Friday, November 29, 2013

November 27th - 2nd Degree Tracing Board Lecture

The Master -Acrylic on board by Bro. John Newman 

Wor. Di Natale receiving the painting from Bro. Newman

Rock that Fez Bro. Schank! 

The Lodge holding its communications on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays means that it almost always falls near or right before Thanksgiving. The cable-tow pulls hard this day and often the lodge which welcomes over 30 Brothers to each communication is luck to get half. We had a larger than average gathering and the Brother shared in wonderful fellowship.....and a few drinks! What made this night even more special was the gift given to me. Brother John Newman is an accomplished miniature  painter and artist. He reciently turned his talents to canvas painting. In jest, I asked him to paint a portrait of me and he did. It was a wonderful surprise  to say the least. There have been a few pictures floating around Facebook of the work in progress but never the finished version posted here. 

The Fellowcraft Club also handed out its first fez for the Fezzraiser to Brother Schank. The program was well received by our Fellowcrafts using the new board. All in all for the quietest communication of the year there was a lot going on. 

Wor. Daniel J. Di Natale 

November 25th - Ancient Landmarks Lodge No. 358 - American Table Lodge

Brother Mark Robson speaks on the Templar Connections
Brother Monhiem and friends.  

The Table Lodge! 
Wor. Storck Bro. Siegal and Bro. Webb raise them high! 

The Brothers of Ancient Landmarks Lodge have done it again. What a wonderful Table Lodge! The three-five-eight welcomed over 40 Brothers and their guest around a wonderful table of fellowship. Landmarks is well know for their Kipling Night and Burns Supper but often this wonderful event gets over looked. The resurrection of full on Table Lodges are something new for the Western New York area but Brothers forget their history. Ancient Landmarks ran very large Table Lodges for years with a rewritten ritual that was done in the 1980s. They would even fly speakers in as the guests of honor! 

This night was no different with Brother Mark Robson (It was a far shorter distance than flying !) acting as the guest speaker. The spoke on the Templar Connection and Freemasonry. Seems his performance at the debate night has made him a desired speaker on the topic in the district, a well earned honor.  Landmarks honored many wonderful guests of distinction - R:.W:. Bruce Renner, Senior Grand Warden 2008 - 2010 and President of the Robert R. Livingston Library, R:.W:. Daniel Peters, Grand Sword Bearer Grand Lodge of the State of New York and R:.W:. R. Curtis Montgomery, Trustee Emeritus Masonic medical Research Laboratory. Along with many other Past Masters and a Master of a Lodge (me!) 

It was a wonderful evening and Wor. Campbell and his officers should be very proud of such a wonderful night. I very much look forward to their next event - BURNS NIGHT!!!!!!!! 

Wor. Daniel J. Di Natale 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Worshipful Daniel J. Di Natale lectures at Enchanted Mountain Lodge No. 252 - November 19, 2013

The Lecture Opens
Wor. Di Natale and Wor. Backhaus, Master of Enchanted Mountains Lodge No. 252
Wor. Timothy Clemons, Master of master Craftmans Lodge No. 110 - P.H.A - Wor. Daniel J. Di Natale, Master of Harmonie Lodge No. 699 and Wor. John Backhaus, Master of Enchanted Lodge No. 252 

Dear Bothers,

It is an honor to have been invited to teach at Enchanted Mountain Lodge No. 252 in the beautiful Olean Masonic Temple. The Lodge welcomed well over 20 Brothers (five from Harmonie!) from across the state and our Brothers from Price Hall. The Worshipful Timothy Clemens , Master of Master Craftmans Lodge No. 110 P.H.A from right here in Buffalo, New York, was in attendance with his brethren. The Lodge held a special German feast in honor of Harmonie Lodge. The food was wonderful and special thanks need to be given to Worshipful Backhaus and his wife for their work in the kitchen. The Lodge's hospitality proves that no matter where you maybe a home can always be found in a Masonic Lodge.

