Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Harmonie 699 listed among nation's most prestigious Lodges

Harmonie Lodge was recently honored by being added to Academia Lodge No. 847's list of Traditional Lodges, i.e. "Masonic Lodges emphasizing substantial education and/or a more traditional approach overall. This list includes, but is not limited to, Traditional Observance and European Concept lodges." Harmonie's brand of Janusian Masonry has been greatly influenced by both Traditional Observance and European Concept lodges and we are greatly honored by being listed among these 45 other Lodges of excellence. We are also pleased to be one of the four Lodges listed that are under the aegis of the Grand Lodge of New York. We are thrilled to stand shoulder to shoulder with St. John's Lodge No. 1, Independent Royal Arch No. 2, and our good friends from Mariners Lodge No. 67. Please click the link below to see the list of Lodges. These websites are a tremendous resource for the serious student of Masonry and casual observer alike.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rough Ashlar

When I was told that I needed to produce a “Master’s Piece” before the third degree I wasn’t sure what to expect out of myself.  What could I possibly bring to the table?  Certainly not some great work of art, not a musical masterpiece, or even an article on Freemasonry itself.  The cold hard conclusion is that I am an under educated, under skilled, classless man who wants to obtain light in Masonry.  How could a man such as myself produce something worthy of the title “Master’s Piece” and be proud to place my name on it, claiming it as my own?  Stephen King came to mind.  King once said "you are the unfortunate ones who still get the lovemaking all confused with the paltry squirt that comes to end the lovemaking (the orgasm is, after all, God’s way of telling us we’ve finished, at least for the time being, and should go to sleep)."  Although a crude statement, it is one of my favorites.  What King was trying to say is simply it’s the journey that counts.  I believe that statement applies to Masonry.  Masonry, to me, is not the beginning of my journey, nor the end.  So instead of writing a “Master’s Piece” I decided to write about the under educated Mason (myself and I’m certain there are others) and the journey taken as a rough ashlar.

Each time I step into the lodge or even the dining area I feel intimidated.  It has been difficult to keep up in conversations that I know nothing about.  The vocabulary used confuses me.  Most of the Masons I’ve met know about history, philosophy, politics, and are very well read.  I however, do not know about these things, and I am not well read.  I am a 23 year old high school graduate.  I play video games in my spare time and I have a job as a security guard.  I could have stepped out and quit at any time -- but I didn’t.  An under educated Mason such as myself learns something new each time he steps into lodge.  If I had known everything before I walked in the door, I wouldn’t be learning anything new.  Lodge would be boring, and I probably wouldn’t want to be a Mason.  For now I am happy sitting on the sidelines, warming the bench, and just listening.  The more I listen the more educated I become.  As I become educated, I become less intimidated.  As I become less intimidated I am able to participate more in discussions and ask appropriate questions.   This is the path I am taking to become a better man and Mason.

How else do I benefit from Freemasonry?  Other than the obvious educational aspect there is a sense of comradery.  Myself being a former military man, the friendship and brotherly love offered by Freemasonry acts as a replacement for the fellowship amongst soldiers.  No one can deny that it is a benefit of Freemasonry to know that no matter where a Mason goes, there are others around that can recognize him for what he is, and treat him with the same respect he would his own family.  We are brothers, and that is not a term that I personally would take lightly.  The world looks different and feels different everyday when you know that by the decisions you make, you may be letting your brothers down.  Although I have not yet been passed to the degree of Master Mason, I do take my obligations seriously.  Sometimes that’s all that we as men need to walk uprightly during our day-to-day activities.  Bettering myself as a man betters myself as a Mason and allows me to represent our fraternity proudly.  This could not be done without the constant thought of letting down my fellow brothers.

This is not to say that an under educated Mason only benefits himself by attending lodge.  Because I am not educated I have the ability to ask questions that maybe no one else would have bothered to ask.  These questions can inspire conversation and learning even amongst “veterans” of the Craft.  The generational difference that a young under educated Mason brings allows the fraternity to continue growing as time continues.  This keeps the fraternity from becoming outdated, and also potentially attracts new members.

A man can memorize rituals, or phone books, or movie quotes.  I do not feel that this benefits the individual or the world around him.  It is a great starting point for tradition's sake and as an introduction to the Craft.  We as Free and Accepted Masons only benefit ourselves and the fraternity through our daily actions and understanding of what it is to be a Mason.  Regardless of age and education, each driven member of the lodge will find a way to benefit himself and his brothers.  I am not proud of the man I am, but I am proud of the man I will become through dedication to both the lodge and myself.

- Bro. Jason Bonnett

Friday, November 18, 2011

Famous Freemasons of Forest Lawn Cemetery Tour

“Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, when we visited the Masonic Plots;
I see no reason why our distinguished Brethren should ever be forgot”

Members of Harmonie Lodge No. 699 and visiting Brothers were joined by friends and family as our own Daniel Di Natale, with the assistance of Peter Filim, of Ancient Landmarks Lodge No. 358 and a Docent of Forest Lawn, guided us on a tour of famous Masons interred in the cemetery.  All in attendance learned many things about war heroes (specifically the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War and others), early Buffalo politicians, frontiersman, natives and past members of Harmonie Lodge and its predecessors.

We also visited Brothers’ memorials of particular aesthetic value, such as Brother Burton Dow and his modern memorial with its bronze “burning bush” and Brother Lawrence Bell, the founder of Bell Aircraft.  The Schickel memorial near the Delavan entrance and others lent Masonic symbolism that was debated and contemplated.  Non-Masonic memorials famous to Forest Lawn were also discussed, such as the Darwin Martin memorial and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Blue Sky Mausoleum.

The tour was heavily historical and context was given influential people in the settling of Buffalo, some of which those in attendance were familiar and others we had never heard of.  Bro. Sgt. Philip Bachert of the famed Weidrich’s Battery of the Battle of Gettysburg and Bro. Col. Cyrenius Chapin, the leader of the Buffalo militia during its invasion in 1812 were examples of professional soldiering and amateur defenders.  Bro. Gen. Daniel Bidwell is very well memorialized in the city with the parkway which bears his name and the statue of him at its beginning.  Bro. Erastus Granger, whose simple marker lies in stark contrast to his contributions to the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, early Masonic Lodges in Western New York and the founding of Forest Lawn.  He is the original owner of the land on which we walked.

A good time was had by all, who left feeling pride in their city and fraternity.