The Masonic Craft
The 133rd Psalm, when recited by the Initiate, symbolizes unity. It shows a tassel of the fez, which hangs down the beard to the shoulder, a symbol of Brotherly Love who dwells upon the earth as brethren in unity. Both are an essential need for that harmony which must prevail in every successful Masonic lodge, which has guards at its entrance. They are just as necessary for a safe and fruitful session. This Psalm brings out the glories of unity and Freemasonry’s first tenet.
Freemasonry, we say, is founded upon three Grand Principles–Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth which are commonly referred to as the points of our profession. Let us look at the second of these Grand Principles, Relief. In simple terms our early brethren understood Relief to mean the alleviating of the suffering of a brother, or the dependents of a deceased brother, by giving money or sustenance until circumstances improved. In modern terms we see Relief in its wider context of Charity that is not simply providing money to relieve distress but actually caring and giving of our time and talents in the service of our communities as a whole and not just to our brethren and their dependents.
Although Masonic ritual varies between jurisdictions, a consistent message conveyed to every candidate is that Charity is an essential part of Freemasonry. From this philosophy comes much of a ‘Mason’s work’, given freely and willingly. Charity comes in many forms, both large and small. Whether it’s something as simple, but appreciated, as a holiday basket delivered to the sick and shut-in by local Lodge officers, something much larger such as a donation of funds to support a community project or an on-going scholarship fund, or something as enormous as a chain of hospitals which provide totally free care to burned and crippled children, Masons regularly engage in charitable work as part of their Masonic membership.
To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all men. To sympathize with them in their misfortunes, to console them in their sorrows and to restore peace to their troubled minds – these are the great aims we have in view. We, as Freemasons, must be alert to recognize these opportunities and offer our services in the way that will best bring relief.