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As we gather for our April meetings, we pause to remember the renewal o f life and the promise o f a never-ending day.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it! Aside from the "foolishness" we sometimes witness in the world, Scottish Rite Masons have faith in the Supreme Architect o f the Universe and His unfailing love. We have hope that through the dark nights o f the soul, the light will shine brightly again. We have a love for our Heavenly Father and for one another that will never, never, never die.
As we approach this season, where the Ceremony of Remembrance will remind us that our duty is to be better than ourselves, let us begin to turn our attention to how each of us might fulfill our duty. As we look to the East, let us also look consistently to one another with genuine brotherly love and affection for those who have gone before us and those who are still among us.
A wise man I once met wrote a book where he encouraged people to do good, do no harm, and stay in love with God. So may this be the approach to this glorious time o f year each o f us chooses as our duty to God, our country, our neighbor, and ourselves.
Faith, hope, and love are ever before us empowering each o f us to give and receive the blessings and joys o f this beautiful season today, tomorrow, and forever.
It is both our duty and our blessing.
With heartfelt gratitude to each of you, I am
Sincerely and fraternally,
A Gene Cobb, Jr., 33°
Deputy of the Supreme Council in North Carolina
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another” (John 13:34).
These are the words spoken by the Master of Nazareth as He broke bread with His Disciples at the Last Supper. They are simple words. Yet they express the most sublime truth: all men are brothers. We share one origin and one common obligation. The Great Teacher in this one Mandatum Novum, New Commandment, summarized the highest wisdom of all ages. He knew His time was near, that in a few hours He would be betrayed, humiliated, and crucified. Despite this knowledge, He loved and taught love as the one absolute rule that can measure life.
In commemoration of this truth and of its central relevance to the Scottish Rite, Rose Croix Chapters traditionally observed Maundy Thursday (its name, a corruption of the Latin word mandatum, commandment) on the middle day of Holy Week. It has been called, variously, “Holy Thursday,” “The Day of the Supper of the Lord,” and “The Day of Mysteries.” Also, traditionally, the Christian world fixes it using the date of Easter Sunday, which is the first Sunday after the full moon, which happens on or after March 21, the vernal equinox. Freemasonry has remembered this special day, and Brethren have gathered throughout the world to reaffirm their faith in the universal fraternity of mankind. The first written record of such observance is a ritual of the Eighteenth Degree which Charles de Ladebat prepared and published in 1856 in New Orleans. The Code of Statutes adopted in 1866 lists Maundy Thursday as a feast day, and as of 1878, the Statutes indicated its observance as obligatory.
The ceremony of Remembrance is open to the public. Wonderful chance to spend a Masonic evening with loved ones
Bothers conversing before the event
There is a great deal that goes on behind the scenes in our events. A great deal of hard work in order to pay homage to our fallen brethren.
The room is set and ready
It will not be long now
It is hard to conceive of any rituals more beautiful and inspiring or any ceremonies in Masonry more soul stirring and profound than the Tenebrae and the Feast of the Paschal Lamb or, as it is often called, the Mystic Banquet or Feast Obligatory. To our Jewish Brethren, it signifies the Feast of the Passover, which is an annual reminder of the priceless heritage of freedom and a call to struggle for it by eternal vigilance. To our Christian Brethren, it signifies the Last Supper Jesus and His Disciples attended to celebrate this ancient festival, after which there followed His death and resurrection.
Brethren, attend. Recorded here, as in our hearts and memories, are the names of our honored dead. We shall miss them.
Good–evil. Life–death. Hope–fear. These are the polar opposites of life. They represent the ends of the spectrum of existence. In their dynamic juxtaposition, their eternal combat, we can see life as a creative, developing force. “More light!” These, the last words of Goethe, the great German poet and Freemason, represent the philosophy of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. We seek more light. Even when faced with the darkest of times, with apparent death itself, we know that light and life will triumph, that the myriad demons of ignorance, prejudice, and hatred cannot overcome the forces of knowledge, fraternity, and love. The dawn will come. “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). It will never go out.
These are the concepts represented in our ancient ritual of Tenebrae, the “Extinguishing of Lights.” One by one, we see the candles quenched. Bit by bit, the darkness gathers. Evil strengthens. The forces of chaos increase. Despair looms and seems to triumph as the last light disappears. We are cast into utter darkness. There seems no hope, no salvation, no rekindling of life possible.
Then, miraculously, a splinter of light shatters the gloom. It flickers. It seems to vanish. Then it glows with a renewed brilliance, all the brighter it seems for shedding its beams in total darkness. Feeding upon hope and courage and compassion, it flares forth reigniting the candles that had been extinguished. Our lives reflect this light, and we kindle within ourselves renewed confidence and joy.
So the symbolic meaning of Tenebrae brings the Craft’s Light to all Masons. A candle of understanding in our hearts mimics the altar’s flames and lifts us to new heights of Masonic aspiration. Then we, having inward lamps, pass these on to others, opening their eyes to the brilliance of Freemasonry. Tenebrae asserts in candle, wax, and flame the simple truth that faith, hope, and charity will never die. Darkness must yield to light. Tyranny will fall to freedom. Order and truth will ever conquer chaos and error.
"Brethren and Knights, at the commencement of our Masonic careers, each of us knelt before an altar and asked for Light. This request granted, we came to understand that Light is the primary Masonic symbol because it reveals the world to us as it is. But Light is more than a mere symbol, for life could not exist without it. We are taught that every man is a ray of the Divine Light and that we are to be Soldiers of the Light, ever vigilant. And, although the lights of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity have been extinguished from time to time upon the earth, yet man bears within his breast the spark which can ignite these anew. “Let there be light” is both a Divine command and a moral obligation. In humble commemoration of that august event, I now say, “Let there be light,” even the Light of Truth."