THE MASON IN YOUR HOME
This Short Talk Bulletin has been adapted from the script of the
Masonic Service Association motion picture film of the same title. It
was presented by the late Worshipful Brother John D. Cunningham,
former Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association. It is
particularly suited for
presentation to mixed audiences.
Ladies, why does your Mason so frequently leave the home you strive
to make comfortable and appealing, and journey down to a stuffy lodge
room to spend several hours consorting with other equally
unappreciative and far too mysterious males? What is this attraction
that draws men together to the exclusion of their families?
Several explanations can be found, but, reducing all of them to basic
essentials, we find this simple answer: Freemasonry has a universal
appeal to men of good faith, of good will, and of good conscience.
Nights out to attend Lodge and far too much secrecy often cause
misunderstanding in the home. But if you, my Brother Mason, will take
just a little more time to explain to your family why you go to Lodge
and what Freemasonry means to you, Mother and the kids, instead of
resenting your absence, will rejoice in the knowledge that the Mason
in their home is one of a brotherhood that for more generations than
any other society on the face of the earth, has attracted to its
sacred altar the greatest
humanitarians, the greatest leaders this world has ever known.
Freemasonry is a charitable, benevolent, a religious society. Its
only secrets are its method of recognition and a ridiculously small
part of its symbolic instruction. Every individual in this room
carries in his or her bosom harmless secrets scores of times in
excess of those imposed upon a Freemason. But a Mason's reluctance to
talk about his ideals is often misunderstood, especially at home. And
conversely, a long dissertation about the mysteries of Freemasonry,
its esoteric work, etc., would be so boring to his family that even
greater harm would result. But he will, I am sure,
captivate your interest if he tells you about its charities, if he
tells you of its glorious history; if
he tells you about some of his Lodge Brothers, Lodge Brothers of the
present, and Lodge
Brothers of long bygone days.
Mrs. Mason, do you know, and is that hero-worshiping youngster of
yours aware, that the Mason in your home could dispense with
formality and address fifteen former Presidents of the United States
as Brothers? The same privilege is his when he sits in Lodge with the
Chief Justice of the United States and with four of his Associate
Supreme Justices, or when he sits in Lodge with the majority of the
United States Senators, a large proportion of the United States
Representatives, and over half of
the Governors.l In England and in countries all over the earth,
Kings, Princes, and nobles of all
ranks would probably return your Mason's salutation, Brother.
It will be easy for that youngster of yours to visualize Great,
Great, Great Grandfather admitting Brother George Washington into his
Lodge, accompanied by Brothers John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin,
General Lafayette, Paul Revere, and the many of Washington's general
staff, along with many signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Oh, and let's not forget Brother Lord Charles Cornwallis who
surrendered to Brother Washington. He can picture Great, Great, Great
Grandpappy standing on the storm-tossed decks of a Man-of- War, side
by side with Brothers John Paul Jones or
Admiral Dewey, or striding the battlefields of Europe with Brothers
Frederick the Great, or
Napoleon, or exploring our great Northwest
FOOTNOTE [I] At the time this film was made, this was true. An up-to-
date listing of "Masons in Government" is published biennially by the
Masonic Service Association .
with Brothers Lewis and Clark, and blazing trails with Brothers Kit
Carson and Sam Houston. Ah, there is much of which that youngster can
boast in the history of his Dad's Lodge, if Dad will only take the
time to tell him.
Insist that he tell you of Masonry's interest in education because
that interest is not confined solely to memorizing ritual or learning
more about our Ancient Craft. Far from it. Ladies, you are probably
unaware, and I suspect that many of the men present are almost as
completely unaware, of the size of
Freemasonry's financial stake in educating and training the youth of
our land, in stocking our
reservoir of leadership, if you please.
For example, some years ago the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite
for the Southern Jurisdiction gave to George Washington University in
the District of Columbia, a million dollar endowment to establish a
department for the training of leadership in government service. This
endowment is augmented annually by additional contributions, and many
career diplomats are the product of this school. Several Grand Lodges
throughout the United States have established scholarships in their
The Northern Jurisdiction, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, encourages
young people interested in journalism and in public relations by
making available to them scholarships in the Boston University School
of Journalism and Communication Arts. And then there is a fund of
approximately five million dollars administered by the Grand
Commanderies of Knights Templar to provide scholarship loans so
deserving students can complete their last two years of college.
Hundreds are assisted annually by the Knights Templar. And, oh, how I
hope that sometime, some group will make it easier for youngsters to
enter college. Quite often the beginners need the most encouragement.
