RICHARD B. BURGESS
Past Senior Grand Warden, Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
Past Grand Chancellor & Assistant to the SGC of AASR, NMJ, USA
Honorary Director, MASONIC FORUM Magazine
The lapse of time, the ruthless hand
of ignorance, and the devastations of
war, have laid waste and destroyed
many valuable monuments of antiquity,
on which the utmost exertions of human
genius have been employed. Even the
Temple of Solomon, so spacious
and magnificent and constructed by so many
celebrated artists, escaped not the
unsparing ravages of barbarous force.
FREEMASONRY, NOTWITHSTANDING STILL SURVIVES.
Second Craft Degree, Second Section,
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,
Perhaps before entering into the subject of this short contribution to the twentieth anniversary edition of The Masonic Forum, it would be altogether fitting and proper to offer the sincerest of congratulations to the distinguished and accomplished director, Brother Claudiu Ionescu and to all those dedicated Freemasons who have made of this publication what it has been, is now and will be in years to come. It is a great gift to the Masonic fraternity wheresoever dispersed. Such an undertaking is not always an easy or rewarding one. There is much work for all concerned and the rewards do justify the continual labors of each Brother involved. Congratulations!
The motto of the state of Kansas located in the mid-west of the United States is ad astra per aspera (through difficulties to the stars). How fitting it becomes to apply this state motto to the success and work of the Masonic Forum. Brother Ionescu and all those committed contributors to this magazine over the past twenty years, we salute you and thank you for bringing further light and past remembrances into our not so bright world of today. Long may you continue and may you always enjoy the rich fruits of your labors.
Twenty years ago, while we are thinking of remembrances of things past, we were living in times far better in many ways than those in which we are struggling to survive today. Perhaps the “good old days” were just that. The Masonic world was a busy one in gentler times before 9/11, the destructive and disruptive pandemic, and the political and societal upheavals in many countries. Our Lodges and Rites were busy with meetings and with the initiation of many new Brothers doing the work of the fraternity in the world. International gatherings were being regularly held resulting in healthy exchanges of ideas and opinions and, perhaps more importantly, increasing the chances for friendship and mutual respect and understanding. So much activity in the growth of the fraternity! Yet, we must not, as Brother Ionescu admonishes us in his stimulating and thought-provoking recent article, Argument, gloss over the fact that, like many organizations, Freemasonry is rife with expanded egos and abuses. It is hard to think of any large organization which does not have its detractors. We, too, have Brothers who think more of themselves and their ambition totally ignoring the sacred vows that they took at the altar of Freemasonry.
My good friend of many years and esteemed and much respected Brother, Thomas Jackson, once wrote, “One of the great problems of Freemasonry today is the oversizing of the leadership ego at all levels. Some cannot understand that respect and admiration cannot be bought (or self proclaimed!)—these are earned.
The motto, not of Kansas this time, but instead of my beloved and much missed city of Paris, is “fluctuat nec mergitur.” This motto teaches us as Masons that turbulent times might assail our ship of state we do not sink. Like Freemasonry with all its beautiful and enduring assets of friendship, morality and Brotherly love and a few not so good like arrogance, elitism and pride in self, the Craft will continue to weather the trials of life today, and will survive til time shall be no more.
A remembrance of things past is about all that many of us older Masons continues to bring the teachings of the fraternity into our daily lives. On an intellectual level it does no harm. Like physicians we are encouraged to do no harm but to do as much good as we are able. In a world where reason does not seem to prevail, let us, as well meaning Freemasons do all we can do to make our lives and those of others as meaningful as possible. Like Freemasonry, we too, shall survive!
So mote it be….