Van Rensselaer Lodge 87 – East Greenbush NY 12061 May 10, 2012
Talk given to craft by the WM Daniel Valenti
My Brother’s, I close this year with bitter sweet feelings. Bitter- because we have the second largest membership in the Albany district with 175 members, yet even though
we tried to reach out with mailings, a picnic, a table lodge, an open house event, a brother bring a friend night, and our third year into our fellow craft club, I have failed
to spark any interest in the over 100 Masons that are within a 15-25 mile radius of our Lodge. But the sweet part is that we’ve raised four new Brother’s who seem very enthusiastic about our craft. We’ve seen a few Brother’s come back to lodge who have been away for awhile. We’ve seen Brother’s who have been raised within the last year or two becoming very involved in everything and even becoming officer’s.
We see an excellent line of officer’s in the ranks right now who I have had the pleasure to serve this lodge with. Hard working officer’s that understand what their
positions are all about and who are both teacher’s and students.
I have said from day one that just because a person goes through the same degrees as the rest of us, does not make him a Brother in my opinion. I have been lied to in
interviews where candidates have told me that YES they will be active, and yet never came to another meeting after they were raised. They have NEVER given the
beauty of Freemasonry a chance.
I have three brother’s, and if they were not truly a good brother to me I would find it difficult to call them such. So why should a person raised to the sublime degree of
Master Mason expect us to call them a brother and treat them as such when they have put zero effort into being a brother to us.
This membership card isn’t worth the paper it’s written on if you don’t walk this walk with your Brother’s. Freemasonry doesn’t want them unless under the rough
exterior there is concealed a beauty of character that may be revealed through the proper manipulation of our working tools, that may be developed through what Freemasonry has to offer.
Masonry is a way of life, just like I have on the sign out in front. It’s a theory of life. A philosophy of life. It manifests itself in our daily contacts with our brother’s.
It’s not what the tongue proclaims but what the heart contains. The true Mason is the one who interprets the symbols in which masonry is concealed , or by which it is explained.
Through his actions in his daily life. Of what was put into such symbols long before Solomon started construction of the great white temple which crowned Moriah’s Mount.
Masonry should be a Brotherhood of man, and this isn’t an idle dream. The Masonic fraternity is an organization with a purpose. Were not simply members, we are students and teachers, seeking by precept and example to promote an honorable and happy relationship among men, and a devotion to God and his purposes.
We must feel challenged as Masons to preserve and pass on to those who come after us, that it may continue to inspire men down through all the years to come. It is a foundation on which the individual can build a happy life and a civilization can build a sound and
successful social order.
We are a Masonic community my Brother’s. We shouldn’t be friends just 16 times a year when we meet for a meeting. We should be friends outside of lodge and get to know each other’s wives and children.
I look around the room and remember meeting so many of your wives and children. Our wives have become friends, our children have become friends. Even in our community we only have to look down the road to see hints of Freemasonry all around us. Go down
the turnpike to Fucillo Ford, Henry Ford was a Freemason, so was Walter Chrysler, and Ransom Olds the founder of Oldsmobile Go a little further to Wendy’s, the founder, Dave Thomas, was a freemason. Go a little further to KFC, it’s founder, Col. Harland Sanders, was a freemason. Go a little further to the gun shop, a popular gun is a Colt, Samuel Colt was a freemason. What was just in Albany…the Ringling Brothers circus. All seven
brothers and their father, all Freemasons. I can go on and on but you get the point. Freemasonry surrounds us and encompasses so much.
All initiation is, is bringing men to light. Teaching them to see the moral order of the world in which they must learn their duty and find their true destiny. It is the most impressive drama on earth, a symbol of the divine education of man. Jesus saw men doing awful things, who were living in darkness, blinded by passion, prejudice, greed, jealousy,
etc. and he said, “ Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We are more blind then bad. Let our fellowship be with those who walk and think alike. Our ignorance will be our undoing. Knowing these things I’m faced to ask myself two questions. What will my last days be like? What will your last days be like? And how would I like to finish this race we call life? If we are husbands, are we being the best husband we can be? If we are fathers, are we being the best father we can be? If we have siblings, are we being the best brother we can be? Are we being the best Masonic brother we can be? The best friend we can be? Or..are there little tweaks we can make to change things, to make things just a little bit better.
