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A Master's Wages
WHEN MASONRY was operative, the Fellow of the Craft labored long and earnestly to fit himself to produce his Master's piece, by which he would be enabled to prove himself fit to receive the Mason word - what we know as "the Secret Word of a Master Mason" - that he might go where he would, prove himself a Master and receive a Master's wages.

Now that Masonry is speculative only, many who apply and receive the degrees think that the mere possession of the secret word makes them fit to receive a Master's wages, forgetting that it was not the word, but the fitness to receive it, which qualified their ancient operative brethren for a Master's wages.

But the speculative Mason can no more receive a Master's wages today than in days of old, unless he be truly a Master. Writing "Master Mason" after one's name does not make one such in the speculative sense. Having one's name inscribed upon the by-laws of a Lodge does not make one truly a Master Mason.

Being a Master Mason is wholly a matter of the heart and mind; unless the one be humble, the other eager to learn and willing to study, a man may never truly be a Master Mason-aye, though he take every degree in every Rite and wear a jewel pin for every title he assumes.

In ancient days a Master's wages were paid in coin of the realm. They are no less so paid today, but the realm is of the Inner man, not the world of society. The wages received by a Master Mason who has fitted himself to earn them are paid in that which money cannot purchase. Not by favoritism or influence or high estate can any man win a Master's wages; if he receives them, it is because of what he is, what he thinks, and how he thinks it. From the time a Fellowcraft goes alone to the Altar to make his petition to Deity he stands alone or falls. When he is raised to the Sublime Degree, his brethren and his lodge have done all they can for him; if he is ever to receive a Master's wages, it will he because of what he does for himself.

A Master's wages are paid in the knowledge of the human heart; its dependence upon love and friendship, its eagerness to give for the love of giving, its humble hope of receiving for the simple human joy of being beloved. They are paid in knowledge which girds a man in armor through which misfortune, hard times, ill luck, cannot pierce. They are paid in the security which comes from certain knowledge of millions of brethren sworn to your aid and support - and make no mistake about this, my brother; though you may never need to make appeal, though no man spreads his call for help throughout the whole Masonic world, no matter where that call echoes, there will be some who hear and heed. A Master's wages are paid in friends of the heart; friends who make life rich with its fairest treasures. The sentimentalist- sings of the friend of his youth. It is true that friendship deepens with time; a common past is the foundation on which many a friendship is based. Freemasonry supplies such a past. Men linked in the Mystic Tie can think, symbolically, of their friendship beginning thousands of years ago! The friends made in Masonry are of tested steel; there are none better. A Master's wages are paid in the knowledge of closeness to and communion with the Great Architect of the Universe. In the practice of Freemasonry a Master Mason draws close to God. The All Seeing Eye to him is a friendly one. No man spends time in a lodge without having his faith strengthened; in days when mental confusion, doubt, debate and argument undermine beliefs less solidly founded, the firm foundation for simple beliefs which comes from Freemasonry is surely not the least of the coins in which a Master receives his wages.

And a Master's wages are paid in strength to endure, in courage to proceed, in hope of the future and in joy in the present. These are wages worth working for! These are coins besides which those of minted gold show themselves to be the dross they are! For these are the wages given to character.

Freemasonry gives us wages according to our labor; and if we work faithfully, we may be sure, as in the parable, we shall receive each man his penny. But Freemasonry, like any other institution, pays in a sliding scale according to the worth of the labor given; the Apprentice receives less than the Fellow of the Craft, and he less than a Master. See to it, my brother, that you are a Master in fact as well as in name; so shall you learn the real meaning of the Word by which some day you will travel in a far, far country, where there is neither gold nor silver, and where, indeed, the only coins which can be used are those you here fit yourself to receive - a Master's wages.


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