The Making of the Perfect Ashlar
Greetings and salutations, Brethren. It is without doubt that Spring is finally upon us! The Spring season brings with it warmer weather, new life, and new beauty to all that this is around us. It is a time to reflect upon our many blessings, but also to look forward to new beginnings.
Emerging from the pandemic, our Lodge has been more alive than it has been in many previous months. Increased vaccine distribution and relaxing social distancing restrictions has allowed us to gather in greater frequency and in greater numbers. While we still need to be vigilant to remain safe, it is my hope to see more and more of my brothers in lodge in the near future. Above all, however, it is my sincere hope that you and your families continue to be safe and well.
As our Lodge and the country continue to emerge from the pandemic, my thoughts are fixed firmly on our future, and with it, the continued initiation of good men into our fraternity. For countless generations, a primary focus of Freemasonry has been “Making good men better.” Our goal is not to rehabilitate or make a “bad” man “good”. We actually have strict procedures in place to prevent the initiation of or removing dis- reputable men from Masonry. The basic constituent elements composing a “good” human being must already be present before we consider a man for our Craft.
On display in every Masonic Lodge room there is the Rough Ashlar and the Perfect Ashlar. These two stones and the Trestle Board constitute our Movable Jewels. In Freemasonry, the ashlar has been adopted in its two states as a symbol in the first degree. The Rough Ashlar is the stone as cut and taken from the quarry in its unfin- ished state. As such, it reminds the Mason of his rude and imperfect state by nature. Through the development of his intellectual self through education, he strives to move from this imperfect state to a more perfect state. This state is represented by the Perfect Ashlar, which has been smoothed, squared, and fitted for the builders use.
When master artist Michelangelo was asked how he created such beautiful sculp- tures, his response was simple: The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.
Much is the same of the role of the Master Mason within a masonic lodge, except the labors to perfect not only himself as a living embodiment of the Perfect Ashlar, but to also aid and assist his brethren in their pursuit of the same. It is a continuous and gentle labor, as the Perfect Ashlar cannot made overnight. Upon initiation, the Mason is exposed to many lessons and symbols to expand his intellect and encourage his personal development. These lessons and symbols represent a wholesome influence to assist him in strengthening his moral and spiritual self. As Masons, we must constantly strive to perfect that which is good and noble in our lives so we become closer to the Perfect Ashlar.
While masonic education focuses on the transformation of the Rough Ashlar into the Perfect Ashlar, little emphasis is focused on the Rough Ashlar itself. The Rough Ashlar was not a stone that was merely picked up somewhere; it was selected. It was a stone that demonstrated all of the necessary qualities within and capable of being made into a Perfect Ashlar. Had it not been a good stone, it would have never been selected out of the quarry. The same is true with a prospective member. He cannot merely be picked up somewhere, but must be carefully select- ed. He must be of good material and show good prospects of being made into a good Mason. Freemasonry can and does improve good material, but it cannot make bad material good. If he had not been a good man, he should have never been proposed for membership.
It is also important to recognize that, much like master sculptor Michelangelo, in changing the Rough Ashlar to the Perfect Ashlar, the Mason takes away but never adds to. As he chips away, he cuts away rough edges and removes visible flaws, but only exposes what was already there. With a hand guided by skill and knowl- edge, he carefully labors to expose the Perfect Ashlar which was always within.
Where are you in your labors in crafting yourself in the image of a more Perfect Ashlar? With the pause in many routine activities granted by the pandemic over the past year, now is a good time to evaluate where you are in your labors and to craft the next few chips to your stone. It is also a good time to evaluate the other stones within the quarry. Do you see any Rough Ashlars made of good material, with good prospects of being made into a good Mason? If so, talk to them about your Lodge and its importance to you. Perhaps invite them to one of our upcoming events and introduce them to the Brethren.
May we as Masons continually strive to live our lives in such a way that we progress towards that state represented by the Perfect Ashlar, that our fellow Masons see the virtues embodied in our lives, and that society sees our works f great good and deem them worthy of emulation. Until next month, may God Bless you and your families and keep everyone safe!!! I sincerely hope to see you in Lodge.
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Brian Moor, Trenton Cyrus #5 WM
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