Sunday, January 9, 2022

To Answer all due Signs and Summons


As I am a Veteran of the U.S. Army, many years ago I joined by my local American Legion. To join I physically went to the American Legion building -some of you may remember those days before everything in life was done electronically.  As I approached the door of the legion building, I noticed a sign on the door that said, “Members Only”. As I stopped at the door, suddenly the door buzzed, I pulled on the door which opened, and I was inside. For three o’clock in the afternoon I observed that the bar and restaurant were pretty busy.  

I approached the bar and the bartender asked me “what’ll you have”?  I replied that I was interested in joining the legion. He replied, “You a Vet”? I nodded and he handed me a membership application. As I stood at the bar completing the form, I asked him what day the legion has their meetings and what activities do they do. He replied, “Well we have a lot of great drink specials, and the restaurant has great food that’s pretty cheap”. I asked when meetings were held? He replied that he did not know, but I could come back in the evenings, and maybe I could catch one. I handed him my now completed application and his reply was “great that’s $29.95 and you get to drink free today”. “Thanks for your Service.”    

Soon after I received a membership card in the mail, and I began receiving a monthly magazine. For several decades I would periodically stop in to see if I could catch a meeting and determine what night they met. I never did stop by on the evening of a meeting; however, I did learn I could get a double scotch and great steak dinner for ten bucks.  

My past visits to the Eagles, Elks, and Moose were very similar. Great drink specials, good food, no meetings required.  

Freemasonry it totally different than the organizations I have just described. Freemasonry isn’t just about being a casual or passive onlooker. Being a good Mason is being an active Mason.  I believe that many Masons have forgotten our principles and believe that being a good Mason is paying their yearly dues.  After all, they receive that membership card and newsletter upon payment, like other organizations.   

I argue that the intent of Freemasonry is to be more than just another membership card in your wallet or just another newsletter or magazine to put on your coffee table to impress your friends.  

I think we can all agree that other fraternal, service, and social organizations participate in good works.   

Using the words of our dear Brother Andrew Hammer of the Masonic Restoration Society:  

“It is the intent of Freemasonry that the fraternity is, above all else, an initiatic order whose main purpose is to teach good men to subdue their passions, become masters over themselves, and grow in life to be better men.  

It is the intent of Freemasonry that members of Masonic Lodges should be actively engaged in Freemasonry. Historically, attendance at Masonic meetings and functions was mandatory, with fines paid for absences not excused by the lodge. Active participation in the business and purposes of Masonry by a large majority of those who belong is essential to the growth and vitality of a lodge, and in carrying out its role in improving society.


It is the intent of Freemasonry that Masons come together to seek fellowship and fraternity in a common pursuit of virtue and moral improvement. This has historically best been accomplished in small and intimate gatherings of fraternal association. Lodges should be large enough to be efficient, but small enough for all the brethren of the lodge to closely know each other. Fraternal ties must always be stronger than social ties. Masonic relationships are expected to be forged between members in the same way a brother grows close to a sibling.


It is the intent of Freemasonry that, through the exercise of genuine brotherly love, men become better enabled to regard humankind as one family. Charity, being the chief of all social virtues, encumbers Masons to aid, support and protect each other, relieve the distress and misfortune of family members, and consciously contribute to the betterment of society at large.


It is the intent of Freemasonry that Lodges should make regular time for feasting, communal dining, and embracing the social enjoyment of their members. Holding a formal dining event after meetings has long been a traditional element of Masonic evenings. Table Lodges and Feasts of St. John offer opportunities to observe this important Masonic tradition with the larger Masonic community. The fellowship of men is best embraced in the convivial environs of sociability.


It is the intent of Freemasonry that its formal and tyled assemblies should be dedicated to the attainment of a deeper knowledge and understanding of Freemasonry by all members. To this end, the presentation of lectures, poetry, music; discussions of the arts, philosophy, and history; and the interpretation of symbols, allegories and myths of Masonic ritual all play an important role in furthering the aims and growth of a Masonic lodge and its members. Each tyled meeting should be devoted, at least in part, to the realization of this profound purpose.


