I was sitting in church last week listening to Father preach his homily when he began to outline how all of us congregants could obtain a better understanding of our faith. It wasn't enough to come to Mass and try to get all the meanings and nuances of our faith in lessons and worship of one hour. Furthermore, he said, there was no interaction of the faith, not enough participation and communal community.
He announced the coming formation of a men's group and a women's group which the church lacks now. He emphasized the adult (as well as child) Christian education programs now in place. He prodded us to get involved in the missionary and charitible work of the church. He asked us to share our talents of speaking or singing or organizing or teaching or whatever our talent might be with the rest of the church.
In short what he was prescribing was living our faith inside a community, a caring and sharing community that seeks to understand through study and sharing and participation and involvement in community thereby reaching an understanding of meaning, a developing of a relationship with Christ with live application. What he was talking about in four words or less was "Putting It All Together."
Of course almost immediately my mind jumped into an analogy with Lodge. I have a Canadain friend and Brother who insists that all that is necessary for the education of a Mason is for him to learn and continuously experience the ritual of the Craft. Learn the ritual and come to Lodge and you have all the tools necessary. And that's what a good number of us do.
But it's not enough. Just going to Lodge only is like just going to church service only. A twenty minute sermon or a twenty minute Masonic lesson is not enough. There has to be more for Freemasons to understand Freemasonry.
Freemasonry is a way of life not a twice monthly experience. It doesn't start or finish just within the confines of a tyled Lodge Meeting. You have to live Freemasonry. And in order to live it within the concept of Masonic community you need to do things together as Brothers. You study together. Just like churches have Bible study, Lodges need esoteric Masonic study groups. You need to bond together by participating as a community in helping the world outside the Lodge room. You also need to celebrate your Freemasonry in special events of Masonic expression. And you need to come together in refreshment, relaxation and social good times. Your Lodge needs to be a family that lives Freemasonry together just as a family lives life together.
If your Lodge doesn't try to create a sense of Masonic community it is missing putting together all the ingredients that make not only a Mason a better man but makes the group as a whole have a unique identity. A way of life if that is what Freemasonry is has to be actively participated in, in all the different facets that help create a true Lodge family. What you need to do is put it all together.