In our fast-paced world, where pressures on time become greater and greater, there are all too-few times when fathers can share quality time with their sons.
As boys grow into men, unfortunately the sharing opportunities grow even more rare.
As a young adult, you move out of the family home, establish a life and family of your own. There are fewer and fewer chances to share things with your father. Differences in age and changing times mean communication sometimes grow even more difficult.
But there’s one thing you can always share with your father, no matter how much time or how many miles may separate you.
At the turn of the century, almost every man’s father was a Mason. As was his father before him. And his before that. This tradition can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages.
It was only natural; every man wanted to pass his wisdom, his knowledge, his experience, his good reputation on to his son. And Masonry was one of his most treasured experiences.
It was easier back then. We all lived in the same house, or at least in the same town. Leaving town for a new job was an uncommon opportunity. The family was closer. Fewer things got in the way of family traditions.
By the middle of this century, as the pace of life quickened and families moved apart, centuries-old traditions were stretched, often to the breaking point.
If your father is a Mason, he may not have talked much with you about the Fraternity. Many fathers are not sure what they can say, or how to say it. If you ask, you will probably find that not only your father but also your grandfather and your uncles are or were Freemasons. So why didn’t they ask you to join?
One thing is for sure, not because they don’t want to share their love of the fraternity with you or that they weren’t very, very hopeful you would join. There’s a strong tradition in the Fraternity that we don’t ask people to join. You have to ask to join.
It’s part of a Mason’s obligation that he can’t ask you to become a member. In keeping this promise to the Fraternity, sometimes that gets carried a little too far.
The practice of not speaking about Freemasonry is really more tradition than any attempt to keep anyone from learning about Freemasonry. Masons once treated Masonry as a secret society – it was the popular thing to do. The Secrets were simply ritualistic, of course, but it did mean that a man had to learn about Masonry by growing up with it.
But it’s a rare Mason who does not hope in his heart that his sons will join the Craft.
You see, there’s a special bonding among Masons — a special feeling which comes from having shared the same deeply moving experiences, honoring the same ideals of truth and charity and brotherly love. It’s a good feeling, and when that feeling is added to those which naturally exist between father and son — well, those of us who have been there can tell you there’s nothing like it!
And that’s true of Masons who move from one town to another and for those who don’t visit a lodge for years at a time. Masonry isn’t something which happens in the lodge — it happens in the heart.
That’s why the tradition of joining Freemasonry runs so strongly in millions of families.
Unfortunately, in these modern times, there’s often a time or communications gap between father and sons that’s hard to bridge. Many fathers find it hard to be with and to talk to their sons, much as they would like to. Freemasonry bridges that gap by bringing fathers and sons together in the Fraternity and through shared experiences and shared values.
A family’s involvement in Freemasonry can go beyond the father-to-son relationship. There are Masonic youth organizations for the children including opportunities for both boys and girls. These organizations offer Masonic values designed to support the strong family values parents should have already instilled in their children. They offer special programs that focus on the needs of youth including social, athletic and self awareness programs.
There are organizations for adult women including Eastern Star – a world class organization for women to which Masons may also be members.
But Freemasonry is foremost a fraternity for men. As a result, every father hopes the day will come when he will stand with his son just as his father stood with him as he was welcomed into the Craft.
Talk to your father about becoming a Mason. Ask him what the Fraternity has meant to him and what you will be able to give and get by belonging and being active in Freemasonry.
He’ll be happy to get you a petition. Or surprise him; find another Mason, submit the petition, and then let your father know what night you’re to receive the First Degree.