper we will discuss the principles, traditions and ideals that should guide our conduct as Masons. This paper does not present a list of Masonic do’s and don’ts. Such an attempt would fail for at least two reasons: first, no one would read it, and second, as Masons, each of us is expected to apply the tools and principles of our Craft to our own lives.
One of the most interesting experiences in Masonry is to visit a Lodge in another Grand Jurisdiction. Whether it is in a foreign country or just in another state, there will be interesting and surprising differences. But, a word of caution, you must comply with the laws and customs of the Masonic Jurisdiction in which you are traveling! Therefore, before you visit, find out what to expect. The List of Lodges Masonic, found in every Lodge, give the names and locations of all the Lodges in the world that are recognized by the Grand Lodge. Since there are clandestine Lodges, it is essential that this book be consulted. Finally, if you are in a foreign country, you should consult the Grand Lodge office in that country.
In the United States and Canada, a current dues card is required as proof of membership.  However, there are countries where a dues card will not be accepted. In these cases a letter of introduction from your Grand Lodge is necessary.

Concerning appropriate dress: a dark business suit is often acceptable for a Lodge meeting. But, in some Grand Jurisdictions, formal dress is required even for side-liners. Outside of North America you will usually be expected to have your own apron, so carry it with you.  Regarding Masonic pins, rings, etc., these are often worn only within the Lodge. Some Grand Lodges even have rules that prohibit wearing these in public. And then there are countries which have outlawed Freemasonry. It is not prudent to even carry a pin into those countries.

Law Suits Between Masons – While this is not an area of strict Masonic regulation, it is a subject addressed by ritual, traditions and Masonic law. Our ritual states that “no contention should ever exist” between Master Masons. Tradition has interpreted this to include the subject of law suits, requiring that Brothers make every at-tempt to resolve such differences without recourse to the courts.

Business Advertisements and Contacts – The general rule in these matters is that you should not seek financial benefit from your Masonic membership. To do otherwise is considered to be in poor taste at the best and unmasonic or even criminal at the worst. Lodge membership lists cannot be used for business mailings. Masonic membership cannot be used in a commercial or political advertisement or sign. The square and compasses cannot be used for any commercial purpose, as a symbol or a design. This point has been tested in the courts and Masonry has the exclusive use of this emblem.

Respect – Every person has a basic need for both self-respect and the respect of others. When our friends show, by word or deed, that they hold us in low regard, we may react as strongly as if we were threatened. On the other side, we would do almost anything for a person who holds us in high esteem. Thus, respect is both the least honor that we require and the highest honor that we can hope for in our dealings with our fellow men.
The term “respect” includes courtesy, tolerance, kindness, sympathy, prudence, temperance, and a host of other concepts that refer to our relationships with people. It encompasses our words, our actions, our appearance and even our thoughts. Inside the Lodge and outside of it, we should strive to demonstrate in every way our respect for a Brother’s honor, feelings, efforts, hopes and any other part of his life that we may contact.

While conduct within the Lodge is the concern of all Masons, it is especially important for the officers of the Lodge. Once again we quote from Brother Flood’s comments: 
“We can’t expect our Brothers to know these principles if we don’t teach them and practice them. This is Masonic education in its finest sense. It is not from the lack of desire to learn that the Craft suffers, but rather from the lack of instruction.
     Masonry does not exist for the mechanics of ritual alone. Just as important is the learning, interpretation and exemplification of that ritual and of the basic principles of our Order. Equally important, too, for the candidate and for every member is the need to fully understand these principles, as well as our responsibilities as Masons.
What is required of every single one of us is the dedicated and devoted application of the high moral principles of Masonry. By these simple methods, we develop the character that guarantees our own self-improvement and discharges the duties of God, our country, our neighbors and ourselves.” 

Since officers set the example for the whole Craft, before seeking or accepting a line position a man should be certain that he is willing to demonstrate the highest standards.

Dress – In many Jurisdictions there is no mandatory dress code, but this does not mean that we should disregard our appearance. Al-though as Masons “We regard no man for his worldly wealth . . . . “, human society everywhere considers a man’s outward appearance to reflect his inner self and attitudes.  Your manner of dress reflects the respect that you have for the dignity of Masonry, its work, its goals, and its members. At all times your apparel should be appropriate for the occasion and those attending, remembering that the altar of Masonry is the altar of God. Thus the clothes you would wear for a golf tournament or a degree in an underground mine may not be appropriate for work done in the Lodge quarters. 