The lecture was very well received. It is a very in-depth and lengthy lecture that covers ritual history, Masonic history, art history and methods of teaching. "The Form, Function and History of the Tracing Board” is my favorite lecture to give. I add a few new things each time I give the lecture. Each time I review my notes I find a few more details I want to expound upon. In the end thats what the Tracing Boards are for. They get us to think and to talk. It is the talking I feel that leads to the real learning, as learning is a social event. Each of us bring ideas and the boards brings those ideas and feelings out in a way that is different from other Masonic teaching systems.

It was a pleasure to have been able to do this and I look forward to my next trip down,
Worshipful Daniel J. Di Natale

Thursday, November 14, 2013

2nd Degree of Masonry - November 13, 2013

Our Class of Fellowcrafts 

The Degree classes we hold each year are always something special. This Degree was even more so as it was the first time Bro. Kiem (Our Junior Warden) took to the East to confer a Degree. Bro. Keim selected the team, handled the practices and acted as Master for the whole Degree. He and his team did an impressive job. As Master, I am truly humbled to know that he and Bro. Guzck (Our Senior Warden) will one day take the Seat of Solomon. It is a good feeling knowing that the next round of leaders are able, driven and ready after my time in the East ends. Special thanks need to be given to Bro. Hacker (Our Musical Director.) Timing of musical works during the work is a really hard thing to do and Bro. Hacker nails it every time. It truly makes our Degrees something very special.

We were honored to have Wor. Bro. Michael Little, Past Master of Polk Lodge No. 137, Grand Lodge of Illinois, Right Wor. Bro. Daniel Peters, Grand Sword Bearer,  Right Wor. Bro. Marlon Gaydeen, Trustee of the Robert R. Livingston Library and Very Wor. Gerald Colman, Assistant Grand Lecture in attendance. Their support made this night even more empacting for our newly pasted Fellowcrafts.

Wor. Daniel J. Di Natale

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Debate Night: The Templar Connection - October 23rd

Brother Carl Cloudy suggested in his work "The Master's Book" that there is nothing like a debate night to stir up conversation. Bro. Cloudy was right! Bro. Mark Robson and W:. Nathan A. Shoff debated the connection of the historical Knight Templars and their connection to Freemasonry. This is a topic many feel very passionate about. The best part of this debate is that there is not a ton of hard historical data to support one point of view, pro or con. This leads to some very opened ranges of debate and that is what we saw. Bro. Robson took the debate in a direction most would never see coming. That the Templars were not the Christians we though they were that their time and exposer in the holy land changed them into something else, something that found its way into Freemasonry.  While W:. Shoff went the road less traveled using real Masonic history and refuting the legionary history to supporting his position of the Templars not effect the the foundation of the Craft.

So often the Lodge holds programs the  Brothers enjoy but are very limitedly engaged afterwards. This program got the whole room involved. So rarely to we have conversation that involve all that are in attendance two hours after the program ends. It was wonderful to behold. The Lodge was honored to have many Sir Knights as visitors and supporters of Bro. Mark Robson (A Knight himself.) Even more auspicious we welcomed the Past Grand Commander, Sir Knight David Shire and his historical Templar re-enactors. The attendance was wonderful, more than any other program this year. We filled the Lodge room during the communication and the Festive Board during the program.
Sir Knights with our Master and our Debaters 

We are seeing a huge response from Brothers that attended with how much they enjoyed the program. Many Brothers have commented on how lively the exchange was and wished all program caused the same response.  One thing can be for sure, that there is not end in sight to the debate.

Bro. Robson lays it down

Head to Head 

"Wine With Neal: Lady's Night Adventure" October 20th

Wine with Neil, the second of our lady's night adventures this year and our most successful. The Lodge welcomed around twenty Brothers and their ladies to The Wine Room, owned and operated by Bro. Neil Kratzer ( This was not your average wine tasting. Bro. Neil went over the different types of wines in flights and helped discern what wine you enjoyed the most. It was not just drinking but learning about what it was you were drinking and how you could find that in other wines. The ladies just loved the event and are now demanding that we start running this quarterly!

