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Article # 191
Masonic Philosophy of Faith, Hope and Charity

Author: R.W.Bro.S.Krishnan    Posted on: Thursday, February 23, 2006
General Article | 2 comments  | Post your comment

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[ We have been instructed that the "Jacob's Ladder", which is the means by which the figurative assent to the celestial canopy of Heaven can be made, has as many staves or rounds as comprise of all Moral Virtues, but three are the principal ones, namely Faith, Hope and Charity. The learned authour in this short article has admirably summed up the Masonic Philosophy of these principal moral virtues. A careful study of this article, we are confident, will expand the horizon of our  Masonic knowledge, enabling us to practice those principal virtues more fully and with proper understanding. This article had been published in the Souvenir brought out by the Regional Grand Lodge of  Northern India on the occasion of its Annual Investiture Meeting, held recently on 11 th and 12 th instants. We are thankful to the learned authour for this valuable contribution and for forwarding the same to us. Please read on. . . . . ]



Masonic Philosophy of  “Faith, Hope and Charity”

By   R. W. Bro. S.Krishnan. P. Dy. G.M

  Our Masonic Rituals lay considerable stress on “Faith, Hope and Charity”, which are said to be the three Principal Moral Virtues. I thought it might be a good idea to dwell on these three subjects, at some length. Of course, all of us understand their meaning, but perhaps do not devote much thought and time on their importance as moral virtues or contemplate on them as part of Masonic Philosophy. The dictionary meaning of ‘moral’ is ‘pertaining to the doctrines of right and wrong’ and the other connected words are said to be ‘ethical, moralistic, honourable, reputable, upright, estimable, righteous and virtuous’. Virtue is the quality or qualities expected to be possessed by a person, in order that he may be respected in society. In the final charge given to the candidate after his initiation, he is exhorted to dedicate his life to such pursuits, as may at once enable him to be respectable in life, useful to mankind and an ornament to the society of Freemasonry, of which he has become a Member. Therefore, the importance of these virtues for a Freemason, if he is really to contribute to the society is obvious. However we tend to take these words for granted, without pondering over their significance in life.


The literal and simple meaning of Faith is given in the dictionary as trust and belief. However Faith has a much deeper meaning than mere trust or belief. It is said that he who has it knows what it is, implying that Faith is something intangible and inherent in a person, which cannot often be described or explained. A well known philosopher once said that Faith can no more be described to a rational mind, than the idea of colours can be conveyed to a blind man. In fact Faith goes not only beyond reason, but if need be, even against reason. Faith has different levels and different contexts. When you say you have ‘faith’ in another person, you express a feeling that your judgment of the person is such that you rely on the person in the context of whatever quality you think he possesses, but it is purely a matter of subjective personal judgment and conviction, irrespective of whether it is true or not. However, what is needed is the courage of ones own conviction, which alone can give strength to your belief, to make it a Faith. At one stage in our initiation we are asked, in all cases of difficulty and danger in whom do we put our trust and we are also given the answer  “In God”. All of us have had no hesitation to say so, because, here trust has taken the deeper meaning of that intangible virtue called Faith. However, when we talk of Faith in God, we enter a totally different level of understanding of Faith, because here is where, Faith goes not only beyond reason, but also against reason or logic. When we talk of God, logic is quite useless in helping us to know God, because God in His nature is so Incomprehensible, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient, that He transcends the basic laws of logic. Logic is a man made tool and therefore God cannot be measured according to its requirements. In fact, between the possible and the impossible, there is a third state, “beyond the possible”; between the logical and the illogical, there is a third “beyond logic” and between reason and unreason the third “beyond reason”. It is said that Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible. A wise man once said, when fear knocks on the door of your heart, send Faith to open it and you will be free from distress. Using a somewhat scientific way of looking at it, beyond the three dimensions the eye can perceive and the fourth dimension of time introduced by Einstein, there exists in my view, an indefinable God’s own Fifth Dimension, where what is impossible, illogical and unreasonable becomes possible, logical and reasonable. It is in this Godly Dimension that Faith has its roots. Faith therefore implies the ignorance of man to the ways of God and a total surrender to the inexplicable and the acceptance of God and His Will, without rational analysis. In the ultimate analysis, for the man of faith, he finds no contradiction in the ways of God and finds a meaning and purpose in human existence - that my brethren, you will I am sure agree, is the important philosophy of Freemasonry - to find a meaning and purpose in life.


We can now turn our attention to the other virtue “Hope”. Hope and Faith are closely interconnected, for where there is Faith there is Hope and where there is Hope there is Faith. A little thought will make it clear, why we cannot have the one, without the other. Hope is not only a feeling of expectation, but is also a feeling of confidence, when it is combined with Faith. We often use the phrase ‘hoping against hope’, which can only imply that we do so, because we have Faith. It is also said ‘trust in God and hope for the best’, which again emphasizes the importance of Faith and its link to Hope. Many of us know the well - known Hindi proverb, which means, “It is in Hope that the World survives”


The last virtue Charity does not require much elaboration to a Freemason, because Charity is known to be the essential characteristic of a Freemason’s heart. Like its sister mercy, it blesseth him who gives, as well as him who receives. We are also informed that a Freemason’s Charity should have no bounds save those of prudence. A claim on a Freemason’s charity is also made as his circumstances in life may fairly warrant. In fact, Freemasonry is so practical in its approach to Charity that we are told to practice Charity, without detriment to our connections or ourselves. Not only in Freemasonry, but also generally speaking, when we talk of Charity, we do not talk in terms of monetary help, which of course is important, but of Charity in thought word and deed, which is what makes a person, a perfect Freemason and truly an ornament to the society of which he is a member. Though not much has been said linking Faith, Hope and Charity, I would like to end this article from a quotation from the well known English poet, Alexander Pope, who had this to say about the three moral virtues in his poem titled “An Essay on Man”,


  “In Faith and Hope the world will disagree,

      But, all mankind’s concern is Charity”

R.W.Bro.S.Krishnan, the learned author is a Masonic scholar and a very senior Freemason, who has been in the fraternity a little over 50 years and who is held in high estimation for his administrative skills and great Masonic Knowledge. He is a former Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of India. A Past Dy.G.M in Craft, he is the present M.E.III Grand Principal in the Royal Arch and Senior R.A.M.Grand Officer and Past Assistant Grand Mark Master. There are numerous publications to his credit. We are very thankful to him for permitting us to post this article, which was an article contributed by him to the Souvenir of the Regional Grand Lodge of Northern India published on the occasion of its Annual Investiture Meeting held recently.

Click Here To Post Your Comment

amorson wrote on Friday, February 24, 2006:

Subject: faith, hope & charity

a very well thought out and put together article, which I read with much interest.

Sai wrote on Sunday, February 26, 2006:

Subject: Faith, Hope and Charity

Those are the words, that sum up the minimum exertions required of all of us during our progress in Freemasonry. The learned author has in his own inestimable way enlightened us. We are thankful for the learned author's contribution towards our enlightenment. W.Bro.D.Seshaasai

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