At Tyled Meetings – At the sound of the gavel in the East, the officers and brethren take their places and the Lodge comes to order. This means that everyone is seated unless called up by the Worshipful Master or unless rising to ad-dress the Worshipful Master. In most introductions all speaking is directed to the East.  Therefore it is improper for two Brothers to speak to each other during an open discussion, unless directed by the Worshipful Master, and it is never proper for two Brothers to hold a private conversation (whispered or otherwise) in a Lodge at labor.
Each candidate at each degree is instructed in the proper way to salute. He is also told that he should salute when rising to address the Worshipful Master and when entering or retiring from a Lodge while it is at labor. These instructions remain in effect even after we have completed our degrees. Always rise when speaking, even if you are only giving a second to a motion.  Give salutes that are accurate and precise. A sloppy salute is actually a sign of disrespect!  Finally, when referring to a Brother or when ad-dressing him, courtesy requires that we use the term “Brother” followed by his last name. Of course, “Worshipful Brother Jones,” “Right Worshipful Brother Smith,” or “Most Worshipful Brother Flood” are also proper forms.
The proper way to enter or retire from a Lodge is not always clear to new Masons. When entering or leaving a Lodge at labor, the proper place to stand, while giving the salute, is at the west of the altar. Not at at the door or at your seat. The salute is normally given to the East, but the Worshipful Master may direct these salutes to be given to the Senior Warden. Of course, everyone should enter through the Tyler’s door. The preparation room door is for candidates only. Every member guards that door, and the ballot is the key that locks or unlocks it.
There are probably no other topics of discussion that have caused as much ill will, alienation and contention as have politics and religion. In the interest of harmony among Brothers, it is considered unmasonic to introduce any religious, political, or other divisive topic into a Masonic discussion.
A final word for the officers of the lodge.  The flag of our country and the Great Light of Masonry merit our utmost respect, both in their care and their handling. The Bible should be handled with reverence and care, the flag should be treated with honor and should fly freely when being carried. The other jewels, furniture, and regalia should be cared for and kept in good repair to demonstrate the high regard we hold for our Craft and its work.

During Degrees – One of the most solemn and meaningful events in a Mason’s life is the time of his raising. Yet we often see this degree marred by laughter and inappropriate comments. The Grand Lodge of Arizona requires the following to be read at the beginning of the second section of the Master Mason degree:
“My Brethren:
     A candidate is about to be raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. The Lodge room will be used as a stage to enact a drama which, symbolically unfolds the great lesson of the immortality of the soul.
     To properly impress the candidate with the seriousness of this ceremony, there must be no talking, whispering, laughing or other commotion during the conferring of the degree. Bear in mind the fact the Temple, for this portion of the degree, is supposed to be silent and unoccupied.
     Only the participants in the drama are to speak, and they are instructed to make no facial expressions, gestures or other unusual deliveries which might induce levity. The cooperation of each one here present is EXPECTED.
     An adherence to these instructions will help serve as an impressive climax to the candidate’s progress in Freemasonry and this section of the degrees could well be one of the richest experiences of his life.”

The principles contained in this statement are equally appropriate for all degree work, lectures, preparations and gatherings connected with the degrees. Nowhere does Masonry give any man license to take liberties with another. Comments that are intended to arouse a candidate’s concern for his personal dignity or safety are among the most discourteous acts that can be inflicted upon a candidate. Such actions are a gross misrepresentation of the Craft and are disrespectful to all of its members.

There is one form of disruption of degree work which comes from the best of intentions – side-line prompting. How often have we seen a forgotten word, or even a dramatic pause, produce an uproar as a number of concerned Brothers attempt to help the speaker. Prompting should be done only by the Worshipful Master or the one designated by him. The Masonic virtues of silence and circumspection are nowhere more appropriate than in this situation. 

The perfect points of our entrance, as reflected in the four cardinal virtues of temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice, provide us with a complete guide for truly Masonic action. It behooves each of us to periodically evaluate ourselves against these four standards, to see where we have those rough corners to which the common gavel can profitably be applied.

Am I temperate in my relations with others, or have I been excessive in my actions toward someone? Have I displayed fortitude in pursuing the excellence I can achieve, or have I chosen to do as everyone else does? Do I direct myself wisely and prudently, or do I sometimes go beyond the bounds of courtesy and good taste?  Have I given to each Brother, candidate, friend, and associate the consideration, help, and respect which they justly deserve, or have I let my own pride, comfort, and desires blind me to their needs?

These are the standards of Masonry. It is not easy to apply them to ourselves. But then, being a master of any craft is never easy, and being the Master of oneself is perhaps the most difficult of all.

Short Talk Bulletin 86-06 As published   by: Bro. Joe Negron of  Munn Lodge NYC