When its springtime in South Dakota,
And the gentle breezes blow,
About seventy miles an hour
And its fifty-two below.
You can tell you're in South Dakota cause the snows up to your butt,
And you take a breath of springtime air
And your nose holes both freeze shut.
The weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave South Dakota.
My feet are frozen to the ground.
Seriously though; Thanks so much for accepting us as you do. Maggie Valley Summer Assembly is Freemasonry in action.
This years Summer Assembly theme "For the Glory of God" is very appropriate for Freemasonry.
In 1992 I was asked by the Grand Master of South Dakota to talk to an assembly of 350 Masons and ladies, about the York Rite.
I prefaced my talk with this:
Masonic membership is declining. The moral fiber of our nation is also declining. Our jails are full and overflowing. The courts can't take care of their caseloads. Insurance premiums climb. Everyone is looking for someone to blame for all their problems. Over 50% of all marriages now end in divorce. In many areas we aren't safe on the streets either day or night. Many elderly people live in constant fear, even in their own homes. We all have a pocket full of keys and have to lock up everything we own. Honor in basic deals is hard to find. There seems to be no stigma attached to dishonesty. Many elected politicians violate the laws they pass, and accept bribes without any unfavorable consequences.
Think if you will. Is it just a coincidence that as our membership dwindles, as our visibility and our influence in the community dwindle, the moral fiber of the nation seems to dwindle even more rapidly. Could it be that this sort of society is the reason for our declining membership or is our declining membership the reason for this sort of society? Who knows? In all reality it's doubtful that the Masonic Lodge will cure all the ills of our society. The majority of our problems have been around for a long time and will probably be with us a lot longer.
Just for the fun of it, think of a society of true Masons where everyone lived as Freemasonry teaches. What would we do with our jails? How many lawyers and judges would we need? We might not even need to own a key. What would this do to our taxes? Think how different our laws would be if all our lawmakers were true Masons.
We all know there are no quick fixes or easy solutions to the problems and issues of our society, or to our membership and attendance problems. We do however know that every time we make another Mason we have made a change for the better. We also know we should all increase our efforts in promoting our great fraternity and its Masonic way of life. No one of us can do every thing, but each one of us can do something.
"For the Glory of God" is the foundation stone of Freemasonry.
Roscoe Pound one of the great Masons, many years ago made a very significant observation. He said, "Masonry has more to offer the twentieth century than the twentieth century has to offer Masonry. This applies to the twenty first century just as well.
From the beginning of history God has given us many gifts that have made our lives so much easier --- each generation has improved our living conditions. Think of the improvements we have made in food production. Think of the advancements we have made in communications; with the cell phones and computers, and the skills to use them. Think of all the devices we all now own just to entertain ourselves.
In spite of all these comforts and toys and timesaving work devices this modern world has provided us, we still do not seem to find the peace, the tranquility, and the happiness we would expect. In fact as we look around us we seem to find more frustrated unhappy people than ever before. Do you suppose this takes us back to the premise that as Masonry falls in numbers the moral fiber of the nation falls even faster?
Freemasonry and its teachings, today offers the basic ideals that are being forgotten. The first ideal is individual self-improvement. A Mason has already professed a belief in God and immortality. Freemasonry tries to enrich this belief by instructing him in moral law. We talk of duties and obligations. We say nothing of rights. Freemasonry evolved from the builders of the middle ages. The four-letter word "Work" plays a very important part in our philosophy and our self-development. There seems to be a big desire in the twenty first century to get something for nothing. They call them entitlements. Our Masonic ancestors were workers. They taught young men how to work and they taught them that work was honorable and that work is necessary for happiness. Don't you think this world would be a much better place if more emphasis was placed on doing our duties instead of demanding our rights?
We as Masons are no longer builders of temporal structures using stone and mortar. We now are /or should be/ concerned with building the moral and spiritual structures of men's character. The teachings of our ritual uplift -man; they elevate his character and help him build that inner spiritual temple of character within his own heart.
"For the Glory of God".
In a four minute essay written in 1919 by Dr Frank Crane a little Boy 10 years old writes as follows. "Will you please tell me whether there is a God or not? A man told me there isn't any. I asked the teacher and she said she didn't know, as some said there is and some said there wasn't. Mama says there is, but Papa says he doesn't know anything about such things. We boys have had a debate about it and we thought we would ask you"
He answered "yes my boy, there is a God. You cannot see Him, but I will tell you how you can feel him".
Did you ever lie, or cheat, or steal, or treat a smaller boy cruelly, or be a coward when you should have been brave? If so you have felt a hurt inside your mind, a miserable feeling in your heart, as if you were sick to your stomach, or as if you had struck your finger with a hammer. It is God that makes you hurt.
Have you ever wanted to do something mean, or, nasty, and resisted the desire, put it away from you and acted honestly and fair, and have you noticed then a feeling, a sense of inner pride and satisfaction and manhood? It is God that gives you this good feeling when you play the man.
None of us understands why He allows so many people to do wrong, but we feel that there is something in every human breast that makes wrong doing bring misery every time.
The most important thing for you to believe about God is that he is not your enemy, and he is not watching you like a detective to punish you, but that He is your friend, that He is loving and serving you every minute of your life.
It is God who rolls the stars in the heavens, who lifts the sun up in the morning and guides the moon at night; who causes the wheat and corn, the trees and flowers; who brings the birds back from the South in the Spring ; who makes little lambs frolic and the kittens play; who makes children happy and grown people kind and patient.
Wherever you find LIFE and GOODNESS and GREATNESS you may know God is there.
So my boy, whether your folks are Hebrew or Christian, Buddhist or Mohammedan, even if they are " nothing at all" you may rest assured that they will not object to your believing what I have here told you' and you may be sure also that to believe in God and to try to feel and follow Him will do more than anything else in the world to make you an honest, happy, and brave man; to make those who love you glad because of you; and to make all the world respect and trust you.
I don't know if Dr Frank Crane was a Mason or not, but he certainly says what Masonry is. If we live our lives as Masonry teaches, and have a belief in God; our Masonry will be "For the Glory of God"
This is another quote by Dr Crane that alludes to our fraternity and its teachings.
"What you want to be eventually; you must be every day, and by and by the quality of your deeds will get down into your soul."
As Masons we know the best way to promote our fraternity is by living by its principals.
Masonry is a known source for good in our lives and in our communities and it behooves all of us to work hard to make it even better.
An unknown author said;
"Teach and propagate true Masonry and you will have rendered the world a greater service than all its legislators."
I want to conclude with a favorite poem by Brother Edgar Guest who says it better than I ever could. It is entitled;
"Sermons We See"
"I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely
tell the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you'll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue
too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how
When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows
strong in me
to become as big and thoughtful as I know that
friend to be.
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who
shows the way.
One good man teaches many, men believe what
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold
his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to
everyone is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his
eloquence, I say,
I'd rather see a sermon than hear one, any day."
Dee and I are very humbled by the care you give to us and also by the care you give to each other. This is Masonry "For the glory of god".