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The Significant Entered Apprentice

By Hank Vat

 

 “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression”

 

The Significant Entered Apprentice

 

            As we are introduced into the first principals of Masonry, our impressions of the craft as a whole are formed. The individuals we have met, the introductory messages that we receive the preparations that are made and the ritual itself are all combined to form an initial impression. As this is an obvious fact, several hypotheses can be formed to enable the lodge to ensure that the correct impressions are made upon the newly initiated brother. There is an adage which provides: “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression” and since this is the case more especially with masonry, we should weigh the importance of this aspect and make any proper adjustments.

            Factors such as our retention rate, the good of Masonry and the combined personality of the lodge will all be affected by providing the best possible experience for the Entered Apprentice. As is the case, I provide the following ideas to serve as a guideline for the enrichment of the craft.

 

The Ritual Experience

 

            Our rituals are always to be held as sacred events of a serious matter. The EA ritual can be considered as the most important. It is where the man is transformed into a Mason. We become Masons for life! How important then is this ritual? Doesn’t it deserve the utmost respect from all involved and in attendance?

            I often hear the words spoken, “the EA doesn’t know the difference” but if that EA remains active in lodge and is an attentive individual, he will know the difference shortly. This is not an attempt to place any blame or provide that our rituals are not performed correctly for the opposite is usually the case. The point that is being made only reflects the importance of responsibility whereas these initial impressions of Masonry are formed.

The first few visits to lodge helps to further mold our views of Masonry and these impressions become indelibly imprinted as Masonic definitions. The attentive EA is looking to all members for indications of societal separation and what defines each as a Mason. These are his first attempts at self-examination and a constructive effort to define Masonry within himself. It is imperative that we keep this in mind when in the presence of the EA. Guidance and assistance in the correct views of Masonry can only be provided by example. These internal elements cannot be transferred by tongue to ear.

These spiritual functions that take place within all newly initiated EAs are unavoidable as the human mind holds a necessity for spiritual definition of all mechanical stimuli. This brings us to the mechanical elements of ritual which forms the basis or foundation upon which we build our spiritual definitions about Masonry. These are facts that are often forgotten as we go about the business of performing our rituals. We must keep in mind that the impressions made are of both a mechanical and spiritual nature with the spiritual being the dominate force!

As an example of this fact, consider the aspect that when an instance of anything in your life doesn’t feel right, smell right or look right, your initial impression of that element is permanently imprinted  and quite difficult to shake. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we always attempt to provide the best possible experiences for the EA within the ceremony of initiation. Another important factor we must conclude is that within this ceremony, there are usually other EAs present which are still in the process of forming spiritual definitions. In order to prevent corruption or variation within the structures of definition building, ritual consistency is key.

The only way we can truly provide for ritual consistency is through repetition of correctness. I purposely avoided the word “practice” because the definition of practice has been corrupted: i.e. “Practice makes perfect” This incorrect adage passed down through generations disregards the fact that practice makes permanent. Indeed when you consider the fact that repetition imprints data indelibly written to our memory without regard as to whether that data is correct or not, allows for error to be permanently imprinted. This statement should be refined as follows: “Practice makes permanent, perfect practice makes perfect” ( Billy Theriot).

This fine examination of this action by Mr. Theriot provides for a method by which we can ensure consistency within our ceremonies of initiation no matter who is displaying each role. Methods for every aspect of ritual are provided by the committee on work with regard to this fact and we must strive to adhere to these formulas to provide a consistent initiation each and every time.

 

The Work Behind The Work

Allegory Defined

 

The task of teaching the work is an enormous responsibility and should be regarded as such. There are values that should be examined which exist but are often unclear to the educator. Through the rigorous and mundane efforts to dispel the work in fragments to the EA, this can be a daunting task. But a surprisingly larger element exists within these teachings that can be easily omitted. The instructors impressions, definitions and spiritual values regarding masonry will, to a certain degree be defined within this process and passed on to the student. This provides for a powerful impact when you consider “the good of masonry”

You must, as an instructor, be certain that your impressions, definitions, values and spiritual enlightenments are congruent with Masonic direction. These elements will be passed on to the student and must provide for clean, clear and moral concepts, keeping the spirit of masonry intact while preventing a corruption through the process of evolution. Your ideas, values and moral behaviors all combine to provide a singular element that will be passed to your student either consciously or sub-consciously. He will carry and build on these elements throughout his Masonic edifice and pass them along while in the process of educating another.  

Therefore, our teachings are the foundation of masonry defined for the future. Due to the importance of this element, considerations must be made for the instruction of the “work behind the work”. Allegorical meanings, symbology and Masonic references to the esoteric work will provide the correct pathways that are congruent with Masonry lessening the impact of personal views, definitions and the like, providing for a pure form of Masonic teaching methodology.  

Finally, if we fail to provide the proper messages when teaching the esoteric work and leave the definitions up to the student, that lack of information mixed with other attached stimulus may provide for an incorrect or negative knowledge base within the brother that will be carried forward in the future.

 

 

Life Within The Lodge

 

            Our activities when not involved directly in lodge are loosely guarded.  There remains a certain level of comfort within the lodge living spaces that promotes peace and active communication among the members. This is a good thing when used constructively. The EA should realize that Masonry is a multi-faceted philosophical life concept that includes such activities as relaxation and communication with the brethren without the constant push for learning the esoteric work. Masonry provides personal benefits that should be enjoyed by everyone involved including the new EA. It should also be mentioned that the aspect of being an EA brings with it a certain level of excitement and curiosity. Our lounging areas should include a forum for free thinking, philosophical conceptualizing and the birthplace for new ideas as well as a hallmark for education on all subject matters; in essence, a place that makes good men better, strong minds stronger and wise men wiser, a true definition of our craft.

            The responsibility for the significant EA is ours. For there is no one else to bear it and it cannot be left to waiver. It is, for the good of Masonry.  The ideas and observations contained herein are made for the purpose of reflection and discussion and it is my hope that a clearer understanding of the enormity of this subject matter has been presented. Being a Mason is a great privilege and carries with it a certain level of responsibility. We must keep this in the forefront of our endeavors as Masons in order to insure the longevity of the craft and prevent the convolution of it through the erosion of evolution.

            It starts with the significant EA and ends with us.

 

 

Fraternally Yours for the Good of Masonry,

 

 

Hank Vat

Sam B. Crawford 1418

March 14, 2012

 

 

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 Sam B. Crawford Masonic Lodge #1418 

20625 Lodge Road

New Caney, Texas. 77357 

Secretary: David Duke

Tel: 281-689-5511 

  

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