What Freemasonry Means To Me
The Reverend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, 33°
I recently received a letter in which the writer asked: “Why are you a Freemason?” The question caused me to think and reaffirm my feelings about Masonry.
At first, I thought about my own forebears. My grandfather was a Mason for 50 years, my father for 50 years, and I have been a Mason for 60 years. This means that my tie with Freemasonry extends back to 1869 when my grandfather joined the Masons.
My feelings on my first entrance into a Masonic Lodge are very clear in memory. I was a young man, and it was a great thrill to kneel before the altar of the Lodge to become a Freemason. This must have been the same feeling my father, and grandfather, experienced before me.
And it must also have been identical to the one that many great leaders of America and the world felt as they became Masons. Prominent among this select group are George Washington, Harry Truman, and 12 other Presidents, as well as countless statesmen and benefactors of humanity.
So I found myself thinking: “What does Freemasonry mean to me?” Of course Masons say that Freemasonry actually begins in each individual Mason’s heart. I take this to mean a response to brotherhood and the highest ideals.
Freemasonry is not a religion though, in my experience, Masons have predominately been religious men and, for the most part, of the Christian faith. Through Freemasonry, however, I have had opportunity to break bread with good men of other than my own Christian faith. Freemasonry does not promote any one religious creed. All Masons believe in the Deity without reservation.
However, Masonry makes no demands as to how a member thinks of the Great Architect of the Universe. Freemasonry is, for all its members, a supplement to good living which has enhanced the lives of millions who have entered its doors. Though it is not a religion, as such, it supplements faith in God the Creator. It is supporting of morality and virtue.
Freemasonry has no dogma or theology. It offers no sacraments. It teaches that it is important for every man to have a religion of his own choice and to be faithful to it in thought and action. As a result, men of different religions meet in fellowship and brotherhood under the fatherhood of God. I think that a good Mason is made even more faithful to the tenets of his faith by his membership in the Lodge.
I have always been interested as to why Masons devote so much time to their Fraternity. A good answer to this question came from a Grand Master who once told me that he enjoys his involvement because it gives him another dimension to living. The same answer is echoed by Brethren as they meet in Lodge rooms, from one end of our Country to the other, and around the world. Many of my best friends, associates, and fellow Christians are Freemasons and good churchmen as well.
In my travels at home and abroad a goodly number of Freemasons notice my Masonic ring, which I always wear. With pride they say: “I, too, am a Freemason.” To me, Freemasonry is one form of dedication to God and service to humanity. I am proud of my involvement. I am proud to walk in fraternal fellowship with my Brethren.
Why am I a Freemason? Simply because I am proud to be a man who wants to keep the moral standards of life at a high level and leave something behind so others will benefit. Only as I, personally, become better, can I help others to do the same.