Chaplain 2012

Chaplain’s Messages  2012

Chaplain’s Message   January 2012   by Rick Rayfield

 Lords a Leaping

The Partridge in a Pear Tree song calls for “ten lords a leaping”.  Most musicologists believe the phrase refers to the Ten Commandments, one of the parts of the “Bible” respected by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  In 2012,  the day for ten lords a  leaping will be  Wednesday, Jan 4th, 2012, the day after our January Lodge meeting.  That next day, will we be ten lords-a-leaping to carry on our Masonic work?

2012 is a leap year.  Will it be a year of leaping ahead with our Masonic work?  Will our partnership with the Oddfellows be fruitful? Will our hosting the Flood Recovery be further good work?   Will our events  build brotherhood and our bank balance?  What new visions will we have for opportunity to serve?

Are we plodding ahead,  or are we leaping?

The first commandment, and arguably the overarching one, is to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds.   The commandment is not to “like” or to “respect” or “believe”.  We are commanded to love, to be passionate, to leap in the building of our living temples.  Let 2012 be a leap year.  So mote it be.

Chaplain’s Message February 2012  by Rick Rayfield

How Do Masons Meet?

How do Mason’s meet? Upstairs? In secret? Duly tyled? Monthly? In jackets and ties? With a ceremony to open and close? With the Worshipful Master in charge? And an open book?

How do Masons meet? As brothers and friends? To do good work? In good fellowship? Within due bounds? With passions subdued? In harmony? With unity of purpose?

How do Masons meet? Like we have for centuries? Like our fathers and grandfathers? With a charter from a Grand Lodge? Like Masons around the world?

How do Masons meet? In Thy Name?

How do Masons meet? On the Level as equal brothers in the sight of God and Man? On THIS level of time, in this life-time, beyond whose boundaries we do not know? On a level that includes our material and spiritual temples?

How do Masons meet? Acting in upright fashion, and parting on the square, cemented by moral virtues? We try.

Chaplain’s Message March 2012   by Rick Rayfield

1 Kings 5 The Pillars named Jachin and Boaz

By mistake in church recently, we were read a Bible verse from the 1st rather than 2nd book of Kings.

The fifth chapter of 1 Kings tells details of the building of the Temple by Solomon, including the manufacture by Hiram Abif of the two columns. It details the columns Jachin and Boaz which stand for “God establishes” and “He comes in power”, and their adornment with pomegranates, lilies, and network, but not globes.

If we walk into a room with chairs on one, two, and three steps, and a ‘G’ behind one chair, we expect to see the two pillars on the other side of the room. Behind the Master’s chair, we have the simple symbol of God or Geometry, his symbol barely made by man’s hands. On the other side of the room, we have the art of casting bronze by a master artisan, depicting in multiple glory, the attributes of the Grand Architect. Later verses in the Bible describe the King standing beside one of the pillars.

The pillars depict God’s trestleboard to guide us, as we seek unity, plenty, and purity. Through human faithfulness and genius, we can approach those designs. Behind the Master’s chair is the more mysterious and universal call for us to follow what we may not understand fully. Both symbols remind us to pursue our “temples” with divine designs in mind.

With much help, Solomon built the Temple in seven years, and took nearly twice that time to build a house for himself. We should be patient with ourselves.

Chaplain’s Message April 2012  By Rick Rayfield

Freemasons and the Catholic Church: The Current Position

Whole books have been written, with much information and misinformation on both sides. Sigh.
American Cardinal Bernard Law wrote the most recent official Church position from the Vatican, including the recent history of that position. I have reviewed that document (which I can provide you too), which is in the form of a extended letter explaining the background and how priests and other church officials should counsel Catholics who have joined Freemasonry.|
Law’s letter explains that the Catholic Church has no animosity toward Freemasonry, but simply finds it not in accord with Roman Catholic teachings of theology. In brief, Freemasonry is too tolerant of other religious beliefs.
Canon law used to specify that Freemasonry was among groups that Catholics should not join. After Vatican Two, this language was dropped, leading some Catholics to believe that joining Freemasonry was condoned. Not so, but an understandable error, writes Law. The Vatican’s continuing position is that, like other religious groups that do not adhere to Catholic theology and catechism, Freemasonry is not a group to which Catholics should belong. This official letter counsels priests on how to gently handle the awkward situation of Catholics who joined Freemasonry “in error” before this matter was clarified.

