What is a cardinal?

Here is a definition of a word found within Masonic ritual that is not common outside of our Lodge rooms.

Cardinal

Look!  Is it a red bird?  Is it a baseball player?  Is it a leader of the Catholic church?  No.  It has something to do with virtues.  How can that be?  An outdoorsman, or navigator, or one who has worked with a compass to determine a direction might recall the four cardinal points of the compass being north, east, south, and west.  It is the educated man who understands that a ‘cardinal rule’ is the most profound rule, and that the ‘cardinal virtues’ are those natural virtues which are so important that all other virtues derive from them.  The cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice, can be traced in both religion and philosophy to earliest times.  They are so fundamental, crucial, and important, that all other virtues hinge upon them.  The newly initiated Mason learns that when the four cardinal virtues are practised together with the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity), then within our fraternity may be found the three great social treasures of fraternity, liberty, and equality.  The cause of good then hinges on the cardinal virtues.

Provided for your daily advancement in Masonic knowledge from the Sarnia District Masonic Library.  Wor. Bro. Marshall Kern, Librarian & Historian. 

What is ‘Preferment’?

Here is a definition of a word found within Masonic ritual that is not common outside of our Lodge rooms.

Preferment. This is a uncommon word today and someone hearing for the first time might think it is a ‘preference’ or a sign of favouritism.

Indeed, such a misunderstanding could feed into conspiracy theories about our Craft, or the false idea that to become a Mason is a path to fame and fortune. To the educated man well-studied in English history or well-read in English literature, ‘preferment’ means one who has received an appointment to a higher position in the English court or the Church of England.

In this sense, a preferment is synonymous with a promotion. A well-studied Mason will recognize within our Ritual that we congratulate a candidate for his preferment and remind him that his behaviour and actions have earned the honour which leads him to have a new character or identity. It is not favouritism. To a Mason the word ‘preferment’ means a rank he has earned by his own labour and with the assistance of his Lodge. The challenge to all Masons is to assure ourselves we are assisting each candidate for our mysteries to attain their preferment.

We should honour those who by merit and ability have earned preferment and rank as Grand Lodge officers.

Is it just fantasy?

A Brother made a comment on a social media platform that is, in my opinion, quite valid.  He observed that explanations of old Masonic artefacts are often just fantasy.  No one can claim “this gavel was used when building the Temple at Jerusalem”.  I agree, and can add that doing any good Masonic research is hard work.  It demands time, creative problem-solving skills, and then communication skills to be able to share the result.

There are two goals with any good Masonic research.  One is to share knowledge, to inform, and to educate other Masons.  This is visible when the end product of research is delivered.  Whether in a tyled Lodge meeting, or published somewhere, good research adds to the body of knowledge of all men, and more particularly to the knowledge of Masons.

The second goal is to make a change in yourself.  This is achieved by ongoing examination of the process and products of research.  In my own case, it is easy to say that I have traveled down many false paths, and collected lots of irrelevant information, as I’ve looked at artefacts, and ideas.  I think my skills have improved, and my confidence grows that I am supporting the fundamental principle of truth.

So when I share my research I also share my sources of information. 

My article on a Highland Lodge Seal includes mention of my contacts with the current Regiment, and with the Grand Lodge of Ireland.

My biography of James Agar includes over a dozen of the most relevant primary sources of information so others can confirm my research.

My small book regarding the motto Audi, Vide, Tace has 20 references in the footnotes and 3 pages of images.

My book The Master’s Emblem Explained for Masons has 7 pages listing my sources.

But back to the observation of the Brother.  I am glad that he made the comment because it means he is looking for Masonic education.  He is searching for truth, for knowledge, and for understanding.  I commend him for doing so.  I hope that my efforts in Masonic education assist him in his researches.