January is a cold month, except if you are playing golf in the Villages in Florida...but I digress. Rebirth starts in January. Seed catalogues, plant- ing decisions, checking winter rye and wheat in the fields, as we prepare for the next harvest. Yet we, as Masons, do not have a start-up month since Masonry is a 24 /7, 365-day way of life.
Doing the unexpected, supporting charities, having yearly events in the com- munity, are all part of masonic life. Our brethren are a robust group achiev- ing lodge goals. The bible has been dissected regarding oceans parting, great plagues, Noah’s Ark, and a myriad of other events. Scientists make no allowances for faith and beliefs, only for supported facts.
Belief and faith come down to us through the centuries and instill in us the true spirit of life. Masonic beliefs have been handed down to us through the centuries. Strong, true, and unwavering in moral compass. George Washington’s letter noted that “To enlarge the sphere of social hap- piness, is worthy of the benevolent design of a Masonic institution, and it is most fervently to be wished that the conduct of every member of the frater- nity, as well as those publications, that discover the principles which actu- ate them may tend to convince mankind that the grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race.”
We at Trenton Cyrus #5 of free and Accepted Masons, with the many works we do in lodge, as well as in the community, promote the principles which we as Mason must espouse. According to Andrew Jackson, “Liberty, brotherly love, and charity” are among those principles.
In these winter months, we prepare for the spring and summer, the times of new birth and plenty. Let us all participate and what our dear Mother Lodge can add to the joy, happiness and fulfilment of our fraternal family, our community and the world. We start anew our cycle of life.
With deepest fraternal love and respect,
Trenton Cyrus No. 5
As I sat down to write my first article as Master, I had a severe anxiety. Long speeches, and articles I cannot do unless it is dealing with the kitchen gourmet brothers and DB Tom Freemer’s famous recipes. To me, the installation was what brotherhood is all about. The brethren came together to advance the goal of our Mother Lodge and Freemasonry. I hope that I am worthy of the trust that the brethren have chosen to place on me. A famous mason once said, “the secret of Masonry, like the secret of life, can only be known by those who seek it, serve it, live it. It cannot be uttered, it can only be felt and acted.” “Freemasonry teaches not merely Temperance, fortitude, prudence, justice, brotherly love, relief, and trust, but liberty.” Liberty is a tenant of Freemasonry. On August 5, l884, a plaque was placed on the cornerstone of the pedestal of Lady Liberty, by the Grand Master of Masons of New York. The quote on the plaque says: “Liberty enlightening the world”. Liberty, love it, protect it, stand for it.
Yours in Masonry,
Trenton Cyrus No. 5
As I sit down to write this farewell article, I am flooded with emotions, memories, and a profound sense of gratitude. My time in the Oriental Chair is ending. My time as Worshipful Master has been a remarkable chapter in my life, filled with lessons, friendships, and a deep sense of purpose.
When I was raised in 1992, during my proficiency there was one man to left of me and one to the right. I was a young and eager candidate, ready to embark on a path of self-discovery and self-improvement. I was seeking something more in life, something beyond the ordinary, and little did I know that I would find it here, amongst you. The sense of belonging, the values we share, and the rituals we perform became the guiding stars of my life.
One of the most beautiful aspects of being a part of this fraternity is the unity that we stand for. Regardless of our backgrounds, professions, or walks of life, we come together in the spirit of brotherhood. We offer support and encouragement, and we extend a hand to those in need. The bonds we form are not limited to the walls of this lodge. These relationships are built on trust, respect, and a common commitment to making the world a better place.
Throughout my journey, I have had the privilege of witnessing and being part of acts of charity and kindness. From supporting local community projects to aiding our fellow brothers and their families in times of hardship, we have exemplified the true meaning of benevolence. It has been a source of immense pride to be associated with a fraternity that values helping others and making a positive impact.
The wisdom and knowledge I have gained here have been invaluable. The teachings and rituals of Freemasonry have not only enriched my understanding of life and the world around me but have also encouraged me to continuously seek self-improvement. The pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment is a lifelong journey, and it is a journey that I shall carry with me beyond these walls.