We will very much try to do that for them. After the tasting the group went over to the Creekside Restaurant next door. We shared in a wonderful meal and good fellowship between all. I very much look forward to our next gathering. Our Lodge is a family and any strong family needs to meet about the table and dwell in peace, love and unity.
Bro. Neil teaches the glory of wine! 

The Master's Lady rocking the R.J.K Fez

The JW stock up.

W:. Daniel J. Di Natale wear the R.J.K Fez

Meet the Kaminskis 

The Brothers and their ladies

“The Scripture Lessons: The Great Light and its use in America and Aboard” Presented by. Brother William B. Chapin II, Chaplain

The Volume of Sacred Law, the central Masonic symbol and reference to our allegorical system, how much do we really know about its use in Freemasonry? In American Craft ritual it is not uncommon to have sections selected for very symbolic reasons as part of the Three Degrees. Why are these verses selected, what do they mean and are they the same in all our ritual sets? Bro. William Chapin II, our Chaplain, covered these topics and more in his presentation on the Great Light and its use in Masonic Ritual. This was Bro. Chapin's first presentation to the Lodge and was just wonderfuly done.  It left much food for thought as to the history of the verses, how they are used and how they are different across the Craft. I very much hope he does further flushing out of his presentation into a full research paper.  If your Lodge is looking for a program that is abut the Ritual and gives you something different to think about, this is the program for you.

W:. Daniel J. Di Natale

Bro. William Chapin

Monday, October 14, 2013

Western New York Masonic Ball - October 6, 2013 in Honor of Most Worshipful James Sullivan, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York

The Dance Floor
What a wonderful evening. I know many Brothers had deep apprehensions about attending the revival of the Masonic Ball. This event used to be the social event of the year for Masons in Erie County and abutting counties. A real who's who of the Masonic community on this side of the state. As the wheels of time turned and Masonry started to go into a backslide this was one of the first events to fall to the wayside. How appropriate that this is the time that it returns as what I hope to be its rightful place as a staple of our community's events calendar. Worshipful Kuhn and Worshipful Tetro need to be thanked highly for their efforts and the efforts for their team to get this to work so well.

This was a wonderful night held at Classic V on the Boulevard. The Grand Master was in attendance as well as a delegation from Ionic Lodge No. 88, Prince Hall Affiliated. It was wonderful to hear the Grand Master speech on Masonry's dedication to veterans and our service to them. It was also an amazing honor to speak with our Prince Hall Brothers. Something I hope to do more of in the future.

At the next Masonic Ball, Harmonie Lodge will fill a table. It was a night of wonderful Brotherhood.  Of 1st Erie only two Masters of Lodges were not in attendance with well over 300 guests. It was a night to remember and I look forward to the next Ball.

Worshipful Daniel J. Di Natale

Wor. Geiger of Washington Lodge No. 240 and his lady.  

Very Wor. Gaskill and Wor. Geiger

Most Worshipful Sullivan, Wor. Geiger and the Brothers of Inonic Lodge No. 88, P.H.A. 

The Masters of Sweet Home Temple

The Storcks cut a rug 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

“Admit Him if Properly Clothed: The Evolution of the Masonic Apron in America 1740 to Present.” – W:. Patrick Craddock - September 25th

Amazing falls short to describe the caliber of this program. For the last three years Harmonie Lodge has hosted its Distinguished Speaker Series. This program was a dream of W:. Nathan Shoff, W:. Fredrick Clark II and myself. We wanted to be able to bring true Masonic scholars to the District to share their light. This year is no different as we had the distinct honor of hosting Worshipful Patrick Craddock of the Craftsman's Apron. He is one of the foremost experts on the Masonic Apron and its development and use in the United States and abroad. If you missed it I am so sorry Brother. This was something you really should have come an seen. 

