Examining the negativity behind the phrase “Living out our Masonic obligations”

March 26, 2017 at 12:57 pm

On March 25th, 2017, the Grand Lodge of Ohio conducted Grand Master’s One Day Classes throughout Ohio. Members of J. B. Covert attended the 6th and 1st Masonic District’s join class at the Cincinnati Masonic Center. The degree work was impressive, the fellowship fantastic, and three Brothers were welcomed into our lodge. In that process the phrase “Living out our Masonic Obligations” was mentioned a few times, couple that with hearing all 3 obligations during 5 hours of intense ritual presentations and as I awoke the following morning that phrase was still rolling around in my head.

Obligation: 1. an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment 2. the condition of being morally or legally bound to do something, 3. a debt of gratitude for a service or favor.

When looking at the definition above I can see where the phrase does seem a bit negative, but what you don’t see in that definition is the impact on yourself mentally and physically of living a life where you try to fulfill your Masonic Obligations. Let’s consider just our obligations of relief and charity.

On the simplest level, it would appear that these two obligations are the core of our commitments to each other, and for a lot of Masons this is what really appeals to them. So, what happens?

  1.  Helping others can trigger a chemical reaction in the brain and give what some psychologists call a “helper’s high”
  2.  When you help others- particularly people you know or are connected to- you feel an enhanced sense of social connectedness that helps to increase your self confidence
  3.  Helping someone you know or are connected to will also build that fraternal bond between you both
  4.  Having a positive impact on someone may also change your outlook and can ultimately help you become more optimistic
  5.  Volunteering for a cause can help you feel a stronger sense of purpose in your own life
  6.  Volunteering and laboring with other Masons will increase your connectedness to your Brothers
  7.  Giving back to others can also help you find inner peace and lower stress
  8.  Your action of giving or volunteering will motivate others and together you’ll change someone’s world while improving your own.

Without divulging anything “secret” we all know that we also refer, ever so briefly, to our obligation as an oath as well.

Oath: 1. a solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness, regarding one’s future action or behavior.

I find the definition of oath to be a bit more positive than its counterpart. We all took the same oath! Consider what the impact of living that oath daily has on each of us mentally and physically; especially when we consider that the oath we took is a reciprocal relationship.

When I was a kid I was taught that when you point at someone most of your own fingers are pointing back at you. The concept being whatever you are saying about someone else you’re saying it more about yourself than them.Pointing fingers

When I consider this in regards to our shared oath I believe the same is true. The more I do for Brother Masons the more they do for me, the more I expect Brother Masons to do to help or support me the more I am expected to help and support my Brother Masons.

Proverbs 11:25 says: A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Here’s the funny thing though, the reciprocal expectations are self-generated. There is no yin-yang or balance sheet in Masonry, other than what’s in your heart and conscience. If you’re living your oath daily the voice from within will be a louder more positive and affirming message than any note from the secretary or email from the Lodge. Have you heard that voice and done what it asked of you lately?

If you’ve silenced that voice or have become so adept at ignoring it perhaps it’s time to come to a degree night and hear an oath again. We’ll be right where we were the last time you knelt at the altar, standing beside you and glad you’re there.

Join us on April 1st for the conferral of 2 Fellow Crafts or on May 2nd for the conferral of the Entered Apprentice Degree.