Friday, April 18, 2008

The Art of Proficiency

Some things are better left unchanged. Though Freemasonry must evolve as all things must, its core values remain, its ideals are timeless, and its foundation of craft work and ritual provide a necessary order for its continued function and existence. In fact, that foundation and that order are what make Freemasonry what it be passed on from Brother to Brother. And so those values and those ideals are passed on.

This ritual work of Freemasonry is at once stabilizing and demanding. It requires a considerable amount of study and reflection to not only develop 'proficiency' in the knowledge of the ritual work but to gain real understanding of what it is all about.

Proficiency in the rituals of the three core masonic degrees has become a kind of Art. Today, many lodges do not require the 'Proficiencies' to be returned before advancement through the degrees as was once required. Times are changing. Proficiency in the rituals, though highly esteemed by one's fellows, is now left mostly up to the individual Mason.

Learning the ritual, verbatim, has its origins in antiquity when most forms of knowledge were carried mouth to ear and passed on in the same fashion. It is especially important within orders and societies that must protect their knowledge and workings from outsiders. Still, the greatest tangible value of memorizing ritual lies in the preservation of the original intent, spirit, and governing of the Order. In this way, though the faces of the Brothers may differ from lodge to lodge and over generations, the Order itself remains the same.

It is good to know that most of the Brother Masons who I know, whatever their age, still value the Proficiency and this memorization of the ritual work of the Craft. They know it is an Art. They know it bestows order, value and deep meaning to the Fraternity. In my own blue lodge, some of these Masons are taking steps to preserve this Art and to see to it that new members to the lodge receive the instruction they need to meet its demands.

The Art of the Proficiency can help us Brothers to become better Masons. More importantly, this Art helps Masonry. The rituals and the order remain the light on the path. And so like the Olympian torch this light is rightly passed on, there to remain a beacon for all who aspire from the darkness.

1 comment:

Bro. BJ Deverell said...

Amen, McMasons as they're becoming called baffle me, I appreciate that they do not have the time to learn as our forefathers did, but if they cannot make time, then they are of no asset to the fraternity. It pains me to know that hundreds of years of tradition will be blinked out of existence when our degrees become mere slide show presentations. So I pray that if you support tradition, attend your Grand Lodge and vote against these one day classes.

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