PHILIP J. HARRIS esq JP
Lodge St. John No. 280, Grand Lodge of Scotland
Lodge of Living Stones No. 4957, UGLE
Internet Lodge No. 9659, UGLE
In the first months of Bro Bakers tenure of WM of the Lodge, I was asked to substitute Bro Inner Guard. I was delighted for this, it felt I was accepted as a “regular visitor” to the Lodge. What was more of a delight was the password given to me to check those wishing to enter the Lodge. The word was Love.
This has caused me to ponder and consider why this word touched me so much at the time. Was it the way it was conveyed, the unusual word for a password, the meaning of this in the context or was it simply the word itself? Knowing that use of words carried some relevant masonic meaning I had to think about this. It took me months of recalling my experiences and knowledge of Scripture, ritual readings and many sermons heard on the subject.
I am now able to write about the many ideas, and memories invoked since that time. It is best introduced by my understanding of the word, or is it words?
Mysteries and confusion
In the time considering this paper, as is my way, I have spoken to several brethren to help me understand my audience, what I want to say and how best to say it. It is my wish that hearing this you will have an appreciation of what Love is in the masonic context.
I am highlighting a few points to amplify the problems we have with Love and appreciation of its importance. It is necessary to understand the use, application, and the value of what is meant by love. From what I have heard so far, it convinced me it is less understood than it deserves. Particularly, as it is prime in the chief of all Commandments, “Thou shall love the Lord your G-d, above all things”.
Here are some examples of confusion, embarrassment, and shyness over the word.
“I only ever use that word to two people”. Here it seems to be considered as exclusive and limited in its scope”. Or is it considered too secret a word to use freely?
This next example is by observation. The word is never used but substituted with another word to hide the uncertainty of what is felt. These are, affection, fondness, care deeply, and even thinking of you.
The word is not offensive and is used without confusion by Louis Armstrong, “I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do / They’re really saying I love you!”.
In my former Church, the Moderator was to attend and give his favourite Sermon to the Congregation, the subject of Love. He quickly changed from praising the virtue to condemning the congregation for the “sins of the flesh” it precipitated. Another form of love perhaps?
Our King once exclaimed in interview in a TV interview with Diana, “Love, whatever that is”? How sad he did not know. How very sad as many like him, don’t know what love is.
A word that speaks into us as a powerful emotion, revered, dismissed, perverse and even abused.
Abused examples, “Of course, I’ll still love you in the morning”. “You love me more than I love you”. “If you love me, you would”. All are using this word to manipulate or hide a threat.
Why is it then a password for our Temple? We must first understand the implications of the word and evaluate its part in our life.
Quotes from Brethren
Speaking with Freemasons and being directed to quotes, here are some points: –
“The topic of love and being happy reflects the same rhythm of the masonic journey towards consciousness”. What does that mean?
As a kid or teenager, I am happy without thinking about it, I love my parents, grandparents, kindergarten teacher, my brother and sisters, my dog and my best friend …. and yes, also our G-d. Very good but what do they really mean?
“During my growing up phase, the latest in puberty, I start to think about happiness and love. And big philosophers have taught us already – the moment you think about being happy, loving somebody or being in love …. you are no longer in that ‘child save zone”.
This is now a revelation – knowing that you do not know what love is.
Now comes your obscure journey, to find out what is the difference between loving your parents, your partner, Brother and the G.A.o.T.U. Maybe these quotes will help you: –
Here are some of Plato’s most famous quotes: “Love is a serious mental disease.” “When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself.” “Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion and knowledge.”
“True happiness is, doing good”.
“Happiness is the only thing we can give to others without having it ourselves. If you are happy, you should not want to be even happier. Happiness is love, nothing else. He who can love is happy”.
The above has led me up the path of confusion as I don’t sense Wisdom in these words. They lack real experience of Love and Knowledge of the emotion. This is where our one word is not helpful. It’s thrown away too often.
My teacher and guide to scriptural learning had much to say about love and this paper is orientated around his words, my experience, and witness to the use of the word.
Firstly, we have in English one word Love to cover so much of the Human emotion. The translators of the Greek and Latin Scriptures had great difficulty in expressing what was meant in the original text. The compromise was to use the word Charity where the intensity of the word was strongest. Sadly, this has degenerated into a singular meaning of cash or hand-outs. Very little to do with Love. More to do with ego boost and self-congratulation. Loud Trumpeting and acclaim before an audience that should be impressed not with the giving but with the giver. This is totally at odds with out VSL.
Let us understand the Greek. There are seven words used in Greek, but we will focus only on three. In this way appreciate what we as Freemasons are about and why it is used as a password in lodge. For simplicity we will look at three aspects of love.
The first word of the Greek is Agape. It is the word most used by the Christ in Scripture. It was not in common use and is the strongest expression of the emotional concept. The word means the love like the Deity or Creator, an unsurmountable ability to love the unlovable. For example, love of a fellow man who is a tramp, drunk in gutter needing resuscitation with his mouth full of vomit. Can you see yourself doing that? Well sometimes a lesser standard of love will help you do it! But it even exceeds this ministration of ‘love’. Ask any Emergency Service worker what they have had to do, things that many would show the sign of horror on sight.
