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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes October 2011

Appeal For Relief

         In September MSA put out an appeal for the Grand Lodges of Connecticut, Vermont and Virginia. Tropical Storm "Lee" caused further damage and as a result the Grand Lodges of New York and Pennsylvania are now included in the appeal. Thank you for your support of those in need in these stricken Grand Jurisdictions.

MSA Disaster Relief Spans Decades

         Two great earthquakes are recorded in the history of Japan. One, on September 1, 1923, had a magnitude of 7.9 on the Richter scale. The second, on March 11, 2011, was listed as 8.9 on the Richter scale. The patterns were strikingly similar: devastation stretched along extensive seacoast areas; mudslides washed away homes and communities; vehicles of all types, including trains, were washed away to sea; thousands of lives were lost.

         The 1923 disaster – dubbed the Great Kanto Earthquake – occurred in a more densely populated area causing more casualties, making it the deadliest earthquake ever to strike Japan. It devastated Tokyo, burning down 60 per cent of the city, and leveled the great port city of Yokohama.

         Another similarity of the two Japanese earthquakes – approximately 88 years apart -- is that the Masonic Service Association of North America provided disaster relief for both.

         In fact, gathering disaster relief funds for the 1923 Kanto earthquake was the first example of such a relief effort by the MSA. A total of $1,577 in financial aid – which had far more dollar value than it does today -- was sent to Japan.

         In 2011, after a disaster appeal was sent out by MSA, a total of nearly $92,000 has been donated by North American Masons and Grand Lodges, and sent by MSA to Japan.

         This definitely represents a long and continuing history of disaster relief on the part of the Masonic Service Association.

Did You Know?  What is meant by use of the "Sword?

         Tiler's emblem of authority; pointing to the naked heart, an emblem of divine judgement.

Observance Lodges

            In the September 2011 issue of The Southern California Research Lodge (SCRL), Norm Leeper, Editor, included a page on Observance Lodges. Because these lodges are becoming very popular this explanation will help our readers understand the reason for Observance Lodges.

The term probably can't be defined in precise terms because there are variations in their methods and operation. That said, the purpose of the Observance Lodge is relatively universal – to seek further light in the hunt for the philosophy of Freemasonry, to restore the meaning of Freemasonry.

As broad as that definition may be, the Masons belonging to an Observance Lodge are not trying to define 'observance' but are searching for the truths found lacking in their lodges. It is not a criticism of their lodge or of Masonry in general, but an honest belief that the Masonic lodge does not meet their standards of acceptance as to what Freemasonry should be.

In an article appearing in the Summer 2011 Philalethes, Restoring Our Lodges, Observing Our Craft, Shawn Eyer (member SCRL) interviews author W. Bro. Andrew Hammer about his call for a more observant and traditional approach to the craft. W. Bro. Hammer describes what he feels are the characteristics of an observance lodge.

  • Guarding the West Gate. We should be careful about who we admit into the fraternity. Our future depends on it since not everyone is of the ilk we want as members.
  • High standards of ritual proficiency. Our ritual is the backbone of the craft. When done poorly, we do more harm than good.
  • Return a sense of awe to our ceremonies.
  • Officer advancement should be by merit.
  • Observance Lodges have a dress code for members – usually tuxedos.
  • Chamber of Reflection. The 'ready' room for candidates whose purpose is to allow a prospective candidate time to reflect and meditate on the process he is about to enter into.
  • Education – by no means the last of the characteristics of an Observance Lodge. May possibly be the most important as it is the lack of Masonic education that caused Masons to form Observance Lodges.


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