For those of you who don’t know me personally, I work at a children’s hospital in my city, caring for babes and teenagers alike. While I was at work this past weekend, my mind wandered to Freemasonry, and how it relates to and affects our families. After a few quick Google searches, I was a bit flabbergasted to learn that there was actually little to no factual, informative material on how the two interact, and indeed, support one another.
Generation to generation
Perhaps the most common, and often the most asked about topic when it comes to Masonry and family is that of Masonic lineage. Since Masonry was very popular in the 1920’s and 30’s, many of your grandparents or great (or perhaps even great-great), grandparents were involved. You may be surprised to discover this about your family, but with a little bit of digging, asking family, and making some phone calls, it is fairly easy to ascertain a distant relative’s lodge. This does take a bit more legwork than just doing a Google search, because most lodges do not keep records of past members on their websites, and even if they do, it is usually only the names of past Worshipful Masters. If you are having a hard time tracking down a relative’s credentials, I would recommend contacting the Grand Lodge that you believe they were a member of most recently.
Something that happens not as often as I think it should is one family member raising another into the lodge. This is most often seen as father to son, but I have heard numerous stories of uncle to nephew, cousin to cousin, (blood) brother to brother, and even occasionally, a son raising his father. T was lucky enough to be raised by his wonderful stepfather, who also installed him as Worshipful Master this year; and¸will be raising T’s oldest brother near the end of this year.
Sometimes, however, I think that sometimes there is a break between generations, usually for one of two reasons, but of course not limited to these two. The first case is that the father is not sure how to approach the subject with his son. For whatever reason, the Mason may feel uncomfortable discussing it, or may not be sure how to approach the topic. Related to this, the father may feel that his son needs to ask, since Masonry heavily enforces the “to be one, ask one” concept. The other way that it usually skips a generation, is that the son may not be interested, or may reject his father’s invitation. This was the case with my own family, as my father was invited to join lodge by my grandfather, but my father was not interested in Masonry at the time. I was more than happy to pick up the torch and continue the tradition of being a Masonic family.
The Masonic Family
Usually when someone is discussing the idea of the Masonic family, they are talking about all of the groups related to Masonry, Blue Lodge, Job’s Daughters, Scottish Rite, etc. And, it is true, Masonry is a type of family within its own right, both within a specific organization, as well as between. There is, however, another type of Masonic family, perhaps the one that the outsider may think of first- the family raised in and brought together through Masonry. Freemasonry actually lends itself to this idea quite easily.
When you think about it, the idea really makes sense, and the organization of Masonry is that every family member can be a part of it. As you know, there are numerous organizations for women and youth. In addition to this, however, all lodges and jurisdictions put on some sort of family event at least once a year, but usually much more often than that. These usually include picnics, trips to the zoo and circus, or even just a BBQ at the lodge building. The nice thing is that it does not usually take much to organize a family event, and it allows you to meet other families that you already have something in common with-Masonry. If, for some reason, events do not happen like this at your lodge, suggest them to the Worshipful Master or events committee, or even volunteer to put it together yourself.
One of the things that Masonry offers that I feel are not mentioned as much as it should be, is support. Yes, usually support for the Mason is mentioned, however the amount of support that is available to the family as a whole is usually not mentioned to anyone other than the Mason himself. One of the focuses of Freemasonry is charity, and this extends to its members as well. The two main ways of support that Masonry offers are financial- the Masonic Relief Fund is set up by every lodge and grand lodge, to serve as assistance in dire financial straits. The other form of financial support is through scholarships- for college, mostly, although my chapter does give one out for a Masonic youth band camp. In addition to the financial support, Masonry offers a wide array of emotional support as well; not only through fellowship, but also through actual support groups, such as Masonic widows and widowers. These vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction of course, but many groups are moving online, making them more accessible.
Most often, when you look for something regarding Masonry and families, you will quickly come across two kinds of posts: you will find a lot of conspiracy theorists stating that Masonry is evil and set out to brainwash the men and kidnap the women, and, you will find a number of women that claim that Masonry is the reason for their divorce. Please remember, that above all else, Masonry teaches that family comes first. Masonry is not out to take your husband away from you, nor is it looking to ruin your marriage. Instead, enjoy the nights that your husband goes to lodge, do something nice for yourself, or something special with your children. If you feel that he is becoming too involved in lodge, or that it is becoming a priority over his family, communicate that with him. If he, for whatever reason, does not agree with you, or is not interested in talking with you about it, contact his Worshipful Master and express your concerns to him. In addition to this, if you have a question about lodge, Masonry, or anything related, or simply want to learn more, ask. The only things he cannot share with you are usually specific words or phrases used in the ritual, and secret symbols, such as handshakes.
The point of all of this is, quite simply, that Masonry is more than just something for the Mason, or the man of a household. Masonry can easily encompass the entire family’s needs and social calendar. More than that, Freemasonry allows for a family tradition to be started, or continued, and is something that is easily passed on from generation to generation. Nothing is cooler than receiving pins that belonged to a great-grandparent whom you never met, and know that you stand where they once did. It is a way of bringing the entire family together, not drive you apart, as some people would have you believe. Long story short, Freemasonry is a family affair.