The soundest investment we can make is an investment in the youth of
our land, for they are the leaders of the future. From their ranks
will come the statesmen, your educators, your politicians, your
ministers, your scientists; yes, and from their ranks will come the
future Presidents of this great country; and Freemasonry must make
quite sure that it provides a generous proportion of that leadership.
For if we fail, if we permit others to capture the minds and
loyalties of our young people, we have only
ourselves to blame. There can be no excuse.
The opportunity is there, and if you don't want to take advantage of
it, it is your fault. As the
proud grandfather of two splendid grandsons who unfortunately reside
in a community which
does not have a Chapter of DeMolay, I must confess an almost
uncontrollable impatience with my Brother Masons who either
stubbornly refuse, or just will not recognize the great potential for
good in this organization. Membership in this world-wide brotherhood
is denied my boys. The DeMolay door to opportunity is closed to them;
a door through which have passed many of the outstanding Masons
of today. DeMolay boys have become Grand Masters; many of them,
leaders of the Scottish Rite, leaders of the York Rite, leaders of
the Mystic Shrine of North America. We find members of the DeMolay in
every honorable avenue of life, in the arts, in the sciences, in the
clergy, in the armed forces, in commerce--you name it: those boys are
there; and I'm quite sure that the Order of Rainbow and the Job's
Daughters, girls' organizations, can equal or surpass the
accomplishments of the DeMolay.
Every Lodge everywhere has a history of raising sums of money for the
relief of a distressed Brother, his widow and orphans, and for other
purposes. For example, sometime ago it was announced in a little
Lodge with scarcely one hundred in attendance, that a Brother had
suffered a serious injury and needed help immediately. The Master had
a receptacle placed near the altar and when Lodge was
closed, the committee had the pleasure of taking nearly five hundred
dollars to their injured and much worried Brother. Think of it! Then
you multiply this one example by the more than 16,000 Lodges in the
United States, and you will have some idea of this one phase of
Masonic compassion. Yes, I said, compassion. I will not call that
More than thirty Grand Lodges in the United States maintain homes and
hospitals for the aged. These are not institutions. They are homes
and hospitals, second to none, where our elderly Brothers and their
families find a haven where they can spend their twilight years in
comfort, in peace, and in dignity.
But Masonic compassion really starts outside the tiled doors of the
Lodge. For example, sometime ago the University of Minnesota sought
the assistance of the Grand Lodge in building a million dollar
hospital for cancer research. They said that if the Grand Lodge could
possibly raise $500,000, they would endeavor to obtain the rest.
Freemasonry in Minnesota rose to the challenge. Within a
comparatively short time their goal of $500,000 was achieved, and
then the great heart of Minnesota Freemasonry really spoke, -- no
indeed, IT SHOUTED: "Let's build the entire hospital ourselves!" The
University of Minnesota now has its million dollar plus cancer
research hospital, and Freemasonry in that section of the country is
viewed in a different light by those who knew us not. And who knows
but that next year, next month, from that Temple of Mercy with the
Masonic name emblazoned over its entrance, may come the miracle for
which we all so earnestly pray: a cure for the dread disease, cancer.
Then there is a sequel to this story. The hospital will soon be more
than doubled in size and capacity and the Masons of Minnesota are
raising one and one-quarter million dollars to achieve that goal.
Doesn't it make you proud to be a Mason? Have you ever heard about
the Eye Foundation of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar? Look
up the statistics of this great fight to wipe out diseases of the eye
and blindness, for anyone in need of such treatment, regardless of
race or creed. How many of you know about the phenomenal
contributions made for the study and treatment of mental disease by
the Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Jurisdiction? And then, of
course, every Scottish Rite body has an almoner who distributes funds
to needy cases which come to his attention, but they are never made a
matter of record. They are just between the almoner and the
individual. The Scottish Rite of the Southern Jurisdiction maintains
a splendid hospital for the treatment of crippled children;
and the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America have erected a
hospital for the treatment and rehabilitation of badly burned
youngsters, and of course you have all heard of the seventeen
Shriners' Crippled Children's Hospitals. This great humanitarian
project is supported by men who are first of all Master Masons --your
husbands, your sons, your fathers; and it is supported to the tune of
millions of dollars annually. If you could just see the stalwart
young athletes who annually play in the Shrine East-West All-Star
football game--if you could see them as they visit crippled children
of their own faith, of their own color,--if you could see them as
they hold those children tenderly in their arms,--oh, you would be
proud of the Mason in your Home. And if you could just see your
Masonic Service Association Hospital visitors at work in
approximately eighty Army,l Navy and Veterans Hospitals, your hearts
would be gladdened. How I wish I had the time to tell you some of the
stories I have heard, some of the things I have seen!
