Written by Bro. Kleber Siqueira
Published by the South Carolina Masonic Research Society (SCMRS) "Transactions 2001"
The basic text of The Master Mason Degree is a true warning concerning the importance of God’s presence in governing our life since early age. Obviously, such warning should be considered in an in-depth manner, seeking to understand its true role within our personal, family, professional, and social lives.
So, by analyzing the dimension of life (in a wide visualization of our material and spiritual existence), many times we delude ourselves when thinking about the principles that sustain our plans for life and especially our priorities regarding our relationship with God.
For each age range, our vision of the future life tends to be limited by powerful barriers, created mainly by a self-autonomy illusion and problem solving capacity sensation, which are natural human feelings. These feelings make us be more long-lasting (not thinking of death as an unavoidable fact that can occur at anytime) and feel more powerful than we truly are (for example, the false idea that technology can extend our lives forever.)
This self-sufficient human behavior can easily be seen in sporting events, the scholastic goals students achieve in school, romantic and sexual conquests, and in the constant striving for economic, financial, and political power. It is noteworthy that our preoccupation with all spiritual things (concerning God and salvation) is secondary for most individuals.
In other words, human beings think, most of the time, in a purely materialistic way in which humans are in control and capable of attaining everything as if they were “gods” and forgetting of our relatively weak position within our intrinsically transient condition.
The different steps which the individuals pass by as they become more mature and understanding the comprehension of our own mortality is not necessarily age-related. This means that, despite one be growing older in age, this will not necessarily be like to have a blindness state (vision of the life) removed (totally or partially).
On the other hand, young people are often too focused in their own youth and power to think about the truly fragile and transitory nature of their existence. Most of them appears to be steered by philosophies like the humanism and the relativism.
The Human being, through his natural shortcomings (according to what is taught in the Book of Law- The Holy Bible), is permanently in a state of separation from God (in other words, in a state of not conforming with His Word), and such a situation results (if not corrected) on the loss of eternal life and salvation (immortality of your soul in the presence of God).
Facing the magnitude of such a reality, it seems true and acceptable to think that the main priority of the human being should be the establishment of his relationship with God, considering in a very serious manner, that the time available is short (only his lifetime) and will unpredictably end.
In this process of separation of God and escape from the existence problem, human beings tend, many times, to rationalize life and death, and, fatally, with no basis on the Word of God, feel an extreme emptiness.’
This existence issue is the central theme of the opening verses of Master Mason Degree and all the story told in the book of Ecclesiastes, in which the author (possibly King Solomon, a.k.a. “The Preacher”) questions himself and experiences many sensations and situations that could justify human life from a totally materialistic and humanistic point of view (or natural) without the interference and the presence of God as the Supreme God of everything (divine and supernatural).
This materialistic thought that makes man believe he has enough competence and self-sufficiency to satisfactorily solve, by himself, the mystery of his own afterlife (such as developing theories and beliefs based on successive character reincarnation, which would lead him to a “perfect state”) is contrary to the Word of God as described in the Book of the Law.
During the Book of Ecclesiastes exposition, the existence issue is thoroughly analyzed and “the Preacher” (King Solomon) finalizes his book stating that this quest (by man’s own means, without God’s interference) is nothing more than a big illusion, a huge foolishness and he strongly advises:
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Consequently, having adopted an important reference from the Holy Book of Ecclesiastes, masonry gives us (before hand) a vision of the uselessness and emptiness of a life without God, in such a way that allows us to open a gate (small and painful, but one that can save) to get out of this prison, which many times cannot even be overcome, that man maintains (and even perfects it), separating him from the Eternity with God.
Therefore, in synthesis, the message that is presented to us as a background of Master Mason Degree in its Bible opening, is the following:
The mason (as well as every human being) must know, accept and practice the Word of God, according to what is written in the Book of The Law (The Holy Bible), specially when dealing with issues concerning vanity and the transience of our lives
The mason (like all human beings) must know, accept, and practice the Word of God, as it is written in the Book of the Law.
The importance of the Book of Ecclesiastes (which can be summarized as “the beginning of the life of man without God”) is so enormous that the concatenation between the Hiram legend (which discusses the transitory condition of man and the immortality of his soul) and the Bible passage amazes us.
Some topics that the Book of Ecclesiastes presents to our reflection and consolidation of the basic doctrine of the Master Mason Degree, are:
• life is an illusion
• there’s a right time for everything
• we should not make sudden promises
• the value of a good reputation
• those who fear God are happier
• wisdom is better than weapons of war
• generosity is rewarded
• remember your Creator
Reflecting upon these themes, the Master Mason can better understand the depth and sentiment in which the Master Mason Degree was elaborated and proposed as a basis for the formation of a renewed man, that is, reborn from death to eternal life and acknowledged of the truths which can make this happen efficiently.
The Points of F. (a.k.a. Points of P. in the Scottish Rite) indicate, briefly, these truths that must guide the action of able masons, that in:
1- Insoluble union among masons - Social unity
2- All masons deal with the same concepts - Mindset unity
3- All masons worship the same God - Faith unity
4- All masons ought to help each other - Fraternal unity
5- All masons must have in their hearts the same virtues and the same fraternal feelings - Moral unity.
With these strong foundations, masons can entrepreneur, in a lasting manner, a fraternal and equal society, and they can also rescue their relationship with God (that is, permanent glorification of God and assurance of his soul’s immortality).
Constructed beautifully, with a knowledgeable conception, and with a powerful efficacy, the Bible book selected for the Master Mason Degree, globally analyzed, or particularly analyzed, brings together the experience and evaluation of man seeking for himself and for answers to the existential issues, done by the one (King Solomon) who had the best conditions to do so (his power was unique – read his story in 1st. Kings).
Finally, we can say that (paraphrasing in a simple way the experiences of “the Preacher”):
“We are constantly trying to fill the painful emptiness of our life…science and art, literature and poetry, industry and commerce, sports and politics, parties and banquets, passions and romantic adventures…. And all these things give us, for some time and only some time, a good sensation of softness, peace, meaning, happiness…
But we will all know (sooner or later) that no man ever found true peace and lasting happiness in any of these wonderful adventures…for there will always be annoying questions such as:
• Is life only about smiling?
• What is the true meaning of my entire existence?
Just this eternal dissatisfaction of our being is more than enough to show us that life is much more than having fun, realizing dreams…
There is a kind of hunger and thirst in our hearts that no pleasure can satisfy. There must be someone, a fixed point, independent from the oscillation of life. This center can only be immaterial, being that everything in the universe is interchangeable, inconstant, and uncertain…This fixed point has to be spiritual, eternal, divine…”
This fixed point is GOD, The Supreme Architect of the Universe.
1- To learn more about the Preacher’s life: Book of Ecclesiastes / The Holy Bible.
• Manual of The Master Mason Degree – M.W.G.L of Sao Paulo, Brazil. – 1st. edition - 1988
• The Holy Bible - Vida Nova Publishing House, Brazil - 1993’s edition
• Biblical Dictionary - Vida Nova Publishing House, Brazil - 1991’s edition
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