Another example I will take from the Excellent Master’s degree. At the red veil you are pouring out the water of forgiveness that turns to blood on the earth. Symbolical of the water of cleansing and forgiveness. Not yourself but others. I now ask you can you forgive those who trespass against you? “Maybe it has often been felt and practiced by you”. The NE corner talks of Empathy and is often singularly focused on this corrupted word Charity.
Or more importantly can you forgive them who have harmed or hurt someone you love? Can you forgive the abuser, murderer, traitor, slanderer, and liar? We must be honest with ourselves and the Deity that such a standard of love is often beyond us. Scripture declares only one transgression is unforgivable, that is the subject for another time.
It is that love where we can hand off the cares and troubles of the day into the hand of one who is able, one who is our shield and comforter, one who is our Creator to whom we are told to give thanks and praise. Why surely one who can do all this is worthy and far exceeds our own human limitations. Can you trust in your faith?
The second word is Filio. This is the First Grand Principle of Freemasonry. The brotherly or family love we have for each other and the ‘tribe’ we identify with. It demands self-sacrifice, commitment, care, dedication, and lifelong participation. To be there before we are needed, protecting the unarmed, showing the way through the strait path and lifting the fallen.
John 21: 15-19 amplifies this as the word used by the Christ was Agape. Peter when challenged about the standard of love he had for his master, Peter was honest enough to reply, Filio. Eventually Filio was accepted as worthy enough by the Christ. However, this does not dismiss the higher form of Agape from our behaviour. It is a goal to achieve. We all have to climb Jacob’s ladder.
The third word is Eros. When we see the word Erotic, we get a measure for what it is about. The Moderator putting it about in the short section above seemed to know this well. No doubt it has often been felt by us all in some measure in many ways. It is an intimate romantic love that has some boundaries, and we are advised to use our masonic tools to moderate our expression of such.
What I want to focus on in this paper is the FILIO love
Our ritual brings this out in many ways. As mentioned above it is one of the three Grand Principles of Freemasonry. It is mentioned in the first degree, and the opening and closing addresses of the Royal Arch.
The Three Grand Principles: Brotherly love, relief, and truth.
Opening address extract.
Companions, again we assemble with those feelings of affection (filio) and goodwill which animate the meeting of friends who have been sometime separated.
Closing address extract. Thus, shall the world see how dearly Masons love (filio) each other.
The closing of the lodge. Happy to meet, Sorry to part and happy to meet again.
Why the Love Password? Consider the Outer Guard.
“To keep off all Cowen and Intruders to Freemasonry”. To do this he is armed with a drawn sword. Such is the importance of our protection as the Temple is a metaphor for our personal being. His role or the service of protection is to keep off those who have no love for us.
Some people are described as closed or have barriers put up. This is the fact for us all to a greater or lesser extent. What we have is a protection of ourselves against harm, betrayal and theft. The protection of the Lodge against being defiled, perverted, corrupted, and destroyed.
I point your attention to the Temple in Jerusalem. A balustrade was about the court of the Women, enclosing the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. Notice at regular intervals, carved in Latin and Greek declared, “No foreigner may pass by this balustrade, if they do they will be responsible for their own death”. Quite a warning for Cowan and Intruders. Such is the standard of protection is are mysteries and secrets.
The outer guard goes on to say: “To see that candidates come properly prepared and announce the approach of a brother”. Here we have those who are proven “fit and proper persons to be made a mason” and a “true brother amongst us”. We admit only those with brotherly love in them. “In my heart WM”.
1 John 4:8 English Standard Version 8
“Anyone who does not love does not know G-d, because G-d is love”. And paraphrased: –
“Anyone who does not filio, does not know G-d for G-d is Agape”.
Consider the Inner Guard. “To receive Masons on proof and receive candidates in due form”. No mention of the Cowen and intruder. A pass may be freely given and received. Those who are admitted have this word Filio in them. “He who does not love does not know G-d”.
As an aside. When writing this paper, I had the company of a brother no longer attached to the Craft. The reason being, “these days I see very little Brotherly love” in the Craft. I could not disagree with him. After 49 years he reached a point of despair and sorrow at what was lost in his masonic journey. I have heard this many times over the past 30 years from disillusioned brethren.
Another brother, a Ships Master, said this to me, “in the years while being a Ships Master, Chief Officer, and a Mate, I could recognise true brethren when I met them”. “They had a way to move with confidence and meekness, a way to speak, what they said, and a concern for life and a love of people”. This gave me much to think on.
In “recognising a brother in the dark as well as at noonday”, this handshake is more than a how do you do! It is the first part of the five points of fellowship. Please consider when we take each other’s hand, we are always in the five points of fellowship.
We would be foolish to believe that all those within a lodge are true brothers. This would be contrary to the expectation. Sadly, it is the case in many if not all Lodges. To be a true brother takes time and self-examination. Let us consider the evidence of love! This is how we would recognise the behaviours of a true brother and rejoice in the knowledge of it.
A brother should be patient with all brethren and others who are not prepared in their hearts. They should not be discouraging, impudent or rude. There is the direction of the five points of fellowship to follow and of course the grand principles. More on these points follow later.