The Masonic principles, symbolized by the square and compass, have been my moral compass. They have guided me to live an upright and honorable life, to act with integrity, and to always strive for moral and ethical excellence. These principles are not just words but a code of conduct that I have tried to embody in my daily life.
As I prepare to descend from the Oriental Chair and pass it to another worthy brother, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities I have had to serve this lodge. From officer positions to various committees, I have had the honor of contributing to the growth and prosperity of our lodge. It is a humbling experience to have been entrusted with leadership roles and to have worked alongside such dedicated and passionate brethren.
But as I bid farewell to this chapter of my life, I am not saying goodbye to Trenton Cyrus. The lessons, values, and principles I have learned here will stay with me always. I will continue to be a faithful and dedicated Master Mason, carrying the spirit of this lodge with me wherever I go. My Masonic journey will continue.
In this moment, I want to express my deep appreciation to each one of you. The strength of Trenton Cyrus Lodge #5 lies in its members. You are the heart and soul of this lodge and fraternity, and it has been a privilege to stand with you, to learn from you, and to grow with you. I am truly blessed to have shared this journey with such outstanding individuals.
I would also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Past Masters and experienced Masons who have mentored and guided me. Your wisdom and guidance have been instrumental in shaping me into the Master Mason I am today. Your dedication to passing on the teachings and traditions of Freemasonry is a testament to your commitment to the craft.
As Worshipful Master of Trenton Cyrus Lodge #5 I leave as I started with a poem of faith:
Where is a destiny that makes us Brothers;
None goes his way alone;
All that we send into the lives of others
Come back to our own.
I care not what his temple or creeds,
One thing hold firm and fast-
That into his fateful heap of days and deeds
The soul of man is cast.
by Bro. Edwin Markham
Kent James, Worshipful Master 2023, Trenton Cyrus 5
Brethren, May should be the month of gratitude. We as Masons and Americans have so much to be grateful for. We live in the best country in the world bar none. It may not be perfect, but we strive to make our union more perfect every day. We should not despair when our country is off track or on decline. We are a young nation compared to those found in Europe. The Founding Fathers designed and engineered this super structure to withstand the winds and storms of change and challenge.
I, too, occasionally fear for the state of things in our land, but I have an unshakeable faith in the design, the people, and the spirit of the country. This month we celebrate Memorial Day, a time to remember the men and women in our armed forces in the past and present, that died defending our freedoms as we give them a last measure of devotion.
The state of gratitude (mental attitude) is referenced in the modern bible in dozens of passages as shown below:
1. Psalm 100:4 - "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." This verse emphasizes the importance of approaching God with thanksgiving and expressing gratitude for His blessings.
2. Colossians 3:15 - "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Here, believers are encouraged to let gratitude and thankfulness permeate their lives, allowing the peace of God to guide them.
3. Ephesians 5:20 - "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." This verse underscores the idea of giving thanks to God continually and in all circumstances, recognizing His sovereignty and provision.
Remember my brothers, gratitude is a positive emotion and a mindset of appreciation and thankfulness for the good things in life. It involves recognizing and acknowledging the kindness, generosity, and positive experiences we receive from others or from the world around us. Gratitude involves focusing on what we have rather than what we lack. It can shift our perspective in a more positive and contented fashion.
As Masons, practicing gratitude involves consciously and intentionally reflecting on and expressing appreciation for the people, experiences, or things that bring us joy, support, or happiness. It can be as simple as expressing thanks to someone who has helped us or simply recognizing the beauty of nature and being grateful for it. A good practice is to write down things you are grateful for on a regular basis.
Current research shows that cultivating gratitude can have numerous benefits for us. It can enhance positive emotions, improve relationships, reduce stress, and increase overall life satisfaction. It can shift our focus away from negativity and comparison while fostering a sense of contentment, mindfulness, and resilience.
Practicing gratitude doesn't mean ignoring or denying challenges or negative experiences in life. Instead, it will help us find positive aspects, even in difficult situations, and build a more positive and appreciative mindset.
