Sunday Contemplation – INSTRUCTIVE TONGUE, ATTENTIVE EAR
by the Reverend and RW Brother Ritchie, Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin (from a Short Talk Bulletin, May 2014)
As Fellow Crafts, we are given the Instructive Tongue, the Attentive Ear, and the Faithful Breast. It has been my experience that most Masons are more than willing to use the Instructive Tongue. We have all been part of a degree with six prompters (usually all saying something different). We like to help and we want to inform others, share with them the knowledge we have. This is one of the passions many of us struggle to subdue. We sometimes tend to employ the Instructive Tongue before we have engaged the Attentive Ear.
The Attentive Ear is where it starts. It is how we learn our work. It is also the first step in practicing our tenets. Brotherly Love starts by listening to a Brother’s story. Relief starts by listening to a Brother’s struggles, his problems. Truth begins when we listen to the beliefs and ideas of others and then quietly contemplate and form our own. The Instructive Tongue, Attentive Ear, and Faithful Breast are the reasons we, as a fraternity, have survived the centuries. They are the reason we are valid and needed today. They are what will make us viable in the future. How many problems are caused in Lodges and in life by an unbridled instructive tongue? The trouble comes when we get the order wrong. The Instructive Tongue must teach us first. This is what the Attentive Ear hears. Then the Attentive Ear fills the Faithful Breast and then, and only then, will the Instructive Tongue, in turn, be ready to pass on to others the Secrets of Freemasonry, our history, our stories and our ritual.
Along those lines, here is an article which appeared in the Florida Mason written by W Brother Nelson Rose, PM of Coral Springs 373, member of Doric 140.
I remember a time in Masonry that when a Brother would hear the words “Masonic Charges” thoughts of “The ways of virtue” or “Quitting this sacred retreat” would come to mind. It was a time when the older Brothers allowed the younger Brothers to take charge and conduct ritual and hold leadership positions, while in turn the younger Brothers looked to the older for guidance and counsel. It was a time when the biggest disagreements were whether there would be chicken or ribs at the BBQ (which always ended with the result of both) and what dates to hold the black tie affairs. Now it seems Brothers are pinned against each other for a myriad of spurious and menial conflicts and the very cement of Brotherly love is cracking and chipping away. Our membership is suffering not because of changes in society, but because of our inability to keep the normal cut-throat attitudes of society outside our Lodges. It seems we are incapable of remembering that the 5 points of fellowship (that we are to use when greeting each other) should serve as a visible reminder of the mystic tie that weaves us together into one Brotherhood. It would be dishonest to lament the direction of our Order without acknowledging some fault of my own. I have at times failed to keep my passions in due bounds and let my emotions get in the way of making sound decisions. This drift on my part has caused some dissension and perhaps weakened my credibility to some of the Brethren. I can only offer my deepest apologies and stress that my intentions are always for the advancement of our venerable Fraternity and that we should do all we can to remain relevant, while not sacrificing those virtues which make us unique. Our inability to embody the sacred tenants of our Order does not make us bad Masons unless we fail to learn from them. The year is young and therefore the opportunity to make this “our year” is ripe. Call a Brother you have neglected and catch up on him and how he is doing. Drop the sword and pick up the trowel by reaching out to a Brother you’ve had a falling out with and extend the forgiveness and love that you would want extended to you. There is no time greater than the present to resurrect what once was a vessel of influence and pillar of knowledge in society. This can only be done together and it is together that our Brotherhood will live another day and make a brighter tomorrow.