Kindness should be shown in deed and word, helping a brother in difficulty, and giving a gracious word without exception to those weaker, failing or discouraged. One discouraging word, a hard exchange, a discounting look, an answer several steps above a brother’s comprehension can do much harm.
We should not envy a brother for position or ability but should use what best we have. We should work together to make all as best can be.
A brother should never inhabit ego. Success may be a banner of his life, but he should be humble and appreciative that what he has is for the benefit of others in due measure. Should we wear a big apron and not one of innocence and bond of equality? No jewels of achievement and honour of others. The heart is the true depository of one’s worth, “locked up in the safe and sacred depository of one’s heart in fidelity”.
All brethren are equal to the next and to all men without exception. All should strive to lift others or meet them on the level in life’s journey.
Harsh words, sarcasm, or mockery should not pass between brothers. Nor should any brother be made to feel inadequate. Alternatively, we should build each other up and celebrate together in harmony.
A brother should not push for advancement but be careful to complete the steps of progression according to his capability. Better to share a little than take a lot out of life. The highest rank must be the Master Mason as all else is service to him. A Master Mason is to be our goal, learned in self-knowledge and mannered as jewel on one’s own heart.
A brother should not move to anger but consider why they feel that way. Better to talk and seek harmony than outrage in behaviour, that is unacceptable.
A brother will not remember wrongs but be quick to forgive for he can expect no less of others.
There should be no false witness against a brother or non-mason. Prove all things, really on truth not hearsay.
No evil should be thought or done to others but always seek the truth and the light.
One should always protect, trust, hope and persevere in all things.
Brethren there is no law against these things. They are building blocks of a Great and Perfect Lodge.
The five points of Fellowship
When we are instructed in the five points of fellowship it is not forgotten but seldom understood that it is an act of Brotherly love and a symbolical joining of Jachin and Boas. That is the Priest and the Secular man, or the JW and the SW. “In strength will I establish this mine house on a firm foundation”. The Temple being a metaphor requires us to stand on a firm foundation never to be shaken. This foundation is Brotherly Love where we join as a body in prayer, ceremony, instruction and faithfulness. Further to this it is our face to the world in general to show “how dearly freemasons love one another”.
“Hand to hand, I greet you as a brother”. It is this grip, a strong grip we hold with each other. Not the wet hand of insincerity or the grip of an opponent but the grip of unification. Try crushing a brother’s hand in this grip it is impossible to do so.
“Foot to foot, I will traverse to your aid” etc. This is not theory, but we come together diligently and regularly to hear of our brethren, remember absent brethren and regret the ascendance of a brother to the Grand Lodge. These are acts of love.
“Knee to knee, that I will remember in my daily supplications”. Are we called to prayer today, and every day? What this is, is a confession of care, “I will remember your needs and in prayer I will lift you to the Deity”. To care is to have love.
“Breast to breast”. It is sad that this is often seen done badly. The intention is with the left breast next to the brothers left breast. Hearts close together, beating in harmony and unity. This echoes the first-degree investiture. Where a PM should wrap his arms around the initiate with their left breasts touching. The embrace of brotherly love. It is just as the first demonstration of this grand principle as the initiate is accepted into the fraternity.
“Hand over back”. I have a personal belief that this is incorrect in many people’s understandings. Agreed that it shows protection of the brother, but it is much more than that. The palm of the hands should be outwards. The knuckles should be on the brothers back or more correctly the nape of his neck. The column of mutual support is in the form of a twist. A twist being as strong combination as in a rope or thread. From the left foot twisting anti-clockwise.
The demonstration is to show strength, stability, comfort, support, hope and love.
When there is no love in Lodge
Some of us have experienced the quote, “If two of you are at variance with each other”. I have witnessed this in letters, open lodge and quoted by brethren where there is some falling out of the brethren. Whilst it is good advice it is not desirable or healthy to walk out of a Lodge, disrupt proceedings or even justify such behaviour with lies, believing lies without due regard of truth and evidence. Grandstanding as it is called brings shame on the individual and is not an act of love.
Such brethren are questionable as bringing such disharmony to Lodge. It is disregarding the five points of fellowship and many precepts written in our ritual.
Regardless of affiliation, or rank all are subject to Love and failure to show this grand principle is perhaps evidence of not being touched by the philosophy they once professed to admire.
The warning is simple, you cannot entre a Lodge unless you are prepared to love all those within. No man can be perfect, but each should call to mind the essence of the Craft and be prepared to forgive, submit to the Master and Wardens and be prepared to admit they were wrong. No one should be considered right as we are all subject to error. Only together can we reach that goal of the masonic journey.
Now I see
The password Love is a serious statement of those within the Lodge, as when we announce, under prompt, “In my heart Worshipful Master”. It is from the Centre of our being, life and love, pointing towards the lost secrets of the Master Mason. Only in wearing the white apron, that badge of innocence and the bond of friendship.
Love is internal to the lodge and the individual. A measure is not available, but we know when we are shown love in the Masonic Manner from the unity of the Centre. This is the agape of the Creator we all share in.