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Article # 34
Address to the Initiate

Author: R.W.Bro.R.Ratnaswami    Posted on: Thursday, July 25, 2002
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[ Some years ago, I had read the book, “ The Treasury of Masonic Thought”, compiled by W.Bro.George M.Martin and W.Bro.John W.Callaghan, two P.Ms of Lodge Dundee St.Mary (No.1149 S.C). The book was published in 1924 and the sale proceeds were donated towards the fund for building the Temple. The book was a veritable mine of Masonic Education. The authors had published the “Address to an Initiate’’, that formed part of the ritual of Initiation followed in Scotland in those days, as one of the articles in that book. We are posting the said address, which will show the nature of that address in the early 1920s. It will be worthwhile to compare the same with the Oration to the Initiate by Ramsay already posted and some more addresses to the initiate, that will be posted in the near future, for a proper understanding of the evolution of the ritual of initiation..—R.W.Bro.R.Ratnaswami ]

“ The ceremony of your initiation is now at an end; we may have delivered to you the Ancient Charges, relating to your Masonic conduct in the Lodge, at home and abroad and so far all has been carried out in strict accordance with a prescribed formula, that certain invaluable and incomparable landmarks might never be omitted or departed from ; but, Masonry is so infinite in its application and teachings, that it is wisely left to the discretion of the presiding officers to add anything by way of illustration or admonition, that may appear advisable, provided of course, that in all things, the ancient landmarks are respected.

My particular object in thus addressing you is to prevent you leaving the Lodge with any of the false impressions and mistaken ideas frequently entertained by newly made Masons.

I would not have you go away with the idea, that you have been fooled or that any single portion of the ceremony is unmeaning or introduced for the mere purpose of mystification.

Freemasonry is truly a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols and the most apparently trivial incident both in your preparation and initiation has its deep and hidden meanings.

It is not reasonable to expect that you should at first sight penetrate the outer or the allegorical symbol, but I trust you will make it your business as a Mason to arrive at these hidden meanings.

Another and a most fatal delusion I would guard you against is that of entertaining the idea that the information imparted to you this evening has made you a Freemason.

After the efforts to impress you with the importance of the ceremony, such a warning from me may create some astonishment in your mind; but what I would refer to is that Masonry is not a mere matter of secret ceremonies; it is something far higher and holier than these.

A man may have attained to the highest honours the Craft can bestow; be well up in all its lore and working—and yet be far from being a Freemason as he was before his intiation and unfortunately there are too many, who may be classed in this category.

The rites and ceremonies of Freemasonry are essential to its existence—they form the outworks, whereby its treasures are, as they ought to be, guarded from the unworthy and therefore can not, under any circumstances be dispensed with; but, true Masonry exists in the heart and is composed of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth and that heavenly consummation of all virtues—Charity—so beautifully explained in the V of S.L, as “bearing all things, hoping all things, believing all things, enduring all things and thinking no evil”; and it is to the practice of this virtue that your Masonic efforts should ever tend , not only in its common acceptation of pecuniary relief, but as embracing true brotherly love to the full extent inculcated in the sacred writings.

Initiation alone never did, nor ever can, make a man a true Mason; it gives the key, but mere possession of the key does not constitute ownership of the treasure; it sows the seed, but unless the soil be good and carefully cultivated, fruit will not be produced; it opens the portal, but unless the road be traversed, the goal can not be attained ; it lays the foundation, but without labour the construction can not be raised.

So, this evening we have given the key, we have sown the seed, opened the portal and laid the foundation; it is for you, with such assistance as amongst Masons can always be obtained by seeking for it in the proper quarter, to complete the work and I sincerely trust that in this, you will not be found wanting.

Finally, whilst charging you not to undervalue Freemasonry, I will beg of you to remember that it is a human institution and as such necessarily imperfect and liable to error.

Do not be disheartened ( disappointed you naturally will be), if you find some who profess its tenets, but do not act up to its teaching.

You will, probably, frequently hear our Noble Science ridiculed by the unenlightened world and stigmatized as a childish mystery and a pretension to superior excellence, covering only secret revels and excesses.

Treat such ridicule with contempt and answer it only by acting up to your profession. A man, who ridicules that of which he can not by any possibility know anything, stultifies himself and is unworthy of notice. But, alas, you will find unworthy members of the Fraternity; some who abuse its privileges, some who, from their own inherent baseness, are unable to appreciate it beauties, convert its moments of social relaxation into occasions of debauch and others who, from their mental powers being too dense to enable them to penetrate beyond the exterior, consider Freemasonry as mysterious nonsense. If you meet with any such, console yourself with the reflection that ever have been and whilst time lasts, ever will be, such men in every human institution and if you are well read in the great light of Masonry, you will call to mind instances, where holier ordinances have been similarly profaned and misunderstood and so you will be led to understand that Freemasonry is not to be blamed for the misdeeds and shortcomings of some of its professors.

I will not detain you with any further observations, but merely, in conclusion, express a hope that the proceedings of this evening will never be effaced from your memory and that by your life and actions you will, in all things prove to the uninstructed world at large how ennobling, excellent and enlightened an institution is that of the Free and Accepted Masons.

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