(Audio for the Five Points of Fellowship)
What is Freemasonry
Freemasonry is the largest Fraternity in the world with over 5 million Master Masons worldwide. It is also the oldest. In fact, next year on June 24, 2017, we will celebrate the tricentennial.
The word Fraternity comes from the Latin word “Frater” which means Brother. Freemasonry is a Brotherhood of men tied together by the sacred bond of our obligations, which we take kneeling at an altar with our hands on our sacred book. Masons come from all walks of life, from different political beliefs, and from different religions. Yet when we come together we meet on the level and form a common bond.
Commitment & Brotherly Love
We are committed to giving each other mutual support, understanding, and affection. This magical phenomenon has been referred to as the Mystic Tie, which Allen Roberts discusses in his book by the same name. This is an awesome book and I would encourage everyone to check it out.
We often hear the term “Brotherly Love”, but what exactly is it? I would like to read a partial quote from Brother Carl Claudy. He states, “Brotherly Love is not a tangible commodity. We cannot touch it or weigh it, smell it or taste it. Yet it is reality; it can be creative, it can be fostered, it can be a dynamic power…” It is the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like them to treat you. As one of our three tenants, I believe that Brotherly Love is a binding force that makes our Fraternity strong and why it has survived the test of time.
Many other organizations and fraternities over the years have tried to imitate Freemasonry. Many have failed and none have been as successful or as enduring. There are many reasons why Freemasonry has succeeded when others have failed, which brings us to today’s topic.
The Five Points of Fellowship
I came across two short talks which discuss The Five Points of Fellowship. One is written for the Grand Lodge of Texas and the other by Brother William R. Fischer. I believe there are certain duties every Master Mason owes to his brethren, his family, his neighbors, and his community. The Five Points of Fellowship includes the following:
- Pray for
- Keep the Secrets of
- Give Support
First Point – To Serve
The first point of fellowship is to serve. As Masons, we have made a commitment to help and serve our families, our brothers, our friends, and even strangers, when the need arises. It is our obligation as a Mason to come to the aid of a Brother, their widow, or their orphan in need.
Allen Roberts, the Mystic Tie
Allen Roberts, in his book The Mystic Tie, tells the story of Lee Newton who fought for the south during the Civil War. Lee was an officer in the confederate army. He had just been raised to a Master Mason when he was captured by Union Troops and taken to a prison camp in Rock Island, Illinois. Not being able to withstand the weather, he became deathly ill. The commanding officer of the camp was also a Mason. It was brought to his attention that a southern officer had become deathly ill and that he was a Mason. The commander had his men bring Newton to his personal home where he was nursed back to health.
When the war had ended, the commander gave Newton money, sidearm, and safe passage back to his home in Decatur, Texas. Now the important point here is, had Lee Newton died during the war, Joseph Newton, his son, one of the most brilliant Masonic writers and scholars, would have never been born. What a loss that would have been to Modern Freemasonry here in the United States.
Bro. Christopher Hodapp, Freemasonry For Dummies,
For you Civil War buffs like me there are more stories about Masons coming to the aid of one another in The Mystic Tie and House Undivided, both written by Allen Roberts. On Episode 22, we interviewed Bro Christopher Hodapp, author of Freemasons FOR DUMMIES, who tells the story of his father-in-law who spent most of his life living in Indiana, and who he had retired living in Texas. When bro Hodapp’s father-in-law passed away in Texas, Chris contacted the local Masonic lodge. His father-in-law had requested a Masonic burial. On the day of his father-in-law’s funeral, seven Masons, who did not know his father-in-law, arrived and performed the ceremony for the family, another great example of Brotherly Love.
Charities and More
Masons also come to the aid of our neighbors, as well as strangers. Each day Masonic charities give millions of dollars to help others in need, such as the 22 Shrine Hospitals for Children in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This does not count the manpower or financial support that local Lodges give to host weekly BINGO or pancake breakfasts that help raise money for college scholarships for local high school seniors, funds that assist their communities following disasters, or stocking local food pantries. Nor does it take into account the individual Mason who anonymously gives money to support the medical bills of a brother, or who attends a local medical benefit dinner for a complete stranger, or who assists a homeless family in need.
