Oration at the dedication of the Masonic Temple
by V.W.Bro.Abraham Markos,
Grand Chaplain on 21st January 2006.
M.W. The Grand Master, R.W. The Regional
Grand Master, R.W.Brethren, V.W.Brethren, W.Brethren, and Brethren all.
As the Grand Chaplain, I have been
called upon to deliver an oration on the nature and purpose of our Institution
and I am indeed privileged and honoured to be given this opportunity to share
my thoughts with you, on this solemn and important occasion.
This day is a great and historic landmark in
the annals of Freemasonry in general and of the Masonic community in this
hamlet town of Kumbakonam in particular. We witness this morning the
culmination of a great and glorious undertaking, the result of unbounded enthusiasm,
strenuous effort and generous contributions on the part of the brethren around
here under the able and inspiring leadership of R.W.Bro.Dr.Balram Biswakumar,
P.Dy.G.M and our Immediate Past Regional Grand Master and the Founder Master of
Lodge Mahamaham No.341 on the roll of the Grand Lodge of India. The entire
fraternity in general and the Brethren of Kumbakonam and Chennai in particular
are extremely grateful to you R.W.Bro.Biswakumar for your generous donation of
the land and a substantial portion of the building fund also. Let this
wonderful Temple be an enduring monument to the noble precepts and sublime
principles of Freemasonry and a perpetual reminder to generations of Masons,
who will enter its portals in the years to come, of the Masonic fervour and
generosity of the present generation of Masons of this town, who have gifted
them such a beautiful Temple.
The place where Masonic Lodges meet is
usually called the Temple. What does the word represent, what does it mean to
us. We say “temple” to denote a sacred place where our belief in the great
Father of the human race gives to us, his offsprings, the sense of his
presence. A holy place where the creator and the created meet, he as Master and
as we say, the Great Architect and we as servants, in all humility honouring
his name and imploring his grace to perform his will.
Scripture informs us that when King Solomon
had finished building the house of the Lord, the Lord appeared to him and said,
“I have heard your prayer, and I have consecrated this house which you have
built. As for you, if you will walk before me with integrity of heart and
uprightness, keeping my statutes and my ordinances, then I will establish your
royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father. But if you turn
aside from following me, you or your children, and go and worship other Gods,
then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them and the house
which I have consecrated for my name will become a heap of ruins.”
Solomon was a great King and for us Masons he was the greatest of the
Three Illustrious Masters, who
could do no wrong. But it is written in the scriptures, that Solomon did what
was evil in the sight of the Lord, that the Lord was angry and said to him
“Since you have not kept my covenants and my statutes, I will surely tear the
kingdom from you and give it to your servant”, and that Nebuzaradan, the
captain of the bodyguard of King Nebuchadnezzar, came to Jerusalem with an army
and burned the house of the Lord. The moral of the story is that as Masons we
should not swerve from our duties or violate our vows, but on the contrary we
should keep that straight and undeviating line of conduct laid down for our
pursuit in the Volumes of Sacred Law.
Scripture also informs us that the Temple building was composed of
three spaces, the Porch or Vestibule, the Middle Chamber or Holy Place which
was the large central section and the Sanctum Sanctorum or Most Holy Place. It
needs to be remembered that the whole of the Temple building apart from the
porch way was reserved for the exclusive use of the priesthood of Israel. No
access was permitted to the general public into the main interior. Symbolically
therefore, we Masons represent that priesthood, we are the chosen lot, the few
handpicked by the Almighty Architect to lead a life of piety and righteousness
and to stand as an example, as a role model, to the outside world who are not
What is the aim of Masonry, for what do we exist as an organization?
The answer is that our aim, in common with all social institutions, is to
preserve, to develop and to transmit to posterity the civilization wrought by
our fathers and passed on to us.
What is the place of Masonry in a rational scheme of human activity?
The answer is that it is an organization of human effort to realize our faith
in preserving and promoting civilization through universality. What other human
organizations do along lines of caste or creed or within political or
territorial limits, we seek to achieve by universality.
Has Masonry achieved its end? The answer to this I leave to you to seek
and find from within yourselves. But one thing is certain, we insist on the
solidarity of the principle of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man
and the transmission of a tradition of universality. While the ideal of the 18th
century was knowledge, that of the 19th century was morality and
that of the 20th century was advancement, the ideal of Masonry has
all along been universality – universal brotherhood or masonry universal – but
have we really achieved it. Let us therefore rededicate ourselves in this 21st
century to ensure that we achieve our objective in the fullest measure.
