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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes October 2013

Clara Barton Influenced By Masonic Father

Clara Barton, known as the "Angel of the Battlefield" during the Civil War, was a nurse, teacher, and humanitarian, and today is honored as the "Founder of the American Red Cross."

Much of the inspiration for her life of service came from her father, Captain Stephen Barton, a Master Mason, who impressed her with the tenets of Freemasonry.

Captain Barton, a native of Oxford, Massachusetts, enlisted at age 19 to fight in the Indian Wars in the west under General Anthony Wayne.  After his return to Oxford, he married, and later moved to the farm where Clara was born.  He was chosen as Captain of the militia and served as moderator of town meetings, selectman, and a member of the legislature.

Two months after his marriage, he became a Mason in Olive Branch Lodge.  Brother Barton combined a military spirit, gentle disposition, and spirit of philanthropy -- characteristics inherited by his daughter.

After his death, Clara said, "As the daughter of an accepted Mason, he bade me seek and comfort the afflicted everywhere."  Before his death, he presented his daughter a gold Masonic emblem to wear in his memory for luck and protection.  Clara Barton wore that emblem throughout the Civil War.

Later in life, Clara became a member of the Order of Eastern Star, and was initiated by Rob Morris, the founder of the Order. 

Just after her Eastern Star initiation, she said, "My father was a Mason; to him it was a religion, and for the love and honor I bear him, I am glad to be connected with anything like this."

(Source: Royal Arch Mason Magazine, Summer, 2013, from article by George L. Marshall, Jr.)

Four Cardinal Virtues

When you hear the lectures about the Four Cardinal Virtues in the Entered Apprentice Degree, they sometimes may appear as an afterthought and are clearly not integral to the rest of the degree.

In fact, they do not appear in any ritual of the craft prior to 1750.  Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia states: "It is probable that this peculiar part of the lectures goes back beyond the dawn of symbolic Masonry and that what we have is a distorted remnant of a much more meaningful symbolism or has been built up in modern times out of a brief and unimportant part of the old pre-Grand Lodge working."

Coil further suggests that the Cardinal Virtues were "taken from the Christian Church, which derived them from Plato and to which the Church had added the three Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity, which Freemasonry has also borrowed."

But, what an excellent addition to our initiation!  While not integral to the rest of the degree, they most certainly should be an integral part of every Mason's character.

The Four Cardinal Virtues are intertwined and inseparable.  After all, what is temperance without prudence, fortitude without justice, or justice without prudence?

(Source: Connecticut Freemasons, June, 2013, column by Grand Chaplain Bruce R. Bellmore.)

Dictionaries Given To Students In Oregon

Sixth-grade students at three middle schools in the Florence, Oregon, area were each presented a new Webster's dictionary from the Florence Masons.

During the presentation at one school, a teacher asked why the Masons are donating dictionaries. 

One of the group responded, "Our Fraternity for many centuries has accepted such precepts as equal rights for all, freedom of religious thought, and freedom of political thought . . . Masons have determined that education is the best way to spread these ideals.  Masons support education in many ways – handing out dictionaries is just one."


Being a critic is secondary to 'doing'

President and Brother Theodore Roosevelt once remarked, "It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things."

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