So, to the newly raised Masons, you may still be asking what Masonry is all about.
There are men in this room much more intelligent than I am who would probably give you a much better answer. But I’d like to share my opinion with you. I have taken all the courses I can take at this point, and have read over 130 books on Freemasonry so far.
Freemasonry Has become a big part of my life because it has changed my life. I would say, Freemasonry is an awakening, and a preparation. It’s a preparation for our lives today, in the present, and even more so, for in the future, for that next dimension we call Heaven.
What kind of person should I be? What kind of person should you be? Even though life is short, we all have enough time to decide what kind of person we want to be. From the day we take our first breath we are allotted a certain time on this earth.
We each took three obligations at this altar. Obligations to ourselves, each other, Freemasonry, and God. Not to the preservation of real estate and not to becoming
a word perfect ritualist. Freemasonry gives us the tools to prepare us for the next dimension.
Our fraternity today as a whole seems to focus so much on charity and it was never intended to be such. This all intensified after the Morgan affair to try and win
over the public and bring back Masons. Our focus use to be mainly on taking care of each other, widows of our Brothers, and their orphans.
As men, we have common goals, such as we want a decent job or business and earn a decent salary. Have a nice home, a nice car, and provide for our family. Common goals but different paths. For some the path may be easy. But for others the path may be more
difficult. Those brothers may have more obstacles in the way. More rocks to climb over. Maybe a stream or river to cross. A mountain to climb.
And if we are true Brothers, I would hope there would be 20 of us there to help him over that boulder. Or 20 of us there to help build a bridge for him to cross that river. And if he faces a mountain, 20 of us throwing ropes down to him and pulling him up. And when we see his relief and happiness that he has overcome whatever was in his path…then we have been paid our Masonic wage.
As I look down to where our organ is I can’t help but to think of our Brother Henry who at this moment is facing such an obstacle. Let us remember that he is our Brother and friend and remember him in our thoughts and prayers.
In psalm 90 verse 12, “ In our last days we should guide those who walk behind us, and let them know that their future is not decided by CHANCE, but by CHOICE.”
We’ve lost some Brother’s in these last fives years that I’ve been a Mason.
Only three that I really had the pleasure of getting to know.
W:. Ernie Malmstrom
W:. George Sheffer
and W:. Stan Shufelt
All three of these brothers but especially the first two because I spent more time with them, both inside lodge rooms and out. They have had an influence on my life. They taught me things when they probably weren’t even aware of it. They had walked in my shoes and they had the wisdom of life and experience, and I respect that. I miss those brothers.
I hope that I see them again someday in Heaven.
As I look around the room tonight, I see an amazing group of guys.
Five years ago I walked into this lodge and didn’t know one person. I didn’t even know one freemason. Today, I’m happy to stand up here and call each of you a friend and a Brother.
But the truth of the matter is, is that there may be someone in this room tonight that might not live another year. There may be someone in this room who may not live
another six months. There may be someone in this room who may not live another month, or another week. And there may be someone in this room tonight that might not make it through the night. And that very well may be me and I’m very well aware of that.
But we’re given a choice as Freemasons. The choice to become a better person, a better man, a better citizen. We are given a new educational system built upon morals, and our principles and tenants. We are given the strength to unlock and open new doors.
We are given the eyes to look outside the box. And it’s all laid out for us. And we really don’t have to look much further than our obligations, our charges, our lectures, and the symbolic meaning and value of our working tools.
But..it’s up to us to embrace this way of life. And then to ask ourselves…do I want to live according to my own choices and this new way of life? Or, do I want to continue to live my life as I did before I became a Freemason… and just let the cards fall where they may…and live by chance? I choose CHOICE!
So, in closing my Brother’s, I would just like to ask that at some point… we each ask ourselves two simple but very important questions. What will my last days be like?
And how would I like to finish this race? My brother’s, it’s been and honor and a privilege to be the Master of this lodge for this past year. I thank each of you for your support and for your time, thank you!