Masonry has flourished in this town since this Lodge was consecrated
exactly two years ago. The Brethren here were able to literally practice the
Masonic art of building in their own locality in so short a time, which surely
must be a record of sorts. This period quite obviously has also been one of
steady growth and independence which sees its culmination today. No longer are
you brethren dependent upon the sufferance of others, but rather you have in
quick time after much thought, anxiety and self-sacrifice, accomplished the
task of providing yourselves a place which in the years to come will be your
Masonic home in a very real sense.
“Home”, that is the operative word, a place which radiates charm and
happiness. “Home” centers around a head, in this case Masonry, which in turn
finds its mainspring in God. “Home” inspires loyalty among the members of a
family, in this case the Masonic family, may that same spirit inspire the minds
of the brethren. “Home” is where one has the right of entry and one readily
accepts the responsibility which service to the family entails. “Home” is one
of earth’s greatest treasures, which in time of danger a man will protect with
his life. He will permit nothing to enter, which will shatter its serenity, but
will welcome all to whom it may bring joy and gladness. May such sentiments
rule your hearts. May you enjoy every satisfaction and delight which friendship
can give within these sacred walls. In
a short time from now, this Temple will be your dedicated Masonic home. May the
recollection of this dedication be so indelibly imprinted in your minds and
hearts that nothing unworthy of our ideals may ever find a place here.
It might be worthwhile to review the significance of this ceremony of
dedication. M.W.G.M in worthy Masonic language has stated the reason for this
function. The Chairman of the Building Committee has submitted the plans for
approval of M.W.G.M, from where the ceremony proceeds with most of the
symbolism of the consecration of a Lodge. After M.W.G.M dedicates the Temple,
it is followed by the Chaplain dispensing incense. This seems to be the climax
of a very impressive ceremony. What is its significance? Whatever our private
views may be, incense has scriptural authority. In ancient times there was the
Altar of Incense. Incense is symbolical of prayer and through its offering God
has been known to speak to the hearts of men.
This ceremony also symbolizes something in the evolution of man’s
growth. Obviously, operative Masons originally held their assemblies in the
open and as their activities turned to the erection of stately and superb
edifices, their deliberations also took place in temples worthy of ceremonies,
which occurred when masonry became
symbolical or speculative. It is necessary to emphasise the basic fact that
Masonry in its symbolical meaning carries with it the idea of building, of
erecting a superstructure perfect in its parts and honourable to the builder.
But that building and superstructure have nothing really to do with stone or
mortar. It symbolizes the building of our own character.
Masonry stands or falls by the example of each individual brother. In a
small community such as yours a greater personal responsibility exists than in
a city or larger town where people can spend their lives, if they so wish, in a
sense of isolation. Here, your lives are almost like open books, little can be
hidden and any departure from the path of rectitude may result in untold harm
to the good name of the Craft. May the “Spirit of Masonry” planted and
nourished within these walls, be taken into every aspect of human endeavour,
until the whole character is affected by it. May it be so appealing to the best
instincts of your neighbours, that they too may yearn to share in your
happiness. Today, you commence to enjoy the fruits of your labour and the
presence here of such a galaxy of eminent Masons, I am sure has made you and
your brethren very happy and contented.
Amidst our rejoicing today, may we always strive to remember the words
of the Psalmist, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it, labour
in vain”, and resolve to dedicate ourselves anew to the observance of the
principles and tenets of the Craft. The thought of ‘building’ brings to my mind
an old poem often repeated, but never tiresome. It goes like this:-
“ An old mason going on a lone highway
Came at the evening, cold and grey
To a chasm vast and deep and wide
Which at first seemed a great divide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim
The sullen stream had not fear for him
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
‘Old man’, said a fellow pilgrim near
‘You are wasting your strength when building here.
Your journey will end with the ending day
You never again will pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide
Why build you this bridge at even tide’.
The builder lifted his old grey head,
‘Good friend, on the path I have come’, he said
‘There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way
This chasm which has been a
nought to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be
He too must cross in the twilight dim
Good friend, I have built this Bridge for him”.
And so then today, with the good hand of the
great Master Builder upon us, we will continue to build our temples and our
lodges, to fashion, to shape, to mould and to build our own lives and
characters, and we will build not only for ourselves, but also for all those
who shall come hereafter, like that fair-haired youth in the ancient poem. Let
us go forward from this Temple today with renewed courage and with rekindled
hope and love, to nobly strive for the honour of Freemasonry and the happiness
of mankind. - Thank you.