Brothers, as we enter the summer months and reduce our Masonic activity, be mindful that if you are struggling with life’s challenges, DO NOT FIGHT ALONE, reach out to your brothers for an ear. We are your lodge and your brothers and there is no shame in needing help. As men we may think admitting have troubles is a weakness. It is not a weakness but foolish and harmful.
Do you think the Founding Fathers, in times of great peril avoided reaching out to their brothers for advice and or help?
Be well and prosper
WM Kent C. James
Brothers I have been pondering the purpose of ritual in our life. Ritual provides guidance and the guard rails to help us navigate life’s changing social norms and practices. In modern times, what is acceptable behavior has shifted from strict conservative mannerisms to whatever is popular on social media. Masonry provides a set of rituals and ceremonies, passed down through the ages, providing continuity in a man’s life. Masonic ritual is a powerful tool that serves to connect men with each other and with something larger than themselves.
The need for ritual is deeply ingrained in human nature. It has been a part of human culture and civilization since the beginning of recorded history. Rituals serve as a means of expressing and reinforcing important values and beliefs, and of creating a sense of community and belonging. They allow individuals to connect with something greater than themselves, whether it be a higher power, nature, or the collective consciousness of their community.
In the context of Masonry, ritual serves several important functions. Firstly, it provides a means of instruction and education. The symbols and allegories used in Masonic rituals are rich in meaning and provide a framework for members to explore and contemplate important philosophical and moral concepts. This allows members to deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them, and to develop a sense of purpose and direction in life.
Secondly, Masonic rituals serve as a means of connection between members and enhance fraternal bonds. By participating in ritual together, members of a Masonic lodge develop a shared experience that is unique and meaningful. This shared experience fosters a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie that is difficult to replicate in any other context. Members of a Masonic lodge come from diverse backgrounds and walks of life. Despite these social differences, through ritual, they are united in a common purpose with a shared set of values.
In excerpt from an article in the Art of Manliness written by Brett & Kate McKay • January 28, 2014
Stripping rituals from life was supposed to be liberating, but in a time when we are awash in personal freedom, an awful lot of people seem awfully dull and unexceptional. Worn out from having to choose their behavior in every situation with little guidance, and from creating every aspect of their own meaning and identity, people give up and seem passive and defeated, content to let the currents of consumerism carry them along.
Carlin Barton, author of Roman Honor writes of a similar psychological fatigue that occurred as ritual disappeared from ancient Roman culture:
“Because for the cosmopolite, limits, like definitions, had to be chosen, morality and adhesion toparticular traditions and limits required a prodigious act of will. Preserving a sense of being, of identity, thus became a continuous–and ultimately exhausting–assault on the will…For the Romans of the Late Republic and early Empire, too much relied on the will. As in a play by Seneca, there were not enough areas of life where one could submit; there was no psychic rest, no catharsis. It is much easier, as Mary Douglas points out, to maintain a sense of one’s own existence, of the expressiveness of one’s words and actions, in a world with stubborn bonds and traditions than in a world without them, however burdensome those bonds.”
Masonic rituals also serve as a means of personal growth and transformation. The rituals are designed to be transformative experiences that allow members to confront their own limitations and shortcomings as they strive towards self-improvement. By participating in ritual, members are challenged to become better versions of themselves, both morally and spiritually. This process of personal growth and transformation is a lifelong journey, supported and encouraged by the Masonic community.
Finally, Masonic ritual serves as a means of connection with something larger than oneself. The symbols and allegories used in Masonic rituals are often steeped in religious and spiritual tradition. They serve to encourage members to connect with the divine and transcendent. This connection allows members to transcend their own individual concerns and to connect with something that is greater than themselves. This sense of connection with the divine or the transcendent can be a source of comfort, inspiration, and guidance throughout one's life.
My brothers, you owe it to yourself to come to the lodge and sharpen your ritual if you’re an officer or just by observance if you are a general member. For the officers, ritualistic reading and practice will provide you with the spark you need to take on the challenges in your life. Daily ritualistic reading has made a great difference in my life, and I hope it will in yours. For the membership, seeing the footwork and hearing the words over and over again at each degree will also help you ponder the many wonderful gifts of ritual.