Isn’t the meaning of brotherly love obvious? But what exactly does it mean to a Freemason? It’s more than simply loving your fellow Freemason whoever he/she is and wherever he/she came from, which of course, we naturally would do; it goes beyond this. Let’s first look at a dictionary definition, first love, it has two distinct meanings:
- A strong feeling of affection and concern toward another person, as that arising from kinship or close friendship.
- A strong feeling of affection and concern toward another person accompanied by a sexual desire.
We’ll rule out number 2 for this article as “being in love” has no place here at all, and concentrate on number one. Now let’s see the dictionary definition for brotherly love, again, two variations:
- A kindly and lenient attitude towards others
- A kindly and lenient attitude towards people
Of course, there are more detailed and precise definitions, but we’ll stick with both of these combined with parts of number one, above, for just love. Our definition will begin as:
A strong feeling of concern, a kindly and lenient attitude towards others, becoming a close friendship,,,, affection may enter our definition over time.
So is this any different for a Freemason? Well, yes it is, as we can include care, relief (charity) and friendship, and this extends, not just to Freemasons we already know, and not even just to Freemasons we have yet to meet, but to their families also. Also, today’s Freemasons extend this to all in need, but only within our means if the need is financial, or within our ability if the need is something else.
When a new member is initiated into Freemasonry his principles are put to the test, allegorically, of course. During the ceremony of initiation a small part covers this area. Firstly we must ensure that they have nothing of value on them, an important ingredient of the ceremony. We then remind them to remember the time they entered Freemasonry, poor and penniless (hence the ingredient above) and, should they meet a brother in distressed circumstances, they cheerfully embrace that virtue (charity) they have professed to admire. Freemasonry’s charity extends to all as we are, as a group, only too keen to support our Lodge’s local charities, and on the whole we give support nationally and internationally. Individually it is down to discovering a perceived need that might drive us to render personal assistance, as defined later.
Sone of the most important lessons an Entered Apprentice learns, given at the end of the ceremony, is in the Charge at Initiation. Here they are reminded of the many things a Freemason holds dear, including a duty owed “to your neighbour,,,, by relieving their necessities and rendering every kind office which justice and mercy may require,,, by treating them as you hope they will treat you,,,” It continues to remind them that “As an individual let me recommend the practise every domestic as well as public virtue,,,, and to carefully maintain those truly Masonic ornaments already amply demonstrated, Benevolence and Charity.” Finally, among the many other things, we are reminded to be “respectable in life and useful to mankind,,,”
As mentioned above, this also extends to a fellow Mason’s family, and in this instance, brotherly love extends beyond benevolence and charity and on to respect. When a candidate becomes a Master Mason, this ceremony obligates the Freemason to “most strictly respect the chastity of those nearest and dearest to him, in the persons of his wife, sister or child.” Hence we ruled out “in love” above.
These are but a few of the lessons of a Freemason, but they illustrate that when assisting Fellow Freemasons, or their family in any way at all, be it simply showing care, benevolence or charity, or assisting in a material way, such as career assistance to his child, charitable assistance to his/her wife/husband, we will remain respectful at all times, remembering the duties we owe to our own family first before we assist others.
So brotherly love to a Freemason extends beyond “a strong feeling of concern, a kindly and lenient attitude towards others, becoming a close friendship” and includes rendering care, charity, assistance, etc. along with the above, wherever needed.
These articles are written by W Bro Steve Froggatt PPJGD, former Chaplain of Neptune Lodge No 5150 EC. Steve was initiated into Freemasonry in 1986.They do not represent the view of any Grand/Provincial Grand Lodge.
© Copyright 2019 Al-Khabar/Stephen Froggatt all rights reserved