FOOTNOTE: [I] In 1979, the M.S.A. Hospital Visitation Program reaches
more than 100 V.A. and Military Hospitals.
For example, one of your Hospital Visitors, these soldiers of
Freemasonry, was involved in this story. He frequently visited the
sightless ward where he had provided Braille playing cards for those
who had lost their vision. Often as he entered the hospital, he would
hear the sweet tenor voice of a boy he knew only as Danny. When he
first heard Danny sing, he asked the ward attendant about him, but
all he could offer was, "Swell Guy, Danny. Doesn't talk much, but he
keeps the others cheered up with his old Irish songs and Negro
spirituals. Why, he seems to sense when someone on the ward needs a
Information about Danny was difficult to obtain. He received little
mail, no telephone calls, no letters. But your Hospital Visitors are
not easily discouraged. Records of Danny's service were carefully
studied and it was learned that before the War Danny had lived with
his mother whom he was now trying to shield.
Danny's social life ended in a shell crater in Korea, where he and
three of his buddies had taken refuge from a heavy barrage of shell
fire. As they were crouched at the bottom of the crater, a rifle
grenade landed on the lip of the crater and started rolling toward
the bottom. Danny ran and picked it up to throw it out of the crater.
But almost as it left his hand it exploded, and Danny's face and
shoulders caught the full force of the blast. His companions were
saved, but Danny's face and the
upper part of his body were a grisly mess. His right arm and shoulder
were mangled. In fact, his companions thought he was dead. Well,
there followed months, stretching into years, of hospitalization,
medical care second to none, operation after operation, and so many
skin grafts that everyone lost track. Danny's arm and shoulder were
almost completely restored, and plastic surgery made of his face far
less the hideous caricature that he imagined it to be; but empty eye
sockets can be filled only with useless glass.
He soon learned to identify people by running his fingers over their
faces and never one word of complaint crossed his lips. Everyone
loved him; everyone wanted to do something for him, especially our
Brother, for he knew that despite the fact that Danny brought cheer
to others, he was shriveling up and dying inside. He had no desire to
leave the hospital. The mother, who was not aware of the extent of
her son's injuries, must be brought to the hospital. But how to
accomplish this? Don't ask me how it was done. Resources were pooled
and the mother was sent a ticket. Of course she had to be met at the
station, and of course that responsibility fell to your Hospital
Visitor. He met her at the station and endeavored to brief her--to
prepare her--for the shock of the first sight of her son while they
were driving to the hospital. The ward attendant had told Danny he
was having a visitor, but he did not
say who. Our Brother escorted the mother to the door of the room, and
he felt her stiffen momentarily as she saw the boy. But then she
approached him in silence. (I suspect she just couldn't trust her
voice.) Danny stretched forth his hand and touched her cheek, and
almost immediately he said in a sobbing voice, "Mama! Oh, Mama!"
Instantly they were in each other's arms. Silently our Brother left
the room, eyes so blinded by tears he could scarcely see, so filled
with emotion he could scarcely
walk, but thankful to Almighty God that he was instrumental in
bringing Danny back to reality.
Finally the time came for the mother to return home, and our Brother
understood when she remained silent all the way to the station. But
just before she boarded the train, she turned to him and looking into
his face she said: "My boy is still beautiful to me and the doctors
tell me I shall soon have him home with me to care for and cherish,
and they also told me what you have done. Thank you, Mr.
Mason, thank you for giving Danny the courage to face the world
again. May God bless the Masons who made it possible!"
Ladies, and my Brothers, that grateful mother's blessings were meant
for each and every Mason who year after year digs down in his pocket
to keep the Hospital Visitation Program going. What does it cost?
Some give fifty cents; some a dollar; some five dollars or more. No
one gives more than he can afford. Perhaps we should. There are many
Dannys in service hospitals and, God help them, they will
continue to come, because in no place on this earth is there peace.
Let's face up to that. There is no peace. But, ladies, when they
arrive broken and maimed in the hospital, your Mason will see that
they are not forgotten.
Dear neglected ones, I hope I have given you a more favorable picture
of this mysterious organization to which the Mason in your home
belongs, an organization that spends daily on what others boast of as
charity, between $75,000 and $100,000 dollars! I Think of it. Please
believe me, I have merely scratched the surface in an endeavor to
bring to your attention some of the things which make Free-
masonry strong, some of the ideals which have brought together the
finest men every generation, and for many generations. Now that you
know a little bit more about us, you should be so proud of that Mason
in Your Home that you will shout it from the housetops.
FOOTNOTE: [11 In 1978, it has been conservatively estimated that more
than $1,400,000 per day was expended in Masonic benevolences.