Dear Warwickshire Companions,
The ME Grand Superintendent has sent out a number of video, and other, messages over the last year or two but I have pestered him to be allowed to join in! As I write this, he is very heavily committed in terms re-starting his business and I hope that you will join with me in wishing him well in that respect.
The last time any of us could attend meetings was in March. Since then we have heard of some sad losses both within Masonry and outside it. In addition, many have suffered from the effects of Covid-19 or have close ties to someone that has been ill. I am sure that it is right for us to remember all of those affected and, when we resume our meetings, to acknowledge both the losses, and the effects, with an opening comment or prayer in the same manner as any eulogy. It may be that this should continue for a number of meetings. I am sure that our Third Provincial Grand Principal could assist in the preparation of some suitable words.
A side effect of the Covid pandemic has been to cause delay to many of our number expecting treatment for other conditions and I can think of one Companion, from St Alphege Chapter, who has had important surgery delayed. I hope that he, and others in similar circumstances, will soon receive their treatment or therapy and I wish them all a speedy recovery.
Many of you will have been encouraged by the words of the Grand Secretary in this week’s “First Rising” newsletter but please remember, it is early days and the prospect of significant restrictions remain.
The time of our annual meeting is fast approaching and I would like to congratulate all of you who, on the 4th July will “assume” new offices or ranks as well as thanking all of those who will complete their year of acting rank. There is, however, an anomaly in this. Whilst officers from Scribe downwards can be, and often are, appointed in their absence, in common with most orders, “rulers” have to be obligated. In the absence of any dispensation from London, it is likely that our Second and Third Provincial Principal’s will have to continue in their roles beyond 4th July.
On 29th February we held an enjoyable event at Knowle under the banner, Vision 2020. Those who attended my session were encouraged to read and research not just Solomon but other province’s web content. This was not to encourage us to change what we do, but to show that there are variations across the constitution in Royal Arch workings and, sometimes, why they exist. I especially recommended the Cumbria site. On there you will find some excellent articles by their Deputy Grand Superintendent, Peter Mason. I encourage you to read some of them and include a thought provoking article at the end of this letter.
On a more mundane point, may I ask all of you who do find yourselves with a little more time available to endeavour to spend some of it learning or revising our ritual. In my opinion, there is so much more value, to a candidate, in seeing someone delivering the ritual whilst looking at him than there is in seeing them read it. I know that many of us face various pressures on our time and that, understandably, some have great difficulty in learning ritual but, if that is the case, learning at least some key sentences could be a useful fall-back.
Companions, it has been sad that our masonic activities have had to be curtailed but I look forward to the day when full normality can return and wish you all well in the meantime.
With sincere fraternal regards,
E Comp. Philip Gough
PGSwdB, Deputy Grand Superintendent
Provincial Grand Chapter of Warwickshire
The paper from E Comp Peter Mason:
AN INDISSOLUBLE LINK!
A few comments which might help you to understand the “indissoluble link” between the Craft and the Royal Arch:
The Royal Arch is not a ‘Side Degree’! It is part of Pure Antient Freemasonry as described on page 1 of the Book of Constitutions. The Preliminary Declaration made at the Union of the two Grand Lodges in December 1813 states that “pure Antient Masonry consists of 3 degrees and no more, viz., those of Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch”.
All MM’s should be encouraged to complete their Craft Journey by joining the Royal Arch. As stated by the Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent and since reiterated by The Pro Grand Master – M.W. Bro. Peter Geoffrey Lowndes.
So, what is there in the Craft Ritual to inform me that there is more to learn after the 3rd Degree which has ended in death, despair with the loss of the Genuine Secrets of a MM?
We are informed at our initiation “to endeavour to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge,” in the Second Degree “to extend our researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science!” Both comments are (or should be) encouraging us to look closer at the words of the ritual to discover its (hidden) meaning.
- We are also told at the opening of the 3rd Degree that the Wardens were travelling from East to West in search of that which was lost (the genuine secrets of a MM). Why were they searching in the West? If you look at the coloured picture by the Masonic Artist, John Harris in The Emulation Ritual Book, showing the 2nd Degree TB (lower picture) showing the entrance of the Temple (in the East) looking towards the West ! You will see some closed Crimson, Purple and Blue curtains of the Sanctum Sanctorum.
- If you now look at Harris’s picture of the 3rd Degree TB and look at the picture on the coffin showing the inside of the Temple. It now shows the above mentioned curtains slightly parted and if you look to the left of the opening with a good magnifying glass, you will see a feint outline of the end of the Arc of the Covenant just peeping out from behind the LH curtain – confirming that this is the Sanctum Sanctorum, under which the lost secrets are recovered, and answers the question of why the Wardens were searching in the West!
- In the 3rd degree ritual we are informed that certain substituted secrets were adopted by King Solomon until time & circumstances should restore the genuine! Surely a suggestion that the genuine secrets might well be found?
- The word ‘companion’ is used, out of the blue, on three occasions in the 3rd Degree ritual – (i) After the F.P.O.F have been explained, it ends “with the former companions of their toils.” (ii) In the Traditional History after the grave had been discovered – “He therefore hailed his companions.” And (iii) after reopening the grave – “one of the brethren looking round observed some of his companions in this position.”
Why the sudden use of the word ‘companion’? If it’s not a clue?
- When the WM receives the substituted secrets from the SW at the Closing of the Lodge in the 3rd Degree, he informs all present “That they shall designate you and all MM’s throughout the universe, until time and circumstances SHALL restore the genuine.” A very positive statement, and surely a clear indication that there is more to learn after the 3rd Degree!
Surely these hidden clues are clearly telling us that the 3rd Degree is not the end of the story! There is more to learn? Which can only be achieved by joining the Royal Arch and thus completing the full story of Craft Masonry
E Comp. Peter Mason, PGSN, Deputy Grand Superintendent, Cumberland & Westmorland.