Monday, August 29, 2016

Citius, Altius, Fortius

The 2016 Olympics have just concluded. Stories of triumph, of overcoming great adversity, of facing down seemingly insurmountable odds are still fresh in your memory. So too, unfortunately, are be the stories of tragedy, of near misses, of heartbreak, and of greatness not achieved.

As I watched the opening ceremonies and the first few days of competition, I began to wonder what our Fraternity would be like if we took it as seriously as Olympians take their respective sports.

For starters, the title of this piece – Citius, Altius, Fortius – is the Olympic motto. Translated from the Latin, it means Faster, Higher, Stronger. While that doesn’t specifically apply to us, we could steal from their superlative script and go with something that applies more directly. I’m too close to my deadline to translate it into Latin, but I would suggest something in the way of Wiser, Stronger, More Beautiful.

You’re probably asking yourself, Aren’t those just the three pillars of Freemasonry that he stole? If you did indeed just ask yourself that question, first, stop talking to yourself before people start wondering if you’re all there. Secondly, good catch. Those are the three pillars, but I didn’t steal them. They’re Masonic and this is a Masonic essay. There was no real need to come up with something catchy, shiny, and new when a perfectly good thing was right there for me to use. And in the final analysis, is there really anything that is truly new? Despite all of our protestations that “we’ve never done it like that before,” you can be nearly certain that somewhere, someone has done it precisely that way before. But I digress.

Back to our potential motto. To stand out among peers, an athlete must constantly strive to improve – trimming seconds, adding feet, improving dexterity. They would constantly reach for faster, higher, and stronger.

If Masons were Olympians, we would not just seek to get through all the degrees. We would push ourselves until we could do them to near perfection. We wouldn’t be content with just the words in the Degrees either. We would be compelled to look deeper and apply them to ourselves. We would make ourselves wiser.

We wouldn’t offer boring (or worse yet, not offer any) programs at our meetings and grumble about poor attendance. We would work hard to give our brothers a reason to come out and support the Lodge. Fine meals and interesting programs will nearly always yield high attendance. Nor would we ever suspend our brothers without making personal contact with them. We would make personal contact to let them know we care and we are there to help them. We would make ourselves stronger.

Olympic Masons wouldn’t be content to watch their buildings crumble around them either. They wouldn’t wring their hands as they tried to figure out why the Lodge can’t thrive, much less survive, on the paltry fifty dollars in dues that they pay each year. They would recognize that the sacred space that is the Lodge room deserves adornments and enhancements from time to time. They would understand that the physical appearance of the Lodge not only attracts members to the doors, but makes them want to come back. If we apply a little bit of creativity and solicited the help of the membership, every Lodge could be made into a space that people would want to come to. We would make ourselves more beautiful.

An enriching Lodge experience is the right and privilege of every Mason. If we each set a goal of constant personal improvement, and we hold each other accountable, that experience is within our reach. It will take effort, time, and sacrifice, but that will pay off when the Master and Wardens ascend their podiums and look out over a beautiful room filled with the wisest men who know in their hearts what it means to be a Brother.