Last night I had the pleasure in assisting with the conferral of a third degree. I have attended several since my own raising last May, but this was the first time I actually played a role in the process. I have to say, it took on an even greater importance in my eyes. There we were, a group of fraternal brothers, joining together to help a new Master Mason learn moral lessons that will guide him the rest of his life.
It really struck home when he was allowed to address us after the ceremony. His son apparently suffers from diabetes. While in the hospital receiving treatment for his condition, the Shrine housed and fed the child's family. "I knew I needed to turn my life around and be part of a good group of men like that," he said.
I know that Freemasonry's raison detre isn't charity per se. We aren't like other groups whose sole purpose is to directly better society through charity and public service. Rather, our focus is to better ourselves and thereby society as a result. However, what the Shrine did for this man's family speaks volumes for Freemasonry. I was both proud and humbled to hear him say it. That is what Freemasonry is to me.
Between helping this man learn how to be a Mason, and learning him say why he chose to do so, I was very moved. It helped me to remember what Freemasonry really is about. It's not membership, or fundraisers, or any of the other stuff that comes with running a public organization. It's about making good men better and giving them the tools to do so. If we lose sight of that, then we may as well just shut the doors and head on down the road.