Brother Craddock is a wonderful Man and Mason and an amazing public speaker. We filled the festive board of the Lodge with well over 30 Brothers from all over Western New York and as far as Olean. The program was very well received and spurred immediate conversations between the Brothers as to the state of our regalia. 

I have said the past the I want my Past Masters Apron to be from the Craftsman's Apron. After meeting with Brother Craddock and learning about his methods I know I found the right Brother for the job. Take a look at his wonderful website - 

W:. Craddock and W:. Di Natale

A Toast to our Honored Guest

W:. Backus, W:. Craddock and W:. Di Natale

The Lecture 

Teaching Around the Table like Masons of Old

Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club - Bullets and Brotherhood Weekend - September 20th to 22nd

Rain or shine this was a wonderful event. Once again the Brothers of Harmonie ventured to the woods of Angelica, New York to share in bullets and Brotherhood. Sadly the just awful weather kept many of those that signed up from coming, it was still a blast. The R.J.K hosted Brothers from Livingstone Lodge and Amherst Lodge. The food is always good but with Brother Ben Kaminski in the kitchen we hit a new level this year. Special thanks to him for allowing us another year at his wonderful hunting retreat and to Brother President Monheim for his organizing of the event. I hope the weather is better next year so more can enjoy this wonderful time away from the hustle and bustle of Buffalo living.  

Worshipful Daniel J. Di Natale

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Honoring Brother Richard Hoos, D.S.A - 68 Years a Brother of Harmonie - September 17, 2013

A life dedicated to the Craft does not fully express the dedication Brother Richard Hoos, D.S.A, has. He has been a Brother of Harmonie Lodge since 1945. He is the longest serving member of the Lodge serving 68 years. Due to health concerns the Lodge was never able to make it over to Brother Hoos to honor him for his 65 year of service. Brother Hoos has since recovered and the Lodge was able to meet him and award him for his years of dedication. It is sometimes difficult for the youth of the Lodge to apprecicate all that our senior members have done.

Brother Hoos shared wonderful stories and insight into the Lodge over the last 68 years. He shared that his Uncle the Right Worshipful (Past Master of Harmonie Lodge in 1933) Carl A. Luther brought him into the Craft. He said things were very different back then as the Lodge was meeting at the Niagara Street Temple and the Craft held a very different role in society.  He shared wonderful stories of his time as Color Guard for Ismailia Shrine and the Lodge's past travels to Cleveland and Palmer Lodge in Fort Erie. Seems that in the past our new sister Lodge was well acquainted with our Lodge.

One thing can be taken away from Brother Hoos, age is nothing but a number. Brother Hoos in also being the longest serving member of the Lodge is also the oldest. In talking to him you would never know he was born in the early 20s. If you ever get the pleasure to speak with him (Give him a call. He loves to talk to the Brothers) he is witty and a joy to speak with.

On September 17th the Brothers went to finally meet up with Brother Hoos and award him for his years of service. The event was attended by over 15 Brothers and Brother Hoos's family. Though late by a few years, tt was just wonderful to see him so excited. The Lodge very much looks forward to awarding him in 2 years with his 70 year certificate and pin.

It was the honor of a lifetime to be the Master that honored him. W:. Daniel J. Di Natale

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tending to the Graves at Acacia Park Cemetery

As Master of the Lodge many things fall to my responsibility. Tending to the sick, assisting in support of Brothers in hard times and honoring our dead, just to name a few. Honoring our dead is one of those odd levels of responsibility, as honoring them does not end at the funeral service but continues as long as we can actively recall our fallen Brothers in any capacity.

