"Progress Spike Lodge No. 22 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.
The last 3 weeks have been very turbulent for Members of this Lodge but out of the turbulent waters we should all hope that calm waters lie ahead and that the ship is steered by a firm and fair hand.
I have spent some sleepless nights pondering as to the topic of my Oration this evening. There are many things that can and maybe ought to be spoken about but when I am troubled I look back on what lessons can be learned and how we can all ensure that we apply them to ourselves, is this not the lesson of making good men better. I am a firm believer in the adage of 'What has occurred in the past cannot be undone' or 'You can't change the past, only the future.'
If we look at the Entered Apprentice Degree, who can say that it is not bettered by any of the other ones. It is the foundation of our system the basis on which our whole structure is reared.
So, on this basis we should always look there for answers first. There is no better place to start than the Altar.
The enthusiastic Freemason who is genuinely interested in the system of morality which the Order exists to inculcate climbs rung after rung of the ladder which leads to knowledge in our mystic circle. Doubtless the brother who reaches the summit forgets much that he has learned in the course of his toilsome ascent, but one thing he is ever likely to remember is the Altar at which he knelt as an Initiate, and upon which, when darkness had been removed from his wondering eyes, he beheld the three great Lights of our Ancient and Honorable Fraternity. The Altar is the rallying point of Masonic thought. It is the point within the Masonic circle at which all distinctions among men are swept away, and to which every member may stand related in a common endeavor to achieve a splendid equality of Virtue, Morality, and Brotherly Love. Rising from that sacred spot at which, by his belief in God and his honor as a man, he has pledged himself to secrecy, fidelity, and obedience, the young mason is privileged to view the Lodge as an emblem of the Universe, and to note the symbols of the Faith of which, of his own free will and accord, he has become a devotee. And the Altar itself may first claim his attention.
From earliest days the Altar has been invested with peculiarly sacred associations, and in most religions has been regarded as an indispensable requisite of every place of worship. In primitive times it was believed to be the temporary abode of the Deity; and, if the idea is well founded that the Lodge is a symbol of the Universe, it is fitting that the Altar should occupy a central position since the Supreme Being, whose favor we solicit, and whose love we acknowledge, is the center and source of all creation. The original purpose of an altar was to provide a place where sacrifices could be made. After the erection of the Tabernacle, there was added the Altar of incense which is described as square in section, one cubit each way, and two cubits in height, with projecting horns; and authorities insist that that is the proper form of a Masonic Altar. In the Jewish ritual the Altar had a three-fold significance: it was the place where sacrifices were made, where incense was offered, and at its horns certain classes of offenders found sanctuary. In modern Freemasonry, the whole may be moralized as the spot at which the fervent Craftsman offers the incense of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, on which he lays unruly passions and worldly appetites as a fitting sacrifice to the genius of the Order, and under the shadow of which he finds sanctuary from greed, and avarice, and other lusts that would devour him. The Altar is the appropriate resting-place of the three great Lights of Masonry which are the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square, and the Compasses. These are called the furniture of the Lodge, and are dedicated respectively to God, to the Master, and to the Craft. The Initiate is told that the Bible is a gift from God to man to rule and govern his faith, the Square is to square his actions, and the Compasses to keep him in due bounds with all mankind. Oliver, in his lectures, illustrates the three Lights as follows:-
'The Bible", he says, "is said to derive from God to man in general, because the Almighty has been pleased to reveal more of His divine will by that holy Book than by any other means. The Compasses, being the chief implement used in the construction of all architectural plans and designs, are assigned to the Grand Master in particular, as emblems of His dignity, He being the chief Head and Ruler of the Craft. The Square is given to the whole Masonic body, because we are all obligated within it, and are consequently bound to act thereon.'
As we rise from the Altar to take our place in the Universe symbolized in the Lodge we, as worthy Masons, should carry the three great Lights with us, letting them be lamps unto our feet in all our later days: treasuring in our hearts the Volume of the Sacred Law as the unerring standard of Truth, the Square as the monitor of mercy, and the Compasses as the symbol of that circle of Temperance in all things by which we should constantly surround ourselves.
I am sure that if you remember your own first thoughts when you were removed from the blindfold at the Altar you will probably say confusion or possibly some fear which, remembering the adage 'Making good men better' is correct, you mind had been cleared of all your earthly thoughts and the Masonic Education which you craved could now be imparted to you.
Sometimes, we forget that we were all in a state of darkness at one time, whether it was 1 month or 20 years ago, we all were in that position where we sought enlightenment and sometimes that enlightenment which we have received has become concealed in our own hectic lives. It is wise to step back and take a breath relax and gather our thoughts remember where we all stood as Entered Apprentices in the North East corner of the Lodge and the lesson which was taught there and it is my belief that when coupled with the symbolism of the 4 Cardinal Virtues, Guttural, Pectoral, Manual and Pedal our lives will once again come into focus and the seas will be calm.
Guttural, the tongue, alludes to the penalty of the Obligation under which I swore never to divulge the secrets of the Order; Pectoral, the breast, in which, I, the Freemason safely deposits his secrets from a curious world; Manual, my hand placed on the Volume of the Sacred law, as a testimony of my assent of the Obligation of a Mason and Pedal, my feet placed in the form of a Square at the N.E. part of the Lodge to denote a just and upright man and Mason.
Remember Brethren this journey which we have all undertaken is a life changing one, we cannot expect to gain the answers immediately we have to keep searching but if we strive to keep our passions within due bounds we can at least enjoy the ride.
Most Worshipful Grand Master, I once again thank you for allowing me to say these few words and enjoy the rest of your visitation.
Fraternally, Gavin KK Wardrope PM Grand Orator May 6, 2013