"Christopher Diehl Lodge No.19 Oration" Gavin K. K. Wardrope, W. Grand Orator
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters, Right Worshipful Brothers, Worshipful Brothers and Brethren all, Good Evening.
It is a pleasure to be here tonight in Christopher Diehl Lodge #19 and I congratulate all the Members for their hard work in the remodeling of the Temple, you should all be very proud.
I wish to spend a few moments talking this evening about that which we are taught in the Entered Apprentice degree namely how extensive the universality of Masonry is and that a Mason's charity should be equally extensive.
Charity is the brightest gem in the Masonic Crown and the Mason who is possessed of that virtue, in the most ample sense may justly be deemed to have attained the summit of his profession.
But, what is charity?
In the early days of the Roman Republic a man grew up in the house in which he was born; when he married he brought his wife to live with him under the paternal roof; when he died he left his sons living in the same place. Neighboring families were similarly stabilized and all these groups, owing to this perpetual neighborliness and to intermarriage, became so inter woven with each other that in a community there would not be one stranger.
In such a community the individual was not left to his own private resources; he was surrounded by others ever ready to aid him in misfortune, nurse him in illness and mourn him in death.
But, there came a time when this stability of life was broken up. By degrees the Romans conquered adjoining territory. A great military system was organized. Whole nations were brought into the Roman Empire. Great cities arose; travel was made possible; and a feverish restlessness took the place of the old stability. The old calm neighborhood life was destroyed, and in its place there grew up a fermenting life in town and city. A man no longer lived and died in the place of his birth, but moved from place to place, becoming a stranger in his own neighborhood and scarcely knew other persons living under the same roof. In misfortune and death he was thrown back on his own, unaided, individual resources.
In this situation men set out about the creation of a bond that would take the place of the lost neighborhood ties. They organized themselves into Collegia - groups formed of men in the same trade - which in the early days of their history were principally devoted to securing for a man a suitable burial service, the lack of which so filled a Roman with dread.
In the course of time these organizations - we could rightly call them lodges - assumed more and more functions until at last a man found in them charities, social life, business aid, religious influences, friendships and other features of general protection. To live a stranger in a city was no longer a thing to dread, to a man who could find in such a fellowship, the same friendship and support that his forefather had secured in the old-time neighborhood. We men of today are living under just such conditions as brought Collegia into existence. The great majority of us are living in towns and cities; many of us are subject to conditions that shuttle us about from place to place, and from situation to situation, so that life has lost its firmness and security. Our next-door neighbor is a stranger; we may live in an apartment house, where even with dwellers on the same floor we have no ties at all.
This is one form of Masonic Charity or Benevolence.
I am sure many of you are the same as me when you hear the words 'We are planning on having a Fundraiser.' The first thought that goes through my head, being a good Scot, is 'How much is this going to cost me?' The second thought is 'Can I get out of here without being seen?'
It always strikes me as strange that it is the Members who attend Lodge regularly that get the short end of the stick; the member who does not attend only has to pay his Dues.
Of course I am being simplistic but you know what I am saying because if we are honest it has happened to us all.
Of course the best Charity does not cost money; it is the voluntary giving of help to those in need. The saying of our RWJGW Wes Ing has long stuck with me, 'It is easy to write a check.' He says. How very true, the best Charity is the charity that involves everyone and costs only our time.
We applaud our major achievements from Shriners Hospital to the Eye Foundation but no less important are the acts of Charity in remitting a Brothers Dues or buying some flowers for our widows.
In 1772 William Preston delivered the following comments on benevolence
"To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all men, but particularly on Freemasons, who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. To soothe the unhappy, to sympathize with their misfortunes, to compassionate their miseries, and to restore peace to their troubled minds, is the great aim we have in view. On this basis we form our friendships and establish our connections."
Illustrations Masonry, p. 72
Remember our 3 Great Principles which we, as freemasons, stand for. They are Brotherly Love, Relief and truth. We are taught to practice charity and to care, not only for our own, but also for the Community as a whole, both by charitable giving and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.
The most rewarding Charity is the one that you can reap a reward from. I have found that from collecting clothes for a Homeless Shelter or assisting at the Food Bank have been the most rewarding periods in my life. If you can visit a Homeless Shelter and not be moved by the experience you are pure and simply heartless. It is the Children who don't deserve the situation they are in and we should as Masons stand up against hunger, poverty and homelessness, why, because it is the right thing to do.
I along with the Job's Daughters of Bethel #16 and RW Moore de Molay attend the Utah Food Bank once a month. What an experience. There is nothing better than having a 12 year girl or boy serving the Community along with an 88 year old man and woman. Try it Brethren the experience is rewarding. The Masonic name is out there for free and as the old saying goes 'no publicity is bad Publicity.' I remember a Past Master of the Lodge saying to me that when this was first set up that he applauded me for trying but no one will support it. My answer was that at least I will have tried and that my wife and I would always be there. I am pleased to say that on average there are over 30 youth and adults and on some occasions over 50 have showed, it makes me proud to see and it gives me hope for the future.
Charity is not just a one off event to satisfy the requirements of the Master Builder Award, it should be ongoing and involve as many as possible but more importantly it should be freely given. We cannot afford to sit on our laurels; we have to make an effort. We can do it you will surprise yourself and it will reflect back on this Lodge.
There are numerous possibilities just look at your local community here in Magna the possibilities are endless. This community, after seeing acts of kindness, will remember.
Just consider being asked by a non-mason why you act the way you do and giving the answer "Because it is the right thing to do'
There are many other acts of Public Service that can be done, from helping at a School Event to taking dogs for a walk at the local Animal Shelter. Do not shirk from your responsibilities.
I would offer the following which sums it all up perfectly;
One thing that is often forgotten is that charity in its widest sense is more than just collecting and disbursing money. It is also the giving of time and talents selflessly in service of the community. The unquantifiable evidence of lodges, groups of brethren and individuals adopting the local hospital, children's or old people's home and in addition to providing money and equipment doing the simple things such as providing a new face, a new ear to hear someone's troubles and in many cases providing the only social life that long stay residents ever have. That non-financial aspect of Charity is one which I think that we will see emphasized more and more in the future. Over the last decade Freemasonry has come under considerable attack from outside. Many brethren have asked how they can help to counter the misinformation peddled by the media. Surely the best counteraction is to show by example that we live by those principles and tenets which we obligate ourselves to uphold as we go through the three ceremonies to become Master Masons. By showing the world that we do not just give lip-service but put into practice those three Grand Principles--and in particular, the greatest of all: CHARITY.
(Br J Hamill Prestonian Lecture 1993)
Thank you for your time and enjoy the remainder of your Visitation.
Fraternally, Gavin KK Wardrope PM Grand Orator March 11, 2013