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September 2016 DDGM Article for The Word

On July 23, Cazenovia Lodge hosted the Cortland-Madison District apron presentation. Everyone involved in this event did a fantastic job of making sure that the evening ran smoothly, that a wonderful meal was served, and that all involved basked in the warmth provided by not only by the wine, but also by friendships, new and old.

I received a number of comments from both Masons and their Ladies expressing amazement at how much fun everyone had had and how welcomed each of the guests, especially the Ladies, was made to feel. About the third or fourth time I heard this, it struck me – no one should be surprised to find out that Masons know how to have a good time. And certainly, no one should ever be surprised to discover that Masons would welcome guests, especially the family members of other Masons, into their Lodge buildings with open arms. If this surprises people, then we, my Brothers, aren’t doing Masonry right!

Let me be clear: I’m not advocating for Co-Masonry, or anything of the sort. Regular Freemasonry has always been, and should remain, strictly a fraternity. Rather, I am saying that we should include our Ladies and our families in Lodge life and Lodge events at every opportunity. And when I say “include”, I DO NOT mean allowing them the “privileges” of coming to the Lodge to cook us dinner and then cleaning up our mess…

One of the main functions of our Investigating Committees is to meet with a candidate for Masonry in his home, to explain to both him and his family what will be expected of him and them and what they can expect of the Fraternity in return. If Masonry were not meant to be a family affair, why would we seek to include a man’s family at one of the first steps in his Masonic journey? Many times, unfortunately, we open the door of Masonry to a man and, as soon as he enters, it closes behind him, leaving his family out in the cold.

It’s no secret that there are a lot of failing Lodges in our Grand Jurisdiction. While there are many excellent ideas about how to change this, I believe that one of the most important things to remember is that a successful Lodge and, by extension a successful Fraternity, will enhance (and be enhanced by) the family experience, and not compete with it. If your family doesn’t feel like it is getting anything out of your (and their) participation in Lodge, then you won’t be participating for long – and neither will that new candidate.