The Second Point: To Pray
The second point of fellowship is to pray. Masons are encouraged to pray for others, ourselves, and for strength and peace. We are to pray especially when the prayer is directed towards a fallen brother. There is power in prayer. As Masons, we all believe in a Supreme Being whom we refer to as the Great Architect. Masons come from all religions; Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews, just to name a few. Our religion does not divide us, it is the bond that unites us as brothers. After all isn’t Freemasonry dedicated to a brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God?
Third Point: To Keep the Secrets
The third point of fellowship is to keep the secrets of our brothers and the Lodge. We diligently keep the secrets from our critics, from the ignorant, and from the obsessed. This point reminds us of our responsibility of trusting our brothers. There may be times when a brother comes to you to confide personal and private information. As a Mason, you are obligated to keep this information confidential. Just as you would want your words to them to be kept confidential. For it is said that we earn the trust of others by giving trust. This discretion is one of the hallmarks of brotherhood.
Never use Confidentiality Improperly
However, it is a Masonic offense to use this confidentiality for an improper purpose, and it does not apply to any matters related to offenses against the law or morality.
Example: If a brother comes to you and admits he is having an affair with another brother’s wife, he is expecting improper confidentiality. He is putting you in a position where you must choose between him and the other brother. He would be in violation of his Masonic obligations.
In regards to the Lodge, there are certain topics and issues which are not to be shared with non-members. First is the specific language of the ritual and modes of recognition. Second involves private lodge matters. This includes the Lodge’s financial status, issues pertaining to charity or relief given by the lodge to a distressed brother or his family, membership balloting results, and matters pertaining to a Lodge’s decision regarding a trial and/or disciplinary action taken against a brother. What happens in a Lodge, stays in the Lodge. Outsiders do not need to know this information because it could lead to the spreading of rumors and thus cause damage to the reputation of the lodge within the community and the fraternity as a whole.
The Fourth Point: To PROVIDE Support
The fourth point of fellowship is to give support. Masons are to support their brothers, and others, who try to make life better. We also support those who have failed. This does not mean financial support, but character support, especially for our brothers, because that is who Freemasons are. We live in a time where people like to spread rumors and lies about the conduct of an individual in order to demoralize that person. It can be seen all the time in the news and on social media. Freemasons don’t speak ill of a brother to their face or behind their back. We need to discipline ourselves to hold our tongue.
“Loose lips sink ships”.
I often remind my clients, especially the couples I work with, that you can think whatever you want about your spouse or a person. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But when you speak your opinion out loud, you will have to deal with the consequences. Edith Crone, my supervisor during my Master’s degree internship at the Harrisburg State Hospital, once gave me this advice: “Loose lips sink ships”. I was a young new therapist and I thought I knew more than others. I was wrong and she was right. It was a learning moment in my young career that has stuck with me ever since. Listen to the advice given to you by your mother: If you cannot say something nice don’t say anything at all.
There are forces in the world today trying to destroy Freemasonry. If a brother has fallen or failed, lend him a helping hand and give him words of support and encouragement.
The Fifth Point: To Counsel
The fifth point of fellowship is to counsel. You don’t need to become a licensed psychologist, professional counselor, or an attorney. We can give practical advice to our brothers in times of need. Masons need to grow and build our internal temple not made with hands. On Episode 6, now Past Grand Master David Bickel, recommended a mentoring program, a program where older Masons could mentor the newer brothers. They could help them learn their obligations and the proficiencies of the degree which they just had confirmed upon them. Assist them with learning the parts to become an office of the lodge. After all, is it not one of the purposes of Freemasonry to make good men better?
Seeking More Light …
In conclusion, if we want to become better, stronger, and wiser Master Masons, we should practice making time for ourselves and others who truly desire to seek more knowledge, more understanding, and more lights in Freemasonry.
As Masons, it is, therefore, important that we constantly remind ourselves of these Five Points of Fellowship. In this way, we won’t lose sight of the Five Points after we leave our Lodge. If we truly live our life as a Mason, it is our obligation and duty to practice daily these Five points of Fellowship. Be Masonic Proud.
WM Dr. Robert W. Baer, DDGM Dist 7, ND 2016
Additional Show Notes and Credits
We would like to say a HUGE special thanks to everyone who was patient with us!
Dancing in the Rain, by Melia Astin
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