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Masonic Reflections on Easter

March 23rd, 2008

Despite unfounded claims that Masons, especially Christian Masons are not observing religious obligatory days, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, do commemorate Holy Week by what it calls the “Celebration of Remembrance and Renewal.”

rosecroixwh.jpgThe Scottish Rite’s Rose Croix Chapters traditionally observed Maundy Thursday on the middle day of Holy Week. It has been called, variously, “Holy Thursday”, “The Day of the Supper of the Lord” and “The Day of Mysteries”. Also, traditionally, the Christian world fixes it using the date of Easter Sunday, which is the first Sunday after the full moon which happens on the vernal equinox.

Freemasonry has remembered this special day and Brethren of the Scottish Rite have gathered throughout the world to reaffirm their faith in the universal fraternity of mankind. The first written record of such observance is a ritual of the Eighteenth Degree, which Charles de Ladebat prepared and published in 1856 in New Orleans. The Code of Statutes adopted in 1866 lists Maundy Thursday as a feast day.

Through the ages men have observed sacred rites during four periods of the year, the solstice and equinoxes. The Last Supper was in observance of the Passover (Spring Equinox) Just prior to the Lord’s betrayal and crucifixion The observance of Maundy Thursday in the Eighteenth Degree of the Scottish Rite is appropriate since this Degree originally was one of orthodox Christianity.

The word “Maundy” stems from the old French Mande’, or the Latin Mandatum, a command: On the Thursday of the Last Supper Christ said, “A new Commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.”

Maundy Thursday is also known as Shere or Chare Thursday, from the Middle English Shere or Sheere, meaning pure. It alludes to the physical purity acquired by the ablutions of the day and to the shearing of the hair and beard, so that nothing should remain between God and man.


MAUNDY THURSDAY

TENEBRAE

Tenebrae means ‘darkness.” It is the hour when the Veil of the Temple was rent in twain; when darkness reigned and consternation oppressed all the earth; when the Flaming Star was eclipsed and the Shadow overcame the Light; when the Columns and Working Tools of the old Masonry were shattered; and when the Cubical Stone sweated water and blood; the instant when the Word was lost.

EASTER SUNDAY

LUX E TENEBRIS

RELIGHTING THE LIGHTS

“The doctrine that the love of God for His children is infinite, and true religion is to love our brother, rises like the blessed Sun triumphantly from the darkness.

“The moment when the Word was recovered; when the Cubical Stone was changed to the Mystic Rose; when the Blazing Sun reappeared in all its splendor; the Columns of the Temple were re-established; and the Working Tools of Masonry restored; when True Light dispelled the Darkness and the New Love began to rule upon the earth.”

Extinguishing the Lights and Relighting the Lights

All Knights Rose Croix are invited to be present and participate in our Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday Ceremonies.

The lights of our Chapter of Rose Croix will be extinguished following the Mystic Banquet, or Feast of the Paschal Lamb, on Maundy Thursday evening, and the Chapter will remain in darkness until the relighting of the lights again on Easter Sunday morning.

These are brief but very beautiful Ceremonies, and each one reveals to us a superb interpretation of sound philosophy and spiritual truths. They should ever remind us that true religion is to love our brother, and that all Knights Rose Croix should recognize their duty to be obedient to the New Commandment ‘That ye love one another.”

RELIGHTING THE LIGHTS

The Symbolic Lights are Relighted; it is a time of rebirth, rehabilitation, regeneration and renewal of life and energy. Death and darkness have departed and the earth sings its joy of Love and of Living. What before was desolation of spirit and of thought, has the crucible of Light and the revivification of those for whom life had lost its meaning.

Just as the dark ages in Europe were followed by the Renaissance of learning, so had the new light of Easter come, bringing with it the new life of Love and understanding.

The new Commandment has been fulfilled.

God: writes His Truth in the sun’s light, which is reflected in the growing trees and shrubs, the flowers of Spring and Summer, and our daily lives. The rose is the symbol of dawn, of the Resurrection of Life, together the Rose and Cross represent the dawn of eternal life.

We have the promise of light over darkness, and that if we love one another we shall have life everlasting.

These are the tenets of our order; the teachings of our Degrees, and the lessons of our philosophies and our learnings. We repeat, “My hope is in God.” The promise of Immortality is inherent in life, in physical life, in nature, in mind and in spirit.

This is a time, then, for each of us to search our Souls and see if we truly and devotedly are living the Life of Love —Not just in mere outward similitude. But in our innermost, personal, private lives. Are we — in business, at home, in our pastimes — living the life of the New Commandment? If we weigh ourselves in its light and find ourselves wanting. Then it is time for us to do something sincerely and devotedly about it.

Let us at the Symbolic Relighting of the Lights, dedicate ourselves to duty, renew our vows, so often repeated in our Rite, and lead the Life of Love, one to another, that our light will shine among men in the world, that we may be known truly as men and as Masons who mean eternal truths learned in our Rituals and who, by our personal acts and conduct, portray those meanings to their ultimate fulfillment.

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  1. March 24th, 2008 at 07:51 | #1

    I wish that there were more emphasis to these holidays. If you were to ask most Masons about them, they would probably look at you sideways which is a shame.

  2. March 24th, 2008 at 09:13 | #2

    I suppose we can find more of these commemorative rituals in both the Scottish and York Rite Bodies than in the Blue Lodge – other than perhaps the Lodge of Remembrance / Sorrow.

    Indeed a lot of our Brethren must learn to appreciate the esoteric meanings of our work. After all, being a Mason is a spiritual journey one takes upon the level of time. A continuing search for light, a quest for that which was lost.

    This is not actually a blog about Freemasonry but a personal blog of a Freemason, but just the same, thanks for visiting Brother Greg.

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