Above all, the most important intention of a Freemason is self-improvement. The improvement of the individual is the most fundamental aspect of improving society.”


My Question to you today is: How can any of us follow these if we don’t show up?


Our Ancient Brothers understood the importance of attendance in Lodge. They understood that fellowship meant meeting in person.  Of course, before telephones, computers and all the current technology, they had fewer options, but the still the sacred connection of meeting and practicing the craft bonded them together.  At times in human history, attending a meeting may have been a life-threatening event, yet they still understood the necessity of coming together.  


Every Master Mason fully understands that a summons is a notice that a Masonic event is going to occur like a stated meeting, funeral, Corner Stone laying and that they have a significate interest in attending. It is the Masons responsibility to answer it.


This may seem a bold statement, but I know this as it is part of our Fellow Craft and Master Mason Obligation. As Masons, we promise to answer and obey dues summonses from a lodge.’


Remember this obligation? Remember this promise that was made?  


In ancient times, the Worshipful Master would notify the Secretary of the date and time of the Communication. The Secretary would then notify the Tyler. The Tyler would go to each Masons work or home, and inform them mouth to ear, or hand each a paper Summons.  


I have a copy of a Summons signed by Worshipful Master Paul Revere that you can look at.   


I have witnessed the effectiveness of a Masonic Summons in other parts of the world. I attended Lodge in London at Maritima Lodge #6444. The Lodge members there are very active, and many are retired or active Merchant Marines. These Brothers work on commercial trade ships that are moving and working throughout the world.  


There were close to thirty members in attendance at the meeting. The Worshipful Master asked the Secretary if there was any correspondence. The Secretary rose and he held in his hand a stack of paper an inch thick of letters and printed e mails from members who could not attend the meeting. Some of the members being on the high seas, and others were in ports in Greece, South Korea, Cape Town South Africa, Singapore to name a few.  


As the Secretary read each correspondence, the Brothers in attendance listened with great interest. It was evident there was strong sense of belonging, and that all members, no matter how far and scattered across the world they may be, they mattered to each other. One member was at home in England receiving cancer treatments, another was recovering and attending physical therapy for he had fallen twenty feet from a ladder on board ship that was experiencing rough seas, and yet another was home welcoming the birth of child.    

After reading all the correspondence the Secretary stated that all the members were either present or accounted for. 

 Today, with current technology, we can receive our Masonic Summons via e mail. It is very convenient and a much easier system. All we need to do is click a box and hit send.  But what have we lost in terms of engagement with technology?  I would argue quite a lot.  


The masons shared the tie that binds us all. It just seems to me that the binding has frayed a bit…..  

So, that Summons I receive is important.  It is not another pesky email, but a gentle reminder that I belong to the world’s oldest fraternity, if not the oldest men’s support group. That I belong to a Lodge where we pay careful attention to and practice what we consider the essential tenets of Freemasonry. We do everything as correctly as possible, and to the best of our ability, for us to be better men.  

The summons means that my participation is wanted and most importantly is needed.  That I am part of a fraternity that has withstood the test or wars, dictators, and strife, but has survived and thrived, because ultimately, we are Masons that care about one another.  

I made a promise many years ago, to answer all due signs and summons. A promise I still consider important and would ask that we all reflect on that promise.   


It should be noted

It did take me over 30 years to get to a place in life where I had the time to reach out to the State Headquarters to find out the contact person and what night my American Legion Met. 

I did eventually become the Commander of my Local Post for two firm terms. I firmly support the American Legion and their activities.  




Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Year 2022

 Wishing you a safe, healthily and prosperous New Year

Monday, December 6, 2021

Red Wing Lodge Installation of Officers and Christmas Pudding

On December 6, 2021, Red Wing Lodge held its annual Installation of Officers. Before the Installation the members and guests gather for social time, and a wonderful dinner. Gary Thomas makes his traditional English Pudding for dessert. 

The lighting of the pudding is a very fun time. You will note that this year he used a flameproof pan. A couple of years ago the flames caught the tablecloth on fire.   

Most English puddings are very small and there is just a small flame, very small. Ours is about the size of a volleyball, and Gary used a very healthy cup of holiday cheer for the flames. 

The Installing Master was WB Nick Johnson of Corithian Lodge, and the Installing Marshal was Jason Lavoi the Grand Lodge District Representative. They did just a marvelous job.

It's going to be a great year. I know everyone says that at every Installation. But Red Wing Lodge already has a full calendar of events planned, and Officers who are knowledgeable and committed to doing it.  


Candlelight Dinner

Red Wing Lodge Officers 2021-2022

Christmas Pudding with brandy butter

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

St. Paul #3 2021 Hiram Award Recieptant Christopher (Kit) Cusick

Monday, October 25, 2021

Veterans Day 2021

Thanks to the U.S.Department of Veterans Affairs


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Minnesota Masonic Charities 16th Annual Gala


On September 25, 2021, the Minnesota Masonic Charities held its 16th Annual Gala at the Heritage Center-Evergreen Hall in Bloomington, Minnesota. In the past this this event has been held at the Landmark Event Center at the Minnesota Masonic Home. Due to COVID-19 and necessary precautions to protect the Masonic home residents who reside in the Elder Service wing, this necessitated a change in venue.

The Heritage Center is a wonderful place filled with many Masonic items which created a welcoming atmosphere for the 180 guests in attendance.

For those of you who are not aware, the purpose of the Minnesota Masonic Charities Gala is to gather Masons and guests for a social occasion once a year.  It is an opportunity for everyone to dress up, enjoy socializing with old and new friends while enjoying an evening of drinks, dinner, and conversation while raising money for wonderful causes supported by Masonic Charities.

My favorite part of the evening was the after-dinner program. The speaker was introduced by Masonic Charities President and CEO, Eric Neetenbeck.  Eric announced that the Minnesota Masonic Charities has made a gift of thirty-five million dollars to the University of Minnesota for the purpose of establishing the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain. This will be “an interdisciplinary initiative focused on the early diagnosis and treatment of the neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood and adolescence.”  This is cutting edge stuff folks.

The guest speaker was Dr. Damien Fair, the new Co-Director for the Masonic Institute. Dr. Fair is a leading national expert in behavioral neuroscience and brain imaging. He was very recently recruited from the Oregon Health and Science University. Dr. Fair is originally from Minnesota.

Dr Fair provided an overview of his prior research and work which lead him to his current position. He also provided some insight on why he recently chose the University of Minnesota for his future work, while recruited by several universities.  He gave all in attendance, a glimpse of the interdisciplinary work and research that will occur at the new Center.  This will be a “one stop shop” for children and families. He also noted that he will enter the new building for the first time in the coming week, which was made possible by Minnesota Masonic Charities.

In closing, Eric Neetenbeck reminded all attendees of the good causes supported in the past and all the worthwhile ongoing efforts supported by Minnesota Masonic Charities which include Masonic Cancer Center-University of Minnesota, Masonic Children’s Hospital-University of Minnesota, Minnesota Masonic Home, the thousands of scholarships provided, community services such as the Minnesota Masonic Home and now the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain.  

Minnesota Masonic Charities has given one hundred million dollars in the past ten years, and MMC is the largest contributor to the University of Minnesota.

All of that is something for Minnesota Masons to be very proud of and the more reason to support these wonderful endovers that impact the lives of Minnesotans and beyond our states border.

President and CEO Eric Neetenbeek  Minnesota Masonic Charites

John Schwietz Director of Institutional Advancement MMC