Beyond Ritual

Traveling with the Masters Word

Brethren of the Craft, today we embark on a profound journey, delving into the intricate symbolism that lies at the heart of Freemasonry. As we navigate through the enigmatic depths of our cherished fraternity, we shall unveil the profound significance concealed within the question: “What induced you to become a Master Mason?” This query’s response holds layers of symbolic meaning that lead us through the sacred passages of our time-honored traditions.

In the rich tapestry of Freemasonry, we are reminded that our voyage is not limited to the  physical realm. Rather, it constitutes a symbolic odyssey, guiding us towards self-improvement, enlightenment, and dedicated service to humanity. The words, “To obtain the Master’s word, travel in foreign countries, work and receive Master’s wages…” encapsulate profound and multi-faceted truths.  

In the context of Freemasonry, the response to the question elicits several profound symbolic explanations. The aspiration of ancient Brethren to become Masters was driven by the quest for the Master’s word, which acts as a metaphorical key to unlock the ability to “travel in foreign countries.” This answer resonates on different levels. First, gaining the Master’s word signifies a pivotal achievement, akin to a passport that grants access to explore the intricate and diverse realms within Freemasonry. Just as a traveler explores foreign lands with different customs and cultures, Masons delve into the domains of philosophy, history, and symbolism within the Craft.

Importantly, at the core of this response resides the concept of “the Word.” Our Masonic  heritage regales us with tales of a Word of profound significance, known only to a select few but eventually lost to the annals of time. This Word, my brethren, is far from a mere sequence of letters; it embodies divine truth and knowledge, once imparted to the patriarchs of humanity. As Freemasons, our calling entails the pursuit of this elusive truth, to uncover the profound wisdom concealed beneath the surface.  

Symbolically, this Word stands as a beacon of Divine Truth, guiding our Masonic voyage. In  much the same way that a traveler immerses themselves in the intricacies of foreign lands, we  Masons immerse ourselves in the domains of philosophy, history and symbolism as alluded to  earlier. Our journey takes diverse forms – from the Entered Apprentice to the Fellowcraft and  culminating in the Master Mason – each degree marking a step towards enlightenment. Our  pursuit extends beyond mere knowledge acquisition, transforming into a quest for self-discovery and the embodiment of virtue. 

Symbolically “traveling in foreign countries” encapsulates a journey through distinct territories of  knowledge within Freemasonry. These realms are enriched with philosophical insights, historical perspectives, and profound symbolism – each presenting a unique facet of the Masonic experience. With the Master’s word as our guide, we gain entry into these symbolic lands of enlightenment. 

Within this journey, we encounter challenges akin to those encountered by travelers in foreign  lands. Just as a sojourner faces hurdles, we, too, encounter trials. The portrayal of old age and death in the Master Mason degree serves as a reminder that our earthly existence is  ephemeral, and the pursuit of absolute truth may elude us. However, solace can be found in the substitute for the lost Word, a guiding light to wisdom, urging us to await the time when perfect understanding shall be attained.  
Our Masonic voyage, however, extends beyond the confines of our earthly journey. The symbolism alludes to a life beyond the grave, where the recovery of the Word symbolizes a  state post-mortality. This suggests that true enlightenment finds its ultimate fulfillment beyond  the limitations of our earthly existence. Our labor, our unwavering search for the Word,  transforms into a form of worship, a dedication to the pursuit of divine truth. The concept of “to work and receive Master’s wages” transcends mere monetary exchanges; it embodies the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom within the context of Freemasonry. 

These teachings empower us not only for personal betterment but also to excel as husbands,  fathers, sons, brothers and active community members. Armed with the wisdom of our Craft, we become agents of upliftment for ourselves and those around us. While the latter part of the Masonic ritual underscores the importance of supporting ourselves, our families and the Masonic community more broadly – particularly those in need – this assistance encompasses more than mere financial aid. It underscores our duty to apply Masonic teachings, becoming steadfast pillars in our communities, extending compassion and care to fellow Masons, their widows, orphans, and those facing adversity. 

In essence, the Masonic journey mirrors the symbolic framework we’ve explored. The  acquisition of the Master’s Word empowers us to “travel in foreign countries,” embarking on  meaningful explorations into diverse domains of knowledge, achieving enlightenment and  strengthening ourselves and our communities. As Master Masons, we heed this symbolic call –  to enrich ourselves with the Master’s Word and to embark on these profound transformative journeys.  

It is worth noting that our ancient operative Brethren aspired to become Masters to practice their craft while traveling in literal “foreign countries.” In a speculative sense, Freemasons desire to “travel in foreign countries” to study and explore their craft. However, these “foreign countries”  hold a distinct meaning for us – they symbolize the various aspects of Masonic knowledge, philosophy, history, and symbolism awaiting discovery within the fraternity. 

In conclusion, Brethren, our journey within Freemasonry is a profound and intricate one. The  symbolism inherent in the Word instructs us to seek divine truth, to traverse the uncharted  realms of knowledge, and to labor diligently for personal enlightenment and the upliftment of our  families and communities. The pursuit of light becomes our mission, and through the pursuit of  knowledge, we unearth the profound depths of Freemasonry’s allegorical nature.

Let this wisdom serve as a guiding Light on your Masonic voyage. Let us remember that our true reward is not solely found in words or rituals, but rather in our personal growth,  enlightenment, the impactful contributions we make as Freemasons, and the indissoluble bonds of Brotherhood that are formed as a derivation of our travels. In our unwavering quest for divine truth, let us continue to plumb the limitless depths of our Craft, tirelessly striving to enhance ourselves and our world.

Written by:

John Pasqualicchio, Master Adonai Lodge #718, Highland, New York

Jason Short