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Nova News Now > Living
Digby’s Masons Active Over 200 Years In Community
Published on June 29, 2009
The Masons are one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world with over five million members worldwide, and many famous leaders, scientists and philosophers have been associated with this ancient order.
Some notables Masons include Sir John A. Macdonald, John G. Diefenbaker, Norman Vincent Peale, Jesse Jackson, Sir Author Conan Doyle, Sir Alexander Fleming, Sir Alexander Keith and many U.S. presidents.
Yet even in communities where there is a large Masonic presence, the general public seems oblivious to the basic tenets of this brotherhood and there are a lot of misconceptions.
I have long been aware of the charitable works of our many Masonic lodges in Digby County, but I really did not know much about their administration, philosophy and activities. Recently, I had the good fortune to speak with Bill Hilden, the Worshipful Master of the historic Digby lodge.
The first and most important aspect is that the Masons do not recruit members. If a person is interested in joining, he must ask a Mason. Hence the slogan ‘to be one you must ask one’. The fact that an individual interested in membership is required to seek out a current member and request consideration for joining has been a challenge.
Bill told me a story about a dear friend who was a Mason and as he put it “never asked him to be part of the brotherhood.” He was hurt at the time but later he came to understand that the onus was on him to ask his fiend to support him in his application. Other criteria for association with the Masons are a belief in a supreme being and a minimum age of 25. As well, a candidate must be of good morals and of good reputation.
The belief in a supreme being has often been misinterpreted. Freemasonry explicitly and openly states that it is neither a religion nor a substitute for one. There is no separate Masonic god, nor a separate proper name for a deity in any branch of Freemasonry. Indeed the belief in a supreme being includes many faiths and many traditions. Acceptance of a higher power that guides and supports one in times of great challenges is just one aspect.
Faith, family, responsibility to community and fellow citizens is key to all the values and rituals of the Masonic Order. Granted, Masonic Lodges have what they call secrets that are known only to other Masons but these are rituals and activities associated with modes of recognition amongst members and particular elements within the ritual.
Central within Freemasonry is the preoccupation with good and charitable works. For over 200 years the Digby lodge has been actively involved in our community. I was particularly impressed by the outreach to the young and the lodge’s efforts to ensure that young people have opportunities.
At high school graduations, it is worthwhile to note the educational rewards bestowed upon students seeking to further their educations. The Digby lodge gives two $500 bursaries every year to graduates of Digby Regional High School. They also support youth groups like Scouts.
In a broader context, the Masons raise funds to support hospitals, medical research, food banks and many other commendable initiatives. Masons support each other and enrich the communities in which they are present.
On the last Saturday of each month, the Digby lodge hosts a freewill breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the lodge on Mount Street. All are welcome. Perhaps if you are interested or want more information, ask a Mason as I did.