Catholics around the world make their own decisions on how to cope with official catechism on a wide range of controversial subjects – from divorce and birth control, to politics and education. Bless them in their struggle; we each have our own journeys which are not smooth. All faiths in one God are welcome in Freemasonry. But all faiths are not comfortable with Freemasonry. They may not tolerate us. We tolerate and respect them. Bless us all, Lord God.

Chaplain’s Message  May 2012  by Rick Rayfield

“Who laid the cornerstone?”  Job 38:6

In the story of Job, after a prosperous life of faith, Job is tested. Loss of family and health plague him in a test of the foundation of his faith.  Some feel this wager between God and Satan reflects poorly on God.  We all know that, like a building, once a creation is set in motion, no amount of meddling can entirely overcome its virtues or its defects or the core of its nature.
Eventually Job is allowed to ask God why he was tested so severely.
The Grand Architect’s reply is, “Who laid the cornerstone?”
Life is transient as it is everlasting. Joy and celebration must be balanced by worry and loss. For every hello, we have farewells.   Underlying all is a cornerstone and a foundation.  Meditation, observation, prayer,  discussion, and science are all tools to view Creation and come close to our Creator.  When we are fearful, or frustrated, or seek inspiration, or want plans for our trestleboards, we should ask, “Do we have faith in that on which we build?” or as the Scripture says,  “Who laid the cornerstone?”

We may not understand all the miracles of Creation, nor why such miracles seem to come with undue suffering for so many.  But if we have faith in our foundations, we can build with confidence and joy.

During May we can tidy up some of the debris that We and Nature have scattered as the season of rebirth and renewal springs alive. Perhaps beneath the litter of our living, we can detect the cornerstones.

Chaplain’s Message  June 2012  by Rick Rayfield

No Greater Love

Sounds like a rock and roll song. No Greater Love. Oh yeah.

In the Gospel of John (that would be one of OUR holy Saints John) whose day we celebrate as the last Sunday in June, we read that “no greater love hath a man than to lay down his life for his brother.”
This is often believed to refer to the sacrifice made by a soldier for a comrade. However, in the context of John’s gospel, I ask you to consider that the phrase refers to a broaden concept of sharing our living lives. The phrase cuts two ways. It says that those who share their lives ARE brothers, like brothers born to the same parents. Those we treat as brothers, blood or not, are evidence of a greater, a divine love, that is not surpassed.

In addition, having the sacred love for our fellow man allows us to share of our lives. Giving often enriches the giver as much as the receiver.

Now most of us can appreciate the patriot idea of sacrificing our lives for our comrade and our country. It is harder for most of us macho guys to stomach talk about sharing our lives in order to partake in a sacred role in the Grand Architect’s plan. I salute my Masonic brothers who at least try to recognize this personal side of our mission to find a Greater Love for humankind and our brothers in our labors. Instead of contention, we shall love one another. Heavy tune. Harmony amidst the brothers is music to our ears.
No greater love, Oh yeah. Rock it a bit.

September 2012-  no message


Chaplain’s Message October 2012  by Rick Rayfield

 Tools to a Cornerstone

“The working tools of a Master Mason are… but more especially the trowel.”

If brothers were a perfect fit, we would not need brotherly love to cement us. If we led perfect lives, we would need none of the Masonic tools.

How interesting that we take the implements of operative masons- the level, the plumb, and the square- as metaphors for building our lives. On the level, standing upright, and square as Scouts.

