The Grand Master’s New Year address 2015

Beloved Bretheren,

Six months have now passed now since the appointment of the new Committee of Grand Lodge.  After a short period of preparation, the Committee and Grand Officers embarked upon a travel schedule, making journeys to many lodges across the country.  These most enjoyable visits have shown us that the work to smooth and dress the Rough Ashlar is being carried out with great enthusiasm and sincerity.

Ritual work lies at the heart of Freemasonry.  It differentiates the world outside the Lodge from that within, not because there is something to hide, but rather in order to create a space in which each Brother can gain access to his inner spiritual self.  Ritual is one of the core elements of the Royal Art.  It allows each brother to conduct an inner dialogue with himself, framed by the repeated experience of those familiar words, gestures and actions of the ritual.  The magic and real strength of ritual are not only to be found in its form, but also in the feeling that each Brother gains that he is creating something worthwhile as one productive link in a communal Chain of Brotherhood.

Today's society is becoming more complex, sophisticated and automated.  Everything we do is becoming more abstract and the consequences of our actions more difficult to discern.  Working the Rough Ashlar in a way which is noticeable to the rest of society is a challenge which is becoming ever greater.  Nonetheless, ritual work in the temple should inspire us to present the Royal Art, with its virtuous behaviour and actions, outside the Lodge in society and across our social circles.

Over the past months, as I have observed what has been happening in the world, I have the feeling that our system of values has gone out of kilter.  Terrible wars are taking place, with the displacement of large numbers of people – often in the context of ethnic and religious conflicts.  These smother the last vestiges of humanity and dignity.  This has led to fear and uncertainty in our society, which is as yet still sheltered and free.  As Freemasons, we have no influence upon great world events.  This should not, however, deter us from living our lives as role models for the practice of ethical principles, tolerance, manners and morality in order to help preserve the human rights and dignity which were so hard-won in the long and intensive struggle for our free society.

Through our proactive charitable work, our work on the Rough Ashlar can be realized in concrete form, for example in the form of donations or by performing volunteer work.  In this way we can show our affection, solidarity and compassion to those in our world who are less fortunate than ourselves.  And if in so doing, we are generous, we may – like many others – speak of this openly, albeit in our customary discrete and modest manner.

Finally, a major concern to me is the inner peace and harmony in our Masonic Lodges.  We all seek the constant renewal of our fraternity and look forward to welcoming new active members, who can strengthen and enrich our Chain of Brotherhood through their rich and varied experience of life.  For many younger Brothers, it is a great challenge to balance the need to participate fully in the life of the Lodge with the responsibilities as an active father of a family.  These Masonic duties include not only working the Rough Ashlar, but also active participation in Lodge meetings and ritual work, attending Masonic sessions of instruction and visiting other Lodges.  In addition, after becoming a Master Mason, it is expected that each Brother may act as one of the officers of the Lodge and participate in the work of any of its activities – perhaps even assisting the various Grand Lodge Commissions.  If we wish to preserve and develop our Lodges, we must take care to address the concerns of all our members.  Masonic Lodges are like a rich habitat, with manifold personalities and individuals with diverse interests.  Our strength lies in our ability to reach out to our Brethren and to subordinate our own interests to the general welfare of the fraternity.  In this fashion, we can be assured that our Lodges will continue to grow and to thrive in the future.

I wish you all a Happy New Year, good health and continued satisfaction in your work on the Rough Ashlar.

Maurice Zahnd, Grand Master.