Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Master's Wages by W Bro W. Sinclair Mactavish

It is rewarding to know that we as Freemasons can answer the question as to what induced us to become Master Masons, and one answer, of course, is to receive Master's Wages.
Our Operative Brethren received their Master's Wages in coin of the realm. Speculatives content themselves with intangible wages, and occasionally some are hard pressed to explain to the wondering initiate just what, in this practical age, a "Master's Wages" really are.
The wages of a Master may be classified under two heads: first, those inalienable rights which every Freemason enjoys as a result of payment of fees, initiation and the payment of annual dues to his Lodge; second, those more precious privileges which are his if he will but stretch out his hand to take.
The first right of which any initiate is conscious is that of passing the Tyler and attending his Lodge, instead of being conducted through the West Gate as a preliminary step to initiation. For a time this right of mingling with his new brethren is so engrossing that he looks no further for his Master's Wages.
Later he learns that he has also the right of visitation in other Lodges, even though it is a "right" hedged about with restrictions. He must be in good standing to exercise it.
Generally this right of visiting other Lodges is a very real part of what may be termed his concrete Master's Wages, and many are the Freemasons who find in it a cure for loneliness in strange places; who think of the opportunity to find a welcome and friends, where otherwise they would be alone, as wages of substantial character.
The opportunities to see and hear the beautiful ceremonies of Freemasonry, to take from them again and again a new thought, are wages not to be lightly received. For him with the open ears and the inquiring mind, the degrees lead to a new world, since familiarity with ritual provides the key by which he may read an endless stream of books about Freemasonry.
"Master's Wages" are paid in acquaintance. Unless a newly made Master Mason is so shy and retiring that he seeks the farthest corner of his Lodge-room, there to sit shrinking into himself, inevitably he will become acquainted with many men of many minds, always an interesting addition to the joy of life. What he does with his acquaintances is another story, but at least wages are there, waiting for him. No honest man becomes a Freemason thinking to ask the Craft for relief. Yet the consciousness that poor is the Lodge and sodden the hearts of the brethren thereof from which relief will not be forthcoming if the need is bitter, is wages from which much comfort may be taken.
Freemasonry is not, per Se, a relief organisation It does not exist merely for the purpose of dispensing charity. Nor has it great funds with which to work its gentle ministrations to the poor.
Fees are modest; dues often are too small, rather than too large. Yet, for the Brother down and out, who has no fuel for the fire, no food for his hungry children, whom sudden disaster threatens, the strong arm of the fraternity stretches forth to push back the danger. The cold are warmed, the hungry fed, the naked clothed, the jobless given work, the discouraged heartened. "Master's Wages" surely far greater than the effort put forth to earn them.
Freemasonry is strong in defence of the helpless. The widow and the orphan need ask but once to receive her bounty. All Brethren hope to support their own, provide for their loved ones, but misfortune comes to the just and the unjust alike. To be one of a world-wide Brotherhood on which widow and child may call is of untold comfort, "Master's Wages" more precious than coin of gold.
Finally, it is the right of Mason's burial. At home or abroad a Freemason, known to desire it, is followed to his last home by sorrowing Brethren who lay him away under the apron of the Craft and the sprig of Acacia of immortal hope. This, too, is "Wages of a Master".
"Pay the Craft their Wages, if any be due." 
To some the practical wages mentioned are the important payments for a Freemason's work. To others, the more tangible but none the less beloved opportunities to give, rather than to get, are the "Master's Wages" which count the most.
Great among these is the Craft's opportunity for service. The world is full of chances to do for others, and no man need apply to a Masonic Lodge only because he wants a chance to "do unto others as he would that others do unto him". But Freemasonry offers peculiar opportunities to unusual talents which are not always found in the profane world.
There is always something to do in a Lodge. There are always committees to be served and committee work is usually thankless work. He who cannot find his payment in his satisfaction of a task well done will receive no "Master's Wages" for his labours on Lodge committees.
There are Brethren to be taught. Learning all the "work" is a man's task, not to be accomplished in a hurry. Yet it is worth the doing, and in instructing officers and candidates many a Mason has found a quiet joy which is "Master's Wages" pressed down and running over.
Service leads to the possibility of appointment or election to the line of officers. There is little use to speak of the "Master's Wages" this opportunity pays, because only those who have occupied the Oriental Chair know what they are. The outer evidence of the experience may be told, but the inner spiritual experience is untellable because the words have not been invented. But Past Masters know! To them is issued a special coinage of "Master's Wages" which only a Worshipful Master may earn. Ask any of them if they were not well paid for the labour.
If practical "Master's Wages" are acquaintance in Lodge, the enjoyment of fellowship, merged into friendship, is the same payment in a larger form, Difficult to describe, the sense of being one of a group, the solidarity of the circle which is the Lodge, provides a satisfaction and pleasure impossible to describe as it is clearly to be felt. It is interesting to meet many men of many walks of life; it is heart-warming continually to meet the same group, always with the same feeling of equality. High and low, rich and poor, merchant and farmer, banker and fisherman, doctor and ditch-digger, meet on the level, and find it happy - "Master's Wages", value untranslatable into money.
Finally - and best - is the making of many friends. Thousands of Brethren count their nearest and dearest friends on the rolls of the Lodge they love and serve. The Mystic Tie makes for friendship. It attracts man to man and often draws together "those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance". The teachings of brotherly love, relief and truth; of temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice; the inculcation of patriotism and love of country, we everyday experience in a Masonic Lodge. When men speak freely those thoughts which, in the world without, they keep silent, friendships are formed. Count gain for work well done in what coin seems most valuable; the dearest of the intangibles which come to any Master Mason are those Masonic friendships of which there are no greater "Master's Wages".

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