Then when we need a real cornerstone, and an operative mason, a real live stonecutter, and we live in a State crawling with them, we put on tuxedos and gold chains and kilts and strange hats, and convene a big spectacle to demonstrate our poetry to family and friends. The corn of nourishment. The wine of refreshment. The oil of joy. Very interesting.

The onlookers loved it.

There it is in solid stone, as plain as day. Cut out of granite from the old quarry town of Woodbury. Computer-aided design and engraving, internet communications, precision wire-cutting, highly honed sand- blasting, experienced handling- all tools of the modern operative mason were employed. We will put that “perfect ashlar” into our historic building, and remember that among the cornerstones in our lives we may find new and wondrous tools to make us better men.

At our supper after the cornerstone ceremony by Grand Lodge, we saw the nourishment, refreshment, and joy, among brothers. The Grand Master, Phil Morton, had spoken to the crowd of caring for the many generations in our community. During supper, and later again, he spoke of the great pleasure in exercising the tools of Freemasonry to a wider community.

Chaplain’s Message November 2012  by Rick Rayfield  33º

Digging Deeper 

For each one of our many Masonic symbols we can dig deeper into a rich heritage of stories, meanings, and history of the symbol.  The Master’s gavel, for example, is a symbol of a proper instrument, used practically for controlling the business of the lodge.  The broader symbol of a courtroom judge banging the gavel for “Order in the Court!!!” is an exaggeration we all know, both dramatically and comically.  The gavel in a stonecutter’s hands is the power behind the chisel which trims the rough surface into smoothness.  It engraves beauty and knowledge into the stone.  And it sets stones perfectly into place.  The gavel is a symbol of many kinds of order that help us perfect our lives.

Sometimes we forget to dig deeper. We think we know enough.  My daughter is named for a great-great-grandmother who left Lithuania in 1891 at age 15 to work as a seamstress in Gloversville, New York.  She brought with her a large, detailed, beautiful needlepoint she had made showing Abraham casting Hagar and their son Ishmael out into the desert. Sara and baby Isaac are in the background.   I have often wondered what was in the mind of this young immigrant leaving her homeland to come to this country.

I have long known the Bible passage which this scene depicts.   But just this week a child in church read aloud the next verse.  Hagar is hopeless in the desert, and she abandons her boy Ishmael under bush rather than watch him die.  God then provides a spring to keep them alive, and Ishmael flourishes to become the father of all Arabs.

No doubt this miracle was part of young Sophie’s vision. Though she felt pushed away from her home, she had hope that America would provide blessings. It did.  It still can.  I was reminded to always dig deeper.  Our fraternity and nation may need to dig deeper into its symbols to see a hopeful future.

Chaplain’s Message December 2012  by Rick Rayfield

Give till it hurts?

Some teach us that we should give until it hurts. Some say it is our duty to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable. Some say charity starts at home. And of course we hear it is more blessed to give than to receive. Shouldn’t a blessing feel good?

Scholars studying the over 5000 ancient manuscripts which have early bits and pieces of the New Testament have found more errors in the copies than there are words in the 27 books of that chunk of the Bible. 300,000 errors so far. Almost none of the words of Jesus in red are actually believed by the majority of Bible scholars to have been said by him. (The Lord’s Prayer, for example, is in two versions, both drawing their phrases from earlier Jewish prayers.) These books were not even put together until about 200 years after he lived, amidst much disagreement on which gospel stories to include, and with the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) having significant contradictions between them. Important and wise, but a tangle.

Curiously, of the few bits which are believed by most scholars to be authentic to Jesus, one is the parable of the poor widow who, by giving a half penny, will enter God’s kingdom. Studying this tiny parable, I suggest modifying the above advice.

Give until you notice (not whether other people notice). Feel the good in what you are doing. Dwell in it; kvell in it, a bit.

Give comfort to everyone, for we all are in some pain, but do not fear sharing your afflictions carefully with others as we seek the plan of the Grand Architect.

And finally, strive to find the blessing in giving, for it can be greater than the blessing of receiving. Good luck! Good Christmas! Good New Year!