In my time as Master, I have been requested to tend the graves of those Brothers who's families are no longer able. An honor as a Master of a Lodge. It has taken me to some amazing Masonic sites in the Buffalo area that are often neglected. One such site is Resthaven located at Acacia Part Cemetery in Tonawanda, New York. Founded by Brother Adolph Richard Hansen in 1928,  noticing that there was no special place for respectful interment outside of the City of Buffalo for Freemasons. The cemetery eventualy grew out to included many different social, fraternal and civic groups as having their own burial sections. Yet still the three largest plots are of a Masonic connection or theme.

The cemetery is littered with memorials. The three largest beingMasonic in theme. Much like other sites in the Buffalo area this one also has a huge outdoor Lodge room. Easily the span of half a food ball field it is much larger than that found at Elm Lawn yet is not correct in construction as the one found there. The altar is not in the center at Acacia park and the chairs are off center to one another, yet is still very impressive just in its scale. The two more impressive memorials stand in their own section the of the cemetery.

The Resthaven Masonic Memorial to Master Masons  is a impressive work of art deco sculpture. It is impressively placed on the center of  mound surrounded by the graves of those Masons listed on the brass marker on the front of the memorial. The third memorial is a lone Corinthian column with a virgin weeping next to the broken column. Simply massive statue surmounted by a globe, denoting the universality of benevolence from the Craft.

This site has changed hands a few times, once being managed by the Order now owned by a company that holds a few graveyards in Buffalo. Sadly, the graves in the Masonic sections are not as well kept as the should be. These sites are part of our local Masonic heritage and hold deep cultural value. I hope in time we can undo the damage that has been.

W:. Daniel j. Di Natale

Outdoor Lodge located in Masonic Garden 

Full shot of the Corinthian Column  

The lone virgin weeping at the broken column 

Resthaven Memorial 

Top of the Resthaven Memorial 

District Deputy Grand Master's Official Visitation - August 28, 2013

Dear Brothers,

What a wonderful night to kick off the District Deputy's official visitation season for 2013. Harmonie for at least the last 8 years has been the first to host the Deputy in his travels around the 1st Erie District, an honor each year. The Lodge welcomed the Right Worshipful Thomas Pecoraro and the 1st Erie District team in true Harmonie fashion. Hold a huge festive board feast in celebration of his and the team's service to the Craft. In thanks to our DDGM service the Lodge presented him with a print of King Solomon from the work of Gustave Dore, inscribed by each member present at the communication. 

This DDGM's presentation is unlike any that has been shown it the past. It is amazing to see the raw talent and dedication of the 1st Erie Team. Brother, if you missed this official presentation do your best to visit another Lodge and see it. It sets the bar high for the next DDGM. It is both very informative and entertaining. If you don't leave the communication feeling strong about what it is our Grand Lodge does and how amazing it is to be a New York Mason than nothing will. 

At this communication the Lodge also presents is annual awards to our Brethren. To make this presentations even more special for the recipients was our list of distinguished guests from Canada. The Lodge welcomed the Grand Steward of the Grand Lodge of Canada and the District Deputy Grand Master of Niagara District B, home to our Sister Lodge in Fort Erie who accompanied them to the communcation. They witnessed the first presentation of the "Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club - Past President's Medal" by the Lodge to all of our past presidents of the club. The R.J.K.F.C is credited with being the first wave of rejuvenation that we are known for. The past serving presidents have never been honored for their dedication and inspiration to the Lodge. This award does just that and going forward will contuinue to award those who serve the Lodge with such dedication. 

W:. Daniel J. Di Natale

Prestation of the Lodge's gift to out District Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Thomas Pecoraro

From left to right -  Brother Dennis James McMullen – President of the Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft – Serving June 2012 to January 2013 - W:. Fredrick G. Clark – President of the Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club – Serving 2007 to 2009 - W:. Daniel J. Di Natale – President of the Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club - Serving 2009 to 2012 - - Brother John Balk – Founding President of the Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club – Serving 2005 to 2007 - Brother Donald Monheim – President of the Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club – Serving 2013 to Present